Pacific Discovery offers experiential gap year semester and summer programs abroad to some of the most amazing places on earth. Our programs are deliberate overland journeys, blending authentic immersion in diverse cultures, meaningful service-learning projects, rewarding adventures, wilderness exploration, and personal development.

Students challenge themselves in a supportive small group environment, developing empathy for other cultures; furthering understanding of international issues; heightening appreciation for the earth’s wild places; deepening global perspectives; and discovering their own passion and purpose.

Pacific Discovery Gap Year Semester Programs are epic! They combine rugged journeys to beautiful places, with authentic immersion, and inspiring adventure. You’ll be in a supportive group environment and learn more than you ever dreamed. Our semester programs are a 10-week journey with an optional 3-week independent extension. Programs are offered in Fall and Spring and can be taken consecutively for an in-depth and transformative gap year experience. Optional transferable academic credit options are available on all programs.

Pacific Discovery Mid Teen Summer Programs are 2-4 week journeys designed to be an intense and immersive insight into a country or region, specially designed for high school students, ideally between 14 and 17 years old. You’ll be inspired by new perspectives, forge wonderful friendships, and gain experience and skills that will be with you for life. They provide opportunities for meaningful connections with local people, pushing personal boundaries, and gaining knowledge of a country or region’s history, culture and environments, facilitated by our knowledgeable and supportive Program Instructors.

Pacific Discovery offers customized educational travel programs for high school and university groups. We can develop an educational travel program for your students based on one of our existing itineraries, or we can work with you to develop an itinerary specifically tailored to your focus and interests. Our custom programs can go anywhere, for any length of time, and are always developed with great care.

What is a gap year? Should I take one? And how do I plan it? We get asked these questions a lot, and if you are considering taking a gap year, you might have thought about them as well. We are here to help you find the answers! Having more than 20 years' experience with taking gap year students on experiential journeys, we know a thing or two about the ins and outs, the advantages and disadvantages, and of course the gap year planning process.

Discover what goes into a Pacific Discovery program. Learn about the goals for the program, tease out the various program components, and understand our educational philosophy.

Reviews 2
Samantha chasing waterfalls in Hawaii

“This experience on the Hawaii & Western US program gave me what I was looking for in my time between graduating high school and starting college. Learning great people skills, how to find comfort in discomfort, lots of great outdoors skills and meeting so many new people all while seeing beautiful views every day was the perfect way to spend my gap semester. I leave my trip knowing that I have friends for life and skills that will serve me far beyond the trail, the service work, the beaches and the mountains.” Samantha Surks, 2021
Hawaii & Western US Program

Laura Soltis
Laura busy working at Mimiwhangata, New Zealand

“Starting this trip I figured I would have fun, see cool things, and make close friendships along the way but by the end be ready to say my goodbyes and head home. That's where I was so wrong. Not only were the views completely mind blowing but the friendships and bonds I formed with people in the group made saying goodbye one of the hardest things I have had to do.” YES! This program was truly one of the greatest experiences of my life. It taught me so much about myself and how I don't really need material things in my life to be happy and that the true source of my happiness comes from the people I surround myself with and the experiences that we share. This program also showed me how easy it is to be environmentally friendly, and that recycling or not wasting water is a really easy and simple thing everyone can do. And of course this program taught me how to be a savvy traveller and gave me so much more confidence in being able to travel by myself. The program exceeded all my expectations and I truly feel that I grew and bettered myself as a person. I would recommend this program to others because it will challenge you and take you out of your comfort zone at points but you will gain so much life experiences and really discover who you are as a person.

To sum this program up in three sentences I would say, 1. Pacific discovery is a program that takes you through multiple countries and cities and allows you to really immerse yourself in their cultures. 2. It will give you so much adventure and different perspectives on life that you will inevitably grow as a person. 3. This program will change your life and will give you so many memories that the idea of not traveling again is an impossible thought, it truly is the experience of a lifetime. To conclude, this program was definitely the best decision and best experience of my life so far.”
Read more Laura Soltis, 2016
New Zealand & Australia Semester Program

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Jonathan on a scuba diving course

“This may sound cheesy, but it truly was a life-changing experience. I changed so much on this program, and all for the better. I’ve become more active, more confident, more social, and more grateful. I am going back home knowing I am a better person than when I came. I have so many stories of experiences on the outside as well as experiences on the inside. It’s worth it, trust me.” Jonathan Mount, 2021
Central America Semester Program

Review Julia
Julia looking for rainbows in Hawaii

“My program in Hawaii was one of the most fulfilling and incredible things I have ever gotten to do. I got to meet some of the most genuine, incredible people I have ever met, discover my potential, leave my comfort zone behind, embark on some crazy adventures, experience the true simplicity of human connection, laugh until my stomach hurt, push myself in ways I never thought possible, and explore all of the incredible land that Hawaii has to offer.” I am so thankful for everything I am taking away from my semester with Pacific Discovery. It was a wild and wonderful journey, and everything about it was absolutely beautiful.” Read more Julia Brown, 2021
Hawaii Semester Program

Thailand Program - cooking workshop
Tanner finding his inner chef in Chiang Mai, Thailand

“I had such a great experience growing and learning about myself. I got an in-depth view of what it’s like to live in Thailand and be apart of a new culture, especially during home stays and visiting rural villages.” Not only did I get to travel for almost 3 months and see all the beautiful things that Thailand has to offer, I have also seen the hard truth of a developing country and was able to deepen my global perspective. I was challenged and pushed out of my comfort zone and I’m so grateful I got to experience everything I did.

I would say this program was life-changing and exciting. Not only did I grow as a person, I made lifelong friendships and learned how to deal with situations in group settings. I’ve learned how to be a leader and how to adapt in a new setting, as well as how to be a global citizen and accept new cultures and values. This was a life changing experience not many people will get to have in their lives, and I’m so happy I got to be a part of the lucky few.”
Read more Tanner Barnes, 2021
Thailand Semester Program