Hawaii College Summer Program

START Hilo, Hawai'i |
FINISH Honolulu, Hawai'i |
DURATION 4 weeks |
AGES 17 - 22 |

A Journey of Surf, Summit and Service in Nature's Playground

Craving adventure beyond the classroom this summer? Immerse yourself in the magic of Hawaii with our 4-week program! Hike volcanic landscapes, surf legendary waves, and witness a breathtaking starry sky from Mauna Kea's summit. Learn the art of hula, savor an Imu feast, and connect with Hawaiian culture. But our exploration goes deeper. Roll up your sleeves with a local non-profit, master permaculture farming, and participate in a marine conservation project to actively protect Hawaii's natural wonders. Earn a Certificate of Environmental Conservation for your 40 hours of service learning and leave Hawaii empowered, connected, and with memories that will last a lifetime.


Become an active steward for a unique ecosystem.  Work alongside passionate conservationists to remove invasive vegetation that threatens the delicate balance of freshwater streams and native fish populations. Your efforts will directly contribute to the health of these vital ecosystems, ensuring clean water and a thriving aquatic environment for future generations. This program is more than just hard work – it's a chance to connect with nature, learn valuable ecological restoration techniques, and leave a lasting positive impact on one of the world's most beautiful places.

Ascend to new heights – literally and figuratively – on Mauna Kea! You'll be gazing at the cosmos from the summit of Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain in the world measured from its base on the ocean floor. Unveiled by the darkness and free from light pollution, the Milky Way stretches across the inky canvas, while countless stars and distant galaxies come into breathtaking focus. Beyond the awe-inspiring view, our program provides expert guidance. Learn about constellations, distant nebulae, and the wonders of our solar system through the use of high-powered telescopes. This highlight is more than just stargazing – it's a journey of scientific discovery, personal connection with the vastness of space, and creating memories that will stay with you forever.

Under the guidance of experienced instructors, you'll spend three action-packed days mastering the fundamentals of surfing.  Learn proper paddling techniques, pop-ups that get you on the board quickly, and how to read the waves for the perfect ride.  By the end of the program, you'll be confidently navigating the waves, feeling the thrill of riding the ocean's power, and soaking up the laid-back "hang loose" spirit of Hawaii. This highlight goes beyond physical activity – it builds confidence, teaches patience and perseverance, and connects you to the rhythm of the ocean.


This is a guide to what you can expect to do on program. The order in which the activities occur might vary.

Click download to view the full 4 week sample itinerary.

Download Sample Itinerary

Imu Feast & Lava Rock

Aloha! You will be met by your program instructors in Hilo, known for its unbelievably lush rainforest landscape. We will get off the beaten track and head to Pahala in the district of Ka’u for the first days of the program. The south is known for its black sand beaches and abundant wilderness, and we will be amongst it all this week.

We will get to know about each other and Hawaiian traditions while we prepare an Imu (this is a form of underground oven, and is one of the oldest Hawaiian traditions!). We’ll ground taro leaves, set hot stones and prepare food whilst experiencing song and dance from our local hosts. When the Imu is ready, we’ll take the food from the ground to the table, ready to feast!

There are so many unique landscapes on this diverse island moonscape. We head to the most rugged, southern section of the island to explore Volcanoes National Park. We will learn about the impacts the lava flows have had on the local farming practices, and explore the ground carpet of lava rock and the stunning seaside cliffs on the coastline. There are also black and green sand beaches to explore along the way; every day brings spontaneous adventure within the program!

Mauna Kea Summit and a Marine Restoration Project

This week we base ourselves in Hilo. Some days will begin with yoga classes to stretch out and start the day feeling centered. We’ll explore the Botanical Gardens, Shipman’s Trail, Akaka and the mysteriously misty Rainbow Falls.

We have an incredible opportunity to get out into the water with a locally run organization that focuses on fishpond restoration and ocean conservation. We’ll be working alongside experts learning about the marine ecosystem and how to protect and encourage sea life in these beautiful pockets of the ocean that surround Hilo. This is really fun and rewarding service work, and highlights some of the innovative environmental efforts being done across the state! Prepare to get stuck in and a little wet over these days!

We will feel on top of the world while stargazing from the summit of Mauna Kea. Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano which sits at nearly 14,000 feet above sea level - but when measured from the base (the majority of the volcano is underwater), it is 33,500 feet tall, topping it as the tallest mountain in the world! This is one of the two huge volcanoes that will always dominate the view as we travel across the island.

Program Details

What's Included?
  • All in-program travel and transport, excluding flights
  • All accommodation
  • All meals
  • All expeditions, activities, excursions, volunteer projects and entry fees as described in the itinerary
  • Experienced Program Instructors and local guides
  • Informal lectures from resident experts on conservation and eco-tourism
  • Experiential core curriculum that pushes students to reflect and ask questions of themselves
  • Certificate of Program Completion


For full program details, please request the information booklet.

Request Information Booklet

Medium Activity Level

Anyone with an average fitness level and an enthusiasm for the outdoors and new experiences will have a great time on this summer internship! You will need to be prepared for some physical work during the volunteer projects on the program, like preparing beds for planting or the removal of invasive plants.

Medium Camping Level

Be prepared to spend some time out in nature. You'll love the experience of camping, staring at the campfire, breathing in fresh air and stargazing the night away.

High Service Learning Level

You will be able to make a difference to the local community during your stay. Be prepared to get your hands dirty and do some hands-on learning about local issues.

Have you got any questions before applying?

Hawaii College Summer Program