Join us on an epic journey to Hawaii! Our 30-day Summer Program offers you an enriching fusion of volunteer projects, surfing, cultural immersion and, of course, the sun, sea, and sand!
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 labor migration, Hawaii’s culture is strongly influenced by North American and East Asian cultures, in addition to its indigenous Hawaiian cultures.
Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture. Discover Hawaii’s fascinating ocean and mountain landscape and explore incredible jungles, volcanoes and beaches. Gain skills with lessons in sustainability, conservation, and the environment as well as hiking, surfing, and snorkeling. Join us for a journey in Hawaii and an inspiring summer of exploration!
This summer program is perfect for high school graduates, college students and graduates, and gap year students, ideally 18 to 22 years old. Optional transferable academic credit is available to all participants.
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, snorkeling with tropical fish and turtles, and getting to know our fellow participants. We’ve got a week of sun, sea and sand to get us started!
The Captain Cook monument is a site of interest and will evoke discussions as you will find out the story when visiting.
It’s also time to get the surf camp underway! We’ll spend two 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 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. Our afternoons here will see us walking local tracks to secluded beach spots, and making the most of the chilled out sunshine vibe that this Hawaiian town has to offer.
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, fueled 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.
After this, 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!
Next, we spend 4 nights at a ranch, which is 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!
Next, we head to Hilo on 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, and we’ll spend our days exploring the Botanical Gardens, Shipman’s Trail, Akaka Falls, and we’ve scheduled our yoga sessions for the evening to allow for relaxation, and to end our days present and fulfilled.
We’ve also 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!
In Waiema, we will roll up our sleeves for a couple of days and get involved in the efforts of a non-profit while learning all about the legends and land from Aunty K! This hands-on non-profit 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.
After some rewarding work, we get 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 4 week adventure in Hawaii. On one of our last afternoons, we’ll get to take a local charter boat out to snorkel in special places with manta rays! Being up close with these gentle creatures is the experience of a lifetime.
Sadly, the time has come to begin processing the epic experiences that the last 30 days have taken us on. 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.
*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.
This gap year program is perfect for high school graduates, college students and graduates, and non-students, ideally 18-22 years old. Anyone with an average fitness level and an enthusiasm for the outdoors and new experiences will have a great time on this gap semester! You will need to be prepared for some physical work during the volunteer projects on the program, like trail building or the removal of invasive plants.
The program is a shared group experience. Join this 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 mix of camping (tents supplied) and comfortable, clean hostels and lodges. Laundry and Wi-Fi 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. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in the program cost. Any snacks are at an additional cost, which we recommend budgeting around $15 per day for.
Food preparation responsibilities are shared by all students. It’s fun, social and often a highlight. An average day on program would consist of the following:
Camping meals will be adjusted to the cooking equipment at hand