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 instructors. 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.
Spend the next two days soaking in history and heritage in various forms. The sombering atmosphere of Pearl Harbor is tangible, and we will have the opportunity to learn about one of the most pivotal moments in our country’s young history: the attack on Pearl Harbor and the US’ subsequent entry into World War II. The following day we will dive into the value Hawaiians place on the land. Mānoa Heritage Center is a living & breathing classroom dedicated to helping others learn about this state’s rich history. We will explore its 3.5 acres and study the various Native Hawaiian and Polynesian-introduced plants.
We’ve got a rock-climbing excursion coming up! We’ll start things off by learning the beginner stuff: what does belay mean? How does one get their feet into those tight pointy shoes? Does the world really look that much cooler from up high? After we’ve grasped the basics, we’ll learn various techniques and tricks of the trade that are sure to have you speeding up the crags. We’ll be fully supervised and monitored the whole time, with extra challenges should you want them!
Hanauma Bay is the first Marine Life Conservation District in Hawaii. Unlike the dozens of other bays scattered throughout this amazing landscape, it does not prioritize sports or lounging; rather, it has been identified as a unique destination dedicated to safeguarding the fragile marine life in the Bay. Suffering after decades of human abuse and neglect, it is starting its slow recovery to health. We will get to spend these two nights camping, and wake up on day two to tackle Koko Head Crater, an intense workout up abandoned railroad ties that will reward us with insane views worthy of your camera’s panoramic mode.
This week is an absolute treat, allowing us the privilege of partnering with various organizations to learn all about the ongoing initiatives to improve this island’s health - both on land and off! We kick off with an overnight at Sea Life Park, a facility that has long been dedicated to the research, protection, and preservation of this island’s marine species. Ocean conservation and sustainability has been at the forefront of their education, and we will have a chance to learn from the experts as well as meet the local inhabitants. We will get to see what the animals get up to when the lights go out, embarking on flashlight tours throughout the various exhibits. After getting up close and personal with the creatures of the sea, we will dedicate our next efforts to the special importance of our relationship with the land. Working alongside a nonprofit dedicated to preserving practices and places with historic significance, we will work together to re-establish irrigated and dry-land gardens throughout their fields. After a much-deserved day-off to rest and reset, we’re right back to it, this time heading into the open waters to learn about the marine
biology conservation initiatives that are currently being tackled by some of the most prominent players in the game.
On this amazing portion of the program, we not only get introduced to rainforest ecosystems, but we get to do it at the location where Jurassic World was filmed! We’ll hop on board jeeps for a tour into the jungle, up and down valleys, over water streams, and deep into the various movie sets! The following day we’ll get to appreciate the varied tropical systems from another angle - hiking our way to the top for some epic views of the valleys and peaks that define the mesmerizing landscape of the O’ahu Forest National Wildlife Refuge.
We’re taking our conservation efforts from the ocean to the wilderness for the next few days! We’ll spend these days partnered with local communities and experts maintaining and restoring bird diversity on the East Coast of Oahu. Prepare yourselves to learn about habitat creation and maintenance, the different species that live on the island, and what hunts them! We’ll be getting outdoors and learning all there is to know about the beautiful creatures of the sky and land.
We get to channel our inner child while pitching our tents at this summer camp based on an idyllic beach on Oahu’s North shores. We will participate in various team-building exercises and let loose while making sure not to take ourselves too seriously!
Ahh the chaos and creativity of designing and developing our own itinerary! We will have a couple of days to choose what we want to do and how we want to do it - all within the confines of the budget we are given!
Well, it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for! Can you consider yourself to truly understand the culture of Hawaii if you don’t get on a board and walk the walk? Or more aptly, surf the surf? For three days we will have lessons from a local legend, who is sure to get even the clumsiest and most unathletic of us at least skilfully wobbling on the waves. We’ll learn to laugh at ourselves as we no-doubt tumble into the turquoise waters and we’ll learn to trust ourselves as we slowly develop the skills and strengths needed to master this graceful art. These days are physically exhausting, so the afternoons will be quite a bit of rest and relaxation, so we’ve got plenty of time to recharge our
Over these three days, we will embark on various field trips throughout the island’s western region. To start with, we will get to learn the significance of The Pā, an ancient Native Hawaiian archaeological site constructed around 1600 AD. The following two days we will spend learning about Native & modern Hawaiians in the field, from watershed management to community food security.
We’re back at home base for our last few days on Oahu. Time to test our newfound skills on a surfboard maybe or just catch up on laundry and downtime. On our final day in Oahu, we will enjoy a mid-program wrap while soaking in the sun on the local beaches before being treated to an experience unlike any other - what goes on when a museum is closed (Okay, fine, otherwise known as Night at the Museum. But funnier. And cooler. Unless you thought it was funny and cool, in which case this is it).
Time to reset and refresh on our new home base for the second half of the program: Hawai’i’s Big Island! We will most definitely take some time to explore our new surroundings!
Ulu Mau Puanui is a hands-on non-profit that was founded for research and educational purposes to discover and understand how Hawaiians sustained rain-fed intensive farming for centuries; and how it may inform our current efforts to live sustainably. During these two days, we will roll up our sleeves and get involved in the efforts while
learning all about the legends and land from Aunty K!
Ahh, the eastern side of the island, with its rainforests and lush green landscape, it’s a much different vibe and energy than the sunny side of Kona. We’ll check into our lodge, and spend the next few days learning all about yoga, mindfulness, and meditation - much needed after a full-on 5 weeks!
We’ve been given an incredible opportunity to get out into the ocean with a locally run community 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. We’ll get to learn about sustainable fishing techniques as well as testing our own skills and trying our hand at throwing fishing nets. Prepare to get stuck in and a little wet over these days!
We’re taking a trip down south a little way to the small town of Pahala. This area is known for its black sand beaches and abundant wilderness, fuelled by the warm sunny days and nightly rainfall that is common on this side of the island. On one of our first days spent here, we’ll take a deep dive into native Hawaiian traditions, from making beautiful and delicate leis from the local trees to learning the importance and steps of Hula! By now we will have grasped the value that native Hawaiians hold for their local land. It provides them the food which they eat, the water which they drink, and the energy which they cultivate. We will jump on board to take part in efforts to clean the local beaches!
It’s time to fully embrace one of the oldest Hawaiian traditions, the Imu, a form of underground oven. We’ll spend a full day harvesting, collecting, and preparing produce to create our own imu and get to work creating a feast that will sit overnight until ready the following morning. We’ll ground taro leaves, set the stones and prepare the food whilst sharing stories with our local hosts and in the morning, we’ll get to work taking the food from the ground to the table, ready to feast!
There are so many unique landscapes on this environmentally rich island, and these few days have you exploring one of the coolest! This is sure to be an adventure of otherworldly perceptions, with self-exploration and hiking throughout Volcanoes National Park, one of the most unique landscapes in the world.
These days are not only going to have us hiking to an amazing cove of a green sand beach, but we will have the chance to stand at the southernmost tip of the USA, eat a donut at the southernmost bakery in the USA, and, if you’re feeling brave enough, cliff jump off the southernmost cliffs in the USA! It is sure to be exciting and exhilarating as we push ourselves to our limits and beyond! From there we make our way to Kona, the sunny and sandy side of the island, where we’ll have plenty of time to snorkel and splash around! One afternoon, we’ll even get to take a local charter boat out to snorkel in special places, maybe catch a manta ray eating dinner, and definitely catch the sunset.
After a well-deserved rest day, the next two are incredibly special as we will be participating in conservation work in the only Cloud Forest in the entire country. The tropical ecosystems that exist here are so rare that, well, they really don’t exist anywhere else! Since the island is made of lava, every single plant, species, tree, etc. grows ABOVE ground! Literally - the tree roots, the shrubs, everything. It. Is. Wild. And you get to learn all about it and contribute to its continued wellbeing.
Starseed Ranch Farm is a postcard image of a raw and wild permaculture farm in the northern tropical region of the island. The diversity of fruits and vegetables that are systematically and strategically planted encourage edible growth that enables farm-to-table meals. We will have the chance to participate in seeding, planting, and maintaining this beautiful space while learning about the various initiatives the farm is undertaking to promote sustainability.
This next week will be a whirlwind of experiences, all explored from our home base at the permaculture farm. We will hike to the sacred Waipio Valley; camp out in the serene Pololu Valley; meet the local coconut master who will teach us how to smash open coconuts and use up every single element from the skin to the shell; experience
the tasty truth of farm-to-table meals; and even participate in a beekeeping workshop!
After a long week of hard work, we’ll get dropped off in Hilo and have some downtime to explore Coconut Island and the local various beach parks. On our final day in Hilo, we will get to feel like we’re on top of the world...or, at least, on top of the island. Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano, sits at nearly 14,000 feet above sea level. The majority of the volcano is underwater and when measured it is right around 33,500 feet tall, topping in as the tallest mountain in the world! It is known as one of the best stargazing skies in the world, and we will have the opportunity to lay on its summit and view it for ourselves!
Famous for its home grown, handpicked Mamaki tea, this place is expansive and impressive. While we’re here we’ll be getting our hands a little dirty picking and harvesting the farms vegetables and tea leaves, and learning all about the process that creates the popular herbal beverage sold around the world and on the local shelves. The owner is an ex-professional chef too, so we’ll be well fed! And camping under the endless starry skies of Hawaii never
gets old. In our downtime there’s plenty of local parks and black sand beaches we can visit and remember to keep your eyes peeled for those turtles!
Sadly, the time has come to begin processing the once-in-a-lifetime experiences that the last 70 days have taken us on. Our lives are all somewhat chaotic right now, so we are sure that you will reflect on how amazing it was to have a chance to take a break from everything, learn about ourselves, but also prioritize time to experience and have gratitude for our own beautiful and historic culture and environment.
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.