This 10-week semester program offers you an enriching and inspiring experience in Hawaii. It combines service-learning and conservation projects with amazing educational adventure travel and heaps of fun in the sun and sea. Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture and authentic outrigger canoe paddling. Discover Hawaii’s fascinating ocean and mountain landscape and explore incredible jungle, volcanoes, and beaches. Gain skills with lessons in sustainability, conservation, and the environment as well as rock climbing, hiking, surfing, and snorkeling.
Facilitated by our supportive and experienced Program Instructors, this is an excellent opportunity for students wanting to develop personal and leadership skills, have new experiences and challenge themselves, be immersed in unique environments and learn about sustainability - not to mention, have an insane amount of fun!
The program is open to high school graduates, university students and graduates, ideally 18 – 24 years. Optional transferable academic credit is available to all participants.
Aloha! On arrival to Honolulu, you will be met by your program leaders. After a comprehensive program briefing, we’ll immerse ourselves in the epic nature surrounding our new home base. Our days will be spent hiking the local tracks for panoramic views, exploring the town and its exotic fruits and veggies, and getting to know our fellow participants.
We’ll spend the next few days being introduced to the beautiful nature reserve of Kualoa Ranch. We’ll take a tour of the Jurassic Park set, orientate ourselves to the landscape and culture attached to the earth and work alongside locals to maintain the site. Our first look at conservation and the environment, and what a setting! They’ve got everything on their 4000-acre protected reserve, from cattle to fish and taro to cacao, the land is sacred and beautiful and the people are passionate and dedicated to educating outsiders on the spiritual connections created here from centuries ago. Evenings can be spent watching epic sunsets and storytelling.
We’ve got a rock-climbing excursion coming up! So a day of chilling out on Hawaii’s O’ahu island is needed before we learn the basics and get up a little higher to see what these views look like from a rock face. We’ll be fully supervised and monitored the whole time, with extra challenges should you want them! We’ll take a short course on Hula and the history and fun associated with it before we head to the Big Island.
It’s time to jump on a plane and explore Hawaii’s Big Island. We’ll land in Kona, on the Western side of the island, known for it’s beautiful coral reefs and sea life but also it’s super chilled out vibe.
The next few days see us hanging out at the Big Island Farm, where we’ll learn everything from environmental conservation and sustainability, to meeting all the different animals and sitting in on interactive communication workshops. We’ll check out Waipio Valley, Black Sand Beach and walk the King’s trail to hidden beach spots. It’ll be a week of adventure and learning.
Back to Kona we go! Here, we’ll take a coffee farm tour and explore some of the history of the area, and then we’re into our surf camp. Again, we’ll start with the basics and see where you’d like to go! Our guides will teach you all you need to know about how to surf, and how to keep safe in the water. Maybe we’ll spot a sea turtle or two as well! All of these activities are sandwiched between lots of rest and relaxation days, so you’ve got plenty of time to charge your batteries.
We’re back to the farm, but not for long! Up ahead is our backpacking expedition into the Waimanu Valley. Whilst we’re hiking, we’ll learn about some of the native fauna and flora, along with the history and culture attached to the jungle and earth. Time to disconnect from the online world and reconnect with the outside world.
There’ll be plenty of opportunities to stop and admire the wonderful scenery on the way, with a day of relaxation to look forward to at the end.
After our backpacking excursion, we’ll get dropped off in Hilo, on the Eastern side of the Big Island, it’s known for Wailuku River State Park, featuring Waianuenue, or Rainbow Falls, with its colorful mist effects. We’ll check in to Arnott’s Lodge, a beautiful spot where we’ve got our Yoga retreat scheduled. A few days of mindfulness and meditation will be exactly what we need after a full on 5 weeks! In your down time you can catch a bus to the local beaches, or simply read a book on site at the peaceful lodge. We’ll take a trip up Mauna Kea for sunrise before we depart and get a chance to look over the incredible views and star shows of Hawaii as the sun goes down.
From Hilo we’ll be picked up by our friends at Big Island Farms and taken on a huge list of awesome adventures. From Akaka Falls, to Rainbow Falls, the Tropical Gardens and the Lava Tub Caves, it’ll be packed few days of sightseeing and it’ll be sure to blow your mind. Add in a dolphin and turtle snorkel trip, and an afternoon at a local beekeeper and we’re well and truly hitting Hawaii’s sweet spots! After all the fun and games, we’ll be dropped back into Hilo to catch our breath and do any laundry or admin that we need before we move on.
Our next 5 days will be spent working alongside local Hawaiian residents on conservation projects in the surrounding neighborhoods and jungle of Kurtistown. Time to get our hand’s dirty! While the project revolves around food harvesting, dam reconstruction, and border stone building, we’ll also be learning about the legends of the island, the local medicinal plants, and even take a workshop or two in lei- and dye-making!
A couple of days ahead to chill out in South Point Park. Choose to hit the beaches, hike the local trails, or sit at camp and read a book. We’ll be camping at the local spots and exploring this epic patch of land at the southern point of Hawaii’s Big Island. Evenings will be spent with your group cooking and chatting together under the stars.
After a good load of chill time, we’re back towards Kona and onto a Canoe Club. From workshops on building and rigging canoes, to gathering and preparing a full imu feast, we’ll learn what life for this Polynesian tribe was like hundreds of years ago, and what it’s like today. From storytelling around the fire in the evenings, to paddling and swimming in the ocean during the day, this time will be nothing short of magical.
Back to Kona for our last stint by the beach and our final program wrap up. What a 10-week journey it’s been! We’ve got an evening canoe trip to spot manta ray and plankton planned, as well as time to rent our own canoes and explore with the group too.
Your last days will be spent wrapping up the program, digesting your experiences and sharing in the island’s beauty with your fellow participants. Celebrate all your accomplishments at the Final Dinner before packing your things and departing this fabulous island. Mahalo!
Note: Each week there will be some designated free time in a town or accommodation so that you can catch up on email and laundry, rest, and explore independently with others in the group.
Open to students, graduates and non-students, ideally 18-24 years. This program is suitable for anyone of average fitness with an enthusiasm for the outdoors, conservation and new experiences. You need to be committed to, and prepared for, some physical work whilst on the volunteer components of the program i.e. trail building or the removal of invasive plants and while on the outdoor activities, be prepared to give-it-a-go. As a guideline, you should aim to be comfortable hiking 4-6 hours with a backpack. You don’t need to have had previous experience with any of the activities offered.
The program is a shared group experience. We expect you to join the program with an open mind and a willingness to work together with your group mates to make the program an amazing experience for the whole group. Additionally, the program will be as much about the inner journey of personal growth and learning about yourself as it is about what you will experience in the outer physical journey. We expect you to be open to learning and challenging your ideas and assumptions.
Our accommodation will be a mixture of camping (tents supplied) and comfortable and clean hostels and lodges. Laundry and WiFi facilities will be available most days, except during the weeks in the field on the volunteer projects and on expeditions. Accommodation is diverse, comfortable and carefully chosen to fit our needs.
Meals are fresh, tasty, healthy and varied. Special dietary requirements and vegetarians are catered for. All meals are included in the program cost. Food preparation, shared by all students, is fun, social and often a highlight.
The Pacific Discovery Hawaii semester combines conservation volunteering, adventure travel and experiential learning in the Hawaiian Islands.