Our amazing gap year programs combine rugged journeys to some of the most spectacular places on earth, with authentic cultural immersion, language study, rewarding service-learning volunteer projects, and inspiring adventures. You’ll be secure in a supportive group environment and learn more than you ever dreamed.
Our gap semesters are based on the concept of experiential education, and blend cultural immersion, personal and leadership development, volunteer and community service projects, ecotourism and sustainability focus, and transferable academic credit options.
They provide opportunities for meaningful connections with local people, pushing personal boundaries, and gaining knowledge of a country or region's history, societies and environments, facilitated by our knowledgeable Program Instructors.
If you are looking for an experience that challenges you, broadens your horizons, and merges cultural insights and environmental sensitivity with fun and adventure - come and explore with us!
Join us on a gap year program after high school or college. These educational semester programs are perfect for high school graduates, gap year students, college students, and graduates, ideally 17 -22 years.
For an incredible gap year, you can combine each gap year program with another of our exciting Spring Semester Programs exploring Central America, South America, Nepal, Thailand, Patagonia, the West Coast USA, and Hawaii & The Western United States!
Looking to compare our Gap Year Programs in Spring 2022? Check out our Gap Year Program Comparison Chart.
“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.”
Kara Barnhart, 2014
The Mediterranean climate, Spanish cuisine, rich history, spectacular architecture and relaxed way of living make Spain a place like no other. We start this journey through Spain by exploring Madrid and taking some Spanish language classes, before walking part of the ancient pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostella. As we discover the southern part of Spain, known for its many Moorish influences, we will immerse ourselves in local culture by cheering at a football match, mastering the passionate flamenco dance, and getting introduced to Spanish cuisine. In Barcelona, we will discover the architectural masterpieces of Gaudi, meet the locals, and learn that life itself is a ‘fiesta’ in Spain and everyone is invited!
Experience epic surf, golden beaches, the aloha spirit and active volcanoes on this 70-day gap year program in Hawaii! Your days will be as varied as the islands you visit, with a fusion of hands-on volunteer work, surfing, snorkeling, cultural immersion and, of course, non-stop adventure! There is an endless list of things to do in Hawaii. From learning to smash open coconuts and making beautiful leis, to stargazing on top of a dormant volcano and heading out to one of only four green sand beaches in the world. Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture as you discover its fascinating ocean and mountain landscape and explore the incredible jungle, volcanoes, and beaches.
This 10-week semester program offers you enriching and inspiring experiences throughout the United States’ west frontier and the offshore beauty of Hawaii’s Big Island. It combines volunteer conservation projects in diverse reserves; outdoor expeditions including backpacking, rock climbing, yoga, surfing and white-water rafting; and educational adventure travel through the west’s stunning mountain, rainforest and desert environments. Discover the weaving and cooking traditions of the Native Americans, the navigating skills of the indigenous Polynesians, and the National Parks’ efforts to mitigate deforestation and reintroduce endemic wildlife; uncover more about your own backyard than you even knew existed.
Absorb the Deep South's culture, food, music and history on this gap semester program around Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia! There’s a lot to explore, from mountain ranges and coastal beaches in Georgia to the swamps of Louisiana, and everything in between. Uncover the complex history and culture that accompanies these incredible landscapes, and be open to embrace all the adventures that will come your way on this gap year program, like hiking the famous Appalachian Trail, rafting down the Chattahoochee River, kayaking around Tybee Island, and doing meaningful conservation work. While you travel across the Southern States and give a helping hand in different National Parks, forests and reserves, you will learn more about the environmental differences between states than you ever thought possible.
This 10-week semester program offers you enriching and inspiring experiences throughout the beautiful regions of the United States’ West Coast and surrounds. It combines service-learning conservation projects in diverse reserves; outdoor expeditions including backpacking, kayaking, rock climbing, yoga and educational adventure travel through the west’s stunning mountain, forest and coastal environments. Discover the National Parks’ efforts to mitigate deforestation and reintroduce endemic wildlife, immerse yourself in the wonderous ecosystems that cover our lands, and uncover more about your own backyard than you even knew existed.
Join us on an epic journey witnessing the cenotes of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and the tropical islands of Belize, through the rich highlands of volcanic Guatemala and down to the black sand beaches and exotic animals of Costa Rica. Our 70-day gap year program offers you an enriching and insightful fusion of environmental and animal rescue volunteer projects, cultural immersion, surfing, scuba diving, rafting, Spanish langue study, and, of course, non-stop adventure! You will absorb, explore, interact with, and understand the beautiful diversity of these locations. Your days will be as varied as the countries you visit, with a fusion of hands-on volunteer work, camping under the stars, and healthy doses of mountains and beaches.
The Pacific Discovery South America Gap Year Semester is an inspiring 10-week educational travel program through Peru, Ecuador, and the Galapagos Islands’ incredible cultural and environmental diversity. This experience combines immersive Spanish language study, hands-on volunteer projects, and adventure travel. Join us to gain insight into the lives of indigenous Andean and Amazon communities while significantly improving your conversational Spanish ability. Participate in worthwhile community-initiated volunteer projects, wander the ancient streets of Quito and Cuzco, and be astounded by Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, and the incredible Galapagos Islands. You will trek, raft, cycle, and snorkel through a range of environments from Andean peaks to the Amazon rainforest.
Learn to scuba dive, explore Buddhist temples and volunteer at an elephant sanctuary on this inspiring gap year program through Thailand! Thailand is incredibly diverse – the mountainous jungle up north is populated by numerous minority tribal groups and has stunning national parks, while tropical islands in the south have some of the world’s best beaches and diving spots. It is wonderful to contrast the mega-city bustle and excitement of Bangkok with relaxed and friendly provincial towns and villages. Traveling with us you’ll have the chance to taste a less-touristy slice of the country and uncover the true essence of Thailand.
On this extraordinary gap year program, you will immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage and dramatically diverse environments of Nepal. Imagine soaring Himalayan peaks, fluttering prayer flags, big skies and stunning Buddhist monasteries. Nepal is known for its rugged and spectacular mountain environment combined with its sparse population and stunning historical sites. This makes any overland journey across the Nepalese countryside both a spiritual and epic travel experience. On this gap year semester, you will travel across the roof-top of the world, through incredible landscapes, amazing historic sites, and a visit to Everest Base Camp.
Patagonia. Where else in the world would you want to become an adventure guide? Rugged, remote, vast and sublime - Patagonia’s beauty is unrivalled, and the trekking is unreal.
Adventure lovers, welcome home. Considered by many as the ultimate adventure travel destination, we know you’ll instantly love this place. Clean air, wide spaces, unreal mountainscapes, your camera is going to get a work out as much as your legs! While this is an Adventure Leadership Program, it's not all about the outdoors and outdoor pursuits. There will be community and social events; personal development; free time and plenty of opportunity for exploration.
Experience epic surf, golden beaches, the aloha spirit and active volcanoes on this gap year program in Hawaii! This 6-week mini semester program offers you an enriching and inspiring experience in tropical Hawaii. Hawaii consists of eight islands, which are all unique in their own way. Your days will be as varied as the islands you visit, with a fusion of hands-on volunteer work, surfing, snorkeling, cultural immersion and, of course, non-stop adventure!
Welcome to one of the happiest countries on earth, perhaps stemming from the laid-back Tico outlook combined with the incredible model of eco-stewardship Costa Rica boasts. During the six weeks you will get to experience hands-on animal conservation with sloths and monkeys, trekking through the epic Costa Rican rainforests, endless beaches, and yoga and meditation. Join us on an epic gap year program through Costa Rica to spot spider monkeys in the rainforests, surf the waves and relax on the tropical beaches!
This six week mini semester program offers you an enriching and inspiring experience in Bali. During the six weeks you will get to experience volunteering in an animal welfare center, dolphin spotting in the wild, disaster management and permaculture projects and a 5-day surf camp! The surf camp will take you from wobbling your way to shore, to riding through barrels like a pro. In between the conservation projects, surfing and yoga your days will be spent taking in the café culture of Bali, white water rafting, a volcano sunrise trek, snorkeling and some free time to explore!
Learn about marine and beach conservation on the beautiful Great Barrier Reef, work with New South Wales Parks to learn about sustainability, discover Australia’s beautiful beaches and desert outback, immerse yourself in Indonesian culture and go on a yoga retreat in Bali. You will explore incredible National Parks, islands, beaches, waterfalls, gorges and geographical sites, as well as gain skills with lessons in marine conservation, snorkeling, surfing and canyoning. This 10-week gap semester program combines volunteer service-learning, marine conservation and amazing educational adventure travel. Prepare to be immersed in unique environments and cultures and to learn about sustainability and conservation with projects on the East Coast and in the Northern Territory of Australia.
New Zealand and Australia are two of the most ecologically intact and diverse countries in the world, and this experiential travel gap semester offers an amazing immersion during the temperate southern hemisphere spring and summer months. It combines week-long conservation volunteer projects in diverse national parks and marine reserves; multi-day outdoor expeditions including backpacking, canoeing, rock climbing and surfing; and educational adventure travel through New Zealand and Australia’s stunning mountain, forest and beach environments!
Join us on an epic journey recreating the path our Polynesian ancestors traveled through the Pacific! Our 70 - day semester offers you an enriching and insightful fusion of environmental service projects, cultural immersion, personal development, and, of course, non-stop adventure! You will learn all about the varied Polynesian culture, from the origins of Hawaii’s Aloha spirit to the modern-day villages of Fiji and cities of New Zealand. You will absorb, explore, interact with, and understand the beautiful diversity and development of culture throughout the region. Your days will be as varied as the countries you visit, with a fusion of hands-on project work, connecting with locals during village stays, camping under the stars, and seriously healthy doses of mountains and beaches.
Our New Zealand Adventure Leadership Program offers you an epic 12 weeks in some of the most impressive landscapes in the world. You will hike and climb your way through Mt Cook National Park, Mt Aspiring National Park and even the Fjordlands! But while this is an Adventure Leadership Program, it's not all about the outdoors and outdoor pursuits. There will be cultural activities and exchange; sightseeing and touring; personal development; community and social events; free time and plenty of opportunity for exploration. To become self-sufficient in the wilderness, you will embark on a remarkable journey of learning, experiences, and coaching. Patagonia's diverse and spectacular outdoors will be your classroom, with lessons on leadership, technical skills, group dynamics and group psychology, and strategies to help in every area of life.
Join us on this epic journey through the remote minority villages of Laos, the diverse landscapes of Vietnam, the world-famous Cambodian temples of Angkor Wat, all the way to the stunning beaches of Southern Thailand. This 70-day gap year semester offers you an enriching fusion of community and animal rescue volunteer projects, cultural immersion, Thai cooking, Buddhist meditation, snorkelling, and of course, non-stop adventure! Southeast Asia can’t be beat for the sheer diversity of cultures, histories and landscapes in a geographically small area. Your days will be as varied as the countries you visit, with a fusion of hands-on volunteer work with elephants, connecting with locals during home stays, camping under the stars on an overnight rafting trip, and good doses of jungles and beaches.