If you have access to the Direct Console Interface, you can enable the ESXi Shell from there.


At the direct console of the ESXi host, press F2 and provide credentials when prompted.


Scroll to Troubleshooting Options and press Enter.


Select Enable ESXi Shell and press Enter.

On the left, Enable ESXi Shell changes to Disable ESXi Shell. On the right, ESXi Shell is Disabled changes to ESXi Shell is Enabled.


Press Esc until you return to the main direct console screen.

After you enable the ESXi Shell, you can use it from that monitor or through a serial port.