Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture. 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 hiking, surfing, and snorkelling. Join us for a journey in Hawaii, and a pivotal Summer of exploration.
Hawaii’s diverse natural scenery, warm tropical climate, abundance of public beaches, oceanic surroundings, and active volcanoes make it a popular destination. Because of its central location in the Pacific and 19th-century labour migration, Hawaii’s culture is strongly influenced by North American and East Asian cultures, in addition to its indigenous Hawaiian cultures. The state’s ocean coastline is about 750 miles long, the fourth longest in the U.S., after the coastlines of Alaska, Florida, and California. Hawaii is the most recent state to join the union, on August 21, 1959!
This 4-week program is suitable for high school graduates, gap year students, university students and graduates, ideally 18 – 24 years. Optional transferable academic credit is available.
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, challenge themselves, be immersed in unique environments and learn about sustainability - not to mention, have an insane amount of fun!
Aloha! On arrival to Kona, 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. We’ve got a week of sun, sea and sand to get us started!
It’s time to get our first round of surf camp underway! We’ll spend 3 days learning the basics, so that we can feel comfortable in the water. 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? We’ll learn to laugh at ourselves as we nodoubt 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. Our afternoons here will see us snorkelling with fishes, walking local tracks to secluded beach spots, and making the most of the chilled out sunshine vibe that this Western Hawaii town has to offer.
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 farmtotable 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.
We’re taking a trip down south and east 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 be learning all about Hawaiian culture and traditions as well as getting active and taking in the landscape. From making beautiful and delicate leis from the local trees to exploring the vast Volcano National Park, it’ll be an eye opening and inspiring few days in this South East town. We’ll take a hike to Hawai’i Island’s famous Green Sand Beach and spend days looking for turtles during the day and stargazing at night.
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! We’ve got 2 nights at Wood Valley Farm once we’re full, which is a ranch 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 down time there’s plenty of local parks and black sand beaches we can visit and remember to keep your eyes peeled for those turtles!
We’ve been given an incredible opportunity to get out into the water with a locally run community organization that focus’ 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! On our last 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 under water 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!
We’re back at our Kona base for our last few days on Hawai’i Island. Time to test our newfound skills on a surfboard maybe or just catch up on rest and reflection after what has been an incredible 30 day adventure in Hawaii. On one of our last afternoons, we’ll 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! On our final few days in Kona, we will enjoy our-Program wrap while soaking in the sun on the local beaches. Sadly, the time has come to begin processing the once-in-a-lifetime experiences that the last 30 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 prioritise time to experience and have gratitude for our own beautiful and historic culture and environment.
*Each week there will be some designated free time so that you can catch up on email, laundry, rest, and explore independently with others in the group.
**Pacific Discovery reserves the right to alter and/or change the order of the itinerary, the focus of the projects or the activities themselves due to dates, availability, and safety precautions.
Open to high school graduates, university students and graduates, ideally 18 – 24 years. This program is suitable for anyone of average fitness with an enthusiasm for conservation, humanitarian work, new experiences and different cultures. You need to be open-minded, and committed to and prepared for some physical work whilst on the volunteer component of the program. It is an excellent option for students and graduates wanting to be exposed to and immersed in a culture different to their own. You don’t need to have had previous experience with international travel or 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 vary from simple share accommodation with shared facilities to modern hotels and guesthouses with private bathrooms. Laundry and WiFi will be available most days except while at the elephant conservation project. 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. Food is a highlight when travelling. 100% of meals are included in the program cost. We recommend you budget the sum of $10 per day for snacks and drinks not included in the program cost (approximately $300 for the program).
All activities, excursions, entry fees and adventure travel as described in the itinerary; Service-learning volunteer conservation project; Informal lectures from resident experts on conservation and eco-tourism, history, and development; Experienced Program Instructors and local guides.