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I have grown so much

““If you could sum up your experience in 3 sentences, what would you write?” I am more prepared to take on challenges in my life. I will always remember my time in Thailand and how much I have grown because of it. ” I am grateful for Pacific Discovery’s program for giving me the opportunity to learn through experience.” Read more Dylan Ratner, 2023
Thailand Summer

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Incredible life changing time

“I had an incredible life changing time on this trip, so much so that I now know for a 100% fact that I HAVE to come back to Australia because of how much I fell in love with this country and this trip! I think that this trip is a phenomenal way, particularly for younger travelers, to be able to experience life abroad in a very educational, safe yet expansive way!” I wish I could do this trip again and again because I genuinely don’t think it would ever run out of surprises and fun!” Read more Melissa Burke-Manwaring, 2023
Australia Gap Summer Program

Sophia Goddard
It's all about the friends you make!

“I absolutely adored my time on the Australia / Bali semester with Pacific Discovery. It was a perfect mix of adventure, cultural immersion, service and personal development mixed in with a bit of city time. ” I have never grown so much as an individual as I did on this trip. I am more confident in myself and my relationships, more independent and ultimately have a better perspective on life and the world. If you’re thinking about doing a PD trip, take the risk and go for it! You won’t regret it.” Read more Sophia Goddard, 2023
Australia and Bali Gap Semester Program

Jamie Herfot
Group shot in Milford Sound!

“I became more invested in nature and being outdoors. This trip has inspired me to become more aware of how I affect the planet and how I can help change my own life. ” This trip also helped me overcome my fears and had me try new things I ended up loving.” Read more Jamie Herfort, 2023
New Zealand and Australia Gap Semester Program

Brynn Levy
Service Learning in Hawaii

“I loved my experience with Pacific Discovery! I learned so much about myself and my values while being pushed out of my comfort zone on program. ” I gained a curiosity about cultures around the world that I will foster with me in my future travels! If I was to give my pre program self advice, I would say don’t worry! Nothing is as scary as you think it will be.” Read more Brynn Levy, 2023
Hawaii Mini Semester

Maddie Jo
Sunset Swim in Costa Rica

“An amazing journey that fully immerses you into the culture and off the grid for an epic experience of adventure, friends, and learning both about the world and yourself. ” You get afforded the time to just live and be a human. Freedom to explore the world and yourself in a supportive, loving group. It will change your life.” Read more Maddie Jo Robbins, 2023
Costa Rica Mini Semester

Sadie Goldman
'Best decision of my life!'

“These past 10 weeks have been the best of my entire life. I never ever would have expected to have gone on this Polynesian Journey, but it was one of, if not the, best decision of my life.” I feel like I have found love for myself and appreciation for the world around me and have been able to see so much more than what I am used to in my bubble back home. I have met so many amazing people. I have met forever friends and genuinely could not have wished for a better experience. I would recommend Pacific Discovery to absolutely everything. If you are trying to find yourself and going to school isn’t what is right for you right now, take this leap of faith. You deserve it and trust me it is worth it.” Read more Sadie Goldman, 2023
Polynesian Journey

Magical moments

“This trip will help you learn about other cultures while also looking inward to learn about yourself, AND you’ll be doing this in incredible and beautiful places.” This is an amazing opportunity if you’re up for adventure.” Read more Meghan Simon, 2023
Southeast Asia Gap Semester

Willow South East Asia Gap Semester
Making connections in South East Asia

“I grew into a much more confident, adventurous person. I became extremely close with everyone in my group, which helped me become comfortable with myself and be more confident.” I went to all of our daily activities, some of which pushed me out of my comfort zone. Showing up each day and trying new things allowed me to discover what my passions and interests are.

This program is truly everything I could have asked for and more! I would recommend it to anyone thinking about spending a semester overseas. The instructors are amazing and the program itself is so diverse! We do something new every single day— eating new food, visiting a new temple or starting a new service project. The cultural immersion this program brings is truly incredible and I will never forget the special memories I’ve created in the past ten weeks.

I would reassure my pre-program self that I will make once-in-a-lifetime bonds with every single member of my group in the 10 weeks. I’d tell her that she’s going to enjoy every minute of it, even the parts she was nervous about. I’d tell her that she won’t feel homesick and instead will soak in every minute of the program.

To sum up my experience in three sentences: This program brought me into the happiest time of my life. I’m extremely grateful for the special moments I’ve made with the members of my group as we’ve traveled to four different countries, immersing ourselves into different cultures and trying new things every day. This trip and the people I’ve experienced it with will always hold a special place in my heart.
Read more Willow Lamkin, 2022
South East Asia Gap Semester

Reviews South America 2
Jason practicing local cooking techniques

“My experience on this trip changed my life. I’ve become much more confident, happy opening up to people, and have gotten better at dealing with change & struggles in my life. This trip ended up being much more fun than I could have thought, due to the incredible activities and experiences we had, but in my opinion, mostly because of the relationships I formed with my fellow students and my instructors!” Jason Link, 2022
South America Semester Program

Juliane - South America Gap Semester
What a view! Best enjoyed with new friends!

“The South America semester program is one I will never forget, we did a lot of incredible things. From service work in the mountains with lamas to swimming on the Galápagos Islands. ” I met amazing people who are gonna stay in my heart forever.
Read more Juliane Endeman , 2022
South America Gap Semester

Reviews Thailand
Eliana working on her Muay Thai skills

“This experience taught me so much about what it means to really be a global citizen. If you want an authentic experience of a country Pacific Discovery does it beautifully! I felt fully immersed in Thailand and Thai culture every single day and was prompted to have meaningful reflections along the way.” Eliana Verdi, 2022
Thailand Mini Semester Program

3 James
A boat is the best place to enjoy a sunset!

“I feel that I am able to appreciate culture and nature so much more now. This trip made me so much more comfortable making friends and truly being myself.
I feel as if I have grown in so many ways from this trip and gained so many connections and experiences. I am way more confident now. Follow the breadcrumbs of life. Never say no to an experience. Don’t be too quick to judge people.” Read more James Campbell, 2022
Hawaii Gap Semester

Reviews Hawaii
Isabelle in Volcanoes National Park!

“I think the trip overall was better than I expected. I was really nervous going in, but the experiences I’ve had and the friends I’ve made are better than I could’ve ever asked for. My favorite activity was probably going to Volcanoes National Park. It was a super surreal experience and I loved being at ground zero of volcanic activity. Very humbling and very epic. Overall, this has been one of the best decisions of my life, and the memories I’ve made here I’ll carry with me forever!” Isabelle Thompson, 2022
Hawaii Mini Semester Program

Raley - New Zealand and Australia Gap Semester
Raley ready for a skydive!

“My time in New Zealand and Australia with Pacific Discovery has forever changed my perspective on life. I pushed myself to try a myriad of activities such as skydiving, rafting, canyoning, etc. which helped me expand my comfort zone.” I learned how to fully appreciate nature and all it has to offer as well as the local cultures from different parts of the world. Lastly, I realized that just because you are put with a group of strangers you just met, it doesn’t mean there has to be conflict or drama; our group bonded very quickly and I made what I believe are going to be lifelong friends that I am very grateful for and this experience would not have been the same without them.” Read more Raley Carter, 2022
New Zealand & Australia Gap Semester

Reviews South America 1
Balthasar in Peru's traditional clothing

“I would recommend this program to others because I learned a lot, like how to travel in a proper and safe way (what to watch out for when traveling). I got to know an incredible number of people during this trip, whether everybody in the group, the guides we had or local families throughout the homestays. I learned more about the different environments we traveled through and especially more about environmental protection, and I grew a lot as a character and got more mature about certain topics.” Balthasar von Peter, 2022
South America Semester Program

Polynesian Journey Gap Semester
Say cheese! Polynesian Journey group photo.

“I’ve definitely grown on this program. My perspective on things has changed and I have learned so much about other cultures and about environmental issues. Seeing the impact up close really makes you want to act more. I have also just learned more about myself.” I would recommend this program to others because I have honestly never been happier than on this program. The other students, instructors and the beautiful places you get to meet and see really gives you no reason to worry about other things. I would share with my prior program self that I should enjoy every single second 10 times more than I already did. My experience with Pacific Discovery was everything I could have wished for. It’s a very special way of traveling around the world and learning about other cultures. You do something for others and the environment while also learning so much about yourself, so it’s beneficial in many ways.” Read more Babs de Back, 2022
Polynesian Journey Semester Program

Western USA Program
Ilana exploring Coconino National Forest

“While traveling the Western United States, I saw the scenery change from the warm desert to beautiful mountains. As the scenery changed, my perspective on the world around me grew and my connections with those around me grew as well.” Ilana Scheer, 2021
Western US Semester Program

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Abigail taking in the views in Thailand

“Pacific Discovery is so amazing!! My experience made me into a much more whole person and I changed in ways I couldn’t have predicted. I gained confidence in myself and my beliefs, and learned about various things that I’m interested in, such as coral and forest restoration.” I would absolutely recommend this program to others. I wish everyone could experience what I’ve experienced. I found lifelong friends and mentors and the memories will stay with me forever!” Read more Abigail Frank, 2021
Thailand Semester Program

Reviews 1
Magdalena weaving with palm leaves

“Throughout this program I have become the self that I used to be before I lost it due to the pandemic. Before program I was insecure and so lost with what I wanted to do with my life, and now because I got in touch with my true self and nature, I have found clarity with how I want to live my life and I am the most confident than I have ever been in my life.” I would recommend this program to others because it has a good balance of service work and fun activities, so you get the best of both worlds! ” Read more Magdalena Schnell, 2021
Hawaii Semester Program

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

Reviews South America
Ginny making friends at the farm

“I signed up for the South America program to reconnect with family that I hadn’t seen in years. I ended up embarking on an amazing journey where I had the opportunity to learn about different cultures in Peru and Ecuador. This is really a once-in-a-lifetime trip that everyone should be able to participate in.” Ginny Ordonez, 2022
South America Semester Program

Testimonial 3
Payton out snorkeling at Kicker Rock

“I feel like I grew as a person throughout the whole journey. I made amazing friends that allowed me to be my full authentic self. I felt pure happiness throughout the program because I could see myself growing as a person.” I feel more cultured, and confident in my Spanish abilities as well. I gained more travel skills and my ability to navigate new places. Now, I feel more confident traveling to different countries and enduring adventures on my own. Overall, it was a great experience!” Read more Payton Elsaden, 2022
The Galapagos Islands Summer Program

Emily Bosworth
Emily hangs out with penguins in the Galapagos Islands

“My Pacific Discovery trip was absolutely a life-changing experience. I not only had an excellent time and make 13 new best friends, but also gained perspective that changed the way I look at the world. Meeting people from communities in Peru and Ecuador and learning about their way of life has inspired me to think differently about my own life and about those I meet. Coming home from this trip, I am more thoughtful, inquisitive, independent, and mature and will be much better prepared to handle what the future brings.” Emily Bosworth, 2016
Ecuador & Galapagos Summer Program

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Lian getting stuck into climbing, Thailand

“My semester with Pacific Discovery surprised me in the best way possible. I don’t know what I expected going into the trip, but what I
got was an adventure full of ups and downs, personal growth, adventure, physical, mental, and emotional challenge, new friends, life
long memories, and a widened perspective”
Lian Boltwood, 2018
Thailand Summer Program

Pristine beaches to famous glaciers

“Visiting Australia and New Zealand had always been on my bucket list, and I couldn't be happier that I got the opportunity to experience it with Pacific Discovery. You can tell how much meticulous planning they put into curating each program's itinerary and making sure that you'll see as much of Australia and New Zealand as possible in your 70 days there. ” On the program, you'll embody the traveler's spirit, always on the move and never staying in any one place for more than a couple of days. Looking back, the breadth and depth of activities you get to partake in on this program are amazing. From surfing on Australia's pristine beaches to taking in New Zealand's most famous glacier, your experience with PD will leave you with memories that last a lifetime.

I am really so grateful to Pacific Discovery for giving me the ideal start to my gap year. I can't think of a better way to have spent the last 3 months. I want everyone to be able to have the same life-changing experience I did, so I highly recommend Pacific Discovery if you are taking a gap year! You'll learn about sustainability, culture, and the unique environment on these islands, but more importantly, you'll learn so much about yourself. If you're like me and haven't made up your mind about what you want your future to look like, this program will help give you clarity on what truly drives you to be who you are.

Once again, thanks to PD for this incredible experience!!”
Read more Emily Simons, 2019
New Zealand & Australia Semester Program

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Tropical study experience

“I had a great time on Discovery Campus. The people I met as well as the staff were great, & overall the experience was amazing. Everyone was so friendly and positive, and I highly recommend it. ” The trips on the weekends were a lot of fun, and I have made so many memories with my roommates (which were grouped so well, it seemed like everyone on the program got along with their roommates) that I will always be thankful for. If you’re looking for a way to meet new people and gain new life experiences, this would be a good fit for you.” Read more Emma Warmerdam, 2020
Discovery Campus Hawaii

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Volcanoes National Park exploration

“Being surrounded by other teens allowed me to reflect internally while learning from people around me as well. The trip pushed my comfort zones but at the same time was the most supportive environment I have been in all throughout high school. I loved getting to learn in a new way that wasn’t burdened with tests or monotonous assignments.” Gigi Deinard, 2020
Hawaii Semester Program

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Grayson learning the ropes in Montana

“I really loved this Western USA Gap Year semester trip!! loved adventuring out West through Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Washington, Oregon and California. I really had a good time and I have made some amazing friendships that I will hold on to for the rest of my life. I even have some best friends on the trip and I will miss them so much. We will see each other sometime soon though. ” Some of my highlights of the trip are the following: Arches Day, Canyonlands Day, Kayaking in the San Juan Islands and Rock Climbing in Montana. I had so much fun doing all of those activities and I really enjoyed it too. We went to Arches, went on a hike, and then we went to Canyonlands to do a sunrise hike. That was very cool. I really enjoyed it. Kayaking was also very cool. We saw sea lions and we almost were in Canada so that was very cool!! The rock climbing for me was very frustrating because I couldn’t do some of it but then at the end I was able to do a hard climb so I was very proud of myself. I pushed myself and I was able to do a hard climb. I was so proud of myself!! The instructors Cade and Sheila are very nice and chill. When we have had a long day, they would take us out to get hot drinks and to explore some cities which was very nice of them. They are very good instructors and they are huge role models for me. I will miss them so much once this ends. Finally, I have had an amazing time on this trip. I have loved being in the Western United States exploring and doing activities and I will definitely have to do something like this in the future. It has been an amazing experience and one that I will remember for the rest of my life. Thank you to PD for organizing this and for making it happen. It couldn’t have gone this smoothly without you guys so thank you so much for everything that you’ve done. It is greatly appreciated!!” Read more Grayson Cheek, 2020
Western USA Semester Program

Yoga retreat in Guatemala

“I cannot say enough nice things about my semester with Pacific Discovery. I overcame challenges of all varieties this semester: physical, mental and emotional. I am a better version of myself now and I have learned so much about myself and who I am. I would recommend this program to anyone needing a break from school, a change in perspective, or an eye-opening experience. ” Pacific Discovery is an exceptional program that will provide you with the skills, experiences, and opportunities to challenge yourself, grow as a person, and open up your world. I can say with confidence that I feel ready and excited to travel independently. Taking a gap year has been the best decision of my life thus far. I only wish I could do it over and over again.” Read more Abigail Hasselbrink, 2021
Central America Semester Program

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Swimming hole in Hawaii

“Pacific Discovery was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. There were so many incredible adventures and I got to push myself out of my comfort zone. Exploring a place in the world for a long period of time truly makes an difference when it comes to traveling because you really get to know the land and try so many things. I am so grateful for Pacific discovery and the people I met along the way” Lillian Harrington, 2021
Hawaii Semester Program

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Kayaking in Costa Rica

“I would recommend the program to others to challenge yourself, make new friends, do amazing activities and to immerse yourself in a new culture! You really get to learn more about yourself and who you are as a person on this program! I learned to let go, and live in the moment. ” My trip to Costa Rica was truly life-changing. I made deep connections, did amazing activities, and I really gained clarity as to what I want out of life. I came out of this experience with more confidence and a greater appreciation for life! Ready to face any challenge and to just stay calm like the waves!” Read more Mia LaFayette, 2021
Costa Rica Mini Semester

Elephant conservation project in Thailand

“I would definitely recommend this program to others! It was an unforgettable adventure with people that I love and respect. My favourite activity was definitely working with the elephants. That was an experience like no other, and I feel so incredibly lucky to have had such an opportunity.
We had both chores and free time with the elephants, so all the work felt incredibly rewarding. I also loved the freedom we had on student-led days. I was so so grateful to have the chance to visit as many temples as I wanted without feeling like I was holding up anyone else. Such opportunities made me feel like I was making the most of my time in Thailand, and my confidence in my ability to be independent skyrocketed.” Read more Addie Leigh Esposito, 2021
Thailand 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

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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

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Avery in a pyramid on top of a pyramid

“I grew a lot as a person on this program; I learned how to become a better global citizen and I learned that I want my future career to revolve around traveling. I would recommend this program to others if they want to see and experience very culturally enriching experiences, all the while getting to do it with your new best friends.” I would tell myself to live and love every single moment because it really does fly by. My experience was life-changing and I discovered a lot about myself. I have made the greatest friends in the world while also getting to do things that are once in a lifetime experiences. I’m so thankful for this program and for all of the amazing things that came with it.” Read more Avery Appling, 2021
Central America Semester Program

Reviews 4
Aidan climbing a 14er in Colorado

“If I were to share something with my pre-program self, it would be 'Hey, you climbed a 14er.' My pre-program self didn’t even know what that was, but I hiked to the top of a 14,000 foot mountain in Colorado. It took all day but was totally worth it. It pushed my body in ways I never thought I would, but I am glad I did. If I could summarize my experience in 3 sentences, it would be this: an amazing time overall, with so many different activities, places and cultures to experience. I grew very close with everyone and cherish the relationships I have built.” This program is a fantastic way to see many parts of the country, and in ways you normally wouldn’t. A normal vacation often does not take into account being mindful of where you are visiting. The service work you do and just general awareness for the land sets this experience apart from regular tourism. ” Read more Aidan Heroux, 2021
Hawaii & Western US Semester Program

Reviews Hawaii 2
Shane hiving a great day

“Throughout the program, I did not know what to expect. I enjoyed every moment for it made me realize who I was.” Shane Grattan, 2022
Hawaii Mini Semester Program

Testimonial 4
Whitney island hopping in the Whitsundays!

“I would recommend the program to others because it’s a learning experience! I learned a lot about myself, Australian culture, and the people I was with. Also, it’s a lot of fun!” I definitely feel more independent and knowledgeable when it comes to traveling and figuring things out on my own. I would say my experience was a once-in-a-lifetime trip that pushed me out of my comfort zone, and will forever be memorable!” Read more Whitney Green, 2022
Australia Summer Program

Australia Program - Beaches
Pristine beaches to famous glaciers

“Visiting Australia and New Zealand had always been on my bucket list, and I couldn't be happier that I got the opportunity to experience it with Pacific Discovery. You can tell how much meticulous planning they put into curating each program's itinerary and making sure that you'll see as much of Australia and New Zealand as possible in your 70 days there.” On the program, you'll embody the traveler's spirit, always on the move and never staying in any one place for more than a couple of days. Looking back, the breadth and depth of activities you get to partake in on this program are amazing. From surfing on Australia's pristine beaches to taking in New Zealand's most famous glacier, your experience with PD will leave you with memories that last a lifetime.

I am really so grateful to Pacific Discovery for giving me the ideal start to my gap year. I can't think of a better way to have spent the last 3 months. I want everyone to be able to have the same life-changing experience I did, so I highly recommend Pacific Discovery if you are taking a gap year! You'll learn about sustainability, culture, and the unique environment on these islands, but more importantly, you'll learn so much about yourself. If you're like me and haven't made up your mind about what you want your future to look like, this program will help give you clarity on what truly drives you to be who you are.

Once again, thanks to Pacific Discovery for this incredible experience!!”
Read more Emily Simons, 2019
New Zealand & Australia Semester Program

Review Pacific Discovery Thailand
Sasha greets the ocean at Railay Beach, Southern Thailand

“This is a new type of education, one of mind, body, and soul, where you and other students your age challenge each other to become the greatest person you can be.” Even though I considered myself well-travelled, Pacific Discovery expanded my horizons more than I anticipated. The program challenged my emotional states, gave me opportunities I never dreamed of, and let me achieve the cultural awareness I was hoping for. I had wanted to go to Thailand for years and when I was finally given the opportunity, I wanted to explore the depth of the country in an environment that was safer than traveling alone, and which also gave me the benefits of a group. This program surpassed all of my expectations. Each day is filled with group activities and the chance to explore individually, so you can make friends but also give yourself a chance to grow outside of the group. This program is perfect for those who wish to grow and explore, for it gives you all the opportunities to do so, while making friends, and learning in depth about a new culture. I cannot give a higher recommendation.” Read more Sasha Howes, 2014
Virginia Tech

Scuba Diving in Fiji!

“I went on the NZ and Fiji program in July and it was amazing. It was super varied from relaxing on the beach in Fiji to going to Hobbition in NZ. We also did scuba diving, rafting, kayaking, mountain biking, we even went to castaway island. It was only 4 weeks long and I wish it was longer! ” We had a smaller group which made the trip really feel like a family and for me, made the trip even better. I learnt so much about myself and think the others on the program did too. We really became so close in such a short time, i feel like I've known everyone for years. I recommend this trip to anyone that wants to see NZ and Fiji and travel with others the same age as you, you will make lifelong friends and memory’s you will never forget. I will never forget this trip.” Read more Sam Hayward, 2019
New Zealand & Fiji Summer Program

sage tyler
Sage jumps for joy at Mt Everest Base Camp, Tibet

“I thought that this trip was an amazing opportunity which offered me all kinds of experiences that are unlike any that I have had before.” Sage Tyler, 2013
University of Maryland

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

Kelli Barnett
Kelli mid-slide, New Zealand

“I was challenged socially, mentally, physically, spiritually and came back a much happier, stronger person because of it.” You will come back inspired in ways you never thought possible. I came back inspired about life. The people you meet will share stories and experiences that change the way you think about the world. I became inspired to travel and see for myself the diversity of life that exists on the other side of the planet. I was sick of reading in textbooks and listening to lectures - to really gain knowledge and understanding of something you have to experience it firsthand. Secondly, I can guarantee you will be challenged. I have some of the best memories of my life on that trip and I am fortunate enough to have shared them with incredible group-mates. For once in my life, I threw away logic, emptied out my savings account and did the one thing in my life I really wanted to do. I have now realized that anything is possible. You just have to open your mind and go after your dreams. The best of luck to all of you.” Read more Kelli Barnett, 2001
Winona State University

Tanner Gariepy
Tanner at 16,000ft. Quilotoa Crater Lake, Ecuador

“I highly recommend you choose Pacific Discovery to see the world, and have memories with new friends to last a lifetime.” This experience was by far the most memorable two months of my life. I experienced new cultures, and was able to share some of my culture to local people through the homestays. The program leaders were amazing! They always had smiles on their faces, were always prepared, and they made the trip 10x better.” Read more Tanner Gariepy, 2015
Virginia Tech

Anna Bloom
Anna connects with the children while on a service project in Kampot, Cambodia

“I was physically, mentally and emotionally challenged, which resulted in tremendous personal growth.” Taking this trip during my gap semester before college was the best decision I ever made. I learned more about myself and made closer friendships in my 2 months in Southeast Asia than I did during 4 years of high school. The program was so organized and went beyond my expectations. It balanced activities and relaxation perfectly. We were able to trek through the wilderness, stay in remote villages, bond through group activities like rock climbing, work on service projects with local people and also take a break and explore beautiful places. The amenities ranged from clean, comfortable hotels and hostels to more rugged home stays and villages. I always felt safe and never worried about any sort of health problems. At the same time, I was pushed beyond my comfort zone and challenged everyday with new adventures, which resulted in tremendous personal growth. I look back on my journal and pictures from my time in Southeast Asia and wish I could go back. Pacific Discovery's program surpassed my expectations and thoroughly prepared me for college. I couldn't be happier! Thank you!!” Read more Anna Bloom, 2014
University of California, Berkley

Jeff Conners
Jeff watching the sunset at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

“Pacific Discovery have nailed the study abroad experience! They took me on the adventure of my life. If you're looking for adventure, if you're looking to learn and grow, if you're looking for fun and to develop friendships that will last a lifetime...choose Pacific Discovery!” Jeff Coners, 2009
Wheaton College

kara barnhart
Kara hard at work building a trail to a remote village in Nepal

“I can honestly say that I KNOW Nepal, not that I saw it as a tourist, but that I experienced all that it has to offer as if a Nepali myself.” I can't say enough good things when it comes to Pacific Discovery. Now that I've gone through the whole process of looking into the program, signing up, getting ready, traveling through Nepal and Tibet… and coming home… it is so hard to imagine any other way to see an area of our world. The experiences we had on this trip would be impossible for someone to have without Pacific Discovery's planning, and connections to people in the area. Every day felt like a dream; I will forever remember my trip as one the best decisions I've made in my entire life, and am thankful beyond words that Rachel and Scott have created Pacific Discovery and continue to offer these life-changing opportunities.” Read more Kara Barnhart, 2014
Syracuse University

Cosimo during a buddhist meditation retreat in Thailand

“Amazing. Eye opening. Beautiful. Irreplaceable experience. Challenging.” This trip, hands down, was the most amazing experience I have had. I have a new perspective on life and it has opened doors that I never knew existed. Thailand was incredible, words can't express the appreciation and love I have for the program. Thank you for an experience that I will hold with me for the rest of my life.” Read more Cosimo Blodgett, 2014
Drexel University

Gabe Grant
Gabe gives Australia two thumbs up

“It was the best choice of my life.” I loved this trip, I'm so sad it's over. I hope I can do some trips like this in the next 2 years in between college semesters, hopefully to Latin America!!!” Read more Gabe Grant, 2015
University of Colorado

Jillian Forte
A gibbon hangs out with Jillian in Thailand

“What we experienced wasn’t the shallow surface learning that the everyday tourist gets.” We may have been to the same places and seen the same sites, but we got to know the culture, the people, what goes on in their daily lives. Not only did we get a feel for the history and the politics of each region, but we got so see how it affected the people by talking about it to them and their families while they put us up in their homes. What I experienced on this program was more than I could ever have imagined, and so much more than I could have gotten on my own” Read more Jillian Forte, 2009
Franklin College, Switzerland

Saul Cohen
Saul and his PacDisco family - Fraser Island, Australia

“Traveling to Australia with Pacific Discovery was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I got the opportunity to rappel down cliffs, catch some amazing waves, and explore the culture of Australia. However, the most valuable experience for me was traveling with the 13 amazing people in my group. Traveling with such a small group meant that we got to know each other really well, and by the end, they were like family. The family atmosphere allowed me to become more confident in myself, whether I was trekking through canyons or just hanging out with the group. I really enjoyed my time traveling with Pacific Discovery, and I would recommend the program to every person my age.” Saul Cohen, 2015
New Zealand & Australia Semester Program

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Erika and buddies - underwater in Thailand

“Yes. The program has changed me in indescribable ways. I return feeling different in my body. It is impossible to really explain the experience and to get a taste until you do it yourself, so I highly recommend taking that step. I return with much more confidence in myself and in traveling. The leaders gave me the support and skills I needed to grow. The places we stayed gave the the experiences to grow. I know now that I am able to travel solo with the confidence that I know how to take care of myself. This is an educational experience in the most special way.” Erika Williams, 2016
Thailand Summer Program

alexandra galvin
Alex looking a little nervous before rappelling off a vertical cliff in the Blue Mountains, Australia

“I would definitely recommend this program to others, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The entire trip was packed full of adventure, good company, and bad jokes.” The program as a whole definitely changed my world view. Being surrounded by a group of people from so many different places really helped broaden my experience. I would also say that this program exceeded my expectations, as I had so much more fun than I even thought to be possible. I did so many things I never thought I would have had the chance to do, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.” Read more Alexandra Galvin, 2015
Chapman University

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

Jackie Bonasia
Jackie hiking towards Machu Picchu, Peru

“I'm so happy that I decided to start off my gap year by choosing Pacific Discovery. It honestly has helped me regain so much of the confidence that I felt like I had lost by attending a university that wasn't right for me last fall. It has also helped me get to know myself. Even though we were living in close quarters the majority of the time, I was surprisingly able to spend a lot of alone time, which is super important for self development and growth. I feel like I know so much more about myself now, and one of my goals for my gap year is to really become comfortable with being alone. I really only have good things to say returning home from this program.” Jackie Bonasia, 2015
Syracuse University

Lisa Prendergast
Lisa and her crew working on 'fun' during a service project week in New Zealand

“No words will ever be able to express what this program means to me and what it has done for my life. Not only was I able to explore New Zealand the way it should be, off the beaten track, but I was able to create friendships both inside as well as outside the group, and test myself mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. This experience far exceeded what I had expected from this program. I was drawn to the adventure, environmental work, and fun it offered, but I came back with more than I ever could have asked for. I have returned to the states as a new person, free from worries that I held onto for so long. Thank you for making me feel more in the present than I ever have in the past.” I have always suffered from anxiety, concerned about the future, success, planning every moment of my life, etc. This trip has simply taught me to slow down and appreciate not knowing what will happen every second of my life. It is one thing to hear the phrase "It is not about the destination, but the journey", but it is another to actually live it and breathe it. I know can move forward with my life and live it the way it simply should be lived, happily.

This program went far beyond what I have and could have ever expected. I not only fulfilled my dream of traveling to New Zealand, saw and did all the things I have wanted to do, learned new things about the culture, and took great fun/adventurous, hilarious memories back, but I was able to rediscover myself in a way that I did not think was possible. My new outlook on life, redirected path, and overall sense of self accomplishment would have never been found if not for this trip. I was even able to finally put to rest a long and tiresome regret of not being able to study abroad in New Zealand. I would have never seen the country, and would have never personally grown the way I have through Pacific Discovery if I decided to study abroad. So thank you.”
Read more Lisa Prendergast, 2009
Oregon State University

Scuba Diving in Fiji!

“I went on the NZ and Fiji program in July and it was amazing. It was super varied from relaxing on the beach in Fiji to going to Hobbition in NZ. ” We also did scuba diving, rafting, kayaking, mountain biking, we even went to castaway island. It was only 4 weeks long and I wish it was longer! We had a smaller group which made the trip really feel like a family and for me, made the trip even better. I learnt so much about myself and think the others on the program did too. We really became so close in such a short time, i feel like I've known everyone for years. I recommend this trip to anyone that wants to see NZ and Fiji and travel with others the same age as you, you will make lifelong friends and memory’s you will never forget. I will never forget this trip.” Read more Sam Hayward, 2019
New Zealand & Fiji Summer Program

Biking through South East Asia

“This whole semester it seemed I was living on cloud 9. Of course there were times when I was mad, or sad or just annoyed, but those are not the times I remember. The thing I remember was the long bus rides watching movies with my friends, the spontaneous adventure we would do when we got free time from the whole group, the amount of gut-wrenching laughing that occurred at all times of the day.” These are the things I am going to remember, for me experiences are often not about the places, yes while Southeast Asia was definitely one of the most amazingly beautiful places I have ever seen, what made this trip so special was the incredible people who were on this journey with me. People make these places amazing for me and I was lucky enough to be surrounded by people who made our little group into a family. That is what is so special about this program is that it takes you so far out of your comfort zone that you learn how to be comfortable in your comfort. This experience has allowed me to open so many doors for myself because I am not afraid of the discomfort, in fact, I look forward to the discomfort because I know that's when I will learn and grow the most.” Read more Abigail Rowe, 2019
South East Asia Semester Program

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Mountain biking in Stanley, ID

“I had an incredible experience. The variety of places we went to allowed to experience and fully enjoy a vast amount of different environments from desert to snow and everything in between. The program has boosted my confidence by physically challenging me in ways I could not imagine before this trip such as rock climbing and mountain biking but I had such fun trying these activities that I now have more confidence to try new things in my everyday life.” Alexander Wechsler, 2020
Western USA Semester Program

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Cooking in a traditional Hawaiian underground oven

“This was an amazing experience because I was able to develop as a person so much more than I ever expected. I learned much more about myself and my values...as we learned more about the Hawaiian culture my perspective changed heavily from being in my own little bubble to opening my eyes to a whole new style of living and community.” Ryan Humphrey, 2020
Hawaii Semester Program

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Memories for a lifetime

“Overall this trip was amazing, the locations that we visited were scenic and extremely enjoyable, memorable places were the Arches in Moab, Utah and San Juan Islands, Washington. The fact that the group of people meshed well made the trip easy to enjoy.” Owen Liston, 2020
Western USA Semester Program

Pacific Discovery - Hawaii Program
Danny on a Jurassic World filming location

“I had an incredible experience! The amount that I grew as an individual is astounding. I learned how to be independent and shop for meals while keeping price and budget in mind. I would recommend this program to others because of how much I learned about myself. ” Through the many spiritual experiences that we shared as a group on this program, I was able to straighten out my values and figure out what aspects of life are actually important to me. All in all, I had the time of my life on this trip!” Read more Danny Fournier, 2021
Hawaii Semester Program

Cooking workshop in Thailand
Tanner on a cooking workshop in 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 life long 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

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Alexis under the starry night sky

“Over the course of this program, I grew more than I ever could have imagined. I gained a more solidified perception of my identity, and continued to develop aspects of it that I never realized I carry. Between nights spent under starry skies and days listening to the gentle crashing of waves, I have begun to understand what it means to be authentic. ” No one is a stranger to self doubt, however, my experience in Hawai’i aided me in overcoming the obstacles put in place by my own fear of failure. I will never forget my experience here on the Big Island, and I will forever cherish the memories.
Read more Alexis Steinert, 2021
Hawaii Mini Semester Program

Our Quest For Zac Efron in Thailand 2
Cabell bathing elephants in a sanctuary

“This program helped me grow as an independent traveler while having my incredible instructors as guides to fall back on. I learned more about myself and I feel much more educated on culture and life in general post-program. I would recommend this program to literally anyone. ” Everyone could benefit from this and you’ll be able to succeed further in life after experiencing the world. Pacific Discovery offers this program to learn and see the world safely. I would tell my pre-program self to jump all in with both feet and take it all in! I loved this program and I’m grateful for the opportunity because I’m genuinely a changed person; I’m a better person because of my travels in Thailand, my instructors, and my group members!” Read more Cabell Haneberg, 2021
Thailand Semester Program

Review Eloise
Eloise snorkeling in the clear waters of Mexico

“I have grown as a person by getting to know myself better and knowing what I want to keep doing in life and what I want to change. I have gained life experience by going out of my comfort zone and learning new things, and I have learned more about talking about myself and my feelings. ” I would recommend this trip because the program those things you wouldn’t find or do by yourself. It’s a great way to travel at a young age while meeting new people from across the world. I had an amazing, grateful and inspiring experience!” Read more Eloise Lynch, 2021
Central America Semester Program

Reviews 6
Allyson working on a permaculture farm

“I grew as a person, accomplished things I never thought I could and tried new things such as hiking and yoga and ended up loving both. Especially camping, I was out of my comfort zone but it made me grow. I would recommend this program to others to become more aware of what goes on around other parts of the world and learn about places you travel to.” I gained confidence from start to finish on this program and I’m proud of how far I’ve came and the other students even the instructors. From early mornings having breakfast, getting ready for what the day holds whether it was the beach, a hike, a workshop or agricultural work, to cooking together and playing games before getting ready for bed. I couldn’t be more happier to know I’ve spent the days with the students I did. Learning and growing with them physically, mentally and spiritually.” Read more Allyson Vella, 2021
Hawaii Mini Semester Program

Reviews South America 3
Sadie shredding some waves

“I’m so so happy I went on this trip, it changed my life and mindset about how I see the world. Looking back I made so many fond memories, my trip went as well as and even better than I was expecting. That was half because of the beautiful country of Costa Rica with its rich wildlife and friendly locals, but also because of my instructors and program mates that made the trip worthwhile!” Sadie Turner, 2022
Costa Rica Mini Semester Program

sasha heinen
Mud fight - Whanganui National Park, New Zealand

“PD strikes me as almost anti-tourism. As a participant, you delve immediately into the culture of your destination rather than simply observing from afar.” I can't laud Pacific Discovery highly enough for the experience gained on this trip. I came away with more than a few fun stories, although I definitely had those aplenty; mostly, I was provided with a new framework for looking at the world, one that encompassed a perspective totally separate from my native US one. The volunteering is meaningful and acquaints you with people living in every place that you visit, and the expeditions are anything but touristy. Clearly, the trip was designed by locals: most of the locations are on the bucket list of Kiwis and Aussies alike, not necessarily the guidebook standards. Talking to others who have studied abroad, the third aspect of PD that I appreciated the most was being treated like an adult. Unstructured time in cities gave participants an avenue to take exploration and time alone into our own hands, while the backcountry and volunteering aspects took real, hard work.” Read more Sasha Heinen, 2011
Pitzer College

justin simpson
Justin learning the ropes in New Zealand

“It was a uniquely beneficial, enlightening, inspiring, eye-opening, challenging, life changing experience.” The leaders of my group are amazing individuals; I wish I could be more like them. They helped everyone in our group overcome many challenges, taught us adventure skills, environmental stewardship, increased our confidence, our trust in each other, respect for each other, optimism in difficult situations, curiosity of the world, appreciation for diversity, empathy, and I think all of us learned to dream big. Pacific Discovery will help people increase their opportunities and the ambition and passion to pursue them. In the past other people would have been able to impose the limitations they perceived onto me. Now I have the confidence and motivation to seek what interests me. I learned so much, yet at the same time I realized the vastness of what I don't know.” Read more Justin Simpson, 2001
University of Wisconsin, La Crosse

Grace Pezella
Grace waits for the sun in Halong Bay, Vietnam

“This program gave me the confidence to do everything, try everything, and process it all in a safe, supportive environment. Simply put: go!” I've always considered myself adventurous, but running down the winding alleys of Hanoi in the rain or trying chicken feet at a street market in Sukhothai would not have been possible for me without Pacific Discovery. Without being trite, I realized in my time away that the world is as big or as small as you choose to make it, and PD definitely helped to expand mine. SE Asia defies description; never have I visited anywhere that has instilled in me such an immediate and vibrant sense of place” Read more Grace Pezzella, 2014
Bates College

emma logevall
Emma, swimming to Maori rock carvings in Lake Taupo, New Zealand

“I know that there are an overwhelming number of abroad programs to choose from, but I urge everyone to consider this one. You will love it!” I give this program a 10/10 in all categories...and I mean it. Whether we were canoeing the Whanganui River, backpacking in Kahurangi National Park, celebrating the Sevens Rubgy Tournament in Wellington, or doing trail maintenance on North Keppel Island in Australia, we were always challenging ourselves, trying new things, growing closer, and having a blast. I went skydiving for the first time (amazing!), I saw a massive Maori cliff carving accessible only by water (we swam for ten minutes to get there), I fell asleep many nights under the starriest skies I've ever seen, and I frequently wondered if the world could really be so beautiful.” Read more Emma Logevall, 2013
Cornell University

Kerry Giaz 1
Yum! Spicy cucumber snacks

“Pacific Discovery is a young traveler's dream. You travel with like-minded people who become some of the best friends you'll ever have.” You get to do exotic things that most people only dream about like riding elephants, trekking to remote villages and home staying in floating ones, scuba diving with sharks, swimming in phosphorescence - the list goes on. You'll have a fantastic experienced, knowledgeable, and fun leader. Not to mention it's the most affordable company you'll ever travel with. You don't just feel like you're passing through - you get the chance to give back, from speaking with Burmese refugees and Cambodian high school students to improve their English, to building bio-sand water filters so people can have safe drinking water, to taking impoverished kids in Phnom Penh to a water park for a day of fun. You'll learn to appreciate your own culture more through learning about theirs and you will understand that we're all really the same. This trip has made me change the way I see the world, and has made me very thankful for everything I have in life.” Read more Kerry Gaiz, 2007
Menlo College

Jack Crestani
John swimming at Kuang Sii waterfall near Luang Prabang, Laos

“In a world increasingly burdened under its own weight, it’s nice to know some people still care…these people work at Pacific Discovery! Committed to ethical tourism and sustainable travel, Pacific Discovery have set themselves apart from the crowd by going above-and-beyond.” They take particular care in minimizing the negative impacts of travel. They do this while simultaneously taking steps towards positively helping out and benefiting the peoples and cultures we visit along the way. Traveling with Pacific Discovery was not only an ethical and sustainable travel experience, but educated and taught me about the disproportionably large impacts tourists can have on these developing countries. Pacific Discovery 'walks the walk' and that gives much more meaning to their 'talk'.” Read more John Crestani, 2009
Southern Methodist University

Priya Dhanani
Priya, feeling heart full at the end of her Southeast Asia Semester

“I simply wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I can't imagine the time and effort that goes into putting these trips together, and for me, it was definitely a life changing experience.” For one, I didn't know what to expect of this trip -- you know you kind of pick up your things and go and just hope for the best. I really walked away with a lot of new found knowledge and experiences that taught me about myself and others. I loved how you taught us to be culturally respectful and also taught us historical backgrounds of each country. It is a significant aspect to truly immerse into a culture, which I have found that many people and programs overlook. All in all I pushed myself beyond limits and did things I never thought I could do and for that I thank you.” Read more Priya Dhanani, 2010
Georgia State University

Breanne Peacock
Breanne (on right) at the high point of the final day of her backpacking expedition, New Zealand

“Honestly, the backpacking trip was the most challenging thing I have ever done in my life.” However it was the most amazing expedition we did! It was incredible to see how far we all pushed ourselves to get to the top! I'm proud of everyone for accomplishing that! I would recommend this trip for anyone and everyone. You overcome challenges, experience new things, meet people you will become friends with for life and learn so many things about the environment and the culture.” Read more Breanne Peacock, 2015
University of Ottawa

Steve Aruillo
Steve enters the stillness at Nelson Lakes National Park, New Zealand

“I could write you guys a 10 page essay about how much I loved it.” Just a very positive and amazing experience, totally different than any other abroad program that I've heard about. A once in a lifetime experience that only those who participate in it will understand. It was everything I thought it would be and I waited 2.5 years to do it. I and everyone else are so sad it's over. Thank you for putting together an awesome and totally diverse program for people our age. We saw New Zealand and Australia in a way that very few will ever get to see it, I would do it again in a heartbeat. I hope we all stay in touch. Can't thank you guys enough. We loved your home.” Read more Steve Aruilio, 2015
Keene State College

Dave Elman
Dave kayaking through the wonders of Halong Bay, Vietnam

“My overall trip experience was...amazing, unforgettable and invaluable! No exaggeration - best decision I've ever made! There's no excuse for you not to go on this trip.” Dave Elman, 2008
Cornell University

Anthony Rongione
Anthony blends in while homestaying in Lalachon community, Peru

“All places visited while in Peru were truly incredible, as we all got a glimpse of not only the modern society of Peru, but also the ancient history and influences that has granted the country with such a deep and interesting culture today.” Traveling to and experiencing Peru through Pacific Discovery was honestly life changing. I left the country with much more than pictures and memories, but with a group of incredible friends, a future wife (not kidding, you really meet some amazing people on these trips), and an adventure that I can't hope to match again in my life. If you haven't signed up already, go do it now!” Read more Anthony Rongione, 2014
Pennsylvania State University

Kurtis Adams
Kurtis, ready to face the waves on a kayak, Australia

“Astonishing, breathtaking, extraordinary, and incredible are all understatements for Pacific Discovery.” It's funny to remember waking up in the morning and thinking, "What awesome thing are we doing today? This program provided an opportunity for cultural immersion, physical and mental challenges, and personal growth. Through volunteering and traveling around New Zealand and Australia, I've gained an appreciation for the environment and life itself, and I am so grateful for the experiences, memories and new friends as a result of this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.” Read more Kurtis Adams, 2013
Daemen College

Ethan Blonder
Let loose with a machete! Ethan chops up lunch for elephants in Northern Thailand

“As someone who very much expected to have an office job before going on PD Thailand, I am now lined up to teach English for a year in South Korea, then hopefully work on an sustainable, organic farmstead in Hawai'i. Thanks to Pacific Discovery for making all that possible.” Ethan Blonder,
College of William and Mary

Angela Woods
Angela making the most of the fresh fruit in Ecuador

“I can't imagine a better way to spend a month! Go ahead, have fun!” Angela Woods, 2014
Duke University

Amelie Rey
Amelie journaling, New Zealand

“This program challenged me to open my mind, push myself out of my comfort zone, and learn to actively support others.” This program was life changing in more ways than I can count. Getting through the ups and downs as a group created a bond between group members that will forever be unbreakable. Through these experiences, I simultaneously learned a lot about myself. I now feel more confident solving problems and find that I have an overall more positive outlook on the world around me.

It is true that a small group of people can change the world, and after completing a semester with Pacific Discovery, I fully understand why this is true. Thank you infinitely, for this experience.”
Read more Amelie Rey, 2015
University of Vermont

Jessica Hoffman
Jessica drinking sweet Vietnamese coffee streetside in Hanoi

“Wonderful! Well organized, inspirational, fun and life-changing.” Jessica Hoffman, 2014
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Isabella Badia Bellinger
Isabella celebrates reaching the top of a high peak in the Remarkables range, New Zealand

“My two months in New Zealand and Australia were truly some of the best of my life. I loved every minute of it and every day was a new adventure. I found I was always challenging myself and I feel like I have learnt a lot about myself and my interests, which is great because now I know better what I enjoy doing and can apply it to my life at home.” Isabella Badia, 2013
Stanford University

Mallory Blyth
Leaping off the roof of our house boat in Halong Bay, Vietnam

“It was better than anything I could have imagined. People were nicer, our accommodation was better, the activities were more fun, and everything surpassed all of my expectations. As cool as everything sounded in the brochure - when we actually got there, doing it was just amazing.” Mallory Blyth, 2003
Northwestern University

Ian Scurra
Ian mastering a slackline - North Keppel Island, Australia

“I started the program anticipating a life changing experience in two foreign countries where I would learn both more about the world, and also myself along the way. Not only did the program live up to my expectations, but it exceeded them. I bonded with my group to the point that I will hopefully continue to keep in touch with them for life. The trip allows you to challenge yourself in any way you choose. If you seek adventure, there are canyons, mountains, and oceans to explore. Trying to be independent, on the trip you learn to prepare your own meals while camping, schedule your own free time activities, plan group evenings occasionally, etc. If you invest yourself in the two month trip, you won't be disappointed.” Ian Scurra, 2015
Middlebury College

Chad Danklef
Chad enjoying service work with disadvantaged children in Cusco, Peru

“I feel like you should SPREAD THE WORD about how great the programs are. I would have never heard about the program if it was not for my friend randomly typing “Peru” into Google's search bar. So spread the word about the amazing trips you have set up because more people should get out and learn about the world's different countries and how to travel through them.” Chad Danklef, 2008
Georgia State University

Caroline Schoeller
Getting the hang of standing up - Caroline at surf camp, Australia

“I don't really think words can describe how much fun this program was but I'll try. Coming into this program I was a shy and not very confident in myself, now, however, I feel much more comfortable reaching out to people and working more independently. Pacific Discovery helped me realize that as long as you are yourself, have a positive attitude and are willing to take chances, you can make friends and have the experience of a life time. I honestly couldn't recommend this program enough and I hope other people have as amazing a times as I had.” Caroline Schoeller, 2015
Colorado College

leyla brittan
Leyla about to dive on the Great Barrier Reef

“I would absolutely recommend the program to others. This trip not only gave me the opportunity to explore a new part of the world and learn about the cultures there, but it also introduced me to an astounding and diverse group of fellow travelers, and my time with them couldn't have been more fun and perspective-changing.” Leyla Brittan, 2015
Harvard College

Caitlin Cheng
Caitlin exploring Mai Chau, Vietnam by bike

“Before joining Pacific Discovery's Southeast Asia semester, I was focused on figuring out what I wanted to study in college. I thought that the wealth of experience that was outlined in the trip itinerary would help me solve that mystery. That was my mentality going into my gap year. 4 countries later, I still don't have a clue of what I want to major in. But Pacific Discovery had given me a chance to take a break from the perpetual stress of figuring out what I want to do in life. Instead, they gave me a whole level of self-confidence, a broadened sense of worldliness, and a new family. Thank you!” Caitlin Cheng, 2015
Princeton University

ryan brost
Ryan makes friends in Vietnam

“The program was phenomenal and totally exceeded my expectations!” Ryan Brost, 2015
University of Denver

alexa sebastianelli
Alexa diving into one of the amazing lakes on Fraser Island, Australia

“My Pacific Discovery experience opened my eyes up to a bigger world. It made me want to travel more and realize that traveling isn't as hard as people make it seem. We recycled and composted on our trip, something I didn't do at home. Which now I will do :) I couldn't have asked for better leaders and other participants to travel with. It was an overall life changing experience and I will recommend it to anyone.” Alexa Sebastianelli, 2015
Pennsylvania State

hannah Nguyen
Hannah enjoying the beauty of Halong Bay, Vietnam

“On my Pacific Discovery trip, I feel like I learned more about the world around me and the people in it in the two months I was abroad then pretty much all of high school. I was expecting two months of a relaxing vacation, but Pacific Discovery really challenged me, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I was pushed outside of my comfort zone to make 12 strangers into family, embraced different ways of life that so starkly contrast those I was used to, and gained a new perspective on what it means to be alive.” The crazy adventures I participated in on this trip, from cliff jumping to rappelling to trekking through Laos to eating bugs, have made me a much more open-minded and adventure-seeking person. I have made friends from around the world that I feel like I can reach out to whenever I want. This trip has inspired me to travel, learn, experience, and explore the world in a way that I never knew I could want to.” Read more Hannah Nguyen, 2015
University of California Berkeley

sara rukenstein
Sara squid fishing in Halong Bay, Vietnam

“What makes Pacific Discovery really special is that unlike other programs the money you spend really goes into the program in a visible way, all accommodations and meals were ideal. Also, the program leaders were like older siblings in a way that they were definitely in charge but also were there as friends if you needed them. The itinerary and PD's communication with home was unbelievably well done and thorough.” I think that the 2 months I spent with Pacific Discovery in Southeast Asia were definitely the best 2 months of my life. The trip was simultaneously a vacation and a break from reality while it was an overwhelming educational experience. I learned a lot about Asia and A LOT about myself and how I can handle different situations and different people.” Read more Sara Rukenstein, 2015
Hampshire College

Jennifer Ward
Jennifer spends some valuable time with elephants in Thailand

“The whole program completely exceeded all of my expectations. There was a perfect balance between sight-seeing and educational and voluntary components, and between scheduled group activities and free time to explore. Although I am a confident solo traveler, joining the program gave me the opportunity to have so many experiences I may have not been able to organize, or wouldn't have thought to organize for myself.” This has given me a much more rounded and complete impression of the countries we visited. It also challenged me so much more than I would have challenged myself, and I am coming home a happier, stronger and more confident version of me because of it. The program as a whole has increased my knowledge of the world we live in; different cultures, religious beliefs, and history, and how these things affect how a country functions and views both internal and external affairs. It was in particular the voluntary work, home stays and educational components which did this. I came home much more able to put my life and the things which happen in it into perspective, and much more aware of one human's ability to positively impact the world we live in.” Read more Jennifer Ward, 2014
University of Sheffield

Elle Thompson
Elle and her crew swiming through a cave in Fiji

“What a fantastic and adventurous way to travel! Was so thrilled with every experience and that a group of strangers turned into a little family. I Will treasure the memories forever.” Elle Thompson, 2015
Elon University

Mary Tobin
Mary communing with a friend in Thailand

“Pacific Discovery was the adventure I didn't know I needed.” Not only were the Thai people so welcoming, but I made lifelong friends with those I traveled with. I couldn't have asked for a better program leader -- she was attentive and ensured everyone was comfortable while allowing us to make mistakes and experience great joys from non-scheduled activities. I'd never been to Southeast Asia before and I leave knowing I will return. There's no way I would experience this if I'd planned the trip on my own. I would've missed out.” Read more Mary Tobin, 2014
Northeastern University

Serena Feiingold
Serena at the bottom of the pile, beach side in Sydney

“I no longer question whether or not to leap into new and unknown experiences, no longer stand in the way of myself and of my happiness.” This program gives every person the opportunity to learn about themselves and learn how to interact with the earth. It is freeing and exhilarating and I'll be grateful for it for the rest of my life. I look at the world as a place full of opportunities for learning, for meeting strangers who will change you, for finding what makes you happy, over and over again, in every corner of the earth. Thank you to the stars and beyond!

Never stop doing what you love and never stop pursuing happiness- that is what I feel I've learned from Pacific Discovery.
I felt giddy with the beauty of the world and its people. This trip never felt like a program to me. It just felt like living. Like true, joyous living.”
Read more Serena Feingold, 2014
School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Peter Larose
Peter watches the sun set over Australia from North Keppel Island

“Pacific Discovery helped me grow as a person with interacting and meeting new people and it's also provided me with the confidence to be more independent when away from home.” The program was incredible to say the least. I was at a point in my life where I was rather restless and going on the trip was the best thing I could have done. I've gained lifelong friends and lifelong experiences and memories I will always cherish.” Read more Peter Larose, 2015
Mount Royal University, Canada

Ian Bowen
Ian gets to know the locals, New Zealand

“On other trips I have been on we were looked over with such scrutiny that it was difficult to fully enjoy the places we were staying. With Pacific Discovery, I was treated with utmost respect and never once did I feel like I wasn't getting the most out of where I was or what I was seeing.” The adventure opportunities we had were truly eye opening and sparked interest in trying to make hobbies out of them. Before this trip, I never thought I would ever try sky diving but I did it and it ended up being one of the best experiences in my life. The volunteer work took us to some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.” Read more Ian Bowen, 2011
McGill University

Nicky Nock
Nicky, enjoying the rewards of volunteering in New Zealand

“When I first went to New Zealand to start my 9-week trip with Pacific Discovery, I was very nervous and unsure of how I would handle myself in such a new environment. However, I was immediately welcomed into the Pacific Discovery family and started experiencing so many incredible adventures that there wasn't even time to feel uncomfortable.” My group became so close and our group leaders made every day an awesome experience. We had the freedom to do our own thing when we wanted to, but also had constant group activities that were fascinating, exhilarating, hilarious, or really peaceful.

Before the trip, I had considered myself a bookish and not very athletic person- I was open to trying new experiences, but I thought I was naturally not very good at being sporty. During our third week in New Zealand, we went rock climbing, and I really believed I wouldn't be able to do it. However, I kept trying, and ended up having the most amazing time that day. Rock climbing is still one of my favorite experiences of the whole trip. My trip with Pacific Discovery taught me that I can be any kind of person that I want to be. I tried almost every new experience that I came across during the trip, and they all turned out to be amazing and successful. My favorite memories from the trip were some of the activities that were initially the most frightening to me (my overall favorite experience was abseiling down a 30-meter waterfall in the Blue Mountains, Australia!). The trip helped me understand that even when situations seem challenging or impossible for me to overcome, it is completely possible for me to make it through them and even have a great experience while doing so!

Overall, I am so thankful that I had the amazing opportunity to take a trip with Pacific Discovery. They provided me with incredible experiences, constant support and positivity, and an incomparable understanding of the wonderful countries that are New Zealand and Australia. I loved being part of the Pacific Discovery family and I hope that I will be able to visit them again at some point in the future!”
Read more Nocker Nicky, 2012
University California Santa Barbara

Will Dowdy
Will, taking it all in whilst cycling in Vietnam

“Is it a secret that Pacific Discovery is a perfect example of the amazing things that come from experiential education, cultural immersion, and personal discovery?” From the outstanding office staff to the incredible group leadership, this company is hands-down the best of the best when it comes to responsible tourism and sustainable educational practices in the world classroom. My time in Southeast Asia in 2009 has proven to be a guiding light in my professional pursuits as an educator and I rely FULLY on my experiences that spring to help guide my personal and professional mantras. This trip was made for people seeking to understand themselves and their place in the world and creates a nurturing environment for group participants to learn from one another and, ultimately, themselves. The Pacific Discovery team holds a piece of my heart that I hope to never let go...I learned so much. I recommend Pacific Discovery with the two biggest thumbs up possible...big toes, too.” Read more Will Dowdy, 2009
Kentucky University

Kevin Greene
Kevin volunteer teaching in Cambodia

“This trip was much more than a touristy stroll through Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. We were able to truly immerse ourselves in the cultures of the places we visited through a wide range of activities that involved a lot of personal involvement with the local people.” In my previous travels, I was able to take in much of the sights and sounds of the cities I visited. However, I never felt like I understood the places I visited through the perspective of local people. That is not the case for my journeys with Pacific Discovery. It seemed that with every activity, I met amazing new people and learned about their personal lives in their respective countries. I learned more than I could have ever imagined, and the true learning took place through my experiences. A person can read every book ever written on a topic, but they will never truly understand something until they see and experience it first-hand. Pacific Discovery gave me the opportunity to experience Southeast Asia in a unique way, and I will be forever grateful for the people I met and the countless things I learned during my travels.” Read more Kevin Greene, 2007
University of Massachusetts, Boston

Jacqui Vetrano
Jacqui pushes the bus up a sand track on Fraser Island, Australia

“This was without a doubt the best 2 months of my life. It blew my mind how amazing it was and the amount of breath taking places we got to see and explore. I don't think I’ll ever stop talking about this trip.” If I could relive these past few months for the rest of my life I would without a doubt. Doing this program was the best choice I have ever made. Pacific Discovery you were my friends, my family, and my home. I know we will all stay connected forever! No one will ever know just how insane and awesome of an experience we had. We are a few of the luckiest people on the planet. This really was the best 2 months of my life. I’ve learned so much and grown so much and it’s all around made me a much happier person and definitely built up a thirst for traveling and exploring. Even if that means putting on my hiking boots and headlight and exploring through the woods. Thank you so, so, so, much! This program, and you guys are amazing. I will never ever forget a single moment.” Read more Jacqui Ventrano, 2011
Loyola University

Madison Wood
Madison makes friends in Thailand

“This trip exceeded my expectations in every possible way - I knew it would be great, but I didn't expect that the logistics would be as well handled as they were, I didn't expect to have such an amazingly fun and knowledgeable trip leader that assumed every role under the sun including the "big sister", the teacher and the authority figure.” The activities that we were able to partake in made my experience unique. We got to go off the beaten path and really get to know each country and its people. This is all occurring while with a stellar group of people, many of which I now consider my close friends. There was the perfect amount of guidance and free time, making for a very comfortable transition into individual travel. I'm in India right now and I don't think I could have handled it without doing the Pacific Discovery program first.” Read more Madison Wood, 2012
University of British Colombia, Canada

Sasha Jalowsky
Sasha at school in Cambodia

“This trip was more than I had ever expected. I not only saw, felt, tasted and heard things I could never imagine, I learned about the places we visited, along with how my visit affected those parts of the world. I gained a broader world view and was forced to challenge myself in ways I would not have done by myself.” I have come back changed and excited to use what I have learned and experienced in the rest of my life. I am so thankful that my first big trip was with Discovery, it made me think about being responsible about traveling and the impact we all leave everywhere we go, I really think it will shape the way I travel my whole life. There were moments while traveling though Thailand, Lao, Vietnam and Cambodia that were so spectacular and fleeting that I was almost sad to see them pass me by because I knew I would spend a lifetime remembering that exact moment, which could never be replicated. It was a perfect trip that provided me with experiences to savour my whole life.” Read more Sasha Jalowsky, 2005
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Meghan Robinson
Meghan (on left) with special friends, New Zealand

“Absolutely amazing. I can say without exaggeration that it was the best trip I've ever taken! I'm actually surprised by the quality of the trip that Pacific Discovery put together. I never expected how much I would get out of this. I think I especially enjoyed how non-touristy it was!” A lot of people in my group expressed this same sentiment - we never felt like a tourist while we were there. We felt totally immersed in the environment and the culture, which, in my opinion, is why Pacific Discovery is such an exceptional and successful organization. They really do care about providing a quality, safe, and enjoyable atmosphere. They genuinely love what they do, and their main goal is to share the incredible places they've been with other people. I also like how they're small, and casual and friendly. I always felt comfortable contacting them with questions, and there isn't a sort of "faceless corporation" atmosphere, which I find off-putting. I fully intend to recommend them to my friends and family, as well as travel on further trips with them.” Read more Meghan Robinson, 2007
University of Utah

Cody Warner 1
Cody backpacking in New Zealand

“Through volunteering, I learned more about the way of life here in Australia and New Zealand than I could ever imagine extracting from a guidebook.” The local volunteer projects and unreal outdoor expeditions combine to make an excellent way to travel. I'm very thankful for the Pacific Discovery travel experience and for the many sweet people I met along the way.” Read more Cody Warner, 2015
Northwestern University

Mauri Lowrey
Mauri enjoying a break from volunteer work in the Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand

“Pacific Discovery's small group size and focus on responsible travel allows you to interact with a country's local culture, customs, and environment on a much deeper level. I was able to challenge myself, both mentally and physically, and do things that I never thought I would do. I had the time of my life on the trip and would travel again with the Pacific Discovery program anytime!” Mauri Lowrey, 2007
Georgetown University

Jen Carraux
Jen chills in Halong Bay, Vietnam

“My experience was one I have never had and don't know that I will ever have again. It was absolutely amazing and words can't describe the ways I have changed as a result of the trip! I came home with a deep appreciation for learning about other cultures and now have a deeper passion for the care of our environment. This experience was worth every penny I paid.” Jen Carraux, 2004
Winona State University

Jocelyn Kane
Thai trekking bridges are no problem for Jocelyn

“I came on this trip hoping to grow and I can honestly say that I am going home a changed person. The friendships I've made, the fears I've overcome, the culture's I've experienced and the adventures I've had have all changed how I view my life and the world around me. I've learned how to experience cultures while still respecting their differences. I've learned to be comfortable with myself and what I have to offer. You've taught me so much and I'll forever be thankful.” This trip has taught me more about myself and life than anything else I've ever done. I got to travel to picturesque destinations with a group of amazing people. I'm so thankful I decided to embark on this adventure!! The itinerary was an excellent mix of group time and individual time, free time and planned time. The destinations couldn't have been better picks and the activities really complemented each location.” Read more Jocelyn Kane, 2006
University of Wisconsin, Madison

shani rosenthal
Shani hanging with friends at Elephant Nature Park, Thailand

“It was the happiest two months of my life! This trip was truly incredible. It completely exceeded my expectations. Every day was filled with several activities that were very organized and well planned out. I was never disappointed with food. There was also a perfect balance between free time and planned activities.” Shani Rosenthal, 2014
Carnegie Mellon University

Chessie Sherpardson 1
Chessie stands strong in Kampot, Cambodia

“The experiences and opportunities Pacific Discovery offer are unbelievable. I had the most amazing time and I feel so lucky to have been able to take part in the program. I had the time of my life.” Chessie Sheppardson, 2015
Warwick University – UK

Clare Salzer 1
Clare gets down and dirty in New Zealand

“I had little camping experience and no backpacking experience, so I was worried about the backpacking and canoe trip expeditions. Turns out, those were some of my favorite and most memorable parts of the trip!” I had a few months in between graduating college and starting graduate school, and I knew I wanted to travel abroad. I could have chosen to go abroad with my college program, but I decided to take a risk and go with a group of 13 people from all over the world that I did not know. I am so glad that I chose Pacific Discovery instead! Thanks to this program, I have made friends all over the world that are now a family to me, and the experiences that we were able to have together were unforgettable.

I did so many things on this trip that I never thought I could do, and I feel like a stronger person because of it. That backpacking trip was both physically and mentally challenging for me (I'm scared of heights and a little unsteady on my feet at times to name a few things) but every day I pushed through and surprised myself. My group leader and the other participants always encouraged me and cheered me on, and that was so refreshing especially on longs days of hiking. Those expeditions made me realize that the scenic views are so much more beautiful (how could that even be possible, right?), but they really are even more beautiful when you work for them.

Pacific Discovery inspired me to keep on exploring and to seek out adventure, whether it may be across the world or just around the corner in my own town. And since I'm not new to backpacking and camping anymore, I feel confident in my knowledge and background from this trip to go on some more adventures and can't wait to plan my next excursion!!

If I were to do it all over, I would choose Pacific Discovery over any other program because their main goal is to help you develop as a person by immersing you in different cultures, pushing you out of your comfort zone a little bit, and surrounding you with awesome people through it all. Couldn't be more grateful for this experience of a lifetime”
Read more Clare Salzer, 2014
Louisiana State University

Evan Stevens
Evan at the Angkor Temples in Cambodia

“I decided to sign up for the Southeast Asia Fall 2014 trip at a time of great uncertainty and change in my life, and it is honestly the best thing that has ever happened to me. It was a very scary decision to travel across the world having never left the US before and I was anxious about meeting the group, as I would be spending the next 9 weeks with them.” When we all said goodbye, I felt so incredibly sad to part ways, as we had truly become a tight knit family over the course of the trip. I will treasure these friendships for the rest of my life. Every day was waking up to a feeling of ecstasy; it is indescribable how exciting waking up in Thailand is knowing you are about to go rock climbing and caving, or waking up in Cambodia knowing you are going to a school to volunteer with beautiful, vibrant children. I have truly made memories of a lifetime and I am so grateful for the 9 weeks with PD. I grew so much as a person, I learned so much about life from the other group members, the inspiring characters we met and I have come home a much more confident, happy, excited and ambitious version of myself. Every day I would go to bed exhausted, but so fulfilled and sore from smiling so much.The trip has inspired me to seek a career in which I will help people. I can't believe how much I loved the program; just reading amazing reviews at home doesn't do it justice, Southeast Asia became my home and my 17 group mates became my family, and I would give anything to be able to do it all over again.” Read more Evan Stevens, 2014
Bowdoin College

monica marion
Monica exploring the temple ruins at Beng Melea in Cambodia

“Due to Pacific Discovery's experience in the area, every place we saw or stayed was unique and interesting, many off the beaten track. I not only saw the best sights, but I learned about each culture and interacted with the people there. The leaders knew the area well and taught me a lot. I learned about responsible travel, and about travel in Southeast Asia specifically. I would love to go back myself sometime, and I would certainly suggest others to take this trip.” Monica Marion, 2013
Harvard University

trevor cheitlin
Heading underground - Trevor rappels into a cave in Thailand

“Before heading across the world to Southeast Asia, I’d had a rough couple of years. I was at a crossroads in my life. The program opened my eyes to whole new realms of possibilities, as well as giving me a chance to step back, take a deep breath, relax and reflect.” The pace of the itinerary has been honed and perfected over years and years. There is a great mix of physical activity, cultural immersion, and rest time. The friends and experiences I made along the way gave me more confidence than I ever thought possible. I have Pacific Discovery to thank for that. I can confidently say that my time in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia has re-inspired me to be excited about my future. I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world.” Read more Trevor Cheitlin, 2014
Berklee College of Music

Jane Butter
Jane lapping it up on the Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia

“We saw so much, did so much, learned so much, and grew so close. Traveling with Pacific Discovery will change your life. Not only do you get to see and experience an amazing part of the world, but you get to do it with people who know what's up. You will come out of an adventure a better person than you were going in, and with a whole bunch of new friends!” Jane Butter, 2008
Lewis & Clark College

Anna Carvarlho
Ana on a Galapagos Islands beach

“I came out of my trip feeling like a new person. I am much more aware of my natural, industrial, and social environments, allowing me to make more sustainable choices every day. Before my trip, I was often too shy to even say hello to the person sitting next to me on the plane. By the end of the trip, I found myself talking to anyone and everyone, from locals to tourists from all over the world. To me, these people became the best source of inspiration.” Ana Carvalho, 2014
University of Wisconsin - Madison

Review Pacific Discovery Thailand
Emily, feeling the goodness at program end in Southern Thailand

“This was an amazing trip. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience travelling through Southeast Asia. During this trip I learned a lot about traveling and the different cultures. I also learned a lot about myself by testing my limits and being out of my comfort zone.” Emily Hom, 2009
UC Davis

Madeleine Evans
Madeleine rolling in a Cambodian tuk-tuk

“Pacific Discovery is an amazing and unique program that seamlessly combines history, culture, and service with adventure, exploration, and discovery.” Pacific Discovery was the most incredible and unforgettable experience of my life thus far. I was challenged in ways I never imagined, encouraged by lifelong friends made in a matter of weeks, and I grew more than I could have ever hoped in such a short period of time. Every activity was meticulously planned, every place we stayed chosen for specific reasons, and every site we saw taught us something new. The people we met in each country were some of the most beautiful and caring people in the world, and it was clear that Pacific Discovery had taken great care to connect us to them, in order for us to learn from them.” Read more Madeleine Evans, 2011
University of New Hampshire

melissa esther
Melissa enjoying rock climbing in New Zealand

“I got to live my dream and make a difference while doing it.” I have always wanted to go to New Zealand, and I am so glad I went there with Pacific Discovery. I was nervous about not knowing anyone and I had never been out of the country before. However, once I got on the plane with my group and we landed in New Zealand that didn't matter anymore. All of a sudden I was surrounded by people who were just like me. We all came from different backgrounds and experiences, but we also had a lot in common. From day one the PD staff brought us together and made us a family.” Read more Melissa Esther, 2014
University of Florida

kate mccort
Kate canoeing on the Whanganui River, New Zealand

“This trip opened my eyes to the beautiful world around me and to the blessing that is life on Earth. I did everything I ever wanted to do in my whole life and more on this trip and I couldn't be more satisfied.” Pacific Discovery delivers an extremely enlightening, culturally educational, life changing experience to each and every one of its participants! Every day was an adventure on this trip, now, months later, the trip feels like it was simply a beautiful dream because I still can't contemplate all the amazing things I got to do. Giving back to the world while traveling through it is an amazing experience that you won't get like this anywhere else! The leaders constantly work towards keeping everyone healthy and happy ensuring that their personal trip experience is everything we could hope for and more! I learned more about myself and the world in these two glorious months than I did in all my eighteen years before it!” Read more Kate Mc, 2014
University of Colorado – Boulder

Max Rohr
Max, planting trees on a conservation island in New Zealand

“This was the best trip I have ever taken. I honestly have no bad things to say. The amount of time and outlook of the trip completely immersed me in the Kiwi culture. The conservation work gave me a sense of belonging. I would not have truly understood why preserving New Zealand is so important without it. I never felt like a burden to the locals or the environment. My experience was perfect. If you want to experience New Zealand from an insider perspective and as a stakeholder in the local environment, then pick this program.” Max Rohr, 2007
University of Utah

Alanna Richardson
Allanna, finding her strength and determination whilst rock-climbing in Thailand

“I think one of the biggest changes that I experienced was gaining a much greater understanding about the possibilities the world has to offer.” Our trip to Thailand was an unbelievable experience. The leaders did a fantastic job planning such a wonderful, life changing program filled with indescribable experiences that I will remember for the rest of my life. The culture, the people, the food, the sights (I could go on and on), were all absolutely amazing. I believe that the trip changed the way I look at the world. I had such an incredible time in Thailand and I felt like I agreed and valued so many things about Thai culture and how Thai people live that I am walking away with new ideas of how I want to live my life.” Read more Allanna Richardson, 2012
University of Rhode Island

Mark Youngblood
Mark at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

“I thought this trip was worth $20,000! OK, maybe not that much but you get the point. Everything we did, just the level of organization you would not ever be able to put together a trip like that on your own. Having vans and trucks waiting for us in to middle of nowhere is worth everything!!” Overall I would rate the leaders, the organization, the timing of everything as prefect. I would recommend this trip to anyone needing an eye opening experience. This is hands down the best thing I have ever done in my life and I can't wait to go back.” Read more Mark Youngblood, 2002

Lesley Faraone
Lesley mountain biking in the Blue Mountains, Australia

“I am aware that you do not need material possessions to be happy, but this really proved that when we were out in the tents, at times the rain, and the group was still managing to laugh and make fun of the situation that we were in. I also learned about the limits that I could push myself to. Before the trip if you told me about the challenges we would be facing I would have laughed and thought there was no way in hell I was doing that. However, we did it and I proved myself wrong more than once in the course of those 2 months.” This program was more than I ever thought it was going to be. The initial description gave a fairly good overview of the trip, but it was still nothing that I expected. It was so much more. We did something every day, and even on the free days the group wanted to explore so we were still up early. I was amazed at the distance we covered and the vast number of activities that we did over the two months. It was amazing, and each day continued to both surprise and challenge me.

In the past two months, I have had the opportunity to experience so many different places and activities that I would have never imaged myself doing. I have learned so much about myself and had the chance to broaden my perspectives and grow in many ways. I have pushed myself to unknown limits and met some incredible people that will always be ingrained in my memory. The skills and lessons that I have learned though Pacific Discovery are things that I shall forever carry with me and this trip has truly changed my outlook on life.”
Read more Lesley Faraone, 2010
San Jose State University

Margot at journey's end, Southern Thailand

“It was the best 2 months of my life! I HIGHLY recommend going on a trip with Pacific Discovery. You will learn so much about yourself and see so many magnificent things. The only thing I wish was that it had been twice as long!” Margot Horwitz, 2008

Laura Gipson
Laura muddy mountain biking in Vietnam

“Being with this group of people in these amazing countries has opened my eyes to the world. My perspective has broadened, my heart has opened, and my limits have been tested. I will never forget this experience!” Laura Gipson, 2012
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Amy Peterson
Amy rock climbing in New Zealand

“Pacific Discovery is an incredible program that enables you to explore all aspects of a new country by interacting closely with people from a diverse range of places; exploring and interacting with the land; volunteering and taking an opportunity to give back to the country, and challenging yourself to reach beyond your limits.” Amy Peterson, 2008
George Washington University

Anne Beckerman
Anne feeding lorikeet's in Australia

“You have taught me how I want to live my life. Throughout this adventure I have discovered a new side to myself. It is a more adventurous, self-reliant and courageous individual. I really like this new person and I thank you for helping me discover her.” Anne Beckerman, 2002
Winona State University

Sarah Wimer
Sarah zip-lining in Peru

“I was pretty nervous to come on the Pacific Discovery South America trip. It was very far out of my comfort zone, and I wasn't sure I was going to have a good time. Luckily, the trip far exceeded my expectations. During those 9 weeks, I learned so much about myself - what I like and don't like, how much alone time I need to stay sane, and just how much I am capable of. I made such close and important relationships on this trip as well. I would definitely recommend it to other people. I think it's a very valuable experience.” Sarah Weimer, 2015
Barnard College

Danny Goldman
Danny show's the Aussies how to BBQ!

“Pacific Discovery was a wonderful experience for me--I think I developed my adventurous side to the max and I was reminded to pursue what I love and be unique with everything I do. I loved the conservation work we did, as well as all the beautiful experiences and places we enjoyed. I learned a ton about people and more specifically the type of people I work best with, as a result of spending 9 weeks in such a tight knit group. I would absolutely recommend Pacific Discovery to anyone who needs to stray from the traditional path and live life a bit differently.” Danny Goldman, 2015
Stanford University

Xinhua Enyon2
Xinhua on her second day in New Zealand

“This programs blew my expectations. Not only did I become close to 11 different strangers who became family but I learned so much along the way. One of them was being more eco friendly with the environment whether it is taking shorter showers or washing dishes with the same water. Along with this, it gave me a new and better appreciation for nature and how hard one works to preserve the natural beauty of the land.” I was overwhelmed by the landscapes and places we saw due to how beautiful it was. For myself, I did things on this trip that helped boost my self esteem
and proved to myself that if I keep the right mindset, I can conquer anything. That was a huge struggle for me before I came and now that I have conquered heights, long journeys, tramping and heavy rain and wind blowing against you while you canoe, I now know I can really do anything if I want to.”
Read more Xinhua Enyon, 2015
Seattle University

Grace Jefferson
Caroline puts the finishing touches on a revamped community space

“This trip taught me so much about human connection. Before this trip, I thought that I wouldn't be able to communicate with any local people we would meet along the way because I couldn't speak Spanish. In reality, I succeeded in making meaningful relationships with all of the people I lived with because I learned that language is only the surface of human connection.” Grace Jefferson, 2015
University of Minnesota

Isabella Ephstein2
Isabella holding a chocolate birthday card, Australia

“Overall, the experience was extremely eye opening. I loved so many moments and had to push through some difficult ones. I felt very close with the group. The leaders were amazing and made me feel very safe and comfortable. I had no idea what to expect and after leaving this trip I highly recommend this program. From the gorgeous views, to the life changing expeditions, each part of the trip was organized in a perfect way. I loved how we stayed in cities for a short amount of time and then did nature expeditions. It was a perfect balance.” Isabella Ephstein, 2015
U Massachusetts Amherst

caroline grano
Caroline chills out after a day of volunteer work at Nelson Lakes NP

“This program is awesome!! Every day was filled with adventure, new experiences, 12 awesome people to hang out with, so much positive encouragement, and really good food. I went into the two months with an open mind, which prepared me to say "yes" to doing every activity that was included, and the crazy, spontaneous ones that popped into the days.” I learned so much about myself and about life. I became so grateful for the little things in life- shelter from the rain and wind, a hot shower, stove to cook on, warm place to sleep, and dry clothes. I knew going into this program that I would have the best two months of my life, but Pacific Discovery went way above and beyond that. So many awesome activities and a ridiculous amount of delicious food was included in the price that it definitely felt every cent I paid, came back around to support me. The company was also always so organized with paperwork and communication. I now have so much more self-confidence and strength, mentally and physically, for everyday life and for being more adventurous in the future. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm actually excited to camp again! I strongly recommend Pacific Discovery to everyone and anyone who likes adventure, being active, trying new things, meeting people, and learning how to live simply and humbly. The last two months of my life were amazing. I
experienced, learned, saw, ate, and met people that I wouldn't have been able to otherwise. I want to pack up and do it all again tomorrow!”
Read more Caroline Grano, 2015
University of Pennsylvania

Zofia Lemise
Zophia, feels the high of the Kahurangi National Park, New Zealand

“The program was an amazing opportunity to "get back to nature" and not only enjoy the unrivalled natural beauty of the two countries but also to learn what I can do to make the world a better place.” Zofia Lemise, 2015
University of Virginia

Jonathan Aranov
Jonathan soaks in the glow of sunset, Lake Titicaca, Peru

“Do yourself a favor, grow, learn, and get your mind blown by a priceless trip to Peru!” I could not have had a more meaningful and inspiring trip there. I saw some of the most beautiful scenes I've ever seen in my life --whether it was a lightning storm followed by a sunrise over Lake Titicaca with two other daring friends I made on the trip, or going for a roller-coaster-like ride in a dune buggy and sandboarding on the massive dunes of Huacachina. I became so much more confident in myself and my ability to navigate the unknown in my life. This confidence has spilled over into other areas, and made me unique in that I came into college ready for the change while others were terrified!

I also learned how beautiful the world is, and I definitely have the travel bug (even stronger than before), as well as the language bug (since I saw what being practically fluent in Spanish did for me in terms of cultural exchange).

If I could be there again with the wonderful friends I made on the trip, it would be a dream come true.”
Read more Jonathan Aranov, 2014
Binghampton University

Heather Bugni
Heather relaxing in Halong Bay, Vietnam

“Traveling with this program was the perfect introduction for me to travel in South East Asia. This program pushed to think critical about tourism and culture and gave me the building blocks I need to possibly work overseas someday.” I learned so much about culture, eco-tourism, being conscious and I felt proud to be part of group that was also learning about responsible travel. I think this is the most important part of the program. Pacific Discovery opened my eyes to the world outside. Learning by doing taught me so much about culture and tourism. My love affair with Asia has only now begun...” Read more Heather Bugni, 2005
Western Washington University

Jennifer Crandall 1
Jennifer faces her fears whilst rock climbing in Wanaka, New Zealand

“This was the most emotionally and physically challenging thing I have ever done in my life, but it was so incredible and I wouldn't hesitate to do it all over again.” Jennifer Crandall, 2015
University of Vermont

Jordan Laney
Jordan feels the rush while mountain biking in Nelson, New Zealand

“I can't imagine a better way to have seen New Zealand and Australia than with Pacific Discovery. I never felt like I was on a tour but more like a group of friends travelling together.” "We experienced an awesome variety of outdoor activities and I was pushed much harder than I had expected to be. I learned a ton about myself and can't wait for another adventure!! For a girl who washes her hair every day and had never camped before, I was so excited to become accustomed to those days of sleeping outside and swimming in lakes instead of staying in hotels everywhere we went, no one back home can imagine me doing that! The program made me want to be more adventurous and go outside my comfort zone. I want to travel more and see other parts of the world. I am more comfortable being dirty. I feel like it will be easier to take on challenges - being in a new places and meeting people.”” Read more Jordan Laney, 2009
University of Iowa

Review Pacific Discovery New Zealand
Sophia, feeling alive in Mimiwhangata, Northland, New Zealand

“Pacific Discovery shed a whole new light on the way I look at the world. Not only did I find bravery, courage, perseverance and creativity within myself, I found it all around me.” I found strength in the friends I made, people I met, goals we accomplished and the crazy adventures I had. Now, I see the world as an open door to the rest of my life. I can go anywhere and do anything I set my mind to.” Read more Sophia Hutchison, 2014
Global gypsy, currently teaching dance in Haiti

Josh Swartz
Josh, warming up to outdoor life in Nelson Lakes National Park, New Zealand

“I had the most amazing experience of my life on this trip! I loved exploring new cities, battling through challenging expeditions, and giving back during the volunteer weeks. However, what I will take away most from this trip is the incredibly close-knit group, many of whom will become lifelong friends.” Josh Swartz, 2010
Middlebury College

Connor Patchett
Connor on a New South Wales Beach

“Before I jumped to the other side of the world, I was really unsure of my ability to do something scary, uncertain, and out of the ordinary. Little did I know that the worst part of the trip would be the 12 hour flight home - a flight away from 13 beautiful souls and the immaculate landscapes of Australia and New Zealand.” Prior to the trip, I read through the itinerary over and over again, “surfing, canoeing, rock climbing, mountain biking, rafting, backpacking etc”. Immediately I was overwhelmed by a sense of confusion and self-doubt. “What am I doing? I should be in school. I’m not cut out for this”. And for the next couple weeks, the thought of Pacific Discovery took fruition as a fantasy. Then something changed, and I took the first step towards the greatest decision of my life. Instead of fantasizing, I pulled the trigger and asked myself, “why not me”? I turned my brain off and listened to my gut. Within the day I made the terrifying decision to step out of my comfort zone: I was going across the world with a bunch of strangers for 10 weeks. Next thing I know, I’m lying on a gorgeous Australian beach studying the Milky Way above me, filled with wonder and excitement for the 10 weeks to come. As the time passed, I found that every day I was getting closer to the people around me. I found that I was pushing myself to confront my fears and insecurities. I found myself seeking out challenge and waking up each and every day with an attitude of growth, an appreciation of life, and a smile. It’s incredible how Pacific Discovery developed me in such a large variety of ways. From the service projects and completing necessary group tasks to jumping off cliffs and out of airplanes, Pacific Discovery greatly improved my communal skills and strengthened my relationship with myself. And now I’m home. I have the same name, but I assure you that I’m not the same person. I came home with many lessons learned, a garden of experiences decorating my soul, and pieces from all of the special people I got to know and love over these 10 weeks. I am now a more confident, passion oriented, and motivated version of myself. I’m also equipped with priceless memories and 13 friends from around the world. I’ll be forever grateful to my past self for making that decision, even when it terrified him. Because now I have the confidence to construct the life I want to live, regardless of what I “should” do. I can do anything I put my mind to. Thank you Pacific Discovery for changing my life forever.” Read more Connor Patchett, 2018
Lehigh University

Kevin Perkins
Kevin, looking cosy whilst black water rafting in Waitomo caves, New Zealand

“I was hesitant at first because I really wanted a great trip to broaden my perspectives. I was also in a stressful part of my life, nearing graduation from college and having no idea where to go from there, and I wanted this trip to not only help me relax but also inspire me in some way. So I took a leap and signed up.” It was, in a few words, an AWESOME month that really defined the whole 2012 year for me. After this trip, I am more confident in my future than I have ever been in my life; I am currently in the process of applying to the United States Peace Corps, which I was encouraged to do by one of the PD directors that I was lucky enough to have met in Nelson, New Zealand (where PD is based)--I don't think she knows how much her kindness and strength has inspired me to make such a big decision!” Read more Kevin Perkins, 2012
Ohio State University

Taylor Attix
Taylor backpacking in Nelson Lakes National Park

“I believe good travel experiences should ALWAYS change the way we look at the world! I can happily say this trip has changed the way I look at the wold, and even
more importantly how I look at myself. Seeing the way people different then you are live expands your perspective and allows you to interact with the world and its people differently.”
In this vein I believe I gained the most perspective from our interaction with aboriginal peoples. Having the opportunity to stay on Marae and learn culture in museums had a huge impact on all of us. I also learned many things about myself over the course of the program. I was challenged so often during the trip that it became normal. I lived out of my comfort zone and learned to enjoy everything, even if I wasn't always comfortable. For me this was the most valuable aspect of the trip: the opportunity to spend 2 1/2 months on the edge.

3 sentences: Traveling with Pacific Discovery has changed the way I look at myself and the world. I could do so many things I had only dreamed of before, and have discovered many passions in the activities we participated in. Travel experience is essential for everyone, and Pacific Discovery provides it better than most.”
Read more Taylor Attix, 2018
University of Southern California

Ken Aspeslaugh
Ken finds the simple pleasures in Vietnam

“I think the Southeast Asia program is genius! It's just so damn well planned out and thought through! How do you do it?” Ken Aspeslaugh, 2003
Wheaton College

Elyse Glor
Elyse, communing at sunset, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

“Awesome, awesome, awesome. Loved the trip, love the people on the trip, and loved the people we got to meet on the trip. I love how there was always an opportunity to do things, caving, mountain biking, rafting, snowboarding, sky diving, bungy jumping. There was never a dull moment!” Elyse Glor, 2009
Victoria School of Performing and Fine Arts, Canada

Caity Feindt
Special moments for Caity during her service work in Cusco, Peru

“My home stay family was fantastic and they welcomed me as if I was one of their own daughters. Everyone I communicated with was very patient with my Spanish skills.” This experience changed my life, I first signed up for the trip not knowing what to expect, and full of nerves, but once met by the Pacific Discovery staff in Peru and the other travelers my worries soon faded. I made life-long friends on the trip, experienced once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and had the time of my life! I had never hiked or camped before this trip and had no idea how I was going to live out of a backpack for a month, but I learned and dove right into the experience. During the home stay and volunteer part of the trip I learned a lot about myself. Volunteering with the kids and seeing their world was eye opening and rewarding. The adventure part of the trip was fantastic as well - hiking, camping, white water rafting and sand boarding. Peru is a friendly and breathtaking country, and would recommend this trip for anyone looking for new experiences and challenges.” Read more Caity Feindt, 2008
University at Buffalo

Marina Neal
Marina - becomming

“Pacific Discovery helped me get out of my little self-involved universe and see the world through technicolor glasses. I met people I never would have met in my day to day life and I fell in love with all of them as individuals, I learned how to breathe with a heavy backpack on my back and I became my own person. I was old coming on this program, already partially through college, but PD allowed me to shed the layers of who I thought I was and become the person I am. Coming home will be weird, you'll look at the person you were with confusion, because those shoes don't fit anymore. This experience was incredible and will shape the rest of my life in the most positive way.” Marina Neal, 2018
University of Oregon

Western USA Program
Ilana exploring Coconino National Forest

“While traveling the Western United States, I saw the scenery change from the warm desert to beautiful mountains. As the scenery changed, my perspective on the world around me grew and my connections with those around me grew as well.” Ilana Scheer, 2021
Western US Semester Program

Jonathan Bikoff
Jonathan pushing his comfort zone

“I came on this trip expecting a vacation like experience. A break from normal life in which I could travel new parts of the world and partake in thrilling activities. Little did I know, that my Pacific Discovery experience would actually be an extraordinary introspective journey. One where I was present and mindful of myself, and those around me at all times. I have
learned how to be courageous, vulnerable, and connect with others in a way that I did not know was possible.”
Jonathan Bikoff, 2018
Indiana University

Cathy Chezik
Cathy, absorbing the beauty and wildness of Punakaiki, West coast of New Zealand

“I did push myself physically, had incredible experiences and adventures, and saw beauty that I have never witnessed before but the biggest lesson that I took away from this experience was due to the people that I spent the month with.” This aspect of this trip in which 12 strangers come together, worked together, and learn together, enabled me to discovery things about myself that I would never have found out otherwise. Thank you. We are discovering the Pacific and New Zealand but we are also discovering ourselves while having the adventure of a lifetime!” Read more Cathy Chezik, 2010
Saint Josephs University

Joelle Drolet Ferguson
Joelle discovers dolphins in Kaikoura, New Zealand

“When I think about my trip to New Zealand with Pacific Discovery, a lot of things comes to my mind: a cool group, high adrenaline level activities, a wonderful kiwi leader loving his country and breathtaking landscapes. I remember the laughs, the rewarding volunteer work, the excitement to finally see a kiwi, cheering for the All Blacks, the feeling of being a resident, not a tourist and doing something good for the country. This trip is imprinted in me forever, me, a French small-town girl living ie. voyage de ses rêves. Thank you for everything. This is the trip that anyone loving nature and adventure should do once in their life.” Joelle Drolet, 2008
Universitie Laval, Canada

Lian Boltwood v2
Lian rappels into a cave in Thailand

“My semester with Pacific Discovery surprised me in the best way possible. I don’t know what I expected going into the trip, but what I got was an adventure full of ups and downs, personal growth, adventure, physical, mental, and emotional challenge, new friends, life long memories, and a widened perspective. Having traveled alone before, I was surprised by how this program in specific is unlike any trip I could have planned on my own. The effort and heart put into it really shows and it was the perfect way to be introduced to South East Asia.” Lian Boltwood, 2021
University of British Colombia

Danielle Mulligan
Danielle finds the exquisite joy of children during a service project in Kampot, Cambodia

“I had the most amazing time on my Pacific Discovery trip in Southeast Asia. Having traveled before with my family I was looking for a program during my gap year that would provide me independence and support while traveling in a new and foreign place.” Pacific Discovery offers a unique balance of many group activities paired with time on your own to wander and explore. They are incredibly well organized and really helped me get the most out of my two months travelling and prepared me with skills so that I can travel on my own. PD provides background information so that the participants can maximize their time in the countries learning about history and cultures, they have affordable prices while offering a big range of activities and very nice accommodations.
One of the things I think is very unique to Pacific Discovery and that I valued so much is the effort they put in to maintain ethical travel practices. It has become so common for people to travel that I think people sometimes forget about the impact they have as travelers in another country. Pacific Discovery makes it a point to encourage their participants to learn about the history and culture of the countries before arriving as well as while traveling (there is information about each location along with language tips and more in the thorough travel itineraries they provide you!). We had group discussions and readings as well as lessons in basic Thai and how to bow properly. Our leaders also taught us some of the more nuanced elements of the cultures-things that I would have probably missed had I traveled alone. Knowing these things while traveling makes the experience that much richer.
Pacific Discovery is also very intentional about their decision to participate in service activities while traveling. After traveling with another group where I felt like I would just show up in a community and teach English (completely unqualified) for a few days, it was refreshing to feel like the service projects we participated in were with organizations PD had relationships with and knew our help would be useful and welcomed. I also really appreciated their commitment to leaving as small of an environmental impact as possible. The small size and strong ethical practices of this company makes these things very unique.”
Read more Danielle Mulligan, 2013
Tufts University

Anna Williams
Anna - summer camping on a conservation service project

“Pacific Discovery helped me to explore my individuality and personal goals in a way that I have never before been able to. My two instructors, Beth and Stacey, as well as my experiences during travel opened me up to a new world of opportunity that had not seemed plausible before the program. I’ve gained a new sense of confidence, understanding, and growth that I would not have otherwise. I have also pushed myself to escape my comfort zone and take (healthy) risks in order to progress as a person. Without an environment as conducive to growth as PD, none of this would have come as easily.” Anna Williams, 2018
Lewis and Clark University

Meredith Cummings
Meredith trekking the Annapurna Circuit

“Within 70 days, Nepal & Tibet was able to change my entire life: The yoga retreat taught me mindfulness; our two week homestay gave me simplicity; hiking the Annapurna Circuit tested my physical abilities; rafting down the Gandaki brought out my savage, fun personality; Tibet gave us culture; Mount Everest made me alive; and the Last Resort was the coolest glampsite! If you’re looking for a region with terrain ranging from extremely dry and cold to super spongey and hot then Nepal & Tibet is the place for you! This region will always have a special place in my heart as it is now my second home! :-)” Meredith Cummings, 2018
Stanford University

Ruby Samuels 1
Ruby, rocks it out in the Blue Mountains, Australia

“I felt that Pacific discovery provided me with role models and experiences which enhanced my perspective and made me excited about the world around me.” I always felt safe to explore outside of my comfort zone and push the limits of what I higher I was capable of. The program leaders were incredibly positive, inspirational and helpful 100 percent of the time, and by the end we felt like a very close knit family having been on a million once in a lifetime experiences together over the past two months.” Read more Ruby Samuels, 2012
Colorado College

Charlotte Buckles
Charlotte and her group - 'One night in Bangkok'

“My trip with Pacific Discovery served as a perfect bridge between high school and college. It was a chance to take a break from the routine of academic education I had spent my life participating in thus far. Instead, I got to enjoy a different kind of education -- one involving new, challenging perspectives, an overload of unique cultural experiences, and beautiful friendships.” Straying so far from my comfort zone encouraged me to discover how many possibilities there are in my life -- the kind of person I could be, the places I could go, and the incredible things there are to learn out in the world that you never expected to find. I would never have realized just how many choices I have for my future if I had stuck to the expected plan of graduating high school and immediately going to college. From my time in Southeast Asia and with my amazing group, I feel inspired, refreshed, and excited for everything that lies ahead in my life. I see my entire world differently now.” Read more Charlotte Buckles, 2018
University of Vermont

Bobby Samuel
Bobby enjoys a delicious breakfast in Burma

“The program exceeded my expectations. I didn't expect there to be such an emphasis on learning about the region but that information proved valuable and insightful. The Southeast Asia Program exposes people to experiences that they would never be able to do back home. This program gives you a unique insight into the world around you and also into yourself.” Bobby Sammuels, 2008
University of Alberta, Canada

Surya Pandit
Surya joins in the Holi celebrations in her Nepal homestay village

“This program does an amazing job of involving students in a variety of activities and it’s impossible not to learn and grow as an individual and learn about how you work in a group as well. There are so many things put in place to ensure a safe, fun, informative and eye opening trip. The whole thing was amazing!” Surya Pandit, 2018
Tulane University

Sahil Patel
Sahil with hands coated in mud and dung plaster

“This experience was incredible because of the people I got to share it with. Seeing everyone grow because of the activities and challenges we faces as a group was awesome. This type of trip is especially cool to me because you can learn no matter if you’ve travelled a bunch of if it's the first time. I have no regrets and I would definitely recommend to others!” Sahil Patel, 2018
University of Illinois

Ellen Mahoney
Ellen makes friends with the locals in Peru

“My experience with Pacific Discovery was an experience that will be impossible to forget. After spending two months traveling through South America with some of the most down to earth group members and influential trip leaders, I truly do consider myself a changed person.” After spending time in rural communities with no connection to anything but the people and the land around me, and exploring the jungle and different highlands of both Peru and Ecuador, I learned to really connect with the people I was with, try new things that were out of my comfort zone, and find a deeper appreciation for what this world has to offer. The memories I have from my trip, the people that I met, and the things that I did, had an impact on me like nothing else I have ever experienced and has changed the way I look at new situations and go about my daily life. One question that our group members asked each other any time someone questioned wanting to do something was: would you regret doing it, or would you regret not doing it? I can honestly say that every time I used that question during the trip I answered that I would regret not doing it, and because of that I know that this trip impacted me more that anything else I have experienced and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone considering it.” Read more Ellen Mahoney, 2016
Colorado University, Boulder

Ceci Barnes
Ceci high on top of Volcan Acatenango in Guatemala

“Taking a semester off from college at first seemed like a strange idea to me. But having the ability to travel throughout Central America for 10 weeks taught me so much that I'd never be able to learn in a classroom setting.” I formed amazing friendships while also learning a great deal about the environment and many different cultures. My trip provided countless once in a lifetime experiences, whether that be swimming with sharks, hiking a volcano while watching another erupt, or climbing Mayan ruins. If anyone is on the fence about joining a program, I'd immediately tell them that the time away from family and friends is completely worth it as you'll make a whole new group of family and friends that'll last forever. The time away allowed me to mature and have a better understanding of what I'd like to do in the future. I have no regrets and I'm so grateful for my time with pacific discovery!” Read more Ceci Barnes, 2017
Middlebury College

Erin Henry
Erin finds water, fun and friends in Cambodia

“I am returning home a different woman. I have grown emotionally, spiritually, and professionally. This trip opened my mind, eyes and heart in ways I never imagined possible.” Erin Henry, 2008
Texas State University, Austin

Anthony Silvidi2
Anthony reading to kids in Cambodia

“The type of education we received on this trip was more effective than anything that could be taught by a book or in a classroom, simply because we were there, living in the aftermath of the tragic histories that had occurred.” Everyone has expectations of the way things will be before going into a new country or trying something new, and having those expectations shattered, or even learning that while those expectations were correct, they are very easy to handle, is a very important experience to have in life. This program gave me exactly the kind of global-oriented mindset I was looking for. The group setting allowed for more education in inter-personal communication, albeit in a passive way, and having such experienced and likable leaders made the trip fun. There was never a dull moment in those two months, and I know for the rest of my life I'll look back very fondly on the memories of this trip. I will absolutely recommend this program to others!” Read more Anthony Silvidi, 2016
Miami University

Maggie Bell
Maggie surfing in Nicaragua

“Willing yourself to live comes effortlessly to us as humans, yet when taking a step back and looking at how fast and meaningless our lives our lived, one begins to question what the worth of living truly is.” This question is one of the many I struggled with for a long time. It was not until this experience did I truly feel like there is a meaning to life, and that I, myself, was now TRULY living. For many different people it takes an array of different experiences to realize what their place in life is... but there is nothing like stepping out of your comfort zone and experiencing life outside of your own: allowing yourself to learn, engage, love and live.” Read more Maggie Bell, 2017
Denison University

Mike Duboe
Mike gets a new perspective from a temple in Bangkok

“I feel lucky to have gone deeper than the level of 'tourist' to these countries, into a much more interactive and cultural immersion role.” I was looking to step out of my comfort zone and put my own life into perspective, to learn more about myself, my culture, and my goals. Pacific Discovery provided the perfect setting and opportunity to do this. The program was a perfect balance of free/introspective time, and more structured group time. Having 13 other people to share the memories with and put my experiences in a group perspective was truly valuable. I have been, and will continue keeping in close touch with my trip mates. My most intense memories are those of interacting with locals, whether at home stays, at street food stands, or at local bars. By living another culture's way of life for over two months, I now return to America with a more holistic view of my own culture, and am more conscious about my life choices.” Read more Mike Duboe, 2008
Stanford University

Antonella Fillet
Antonella explores Wellington, New Zealand

“This trip changed me perspective on so many aspects of my life and my surroundings. Having been put in a group with thirteen other people, all with different personalities, but similar interests each person brought something new to the table. Some taught me how to be selfless, some taught me to how to laugh at myself, and then others taught me how to stand up for what I believed in.” But the teaching didn't just come from the students, Lou and Andy, my instructors became like mentors to me on the trip. They treated us as equals, sharing stories of their travels and inspiring us to follow our passion, and to face any obstacles head on. Lastly, the teaching came from the people working at the various conservation projects. At these places I learned about the power of doing and the importance of dedicating your life to protecting and rebuilding the environment. I never expected to learn so much about myself or have my focus changed on what is really important in life so drastically. By being treated like a grown up and being expected to face everyday with an open mind and desire to work my hardest I felt as though I was able to discover new passions and life skills that could be applied in so many different ways. I would recommend this program to any person feeling as though they are stuck in a day to day routine that they can't break out of.” Read more Antonella Fillet, 2016
University of Portland

Isabellea Daniel
Isabella hauling logs in Costa Rica

“Before this program I did not know how much I was going to push myself to grow. I learned so much about life and my values and beliefs.” I would recommend this program to others because it really pushes you out of your comfort zone and forces you to be on your own so you can see how you face challenges in your life, and how you get through them. I was able to learn so much about myself and how I work on this trip. I created friendships that I believe will last a lifetime and I got to do some incredible things while learning about different cultures and a whole new way of life I had not experienced before. I believe I am now able to be on my own and have a greater awareness and understanding of the world around me.” Read more Isabella Daniel, 2017
University of Redlands

Dominick Baruffi
Dominick, living the dream on the Whanganui river, New Zealand

“The past two months have taught me more about travelling and camping and hiking and adventuring than I ever dreamed possible. However, I am ten times as grateful for the things I've learned about myself. At times I was challenged, frustrated or scared and these lessons will never leave me. Thank you for an amazing two months that I will remember for the rest of my days.” Dominick Baruffi, 2009
Eastern University

Zeynep Uner
Zeynep taking a break during a service project in Cambodia

“This program was arranged in a way that is so ingenious, I couldn't believe it! You are eased into Southeast Asia through Bangkok and Chiang Mai, where there is so much vitality and endless stimulation, and then you are brought to Laos, where you experience the country side for the first time - and get a glimpse of how beautiful it is. Then, you are taken to Vietnam and it is heartbreaking, and you are inspired by how much the country has gone through and how well they have come out of it all. And finally, you are brought to Cambodia - where the heartbreak is so recent that it was just introduced into children's history textbooks. Here, you begin to wonder how you can make an impact in the world and change it for the better. This program gave me so much new perspective -- perspective I couldn't achieve anywhere else. I believe it has changed me for the better!” Zeynep Uner, 2016
University of Kansas

Elle Francis 1
Elle gets into the swing of service work in Peru

“Going into this program I was expecting 10 weeks of seeing more of the world and learning some new Spanish. I walked away feeling like a global citizen with new skills, new ambitions, lifelong friends and some of the most incredible memories that I will hold close to my heart for the rest of my life. I am starting a new chapter of my life with much more confidence, curiosity, and motivation.” Elle Francis, 2018
Utah State University

Thomas Jennings
Thomas in Cambodia, it's all about coconuts!

“What an unbelievable experience. I learned so much about the countries we visited, tourism, development, and honestly, myself. I have a whole new perspective on the world, how it works, and my place in it.” Thomas Jennings, 2012
University of Denver

Nick Boulos
Move over Bear Grylls, Nick backpacking in New Zealand

“Pacific Discovery is an amazing program. I found that unlike other programs, PacDisco tries (and succeeds) to make the company feel like a close knit community, rather than a big business. This showed itself in multiple ways, including making sure that my individual group meshed well together and that there was good energy throughout.” They gave the leaders key tools in how to work with a group, leading us to become extremely happy and close. Another way is on a more greater scale. Pacific Discovery always made sure there was a connection between the creators and heads of the company to every single kid that was on a Pacific Discovery program. This is something that I have never seen done so well on any other program. On a different note, I also liked that PacDisco did a great job at challenging me in new and different ways every single day - forcing me to go out of my comfort zone. One day that could mean bungee jumping, and one day it could be cooking a meal for everyone (equally as scary.) The bottom line is every day I was challenged in a positive way, which helped me get a greater sense of awareness on my limits and grow as a person.” Read more Nick Boulos, 2016
Cnnecticut College

Madeleine Tango
Village celebration on the shores of Lake Titicaca

“Pacific Discovery was a safe but fulfilling way to travel the world and gain new insight. I loved the balance between the freedom and the safety the instructors provided us. It was definitely a "what you put in, you get out" type of program- the more we researched, spoke to locals, and embraced the beautiful places we visited, the more we gained.” I felt like I grew a lot. I gained much more appreciative of what I have at home. It opened my eyes to the effects of climate change on small communities. I will always be tied to Peru and Ecuador; a piece of my heart will always belong there. I gained much more confidence in myself. I learned so much about human nature. I met some awesome people.” Read more Madeleine Tango, 2017
Middlebury College

Emily Vicks
Emily in the glory of snow, Mt Cook, New Zealand

“This experience was a roller coaster of once-in-a-lifetime experiences and unforgettable fun. It was a perfect mix through cities and incredible discovery through the wilderness. This was truly an amazing experience I can't say enough good things about it and how it changed my life.” Emily Vicks, 2012
Middlebury College

Review Pacific Discovery Laos
Richard helping out on a service project in Laos

“Damn, what a trip! This program has been awesome - it's difficult to overstate how interesting, educational, and most of all, how truly different this trip really is.” This program is exactly what you make it; if you walk into every day with an open mind and truly try to take the most out of every moment, this program promises to be one that will change your life in ways that you would never have thought possible. Every day really is an adventure - the stark diversity of people, places and activities really are something that must be seen to truly understand, and every day promises something new. This trip really is once in a lifetime, so push your limits and jump in!” Read more Richard Hugessen, 2014
Wilfried Laurier University

Maggie Ginocchio
Maggie relaxing in Southern Thailand

“I went on this trip because I felt like I was stuck in a rut and a in an empty, monotonous routine back home. I didn't really know what to expect - I've never done anything like this trip! - but these past two months have been the happiest of my life.” What started out as 15 awkward strangers turned into 15 amazing friends traveling, adventuring, and making incredible memories together. We went to so many diverse cities and countries, hiked through mountains, kayaked in the sea, ate crazy food, bungee jumped, learned about new cultures and religions, explored Southeast Asia city nightlife, bathed elephants, built houses together, and about a million other things. Pretty much the most amazing, crazy, challenging, and exciting itinerary I've ever seen...and there wasn't a single day where I didn't laugh, smile, and feel completely at peace. This trip changed everything for me - mindset, my views of the world, my plans for the future. But more than anything, it re-taught me how to love life and myself again. I'm so thankful for every part of it and I can't recommend it highly enough!” Read more Maggie Ginocchio, 2016
Grand Valley State University

katherine edgely
Katherine savours the delights of the Vietnamese cuisine

“A truly amazing two month adventure. I have come away from the trip with a new perspective, many amazing friends, and experiences in amazing countries that I will never forget. There are so many benefits to traveling through SE Asia with a group. I can think of so many things that I wouldn't have done by myself or even with a group of friends. Often these were the most valuable, fun, parts of the trip which wouldn't have been possible if I wasn't traveling with Pacific Discovery. The leaders were incredible, the food was superb, and PD was the best organization I could have chosen to explore SE Asia with!” Katherine Edgley, 2014
Middlebury College

Review Pacific Discovery New Zealand
Penny, making a difference during a service project in Mimiwhangata, New Zealand

“Pacific Discovery really gets the balance right between the adventure travel, volunteering and fully experiencing the countries culture and its people.” This program offered so much more than I could have imagined. From the start I was impressed with the well thought out itinerary, the opportunities provided and the incredible inspirational leaders. It definitely was a life-changing experience and I could not thank Pacific Discovery enough for all the amazing opportunities offered on this program.” Read more Penny Caudle, 2014
University of Exeter, UK

Georgie Spafford
Georgie in the roots of the giant fig trees growing out of Ta Phrom temple, Cambodia

“Pacific Discovery’s Southeast Asia semester is simply incredible. The programme schedule is brilliantly and thoughtfully organised so that you see both the must-see sites, from the Chi Chi tunnels to Angkor Wat, but also a more authentic side to Asia. No young solo traveller could stay for four nights in tiny mountain villages in northern Laos, sleeping in local families’ huts, showering in a stream surrounded by a herd of cattle, and eating homemade sticky rice with mashed sweet potato for dinner.” It is these unique experiences that you will remember and appreciate most from the trip, and they only happen through Pacific Discovery. Traveling with knowledgeable guides also means that you learn so much about Asian culture along the way - having someone with you who can answer all of your questions about the Khmer Rouge, for example, and also help you navigate the sometimes terrifying transport system really adds to the experience. This is all made even more special by the fact that you share it with a fantastic and diverse group of people from all over the world. You learn as much from them as you do from Southeast Asia itself. If you want to know if the trip will change you, let’s take Bangkok. When you arrive on your first day the bustle of the city is overwhelming, and it is the craziest, dirtiest place you've ever seen. But when you return 8 weeks later, having traveled throughout Southeast Asia, Bangkok is a sophisticated, clean, easy urban haven. This just goes to show how this trip will equip you with the experience and confidence to embrace solo travel in any part of the world.” Read more Georgie Spafford, 2016
University College London

Aidan Liston
Aidan at Machu Picchu

“An opportunity for experiential learning is like no other. I learned more in 70 days than I could I could ever imagine. If you would like to improve your Spanish skills, immerse yourself in local cultures, and visit the untraveled parts of the world this trip is perfect.” Aidan Liston, 2017
Leigh University

josie reed
Josie finds her flow on the Whanganui river, New Zealand

“Pacific Discovery is not just an ordinary gap year experience, it reaches above and beyond anything I could have ever imagined. Pacific Discovery blew my expectations out of the water.” Pacific Discovery allowed me the opportunities I would have never received if I had travelled elsewhere or on my own. They have made incredible connections with the people that we worked with and I genuinely felt like I was contributing something when I was doing environmental work.

The program is well-thought out, balancing the perfect amount of work and play. When I was searching for a program, I was looking for something that involved a substantial amount of community service, but also a program that allowed me to spend some time focusing on myself and pushing my boundaries. I wanted a program where I could travel with friends and be surrounded by people who were like-minded. I am so glad I chose to come on this trip. I could have never imagined the opportunities that I was given or how much I could learn just by experiencing real life.”
Read more Josie Reed, 2014
Elon University, Canada

Claire Schlaikjer
Claire swinging into service work in Ecuador

“My trip to South America with Pacific Discovery was incredible. The variety and depth of experiences we had were amazing and very often were so unique that I wouldn't have been able to do them without the company. Homestays, beautiful hikes, community work, paragliding and mountain biking: everything we did was a fun or eye-opening experience and for an entire nine weeks, every day was full of new and wonderful things that I would recommend to anyone!” Claire Schlaikjer, 2016
Brown University

Celia Gottlieb
Celia ready to blend in on the Capachica Peninsula, Peru

“Before the trip, I never imagined that in just 10 weeks I would make the best friends I have ever had. Pacific Discovery fosters the perfect environment to just be yourself and for the first time in my life I felt that everyone around me was raw and real. Together we took on every challenge and made everything fun. I am so thankful for these people, these memories and adventures.” Celia Gottleib, 2017
Middlebury College

James Tickner
James discovers a new way of travelling on a river taxi, Bangkok

“10/10! I was pretty sure what to expect, but it still blew me out of the water when I look back at this trip.” James Tickner, 2014
Oregon State University

Matilda Granger
Matilda high above Machu Picchu, Peru

“Yes - it was amazing to wake up everyday and do or see something incredible. It surpassed my expectations both with the people I met inside and outside the group and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to experience South America in such a fun and dynamic way.” Matilda Granger, 2016
Oxford Univeristy

Abby Woolenin
Abbey welcomes the latest group member

“Pacific Discovery has changed my life. I had the opportunity to grow in so many ways and see the world like I never have before. Experiential education is incredibly unique and something that every student should take advantage of. It opens your eyes to the wonders of this beautiful world and takes you out of your comfort zone in ways that you will only benefit from. The memories and friendships that I made will last a lifetime and I am so thankful to have had such an incredible experience.” Abby Wolanin, 2017
Drexel University

Celia Juan
Celia connects to the serenity of Magnetic Island, Australia

“I recommend this experience to anyone who loves to travel.” I'm from Spain and I love to travel. Last year, I decided I wanted to make the most of my summer after finishing High School. I started looking for activities and adventures around the world and I found Pacific Discovery offered me all that I wanted. I'm really grateful to have found it. I had an amazing experience, got to know many people from around the world and discover the East Coast of Australia. At the end I didn't want to leave my friends that had become a family.” Read more Celia Juan, 2014

Claire Huffman
Claire showing off her Muay Thai moves

“This experience was BEYOND incredible. In these past two months, I have been a person I never thought I could be, from the adventurous sports and activities, to working with children in Cambodia - I stepped outside my comfort zone and made some of the greatest memories of my life. This trip is more than just a tour of Southeast Asia, and it's more than a volunteering experience. It's a dive-in-head-first, perspective-changing, amazing whirlwind of fun and, yes, learning.” Having finished the trip, I feel so much more confident in my future independent travels, and in myself in general - while trekking through Laos, I remember thinking that without Pacific Discovery, I would never have realized all the things I can do that I'd never dreamed of. I can climb mountains, I can connect with children who speak a different language, I can navigate a foreign city. I can even scale limestone cliffs, and bungee-jump off a crane. I can connect with people from all over the world, and learn so much just by talking to them. I cannot express how grateful I am to have been a part of this program.” Read more Claire Huffman, 2016
University of Pennsylvania

Stephen Berg
Stephen at Lake Tititcaca, Peru

“This program changed my life. It bestowed upon me a new light and a new perspective. Every part of this experience gave me so much gratitude and showed me the beauty that exists in the world.” These 10 weeks exceeded, by a large margin, what I expected of this trip. I have had incredible and unforgettable experiences and made lifelong friends in the process. There are no suitable words to accurately sum up this experience, and it is with the heaviest heart that I wish I could spend more time with all these amazing friends I’ve made. I would recommend this program one hundred times out of one hundred to anyone wishing to see more of the world. This program has been the best experience of my life.” Read more Stephen Berg, 2017
University of Washington

kristin lee
Kristen gets wet and wild in Kaituna, New Zealand

“The world is a wonderfully beautiful place with so many more things to do and see than one could ever imagine.” My adventure with Pacific Discovery was hands-down one of the most important and amazing experiences of my life. I had signed up for this trip sort of impulsively, and I am so glad that I did. I touched the highest parts of the earth to the bottoms of the oceans, learning about some of the most beautiful parts of the world while also learning about myself. I'm also so glad I went right after I graduated, a time when I was a complete hot mess. It was a great way to gain some clarity and calm in my life. I would do it all again.” Read more Kristen Lee, 2014
Amherst College

Ryan Green
Ryan hiking to watch the sunrise on North Keppel Island, Australia

“The trip had an extremely positive impact on many of my views and beliefs. Being a city boy all my life I was exposed to new experiences and environments that I would never been able to experience if I hadn't been part of Pacific Discovery. I realized I can take on a lot more responsibility than I thought. That a present that cost 5 dollars can be just as heart felt and well received as a present that cost 500 dollars. That so much can be achieved in 24 hours, how much we have an impact on our environment and that whilst living in some discomforts you appreciate the little luxuries you miss from home! The greatest thing I learnt from the trip was living in the moment and not fixating on the past or future. Planning can be good but sometimes a little spontaneity can be just as awesome. To have figured all that out in a space of a month I would highly recommend the trip as both an adventure and self discovery for yourself.” Ryan Green, 2016
Brunel University

Daria Nicke
Is that facepaint or zinc sunscreen Daria?

“Thank you guys for everything! What an amazing experience! This program pushed me out of the comfort zone everyday. I felt challenged, but just the right amount (although it may not have felt like that at the time).” Daria Nicke,
University of Colorado, Boulder

Dan Reinke
Dan, on a walkabout at Farewell spit, New Zealand

“I loved this trip. When I think about it, it warms me up inside! I did so many great things with so many great people; this was an experience I will never forget! I already miss it.” Dan Reinke, 2014
Cornell University

liam Mooney
Liam trekking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal

“The value of Pacific Discovery is deep-rooted in their connections to the local people who allow us to pursue such transformative experiences alongside their authentic culture. Our journey through Nepal and Tibet allowed me to realize the true potential of my dreams. The trip's healthy mix of adventure, culture, and time for self reflection has instilled me with an increased sense of confidence in the personalized path I continue to forge in life.” Liam Mooney,
Westminster College

Hayley Raymond
Haley loving the views from a bus in Tibet

“Choosing to take a semester off from school and go to Nepal and Tibet with Pacific Discovery is one of the best decisions I have ever made! I don't think I was necessarily ready for college when I started in the fall, but taking spring off to go abroad has made me much more confident in myself and my abilities and I am excited to go back in the fall!” Haley Raymond, 2017
Ithaca College

Josh Tarbor
Josh trekking in Nepal

“I didn't really know what to expect coming into the program, but regardless of what I could have expected I'm sure that it wouldn't have come anywhere close to what I experienced. Everywhere we went and everything that we saw blew my mind in ways that I could never have imagined, it wa truly eye opening.” After the long, sometimes arduous, two months, I feel like I matured and strengthened so much both mentally and emotionally, and I can't express enough how grateful I am that I got to go on such a life-changing trip.” Read more Josh Tabor, 2017
Purdue University

Julia Paige
Julia, enjoying the satisfaction of service work in Mimiwhangata, New Zealand

“I think that I always had the ability to see the world for all of its potential, but this trip allowed me to see me for all of mine.” Julia Paige, 2014
Hawaii Pacific University

Tobi Watanabi
Tobi experiences the magic in the ordinary in Quito, Ecuador

“The Ecuador/Galapagos program was hands-down the most incredible thing I've ever experienced. When trying to pick a program, I read many reviews. They all seemed too good to be true ("life changing" "time of my life" "made lifelong friends"). I was skeptical to say the least, but I was so wrong.” I live in Hawaii and have travelled a bit, but nothing compared to what I saw, learned, and experienced on this program. From day one, everyone was hanging out in each other's rooms and getting along wonderfully. You'll be amazed at how close you become with your group in such little time. At the end of the trip, walking each other to our gates at the airport was heartbreaking. Your group members will be incredible, but so will the people you get the privilege of helping. It was so humbling and rewarding. The culture and language immersion was also something that I loved.” Read more Tobi Watanabe, 2014
University of Hawaii

Review Pacific Discovery New Zealand
Michael, feeling the rewards of giving back to the land in Mimiwhangata, New Zealand

“Pacific Discovery was easily the most amazing experience of my life. The friends I made on the trip will last a lifetime, and my memories will never fade.” Michael Hissey, 2014
Harvard College

Mimi Ausland
Service work on a blustery day in the Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand

“One of my favorite parts of the program was meeting people from all over that were so different from myself and getting to know them on such a deep and meaningful level. We truly were a traveling family for 10 weeks!” Also, we got to see so much in such a short amount of time and experience things I never normally would experience traveling. I definitely grew as a person and feel like I know more about what I want and don't want from my life, it changed my perspective on so many things. Being away from normal life and technology for most of the trip really helped me get to know myself in different ways and took away everyday distractions I face at home.” Read more Mimi Ausland, 2017
University of Oregon

Garrett Law
Garret looking up at Chomolungma, Mt Everest

“The experience as a whole was incredible. The incredible leaders and my group members really made the experience for me. I could really appreciate how amazing the place was and I loved learning so much from everyone. This has definitely helped me grow and gain a new love for the world, and made me want to work hard to have a bright future.” Garrett Law, 2017
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Jeremy Kritt
Jeremy entertaining kids during a community building project in Cambodia

“I gained so much from this program, personally, emotionally and professionally. It completely challenged my worldview and demystified so much of travelling for me.” I came into the program looking at the world through dichotomous relationships, thinking that things are either good or bad, smart or foolish, educated or ignorant, healthy or unhealthy, etc. Pacific Discovery taught me that, as much as we would like it to be, the world simply isn't that black and white. It showed me how nuanced and complex and interconnected the world truly is. The program was as much fun as I've ever had, and more memorable than anything I have ever done, but what I value the most is how it challenged me to chew on the moral and intellectual complexities of the world that we live in.” Read more Jeremy Kritt, 2017
University of Illinois

Taylor Steggerda
Taylor working at a women's center in the Amazon, Ecuador

“My Pacific Discovery journey through South America exceeded all of my expectations, and the lessons I learned and memories I made will stick with me for the rest of my life.” Through the experience, I gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for other cultures, which also sparked my decision to change my major to Cultural Studies as I want to continue learning and experiencing different cultures in the future. While the trip was challenging at times, it was in those moments where I lived outside of my comfort zone that I really learned the most about myself. Because the program encourages everyone to be open to trying new things, I was able to try an array of new foods and activities that I ended up loving, as well as being able to discover new passions of mine that I didn't know I had. This program was the perfect balance of cultural immersion, service, and adventure, and day by day, I discovered how amazing and beautiful life can truly be. Pacific Discovery taught me that I am in control of my life and my own happiness, and it's my responsibility to follow my heart and take the steps to make every day extraordinary.” Read more Taylor Steggerda, 2016
Villanova College

Sophie Torres 1
Sophie during a rural village homestay in Nepal

“I traveled with Pacific Discovery to Nepal and Tibet and it was the most amazing experience. I was researching gap year programs during a 9-5 summer internship and I knew that I wanted to go somewhere that would give me hope that there is more to life than sitting in front of a computer all day. Not only did the trip give me hope but it far exceeded my expectations, showing me that there are so many opportunities out there and wonderful people to meet.” Every day on this program I felt lucky to be experiencing something that people (including me) only dream about. Not only were the places we went beautiful, and so diverse (especially the Annapurna trek), but the people we met were so friendly and had such good hearts. We were all so sad to leave our guide in Tibet, and at the home stay I didn't want to part ways with my host family. It's hard to pick a favorite part of the trip but I would say it was quite an experience getting to see a movie showing in a Nepali village up in the mountains where we sat on yak fur seats and were served tea and popcorn. What I really appreciated about Pacific Discovery was that it gave me a real and authentic experience, which taught me a lot more about myself than if I had stayed at five star hotels every night. Overall it was the best decision I've ever made.” Read more Sophie Torres, 2016
Binghampton University

Addie Chabot
Addie snorkeling with sea turtles in the Galapagos Islands

“This trip was everything and more that our daughter was looking for. It covered all of the bases - educational, community outreach, adventure, service, personal challenge and exploration, etc....It was an amazing experience for her and the guides were excellent. Pacific Discovery creates the perfect balance of running a safe program but also being able to push the students out of their comfort zone. Bravo to them!” Alicia Chabot, 2016
mother of Addie

Cate Luna
Cate loving backpacking in New Zealand

“I had the time from my life on this trip and I can say for sure that this experience changed my life! I have grown in so many ways that I did not expect and am so proud to have been a part of such a wonderful organization. I have gained so many traveling and outdoor skills, and I feel more confidant in who I am. Our time at the crossing inspired me to really investigate how to live more sustainably. My instructors were fantastic and were there for me every step of the way. I would definitely recommend that everybody do this program!” Cate Luna, 2017
UC Santa Cruz

Vishal Yepuri
Vishaal getting to know highschool students in Cambodia

“It was refreshing and fascinating to view life through a different lenses and discover that there are so many different ways to live. It was very powerful to hear first-hand accounts from locals of the negative effects of war and violence in the region. However, it was truly inspiring to see their resiliency and optimistic outlook for the future in spite of all the hardships. The best way to be more informed about the world we live in is to make ourselves vulnerable and push our boundaries by being curious and adventurous!” This experience surpassed any expectations I had! Challenging myself by leaving my comfort zone in the US to immerse myself in Southeast Asian cultures with a group of strangers was nerve-wracking. However, doing so allowed me to learn so much about myself while increasing my awareness of global problems facing our generation.” Read more Vishaal Yepuri, 2017
University of Illinois

Priyansh Lunia
Priyansh with group-mates along the Inca Trail

“If I could only pick one thing to take away from this experience, it would be inspiration. This program inspired me to look at my home of Southeast Asia in a new light; there's so much adventure to be had and exploration to do - I'm so excited to continue the spark that this trip ignited for me. This trip showed me that I was capable of doing things that I didn't know I could. I'm stoked to continue all of it. The trip also inspired me to be a better person - it was the one homestay in Agato, Ecuador that made me have this revelation; it inspired me to see the world in such a positive light, filled with happiness and kindness.” Priyansh Lunia, 2016
Rice University

Leo Huttel
Leo looking hardcore during canyoning in Australia

“This program has been the best experience of my life so far. I gained so many new outdoors skills. Climbing and surfing were my 2 favorite activities. I liked surfing so much that I changed my plans to stay after in Australia to surf and WOOF. Also my eyes were opened to many environmental problems. I loved the permaculture work and was inspired by ranger Chris at Mimiwhangata. I can honestly say I will take back many lessons and ways of living to my home town of Boulder.” Leo Huettel, 2016
University of Colorado

Review Pacific Discovery - Costa Rica
Mia kayaking in Costa Rica

“I would recommend the program to others to challenge yourself, make new friends, do amazing activities and to immerse yourself in a new culture! You really get to learn more about yourself and who you are as a person on this program! I learned to let go, and live in the moment. ” My trip to Costa Rica was truly life-changing. I made deep connections, did amazing activities, and I really gained clarity as to what I want out of life. I came out of this experience with more confidence and a greater appreciation for life! Ready to face any challenge and to just stay calm like the waves!” Read more Mia LaFayette, 2021
Costa Rica Mini Semester

Helen Watson
Half kangaroo! - Helen in Australia

“The program definitely changed the way I viewed everything. Coming in after doing a program with Where There Be Dragons and having such an amazing experience, I was nervous. But as I saw throughout the program, both companies have very similar values and strong morals.” The experience that most impacted me was our week at the Crossing. This was really where I realized that I wanted to continue to study environmental studies in college and beyond. It was such an eye opening experience that can't even be put into words. Every moment spent there, my love for the outdoors and environment grew exponentially. I had never felt that excited for anything. Those were also some of the most important moments shared with the group since there was no service/wifi. Dean and Annette also were such amazing humans to work with. That experience will change the way I look at everything forever. I wasn't expecting the program to focus so much on the environment, but that proved to be one of the most powerful things I took away from my experience. After having spent my fall in a third world country, I wasn't convinced that I would come away from westernized countries having that same sense of awe and bewilderment; however, this trip only added more fuel to the fire burning within me and I felt a lot more passion afterwards. It made me realize that you can learn a lot just by exploring your own surroundings at home. It made me excited to come home and change the way in which I had previously lived. I also think it was the perfect stepping stone for me, since I was given more freedom on this trip. I would definitely recommend this program to others. I think there is an importance in sharing experiences and getting the conversation started.” Read more Helen Watson, 2016
Colby College

Emma Radeka
Emma embraces the view on the way to Machu Picchu

“My senior year of high school was so stressful (a usual occurrence for most), that it began manifesting itself physically. I became scared of a lot of things that I never used to fear! Wanting to break that awful cycle, before coming on this program, I made a specific goal for myself: throw yourself into each and every opportunity with no fear. And I'm so happy to say that I 100% achieved this.” With all of the incredible opportunities we had, and the support and enthusiasm of my entire group, it was impossible for fear to stop me from immersing myself completely. I've learned how to find the beauty outside of my comfort zone, and thanks to my action-packed 2 months in South America, I've found that my comfort zone has expanded significantly.” Read more Emma Radeka, 2016
University of Vermont

Rosie Petrie
Rosie in Ecuador

“Going on this program was absolutely hands down one of the best decisions I have ever made. I always thought that when people described it as "life changing" it was just an expression, something to say. But I now understand the truth behind this description.” I learned so many things I didn't even know I didn't know, discovered more than I could've imagined about myself, and formed incredible bonds with so many people inside and outside our group. The trip consistently pushed me way outside of my comfort zone, especially involving Spanish speaking, social interactions, physical exertion, and so much more. Because of this, I realized that you don't learn when you're in your comfort zone. You need to do things you're afraid of or uncomfortable with to grow as a person and expand your knowledge and experience, and that's exactly what this program does. Between the hikes, the home-stays, the group bonding, the incredible beauty, the amazing people, and everything else, this really was the experience of a lifetime.” Read more Rosie Petree, 2016
Virginia Commonwealth University

David Steinberg
Playing at being Steve Irwin in the Galapagos Islands

“I feel like I have a better understanding of the world that I live in because of this program. I would recommend this program to others because it not only improved my spanish speaking and comprehension, but it also broadened my horizons. I learned so much from the group as well. I learned about different cultures, religions, and lifestyles as well.” Pacific Discovery changed my perspective in the world we live in by broadening my knowledge of different cultures. I believe I came out of this program not only more informed, but as a better person in general. I also became extremely close with my group and consider them some of my best friends.” Read more David Steinberg, 2016
Babson College

Sasha Ligay
Sasha leads the way - backpacking in New Zealand

“The trip was definitely the most incredible experience of my life so far. I discovered cultures and aspects of the world I had never imagined to exist. Seeing all of the sights and partaking in such an immersive program really sparked my love for travel; I can't wait to do something like that again! I've also learned independence and spontaneity from traveling away from home and coming across all kinds of new things. Hopefully, I'll be able to come back and see the changes we made to the environment with all of our volunteer work!” Sasha Ligay, 2016
University of Chicago

Elly Thompkins2
Elly wrangles llamas in the Sacred Valley, Peru

“Travelling through South America with Pacific Discovery challenged me in ways that I could never have expected. I came to understand the value of living a life defined by exploration, the unknown, and learning through experience. And that doesn't have to be only through travel - there are opportunities for adventure wherever we look. I also came to understand the value of stories - of listening and sharing - for that is how we learn to empathise and act with compassion.” Thank you for showing me that the person I am is not stagnant, but always has the capacity to learn and grow and strengthen. There is so much beauty in the world, and my eyes are so much more open to that now.” Read more Elly Thompkins, 2016
University of Adelaide

James Allison
James figuring out which route is which - rock climbing in New Zealand

“A life changing experience where you literally learn something new everyday. The program has taught me how to respect my surroundings while making the most of your opportunities in a particular place.” I have gained sustainable life skills that I will remember for the rest of my life and do my best to try and make as little of an impact towards our environment. This is a trip that I will never forget, but I will also never forget the strangers that became my best friends throughout the program. We all experienced high and low moments, but we were always there for each other and conquered every challenge that was brought upon us. This trip has taught me how to be a better contributor in a group setting, which is very important in life.” Read more James Allison, 2016
University of Guelph

Macala Elliott
Macala in Southern Thailand

“My experience traveling with Pacific Discovery was the best group experience I've had so far in my travels.” I have only incredible things to say about the adventurous and learning environment created by the program leaders and the students. My trip to Thailand was by far the best month of my life, and I would highly recommend Pacific Discovery to any and all of my friends. I grew so much in my cultural awareness and my self-identity. The trip inspired my art and further heightened my love of travel and learning.” Read more Macala Elliott, 2016
Baylor University

Ishany Anthapur
With a Blue Footed Booby - Ishanya in the Galapagos Islands

“YES!!! I truly had an amazing time on this trip. I've taken away so much knowledge about the countries and communities I visited (Peru and Ecuador) and also about myself.” My PD trip has opened up so many opportunities for me as I just observed and learned more about the world, how I fit in with it, and how to be a better global traveler. I've also made so many connections with people around the world. The best part of the trip for me was just meeting people- from the indigenous local tribes to the chilled out Peruvians and Ecuadorians to the eager and adventurous voyagers.” Read more Ishanya Anthapur, 2016
Princeton University

Cass Rubio
Cass about to rappel into a cave

““Traveling – it makes you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller.”- Ibn Battuta. Thailand has always been a dream of mine to visit and I'm so glad I stumbled upon Pacific Discovery! The highlights of the itinerary caught me right away, but this program has surpassed all my expectations in a way that I never imagined a program could offer.” I would definitely recommend this program to anyone else seeking not only a travel experience but also to expand your confort zone beyond what you can imagine! Physically and mentally! Just when I thought I was getting comfortable with an activity, skill or learning I found myself constantly challenged and motivated to learn and do more, with the group and on my own as well. I would very much recommend and encourage to you join a Pacific Discovery adventure! You will not only travel to your destination of choice, but you will learn so much about the country and volunteer, have fun, learn from amazing leaders, be one with nature, meet new people - locals and from other countries, and grow as a person - as much as you step out of your comfort zone, which is where the magic happens! Give yourself the gift of travel! “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” - Author Unknown

“Travel, Experience: These are an education in themselves.” Euripides

Thank you Pacific Discovery for making this the trip of a lifetime!! Forever inspired!”
Read more Casandra Rubio,
ITESO University, Mexico

Jack Stone
Jack 'jumps in' - Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

“My experience in Thailand was positively life-changing. I loved how Pacific Discovery balanced out a "western" feel (staying in good accommodations, etc.) with a "rustic" feel - this allowed us to comfortably jump into the Thai culture. Thank you for allowing me to experience one of the greatest months of my life.” Jack Stone, 2016
Harvard College

charles balter
Charles having fun in Laos

“Originally signing up for this program I was expecting it just to be a trip and tour through four beautiful countries, what didn't expect was for it to completely change my outlook on what is important to me in my life.” Charles Balter, 2015
University of Oregon

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Friends for life on the Hawaii Semester

“While there are so many incredible aspects about Pacific Discovery including the amazing program leaders, the well organized itinerary, and the opportunity to make friends for a lifetime, if we had to pick our favorite it would be the combination of service, adventure, and self discovery that the program offers. ” Returning from the program, our son has a new sense of himself and enjoys living life more simply. He has so many stories of the adventures he experienced and enjoyed the service component. He shared that the program was so much more than he expected and we could not be more grateful to his amazing leaders, Amber and John, for fostering such a wonderful trip environment.” Read more Megan Alpert, 2022
Mother of Tommy, Hawaii Semester

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Sunset in South East Asia

“The Pacific Discovery program was a perfect fit for our daughter. She made strong friendships, became more self-confident and independent, learned about different cultures, and experienced the adventure of travel. ” The program has the perfect amount of structure - it is organized and well- planned out and also provide plenty of opportunity to grow. It was exactly what she was looking for in a gap program.
Read more Jamie Wood, 2022
Father of Cady, South East Asia Gap Semester

Testimonial 8
Hana learning about sustainable living

“I feel that this Pacific Discovery program provided Hana with the support and independence she needed at this time in her life. It was really transformational for her, she really did change and grow into a new and amazing person with passion and excitement for her future.” I know she has more confidence, feels really great about herself, learned to process and sit with her emotions, healed on a deep level, found herself, and learned to set boundaries.” Read more Sonia Behn, 2022
Mother of Hana, Hawaii Semester

Testimonial 9
August at the start of a volcano hike

“The Central America semester was life-changing for my son. He came home bursting with stories and was so proud of his accomplishments. He had an amazing time and learned so much about himself and the region. The program was well-planned and full of fun and learning!” Meredith Massey, 2022
Mother of August, Central America Semester

Testimonial 5
Sadie getting hand-on during a volunteer project

“My daughter grew in wonderful ways and gained confidence during her Pacific Discovery Mini Semester. She learned how to be in the moment during her travels, and very much enjoyed the social connections she made with the other participants and with the people they met along the way in Costa Rica. Thank you, Sadie so enjoyed her experience with Pacific Discovery and the program leaders were fantastic!” Mary Beth, 2022
Mother of Sadie, Costa Rica Mini Semester

Testimonial 7
Halle preparing a Hawaiian Imu Feast

“Halle thoroughly enjoyed this experience. She wants to go back and learn more about Hawaii and work and become a native Hawaiian. She was able to gain insight into how other people live and immerse herself in their daily activities. Also learning how to work with different personalities and overcome obstacles and persevere outside your comfort zone. I believe this experience not only helps with maturity and life lessons but also an appreciation for her own life and family.” Rosabella Bottrell, 2022
Mother of Halle, Hawaii Mini Semester

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Exploring Bryce Canyon National Park

“Pacific Discovery did an excellent job with packing lists and preparing students and families for what to expect. Carter thoroughly enjoyed himself while on the program as well! After a socially disappointing freshman year at college and a long quarantine period, this program was an absolute gift in all ways.” Ann Franciskovich, 2021
Mother of Carther, Hawaii/Western US Semeste

Testimonial 6
Jake watching the sunset in Mexico

“I loved the variety of experiences that Jake was able to participate in on his trip. Jake seemed to return feeling more confident about his own personal abilities and had a stronger sense of himself based on his experiences and interactions within a small group over the course of ten weeks. ” He reflected that he tried his best to always pitch in and lend a hand when it was needed, and that he was able to call upon the patience required in situations where others might have had differing views or attitudes. He went out of his comfort zone on a caving exploration trip, which he did not want to outweigh his opportunity to experience something amazing. He made some great friends who he hopes to stay in touch with. We hope this trip gave him the experience and confidence needed to travel on his own/with friends in the future, and also to head off to university in September feeling ready and willing to meet another group of new people.” Read more Leslie Astor, 2022
Parent of Jake, Central America Program

Liz Neal
Liz nearing the top of Vietnam's highest peak, Mt Fansipan

“When Liz first told us she wanted to do the Southeast Asia program, I was very much against it. I was afraid for her and she would be so far away. I was still afraid the day she left.” But what really helped me was how organized the program was. Also, I thought the safety issues were very well handled and the online communication was great. Liz experienced first-hand very different cultures from our domineering western culture and I can't think of a more valuable learning experience. She seems to value people and their feelings and ideas now more than the material things in our culture. I have always perceived Liz as being self-confident but now she is quite the adventurer and I truly admire her desire to learn and experience life to its fullest.” Read more Sherri Neal, 2003
Mother of Liz

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Scuba diving in Byron Bay, AU

“Jack had a wonderful experience with the Pacific Discovery Program. He challenged himself both physically and mentally as he hiked, canoed, river rafted, bungee jumped, worked, pulled weeds, repaired trails, cooked meals, learned to lead and work in a group. The best part is that he developed deep bonds of friendship with his group members. If you were to ask him today, he would certainly say that the time spent with Pacific Discovery was one of the highlights of his life.” Kia Westhead, 2018
Mother of Jack, Australia & New Zealand Semester

Lily Faust
Lily at a village homestay while trekking in Laos

“Lily learned so much from the semester that I barely know where to begin.” Before this trip my daughter had only lived on ten acres in the rural countryside, as an only child. In Southeast Asia, she bonded with 13 other young adults in ways that would have not been possible in the U.S. In addition, my daughter gained a taste of the greater diversity and sophistication of her peer group beyond her home in rural Grass Valley, something she will expand on in college. Lily also gained great confidence in herself by learning to navigate the streets of Hanoi, Saigon and Phnom Penh, both during the day and in the evenings. Southeast Asian culture is more respectful toward women than our own American culture such that Lily felt even safer walking the streets in Vietnam, than on the street of U.S. cities. As a person who tends to worry, Lily learned the Southeast Asian life skill of not sweating the small things in life. In my view this is one of life's most important lessons. Lastly, Lily was able to share her passion for art, architecture, and politics with her peers while they shared their passions for music, dance, humor and fun with her. This trip was an experience of a lifetime that Lily will always treasure.” Read more Mara Faust, 2011
Mother of Lily

Patrick Gainey 1
Patrick sizes up the magnitude of trees, Fraser Island, Australia

“WOW! Is what comes to mind when thinking of all the activities Patrick did and saw on your Pacific Discovery Adventure. Patrick had the most amazing time and truly enjoyed every moment and every person on the trip. He has been in contact with all his new best friends since coming home and he’s hoping to reunite with them all at some point, he didn’t have one negative thing to say about anyone or anything….all positive and he’s so thankful that he got to go on this incredible trip. Thank you for making the program a wonderful memory for him to have always.” Dan Gainey, 2012
Parents of Patrick, New Zealand & Australia Summer Program

Marissa Alkemade
Marissa, rekindling playfulness on Fraser Island, Australia

“What an amazing adventure Pacific Discovery was for Marissa. She has come back a changed person. The personal challenges she met not only strengthened and stretched her as a human being, but also enriched her life in ways that she would have never had the opportunity to experience had it not been for Pacific Discovery.” You were absolutely wonderful in the support and encouragement you gave her. She's returned with some amazing insights into herself - and the world she shares with everyone. It's so nice to see her reflect on other's experiences being different from her own - and how they shape people in different ways - and that everyone has a right to be heard - even when you don't share the same view point. She had written to us that from this trip, she discovered how everyone can find a common thread somewhere - that will unite them - no matter how different they are. She absolutely loved every part of the adventure...even the testing her limits part. You made everything safe enough for her to really push herself to regions that she never would have done on her own. She found confidence in herself and an appreciation for the amazing natural resources and the peoples of New Zealand and Australia.” Read more Rachelle Alkemade, 2004
Mother of Marissa, New Zealand & Australia Semester

makayla pardo
After days of trekking, Makayla arrives at Machu Picchu

“It's four months since our daughter returned from the South America Semester and she is still talking about it all the time!!! The overall experience pushed her just enough outside of her comfort zone. We are letting our second daughter take a Gap year experience through Pacific Discovery.” Renee Pardo, 2016
Mother of Makayla

Jason Miller
Jason encounters the stunning birdlife, Magnetic Island, Australia

“My son had an amazing time in Australia. He experienced more in a month than most people do in a lifetime.” Deborah Miller, 2014
Mother of Jason, Australia Summer Program

Paulina Tse 2
Paulina summits, backpacking expedition, New Zealand

“Paulina was able to travel across the world and gain so many experiences with a well-designed program that definitely earned my trust. She came back inspired and eager to experience more of the world. I am so glad Paulina found this program.” Caroline Huang, 2015
Mother of Paulina, New Zealand & Australia Semester

Tanysha Truax
Tanysha atop Magnetic Island, Australia

“This was such an amazing experience for Tanyhsa. From the volunteer work to all the activities she was able to do in one trip. Your program is very organized and the guides Tanyhsha had were the best. She came home a more mature humble person. I would recommend this program to anyone. Thank you for all you do.” Sue Lund, 2015
mother of Tanysha

Kate Hilcher
Kate celebrating Dashain festival in Nepal

“With so many programs to choose from, we feel extremely lucky to have selected Pacific Discovery. The leaders did a terrific job providing the right degree of direction & insight, balanced with a great deal of independence. My daughter has a new level of confidence in traveling, an interest in the world around her, and group of life-long friends who share a passion for adventure.” Debbie Hilscher, 2016
Mother of Kate

Ashton Wahbeh
Ashton on a misty morning at Machu Picchu, Peru

“The South America trip was life changing for our son. He returned a more confident young man with a new zest for life.” The leaders of his trip made a positive and lasting impact on him. He can't say enough good things about them. He gained new friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. The South America trip exposed him to cultures, adventures and people that are helping him shape the way he is planning his future. Not only has the trip impacted our son in a positive way, it has impacted his family and friends. It's really been amazing.” Read more Marlo Wahbeh, 2015
mother of Ashton

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Yoga in Chiang May

“I am so incredibly impressed with the level of planning and communication from Pacific Discovery, from pre-trip to throughout the trip, recognizing how exceedingly difficult it must have been during the pandemic. I always felt Sydney was in good hands, and based on all of Sydney's reports, she has been exposed to not only the Thai culture and the unique activities and experiences offered, but she also learned to cope with uncertainty and view the circumstances with positivity. I am sad that the program has come to an end for Sydney, but I am awaiting a more enlightened daughter to return home, many thanks for what the program has done for her.
Colleen Bloch, 2021
Mother of Sydney, Thailand Program

Gabe Scotti
Gabe soaks up the power of Kuang Sii waterfall in Laos

“We were thrilled with the global exposure Pacific Discovery gave Gabe at just the right age.” On the first trip, our confidence in your program grew in leaps and bounds once the kids started sending emails home! By the time Gabe went on the SE Asia program, we could not have been more enthusiastic. Even with a departure just after 9/11 when, you'll recall, we all had a heightened degree of concern regarding travel abroad, our confidence in you was very strong. Most appreciated was the slant Pacific Discovery gives to environmental and cultural issues. It's not easy, when travelling with a bunch of fellow countrymen, to pry them loose from each other and force 'em to experience the wonderful foreign-ness of their surroundings. We feel you're doing your best to turn the kids outward on their travels.” Read more Jane Scotti, 2001
Mother of Gabe

Ruby Samuels 1
Ruby, rocks it out in the Blue Mountains, Australia

“I felt that Pacific discovery provided me with role models and experiences which enhanced my perspective and made me excited about the world around me.” I always felt safe to explore outside of my comfort zone and push the limits of what I higher I was capable of. The program leaders were incredibly positive, inspirational and helpful 100 percent of the time, and by the end we felt like a very close knit family having been on a million once in a lifetime experiences together over the past two months.” Read more Ruby Samuels, 2012
Colorado College

Max Lynn 1
Max and friends, Halong Bay, Vietnam

“Living abroad really expanded his view of the world and respect for others, as well as gave him a sense of independence and competence that would be impossible to duplicate in an educational or more familiar setting.” This was a learning experience that, as parents, we were so pleased to find. The experiences Max had on this trip have changed his views about people, work, history, communities, and the impact we can have on others. When our son first showed us the PD website, I couldn't imagine sending him so far from home - with complete strangers but Pacific Discovery really provided him the support and social network he needed to feel independent and safe in his travels. Max returned home with a greater sense of confidence and independence as he had opportunities to experience new adventures and share experiences with his friends and fellow travelers. He learned so much about the culture, history and lifestyle of the people and communities in Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos.

Each day was full of new experiences, adventures and learning opportunities. They traveled by boat, kayak, train, plane and foot across SE Asia. The group learned to scuba dive, rock climb, hike/trek, build structures, trade in local markets, exchange money, cook, meditate, care for elephants and appreciate the history and culture of the people they stayed with. This is the kind of experience that changes the life view of young adults and allows them to really open up and appreciate people and traditions from cultures different from their own. I believe these experiences can lead to greater respect for others and help to build peace among nations. I highly recommend it.”
Read more Pat Lynn, 2012
Mother of Max, Southeast Asia Semester

Sara Sattler
Sarah, sky high in Kahurangi National Park, New Zealand

“We took a leap of faith and just found your program on the Internet but it was even better than we could have imagined!” Trip of a lifetime is how Sarah described her time with Pacific Discovery! She became close to her travelers and loved her leaders. She never wanted her trip to end! Great experience!” Read more Denise Sattler, 2015
Mother of Sarah, New Zealand & Australia Semester

Jake Schernecker
Jake kicking back on the Whanganui River expedition, New Zealand

“Jake had a great time and can't stop talking about everything he did and experienced.” Steve Schernecker, 2015
Father of Jake, New Zealand Australia Semester

Corinne Dionne
Corinne's students, with homestay families, Lake Titicaca

“I have been a global trip leader and world language educator for over a decade and I’ve never encountered a company as authentic, flexible and reliable as Pacific Discovery. They are absolute
superstars and fulfill every aspect of their mission- “to assist participants in gaining the skills, confidence and insight to realize their potential in an increasingly global society.””
Every trip I have coordinated with them has exceeded my expectations in a variety of ways. Firstly, they have exceptional connections and partnerships with remote communities in all of the locations they offer. The relationships with the communities in the host cultures are very unique, well established and sustained. One of the many strengths of this company is their responsiveness and willingness to meet the needs and goals of the Global Travel Program mission at my institution.

The Pacific Discovery staff consists of highly knowledgeable and experienced trip leaders that have the ability to customize the trip to fit the individual vision and academic learning goals for all participants. Due to the authenticity of the program offerings, my students consistently have a transformative experience.

Pacific Discovery provides my students with unique learning adventures through meaningful community-initiated service projects. Additionally, they afford students authentic language and cultural immersion opportunities via home-stay excursions.

They challenge students to lean into discomfort while maintaining a safe and supportive environment for students to achieve their personal educational learning goals. I have no doubt that facilitating and/or participating in a Pacific Discovery program would be the most rewarding and extraordinary travel experience you will ever have.”
Read more Corinne Dionne,
HOD Spanish Language

Camielle Beyer2
Camille trekking in Guatemala

“The Pacific Discovery journey though Central America proved to be a great catalyst for Camille's personal growth and discovery. The semester pushed her far out of her comfort zone” and allowed Camille to experience aspects of herself that have gotten less "play" in recent years. As a result, she has returned with a willingness to take charge of her life and to be more aware of the lives of others whom she meets. A great experience and I only wish it had lasted 20 weeks!” Read more Ted Bayer, 2017
Father of Camille

Parker Kelley
Parker spinning fleece at Lake Titicaca, Peru

“Parker had an unbelievable experience in South America. It was a very well organized trip. He enjoyed the people in his group, the home stays and all the different activities. I appreciated the pictures on Facebook and the updates and excellent communication.” Elizabeth Kelly, 2016
mother of Parker

Elle Francis
Elle hard at work on a community project in Peru

“We are simply thrilled with Elle’s experience in South America. Thank you for having such positive and thought provoking leaders to guide and direct her. These are memories of a lifetime.” Christy Bishop, 2017
Mother of Elle

Sophie Torres
Sophie - village homestay in Nepal

“While our daughter Sophie did not have the opportunity to study abroad while earning her undergraduate diploma here at home in the U.S., her Pacific Discovery experience in Nepal and Tibet more than made up for that. The combination of traveling to places she had not dreamt of previously, living with people she had never met for two months, and helping out in a village whose residents will forever remain in her heart was, in her own words, "life changing". As her parents, Lucy and I are so glad that Sophie discovered Pacific Discovery.” John Torres, 2017
Father of Sophie

charlie allen
Charlie with his host in Llachon community, Lake Titicaca, Peru

“It was everything we hoped it would be and perhaps more. Our son definitely ventured outside his comfort zone and his confidence level soared. He even came back looking like a man. He has told us many stories of the people of South America and their way of life. It was quite a cultural experience as well. We are thrilled with the overall experience and think that Pacific Discovery more than delivered on the program.” Maria Allen, 2015
Mother of Charlie

Joe Hegedus
Joe hiking in Kahurangi National Park, New Zealand

“If I had to give your program a score on a scale of 1 to 10, I would give it a 20!” My son was thrilled by the program and met so many wonderful people, he hasn't stopped talking about it. He has new ideas and much more confidence. Josh and Haley are apparently the best leaders in the universe. Thank you so much for everything! Josef thought it was extra amazing that he got to meet Rachel and Scott and go to their home for dinner.” Read more Noel Hegedus, 2015
Father of Josef

Alex Woodcock
It's pure delight for Alex in this temple cave, Vietnam

“Just a short note to thank you for organizing such a great trip for my Daughter Alex Woodcock. She just loved Vietnam and felt you guys did a terrific job in looking after the group. Again many thanks and I am certain Alex will want to consider other trips that you have coming up next year.” Tony Woodcock, 2009
Father of Alex, Vietnam Summer Program

shira wiezman 1
Shira working with school children in Cambodia

“Shira returned home with greater confidence, sure of her abilities to navigate any challenge. She gained a deeper understanding of other cultures and more clarity and insight about herself. All in all, a tremendously valuable learning experience.” When my daughter Shira decided to take a gap year between high school and college, Pacific Discovery's Southeast Asia Program became part of that plan. What an amazing adventure it has been! The trip was very well thought out, each day packed with extraordinary experiences and meaningful interactions with peoples of different cultures. She saw remarkable things and learned so much. Her whole sense of the world shifted.” Read more Ruth Weizman, 2008
Mother of Shira, Southeast Asia Semester

Peyton Murray
Peyton makes a reptilian friend on Magnetic Island, Australia

“This company has the ability to transform lives, and give kids phenomenal memories they'll never forget.” All I can say is that I am thoroughly satisfied with the experience Pacific Discovery gave to my daughter. I followed her on Facebook, and she would routinely send me pictures, and all I kept thinking was that PD nailed it with their program.” Read more Todd Murray, 2014
Father of Peyton, Australia Summer Program

Conor McBride 1
Conor feeling the freedom, New Zealand & Australia Semester

“Our son came back from his Pacific Discovery trip in New Zealand and Australia with a new level of confidence, maturity, thoughtfulness, and independence that warms our hearts.” His inner strength has improved as well as his sense of peace and willingness to take things in stride...challenges build character! He has developed incredibly strong bonds and friendships with the other people on this trip that we are sure will last him a lifetime.” Read more Cindy Mc, 2015
Mother of Conor, New Zealand & Australia Semester

Ceci Barnes
Ceci atop Voclan Acatenango in Guatemala

“I am thrilled that Ceci was able to participate in this unique experience provided by Pacific Discovery.” She was able to participate in many activities that she wouldn't have done on her own. She particularly loved the Volcano hike and wants to go back again. She came back from the trip a more confident person, and is I believe she will be a more mature college student when she enters freshman year in a couple months.” Read more Patrice Barnes, 2017
Mother of Ceci

Miles Boxer
Viewing the temple carvings at Angkor Wat - Miles and groupmates

“We sent Miles on Pacific Discovery because your programs offered everything we wanted for him - cultural immersion, community service, experiential learning and adventure. And the trip was all that and much more! Miles definitely matured and seems to have a greater appreciation for different cultures and traditions. He also learned so many invaluable life lessons and skills.” Melissa Boxer, 2017
Mother of Miles

Jackie Bowes
Jackie leaps into Halong Bay, Vietnam

“My daughter really wanted to challenge herself and get out of her "comfort zone"by experiencing many places, cultures and activities she had never seen or done. I wanted her to stay safe, healthy and also drink in the rich experiences and growth that travel can bring to one's life. We both got our wish!” Honestly, as I looked at the travel blogs and photos, I kept wondering if I was too old to participate in one of these programs myself! Wonderful program from the preparation of the participants, communication with families, rich variety of experiences and overall value.” Read more Julia La, 2016
Mother of Jackie

Landon Fleishman
Landon in the Galapagos Islands

“Stacy and I want to send our most sincere and truly heartfelt appreciation for the creation and continuation of this program and the tremendous experience that Landon was afforded at the caring, knowledgeable and skilled hands of your organization. We can’t thank you all enough for your thoroughness, thoughtfulness, passion, playfulness and kindness.” We would love to be added as a parent reference to expound the virtues and value of the Pacific Discovery experience to other inquiring minds. Pacific Discovery and their amazing staff will provide kind, thoughtful and expedient communication during your investigation and inquiry process providing the much needed information and guidance to assist you in selecting this fantastic program.Then, you wil be expertly led by Meagan and Rachel, who will provide all the appreciated and detailed coordination and logistics to prepare your daughter or son for the adventure of a lifetime. Your traveler will be greeted by your in country program leaders, whose outstanding passion, kindness, knowledge and energy throughout the entire trip will provide your daughter/son with nine weeks of unforgettable memories.” Read more Paul Fleischman, 2016
parents of Landon

erin hisey
Erin enjoying the amazing beaches of Nacula Island, Fiji

“Oh my goodness!! Words cannot express just how wonderful this ENTIRE experience was - both for my daughter as well as her (very neurotic, overprotective) mother!!! The entire staff 'behind the scenes' were very responsive & kind, & it goes without saying that Erin had the experience of a lifetime and met people with whom she will be friends with for life. Thank you Thank you Thank you!” Suzanne Hisey, 2015
mother of Erin

shelley darcy
Shelley and her students at a homestay in Cambodia

“I have had the privilege and pleasure of working with Rachel and Scott at Pacific Discovery on three separate school trips to Vietnam and Cambodia. Each trip was specially developed for the group travelling, with consultation throughout the planning process, and provided a diverse range of experiences for the students. As a teacher I valued their attention to detail, professionalism and
integrity pre-trip and in country, taking all of the pressure off me.”
Students were immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of the places they visited, as well as with the provision of opportunities to contribute to local communities. Every student I have taken on these trips has benefitted from the experiential nature of the Pacific Discovery programme provided, learning about the countries visited and about themselves. I look forward to working with Rachel and Scott again. They strive to provide quality, ethical travel programmes for all.” Read more Shelley D,
Nelson College For Girls

Mary Glass
Mary on the tightrope - Auckland, New Zealand

“As a result of her PD experience she has a greater sense of independence and understanding of what she is truly capable of when she moves outside her comfort zone.” Our 18 year old daughter's experience on New Zealand/Australia trip was precisely what she was looking for and ticked all the boxes for us as parents. From the very first day of the trip, she used adjectives like "absolutely amazing" and brilliant to describe the experience, the guides and the other group members. As parents, we loved the small group as an alternative to her travelling independently from a safety perspective. We LOVED the experiential learning about new places and cultures and that the trip included opportunities to "give back" through volunteering. I highly recommend Pacific Discovery and I am certain our daughter got much more out of the travel experience by going with Pacific Discovery. Fantastic!” Read more Lori Rockhead, 2015
Mother of Mary

Catherine Hawkins
Catherine at school in Cambodia

“I have known Scott and Rachel for several years, and I can recommend them in the strongest positive terms. In my opinion, they run the most impressive student-oriented programs available anywhere. I have led numerous study abroad programs and worked with many other companies over the years, so I am most confident in this assessment.” I worked with Pacific Discovery extensively in the planning, development, and implementation of a Texas State School of Social Work study abroad program to Cambodia and Thailand in winter 2007-2008. This was a three-week in-country program involving fifteen students. I was immediately impressed with Pacific Discovery by their excellent, extensive website, and their quick and professional response to my initial inquiries. They were very attentive to the details of the trip as well as responding to my needs. They gained my full confidence very quickly. Our planning time was shorter than desirable, but they were able to make it all happen very efficiently and effectively. They handled every aspect of the program from start to finish without any problems of any kind, and I truly enjoyed their pleasant, friendly attitude.

Scott was our tour leader, and the students really loved him. I appreciated that he not only managed the logistics of the program so well, but also greatly enhanced the academic quality with his extensive knowledge of Southeast Asia, particularly the history and contemporary culture of Cambodia and Thailand. In addition, Pacific Discovery arranged for several very unique learning opportunities, such as staying with a wonderful family in a village, visiting local schools to interact with students and donate books, volunteering at non-governmental social service agencies, and touring an ecologically-based nature preserve.

I can say that Scott and Rachel changed our lives through this amazing adventure.”
Read more Catherine Hawkins, 2019
Professor of Social Work
Honorary Professor of International Studies
Texas State University-San Marcos

Andreas Winsberg 1
Andreas castaway at Surf Camp, Australia

“As a parent of an ever growing population of kids wanting a gap year experience, it was very difficult to decide among the available options. There was little to pick from. Finally, we took a leap of faith and contacted Rachel Sanson at Pacific Discovery. She was patient from the beginning, extremely knowledgeable and friendly. She called back immediately and was always available both within the program and with her contacts in the area. I cannot tell you HOW happy we are as a family. For Andreas it has probably been the best experience in his life and for us, parents, very reassuring as well. I highly recommend Pacific Discovery.” Karin Schlanger, 2013
Mother of Andreas, New Zealand & Australia Semester

Victoria Carrillo
Tori, hiking in Kahurangi National Park, New Zealand

“I have to say I was very nervous at first about my child taking this kind of trip. Now that it is done, I have to say that she probably learned more in the past three months than she did in three and a half years in college. She is truly a changed person for the better.” She truly had an amazing experience, created great friendships and saw a part of the world that most of us will never experience. As a parent I was very worried about her safety, but was very happy to find those concerns unfounded. I am happy to speak with anyone about your program. Thank you so much for this amazing experience that you gave my child.” Read more Christine Rice, 2015
Mother of Victoria, New Zealand & Australia Semester

Alec Munson
Alec connects with the homestay community kids, Lake Titicaca, Peru

“I think Alec could be the 'poster child' for Pacific Discovery! After suffering a significant loss Alec was looking for some direction and purpose. This trip was exactly what he needed.” He stepped way outside his comfort zone and was challenged in the best possible way. He's always been a stay-close-to-home kinda guy and as his parents we hoped he would embrace this adventure. With the incredible support of his group leaders and the great group he traveled with, he was able to not only embrace this experience but mature and grow from it. As parents, it's incredible to see the changes and I am so grateful he was able to do all this in an exciting, safe environment. It's something he will never forget. Thank you so much.

I cannot say enough positive things about how incredible this experience was for our son Alec. This is an amazing program. To be able to talk directly with Scott and Rachel was just great. They were so accessible. I would recommend this program highly. Thank you for making this such a great adventure for Alec. Adam and Laurel were just the best. Alec went on and on about them. They really did a great job with their group. We are forever grateful.”
Read more Denise Munson, 2015
Mother of Alec, South America Semester

Jack Inglis 1
Jack circumnavigates Quilotoa Crater Lake, Ecuador

“Our son's experience was rewarding, humbling, challenging, exciting and enlightening.” We are happy that he had this opportunity to explore the greater world with the support and experience of the Pacific Discovery staff.” Read more Tracey Inglis, 2015
Mother of Jack, South America Semester

Abigail Rowe
Abbey on a train to Sukhothai

“Abby's semester abroad appears to have been life changing. Her stories never end. Her excitement is still present. Most importantly, she has grown as a person in confidence and has clearly made life-long friends” Daphne Rowe, 2017
Mother of Abigail

Valentin Burger
Valentin leading the way - tramping in New Zealand

“Valentin came back much more self-confident. His personality has become more stable and more centered (in the positive sense) than ever before. It was his greatest adventure to date!” Ulrich Burger, 2017
Father of Valentin

martina poppe
Martina on North Keppel Island, Australia

“We enter this world as complete, sensitive and sensible beings, in every ounce of our blood having more common sense, love for all beings and direct knowledge than all politicians and psychotherapists of this world taken together. Then "normality" forces us to forget. This program belongs to the few activities helping young people to remember and discover the set of priorities we are meant for. Love being the No.1.” Thomas Poppe, 2015
father of Martina

Emily Bosworth
Emily snorkeling with penguins in the Galapagos Islands

“This was a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experience for our daughter, who'd never been so far out of her comfort zone. The communication was excellent the wide-ranging experiences ran the gamut - from cherished home-stays with indigenous families, to adventure activities, service activities and even some tourist-y type days. The daily itinerary in the handbook was a godsend to the parents. We loved the detail and it gave us comfort to know the structure. We also loved the accompanying passages from literature.” Karen Bosworth, 2016
mother of Emily

glenn case
Glenn and his students waiting for sunset at Takeo temple, Cambodia

“Thanks for everything Pacific Discovery. The program you tailored for our students was awesome and exceeded all our expectations. Your attention to detail and the ethical nature of the organisation ensured everything ran smoothly and allowed the students to be challenged socially and physically in a safe and constructive environment. Engaging with local communities on a personal level had an incredible impact on the students’ lives. For a lot of them it changed how they see themselves as well as the world around them, and that small things can make a big difference in other people's lives.” Glenn Case,
Papanui College

Kathie Carpenter
Kathie in Cambodia

“I was so impressed with how well planned the whole trip was, with such a good balance of challenging experiences such as the orphanage and hospital visits, of important educational experiences such as the bird sanctuary, and of just chill time and bonding time, like swimming and eating! When I look back on how much you packed into the two weeks, I am just astonished. Thanks so much to you and Rachel for helping make it happen. I had a wonderful time, both as a travel adventure and also as a good way to really understand what you are doing and how deeply it affects the students. Every one of them felt it had been a life-changing experience.” Kathie Carpenter, 2019
Associate Professor
Department Head - International Studies
University of Oregon

Jackie Bonasia
Jackie trekking in the footsteps of Inca's

“Jackie truly, truly loved everything about the program, and so we ourselves were remarkably happy and content with the program and all she did and learned.” You should know that Jackie had a rough senior year in high school and her first year at college was equally rocky, and her choice of school ended up as a very poor fit. Her choice to take a gap year, and her choice to go with PD to South American was extraordinary. She has kept in touch with many friends and speaks the world of her program instructors. In fact, in working on her college transfer applications, what she did and learned with PD…is featuring prominently in her essays and short answers for the schools to which she’s applying. We highly recommend Pacific Discovery.” Read more Pauline Bonasia, 2015
parents of Jackie

Tara Basting
Tara loving life in Southeast Asia

“The SE Asia semester was transformational for my daughter. I had some apprehension about sending her to the other side of the world for a gap year program, which although her mother and I checked references as best we could, was nonetheless based in another country and previously unknown to us.” I am very grateful that my daughter was able to participate with the program. From the very beginning, my apprehension vanished as the communications from the program and my daughter kept me well informed. But I'm truly thankful to Pacific Discovery for the tremendous positive growth in my daughter's confidence, maturity, and empathy which was apparent from the very beginning and strengthened over time.” Read more Tom Basting, 2016
father of Tara

Max Denari
Max enjoying the 'crowded' New Zealand beaches

“There is no question that this was an experience of a lifetime for our son, Max. To join three different Pacific Discovery programs to three different parts of the world was an amazing experience. Pacific Discovery's complete organization of his trips made it very easy for us to keep in touch and know what he was doing on a daily basis. My wife and I would encourage any parent to allow your son or daughter to have this amazing experience with Pacific Discovery.” Chris Denari, 2016
Father of Max

josh katz
Josh 'in the zone' canyoning in Australia

“Thank you for such a well-organized trip! After a lot of research with Josh prior to choosing a program for part of his gap year, we really feel we made the best choice! This was his first experience traveling without us, so we were a little anxious! He returned relaxed, happy, and confident, and now would love to travel more!” Diedre Katz, 2015
mother of Josh

Elyse Dominica
Elyse snorkeling in the deep blue, Australia

“We think you all are fabulous! Bob and I are totally impressed – can I count the ways:” -Your excellent organization of this adventure
-The nonstop sequence of experiences, a calendar packed full of amazing activities, excursions, and opportunities
< -Elyse totally enjoyed her guides, Dan and Holly, and developed a special friendship with them.
-The price! As Elyse has been on her own in both NZ and Australia, we've heard all about how expensive it is there compared to home. You all pull this amazing package of adventures together for an amazing price, and we love the fact that these kids camp, cook, and live in tents, etc, as they should at this age.
-Your communication is much appreciated, via both email and facebook.
-The concept! Our daughter is an outdoor kid - she's majoring in environmental biology, and has a deep concern for preserving the wild places left on our planet. This kind of study abroad suited her to a T - far more than a typical study abroad arrangement. Thank you for acting on this idea. If we could afford it, we'd love to send Elyse out into the world with you again.”
Read more Bob Parcell, 2012
Parents of Elyse

cal busby
Cal and his group the day they arrived in New Zealand

“As a faculty leader, I couldn't have asked for a better experience with our New Zealand trip. From the beginning planning stages through our final day, I felt very comfortable working with Pacific Discovery. With several changes to our staffing and itinerary occurring along the way, Pacific Discovery was excellent at adapting to those requests and constantly working to keep our goals in mind. Lou and Andy were outstanding guides and I was deeply impressed at their commitment to my students and ensuring that all were participating and getting the most out of their experiences. From my own point of view, this trip far exceeded my expectations as I admittedly came to New Zealand knowing only a small portion of what to expect, but the program and country constantly surprised me with how beautiful and welcoming the entire country was. I would definitely return to New Zealand in the future and would gladly do so by working with Pacific Discovery in the future.” Cal Busby,
Director of Athletic Training

Sonia and Sarina Prasad
Sarina and Sonia in Thailand

“My daughters came back from this trip as totally different people; much more mature, confident, open-minded and appreciative of the tremendous personal growth that can be achieved by stepping out of their comfort zones.” They seem to have experienced just the right amount of challenge and reward in each type of activities included in this program (e.g., adventure, pure physical such as trekking, community service, cultural immersion). Most importantly, they had the unique experience of spending 10 activity-packed weeks in 4 new countries with 14 total strangers and working out intense group dynamics on a daily basis in constantly changing physical and emotional environments. I feel that, for my daughters, that turned out to be the most understated (initially!) but invaluable experience, which I think would serve them well in dealing with various human relationships for the rest of their lives.” Read more Hiroko Imamura, 2017
Mother of Sarina & Sonia

Becket Tovar
Becket halfway through a four day backpacking expedition

“Our son, who had never camped before or been away from home alone for more than 10 days, had a terrific experience on his Australia-New Zealand semester. He bonded quickly and deeply with his group and was taught, challenged, and supported by two energetic and caring leaders. His two months Down Under built not only skills, but his confidence and... he had so much FUN. Thanks Pacific Discovery!” Kathleen Tovar, 2015
mother of Becket

Alex Pratte
Alex downunder, Australia

“Thank you for posting over 300 photos on the Facebook page. From them we got a great view of the group's fantastic activities and accomplishments. What a wonderful time they had together. Kudos to the leaders and the folks at PD who design the curriculum. Very impressive. Well done Pacific Discovery.” Lorraine Lewis, 2016
mother of Alex

Paul Francesci
Paul taking time to reflect in Kahurangi National Park, New Zealand

“It has truly expanded Paul's horizons and stoked his enthusiasm for travel and adventure, and probably helped him to get to know himself in ways that he never had before.” My son had an amazing experience in New Zealand and Australia. Pacific Discovery allowed him to make the very most of his two months there -- he traveled to so many incredible places and was able to really immerse himself in the experiences through backpacking, conservation work and so much more. He took advantage of opportunities to do things he had never done before in a supportive and friendly environment. Great program, so happy that Paul chose it -- it was the high point of his gap year!” Read more Lynne Franceschi, 2015
Mother of Paul

Sariah Kendall
Sariah at sunset. West Coast, New Zealand

“I want to give you my deepest thanks for the opportunities you gave her with your program, it is the best money I have ever spent!” You are truly special individuals to be giving this lifetime experience to young adventurers. Sariah grew up in a small town that is very polarizing and if you do not believe or do what they do, you are held out on the outer fringes as odd or stuck-up. We have always wanted her to follow her own path, and her coming together with other students from a broad spectrum really showed her what you grew up with is not how you have to live. I know she knew it all along but it's different when you have the experience firsthand, so although it was an adventure it was also allowing her to really move into herself. I am truly blessed and thankful we were able to send her to New Zealand. I am thrilled with her experience.” Read more Julie Kendall, 2010
Mother of Sariah

Kaitlyn Smith 1
Kaitlyn finds lifelong friends, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

“Our daughter's experience with Pacific Discovery's New Zealand/Australia program has been priceless. She had an extraordinary 2 month adventure during her gap year after graduating from high school. She left home feeling well prepared due to the program's comprehensive communications and instructions. When she returned home, a wonderful amount of growth was obvious to us. There was a greater openness to people, a greater awareness of the environment and her ability to make a positive impact on it, and a confidence in her own abilities that grew from the challenges she chose to experience and those inherent in the program. We can't say enough about Pacific Discovery. Excellent communication, planning, and responsiveness from program directors; very knowledgeable, capable, and fun group leader. Best of all, we saw our daughter's childhood smile return to her face.” David Smith, 2012
Parents of Kaitlyn, New Zealand & Australia Semester

Kcia Schalk 1
Kcia making lifelong friends in Thailand

“Thank you, Pacific Discovery, for making Kcia's first adult adventure safe, fun, practical, and amazing! She returned to us a much wiser and confident young woman.” The experiences she had, the people she met, the friends she made, the challenges she faced assured us that she will make her way in the world no matter what she faces. Beautiful program!” Read more Dea-Sue, 2014
Mother of Kcia, Southeast Asia Semester

Nikki Holzman2
Nikki, the intrepid explorer at Mt Cook, New Zealand

“I felt it was an excellent investment in my daughter and only wish a program existed for the parents.” The Pacific Discovery expedition was extremely well organized from beginning to end. I never felt like I didn't know what our daughter was doing even though she was half-way around the world. It provided a well-balanced program between community outreach, travel, exploration and the opportunity to try things that she will never forget. From learning to surf to community service, her experiences were both broad and deep which have resulted in her having more confidence in her decision making and greater self-esteem. The program leader was fantastic and was able to galvanize the group into a close-knit bunch which I believe is an accomplishment in itself. Already, Nikki is planning on travelling with some of her friends this spring.” Read more Terry Holzman, 2013
Father of Nikki, New Zealand & Australia Semester

Michael Ferrier
Michael and his students at Machu Picchu

“Over the past five years, Pacific Discovery has taken our students on transformative learning experiences abroad. Rachel and Scott, along with their team, are wonderfully responsive to our school's needs, tailoring each trip to our global curricular goals and curating an itinerary that emphasizes immersion, deep learning, and connections to local communities.” Pacific Discovery's focus on sustainable and ethical travel aligns closely with our goal to teach students to be responsible global citizens who are committed to changing the world. On the ground, the trip leaders are consummate professionals--skilled experts in risk management and their respective regions of the world. More than any other travel partner that we have used, Pacific Discovery allows our students to gain critical understanding of global and regional issues and provide meaningful opportunities to see in real time what communities are doing to address these challenges. I recommend this company with the greatest enthusiasm.” Read more Michael Ferrier, 2019
Director of Global Programs
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy

Margaret Rechel
Margaret faces the waterfall whilst canyoning in the Blue Mountains, Australia

“Kudos to you and your staff for leading an outstanding life enriching experience for our daughter Margaret and her fellow participants (now her good friends).” Attention to details by Pacific Discovery made the trip flow seamlessly and communication on the web site gave us glimpses from afar into the world Margaret was enjoying. If we had a younger child at home you would definitely see them following in the Pacific Discovery footsteps of our daughters Julie and Margaret. Keep up the good work and thank you for providing such a wonderful program!” Read more Scott Rechel, 2013

Katherine Ledger2
Kate at Fraz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

“Katie had such a great time that she hasn't come home yet! She left a shy, kind of confused 18 year old. Pacific Discovery gave her the courage to come out of her shell. It exceeded all our expectations in terms of travel adventure. It gave her the environmental awareness that she craved and also gave her 13 new friends that she will never forget...And plans to meet in about 6 weeks! She has become more confident, is ready to take on new challenges and can't wait to travel again.” Barb Ledger, 2016
mother of Kate

Emma Radeka
Emma embraces the view near Machu Picchu

“This was an amazing experience for Emma. She knew that she wanted to do some travel during her GAP year and she evaluated several and finally chose Pacific Discovery. The itinerary, home stays, language immersion and 10 days in the Galapagos made this the most comprehensive trip and best value on the market.” Mary Radeka, 2016
Mother of Emma

Allyson Ghizzone SAS Fall 16
Allyson with her homestay grandma at Lake Titicaca

“We could not be happier with the experience Allyson had on her South America semester with Pacific Discovery. She returned to call it the best decision of her life. The experience challenged her to get out of her comfort zone and she discovered new levels of confidence and courage that will carry into the future. As parents, we are thrilled she was able to take part in this.” Nick Ghizzone, 2016
Father of Allyson

rob cochran
Rob loving North Keppel Island, Australia

“The Pacific Discovery trip was not only a trip of a life time for Rob but one that allowed him, at age 18, to see he can do anything he puts his mind to. Being exposed to new adventures and opportunities in a beautiful part of the world is life-changing for anyone. Rob is taking a gap year between high school and college and this amazing trip helped him grow and mature physically, emotionally and socially. It was the best decision we could have made for our son and he will be forever changed for the better for it!” Anne Cochran, 2015
mother of Rob

George Lemmon
George enjoying himself at surf-camp in Australia

“George began this journey as a reluctant participant who was going through the motions because he was encouraged to explore the "world.” After the first couple of weeks we could tell that he was developing a great sense of independence. Surviving and thriving outside the shadow of his family and parents was exactly what George needed in order to build his confidence. By the time George returned he had clearly established himself and now he is taking control of his life -- he left as a child and he returned as an independent adult. We are so happy with this experience that we informed George’s twelve year old brother that he had to take a gap year. High School these days is pretty much a grind without a break and this journey was the perfect chance to George develop as an individual and not just a student. We think he is perfectly positioned to take advantage of all the opportunities that await him in College.” Read more George Lemmon, 2013
Father of George

Kate Roddy 1
Kate, working hard on a hike in Kahurangi National Park, New Zealand

“Our daughter, Kate, attended your New Zealand and Australia Fall 2011 program. In a word, it was "transformational" for her. She loved everyone in the group and its size, thought the group leader was fantastic, and grew tremendously as a person over the two months.” You have definitely structured the program extremely well. She enjoyed the combination of community service and exploratory activities learned a tremendous amount about the region, and even more about herself. She can't wait to experience another Pacific Discovery trip. Finally, as parents, we were very comfortable with the safety standards of the program and the frequency of communication we had with
Kate during the two months.”
Read more Gibbs Roddy, 2011
Father of Kate, New Zealand & Australia Semester

Hannah Rush 1
Hannah, getting fresh air in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand

“Just to let you know that Hannah came back with a resounding “thumbs up” about her trip. She absolutely LOVED IT!!” Even though the outdoor work was physically challenging, she felt gratified that her efforts helped save the New Zealand Department of Conservation a lot of money. She really liked everyone in the group and felt well cared for by their program leader. She had the time of her life and can’t wait to go back to your beautiful country.” Read more Michele Gaier, 2010
Mother of Hannah, New Zealand & Fiji Summer Program

Mary Greenland
Mary and students getting blessed by monks on an annual pilgrimage

“I have no hesitation in recommending Rachel, Scott and Pacific Discovery. Their organisation of my school program to Cambodia was faultless. I was consulted and kept up to date at all stages of planning. We had no difficulties at all because of the high standard of organisation and leadership. Any small glitches within Cambodia were dealt with swiftly by Scott. Our program this year was so successful that we are planning a second one.” Mary Greenland, 2019
HOD Social Studies
Nayland College

Dan Reinke
Daniel up close with Harakeke at Farewell spit, New Zealand

“Just taking a moment to thank you for all your efforts and support in making Daniel's trip an adventure!
He got home safe and sound, and full of stories. That's success in our book!”
John Reinke, 2014
Father of Daniel, New Zealand & Fiji Summer Program

Heather Drew
Heather, working together to plant natives in New Zealand

“What impressed me most are not the daredevil adventures, but the fact that she learned so much about conservation efforts and the ecology of your lovely islands. It’s great to have her home and we have been regaled with a million stories all weekend that really make me want to visit some time.” Heather is home safe and sound and full of stories. She apparently is far more fearless than I ever was (at least as far as memory serves) having done not one, but three bungee jumps and a skydive!

I want to thank you and Scott and the others who were responsible for organizing and guiding this trip for giving her such a wonderful experience. Please pass along my thanks to all who were involved in this trip.”
Read more Mimi Drew, 2008

Simon Powrie
Nelson College students midway through a volunteer project in Cambodia

“Nelson College used Pacific Discovery in 2015 to organise and run our Vietnam and Cambodia Trip. We were so impressed by their philosophy, communication and organisation that we are using them again in 2017.” With regard to communication we found them very easy to deal with and fast to get back to us about any questions or concerns we had during the entire process. The trip they planned for us was specifically designed to meet our request and the goals we wanted to achieve. Pacific Discovery’s philosophy of ethical and sustainable travel is important because this is something we wanted to pass on to our students. Being a school, the safety of our students was paramount and we found Pacific Discovery to be very good in setting in place guidelines and measures to keep our students safe at all times.” Read more Simon Powrie,
Head of Faculty

Nathan Weiss
Nathan on the Sunshine Coast, first day in Australia

“Where to start with the praise?! This is truly once in a life-time experience during the most formative years in young adulthood.” The connection with nature, and the sense of accomplishment of conquering a difficult hike, climb, or an experience you could never imagine doing, like jumping out of plane, or bungy jumping over 440 foot gorge, can be a life-changing event. We loved the first week of wonderful conversation, sense of confidence and increased responsibility. He described the conservation services that the group did and has an even deeper knowledge of the effects of humans on our earth, and how knowledge and stewardship can help. Thank you so much for the GREAT communication and easy access to all the staff and resources. The instructors were terrific and I hope they forgive us for waking them up at an ungodly early hour :)” Read more Nina Solenski, 2016
mother of Nathan

Maria Turner
Maria tramping in New Zealand

“This was the BEST investment we have ever made in our daughter's education and skill-building! Her experiences were nothing short of transformative. We deeply appreciate the entire PD staff's professionalism and responsiveness throughout the program, and highly recommend their well-planned and executed expeditions for students with adventuresome spirits.” Words fail to express our gratitude. For perhaps the only time in her life to date, Maria had the rich blessing of being in her element, surrounded, supported, and challenged by other kindred spirits. She returned home a changed young woman - more confident, self-sufficient, and optimistic about her journey ahead. I'm sure she also formed some lifelong friendships in the process. Thank you for providing such a pivotal life experience!” Read more Vickie Turner, 2017
Parens of Maria

Meghan Johnson
Meghan backpacking in the rain, Kahurangi National Park, New Zealand

“Meghan has participated in an infinite number of experiential programs over the years whether they be Outward Bound, exchanges, global travel, service trips etc. Pacific Discovery's New Zealand & Australia semester program exceeded our expectations in every possible way. Meghan returned to us as an adult. Thank you very, very, very much!” Brian Johnson, 2016
father of Meghan

Addie Chabot
Addie snorkeling with sea turtles in the Galapagos Islands

“This trip was everything and more that our daughter was looking for. It covered all of the bases - educational, community outreach, adventure, service, personal challenge and exploration, etc....It was an amazing experience for her and the guides were excellent. Pacific Discovery creates the perfect balance of running a safe program but also being able to push the students out of their comfort zone. Bravo to them!” Alicia Chabot, 2016
mother of Addie

IMG 4478
Learning the ropes of yoga

“I so enjoyed the first group. What a beautiful representation of how passionate and open minded young adults can be! It was something special to share the practices and concepts of yoga and to have it all be received with such eagerness.” I also want to acknowledge Cade and Sheila. They are incredible leaders and role models for the students. It was clear within the first 5 minutes how much respect the students have for them! I wish I could see the whole group at day 72....what an epic journey they are on with such skillful leaders at the helm.

The program you are offering is definitely going to shift the students into greater success through confidence and compassion. I admire the contributions Pacific Discovery is making to better our world.

I'll let you know how it goes with the second group. I have no expectations; just pure excitement for what we will create as i recognize this new group will bring its unique features.

Thank you for the gift of getting to spend some time with the future leaders of our human family. ”
Read more Tiffany Wood , 2020
Certified Anusara Yoga Teacher

Alexander Tristano
Alexander loves village life in Peru

“The program challenged Alexander in very valuable ways. He tried many new things, interacted with new people, made new friends, and had a wonderful time. It seems like Erin and Lee were excellent leaders, doing a masterful job of creating a sense of community and shared responsibility.” In a letter that Alexander wrote to Scott, he said: thank you for the opportunity of such a wonderful, mind changing trip. I just experienced the best 10 weeks of my life. I think that says it all.” Read more Janine Remillard, 2017
Mother of Alexander

Anna Thorborg
Anna at a homestay in northern Vietnam

“For Anna it certainly was a once in a lifetime experience to share her exposure to four different Asian cultures with a small group of fellow travelers, having gained insights into local living conditions and environmental issues, she would never have experienced as a normal tourist. Physical challenges such as trekking, diving, rappelling, and rock climbing were mastered bravely. Throughout the whole trip Anna felt completely safe, as parents we are very happy to say that it never became an issue.” Heiner Thorborg, 2016
father of Anna

david benson
David and his students at the Angkor temples, Cambodia

“With more than 20 years experience of a combination of working with a wide variety of study abroad programs as well as running my own international programs, I am quite happy to strongly recommend Pacific Discovery and in particular their programs in South East Asia. I had the great pleasure of working with Pacific Discovery in 2015, when they led us on a two-week excursion to Cambodia and Vietnam.” Working with Pacific Discovery was a pleasure from start to finish. They were easy to communicate with, and were very open to tailoring a program that fit our school’s specific needs. For our school, the trip was part of a specific curriculum with a variety of requirements, so it was particularly important for us that we work with an outfitter that was willing to understand and work with some of our specific needs. Pacific Discovery met this challenge at every level. They were timely and responsive to every question and concern, and they also never hesitated to make suggestions based on their own depth of experience and knowledge about the region. I was sincerely impressed with how pleasant and easy they were to work with during the incredibly important preparations/logistics phase that can be so stressful before a major study abroad program. Pacific Discovery was easy to contact via email, phone, and even Skype, so that before we left on our trip, we were already quite confident that our students and our program was in excellent hands.

Once in country, as we explored Cambodia and Vietnam, students and teachers from our school were both thrilled with the Pacific Discovery staff. From a teacher’s perspective, I was truly impressed with the professional level of risk management and planning that went into everything we did. On my many trips around the world with students, I have always put safety, security, and health as my #1 top priority, and I could tell from even before we left that the leaders of Pacific Discovery shared this with me. Our program director was a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) and we felt comfortable at all times with his judgments and actions both in terms of avoiding problems in the first place, or after a student fell of her bicycle and needed minor first aid.

Our Pacific Discovery program director continually impressed us with his knowledge of the region and depth of local contacts. Our group was warmly welcomed everywhere we went, and it was always apparent that he had both knowledge about and respect for the peoples and places we visited. For our school, running an academic seminar blended with hands-on learning, it was also a great addition to have a program leader who could connect with high school students in such a professional and powerful way. Whether helping to facilitate group debriefings/discussions or preparing students to explore a part of town in small groups, he helped our students develop a strong love for both the region we were visiting and perhaps even more importantly, a dedication to a better way to be more responsible travellers. Every single student in our group loved the experience, and they all emphasized how incredible our group leader was, and what a positive and integral role he had played in what almost every single student described as one of the most important and “life-changing” experiences of their entire high school experience (our our students generally go on one seminar per year, so there is some
serious competition!)

I would not hesitate to recommend Pacific Discovery to any students or teachers considering travel to the regions they work in and I can’t wait for my next group tripwith them in the near future!

Risk management, first aid/health and safety/local contacts/knowledge/ debriefs/ quality of program!”
Read more David Benson,
Colorado Springs School

Rachel Hawthorne
Rachel Hawthorne

“I couldn’t have imagined a better quality experience for my students. Pacific Discovery have exemplary ethics, humanity and organizational skills. They have introduced my students to the rest of the world in a sensitive and empowering way that will influence them forever.” Rachel Hawthorne,
Director Karanga Mai College

Review Pacific Discovery Thailand
Vivian living on the edge in Thailand

“You and your team have provided a life-changing experience for Vivian, and we greatly appreciate your preparation, care, sense-of-adventure, good will, guidance and wisdom offered our 'young', now seasoned traveler. Great guides, great kids, great world, great adventure!” Paris Toll, 2013
Parents of Vivian, Southeast Asia Semester

Review Pacific Discovery Laos
Richard helping out on a service project in Laos

“Damn, what a trip! This program has been awesome - it's difficult to overstate how interesting, educational, and most of all, how truly different this trip really is.” This program is exactly what you make it; if you walk into every day with an open mind and truly try to take the most out of every moment, this program promises to be one that will change your life in ways that you would never have thought possible. Every day really is an adventure - the stark diversity of people, places and activities really are something that must be seen to truly understand, and every day promises something new. This trip really is once in a lifetime, so push your limits and jump in!” Read more Richard Hugessen, 2014
Wilfried Laurier University

Brian Cresswell
Brian threshing rice at a Cambodian homestay

“I had the very real pleasure of travelling to Cambodia with a group of high school students and the Pacific Discovery team. From the outset Pacific Discovery impressed me with their thoroughly professional attitude and exceptional organisational skills.” The itinerary provided our group with precisely what we needed. We were treated to time spent with locals, volunteering in an authentic setting, mixed with time spent discovering the towns and cities of Cambodia, and of course Angkor Wat. Our group's aims were to experience travel in an ethical setting. We wanted to see the "real" Cambodia, and we wanted to know that we could make a positive difference to the lives of others. With Pacific Discovery those aims were met and surpassed. Throughout, our group was supported by a very capable and friendly guide, and by the wonderful team at home base in Nelson.

When we first suggested the trip, many of our interested families had fears around travelling with teenagers in a developing country. With Pacific Discovery and their meticulous planning and safety management systems, alongside a wealth of experience in Cambodia, those fears were allayed.

If you are considering a trip with adventure, mixed with education and a desire to make a positive difference you cannot go past Pacific Discovery.”
Read more Brian Cresswell,

Maggie Ginocchio
Maggie in the welcoming waters of the Andaman Ocean, Southern Thailand

“Our daughter was at a bit of a crossroad in life and we hoped this experience would give her a transformative experience - a line in the sand from which she could move forward, from this point on. We knew it had the potential to be life-changing and it absolutely was! She gained confidence, opened her eyes to the magic of the world and her place in it, and had MORE than fun - she made friends she treasures and a passion she wants to fulfill through travel and service work.” She returned a changed person and we couldn't be happier! We enthusiastically recommend Pacific Discovery and your amazing staff and thank you for the positive impact you have had on our most cherished treasure, our daughter. If ever you wonder if you are making a difference, YOU ARE. Maggie has come out of a difficult period in her life largely due to her participation in this program. I think it was divine intervention that we found you and just cannot thank you enough.” Read more Kathy Ginocchio, 2016
parents of Maggie

IMG 7434
Memorable Adventure

“Wow, what an amazing experience for Jack! I am so grateful for the amazing journey he's been on with an amazing group of people. Special shout out to program instructors Georgia and Jonathan for their leadership, their love, and guidance for Jack.

Thank you to you and all of the Pacific Discovery team for making this fall the most memorable of Jack's life. We were discussing a gap year before the Covid pandemic hit and once it came, it just made us realize that these were not the conditions that we wanted Jack starting college under. After his time on the Big Island, we have received affirmation that this was the right decision.”
Joann Downing, 2020

delaney adams
Delaney ready to go canyoning in Australia

“Life changing! My daughter has become more self-sufficient, independent, confident, worldly, educated about environmental issues and impact, and better able to develop/sustain interpersonal relationships. This program exceeded our expectations. The communication, the experiences, the program leaders, the organization, etc. Delaney could not have had a better experience or opportunity! Thank you for guiding her through the most incredible 9 weeks of her life!” Judi Adams, 2016
mother of Delaney

Thomas sisters
Mary and Emily playing with kids at their homestay on Lake Tititcaca, Peru

“Working with concepts of sustainability, being immersed in stunning outdoor environments and opening minds and hearts to diverse people and opinions have made an observable difference in the girls. They have grown in maturity, perspective, acceptance, and there is a new sense of assurance that pervades them.” Our deepest thanks for the incredible experiences Pacific Discovery facilitated for Mary and Emily in Australia/New Zealand and South America this year. Each semester presented rich conservation and service learning projects as well as exciting adventure activities, all of which impacted the girls significantly. The bonds they developed with the other participants has been extraordinary. These are friendships that will certainly last a lifetime. Heartfelt thanks to Pacific Discovery for the life-changing experiences you have given our girls.

Pacific Discovery is an outstanding program in every way. The itinerary includes well-planned, quality educational experiences that encourage enthusiasm for learning and zest for life. Program leaders are insightful, knowledgeable role models who juggle the myriad responsibilities skillfully. Rachel and Scott have been nothing short of wonderful - from helping get money wired with an ATM card issue to welcoming one of our girls into their own home when she had a personal emergency. They are excellent communicators and organizers who clearly love young adults and facilitating meaningful, life-changing experiences for them. Pacific Discovery exceeded our wildest dreams for our girls and we are so grateful to their entire team.”
Read more Jennifer Thomas, 2015
Mother of Mary and Emily