Learn from environmental experts, delve deep into Hawaiian culture and go on adventures during this Internship Program in the Aloha State!

Do you want to make your Summer matter? This High School Internship Program offers you an enriching and inspiring experience in Hawaii, while you get to take your first steps in environmental work! It combines service-learning and conservation volunteer projects with adventure travel and heaps of fun in the sun and sea (think surf lessons and snorkel excursions!) You'll also dive into the importance of Hawaii's traditions, from making beautiful leis to learning the steps of the Hula.

Get excited to spend your Summer learning and doing hands-on work with local Hawaiian organizations, each doing meaningful work in the area of environmental sustainability. You will learn how their work impacts the local environment and contributes to environmental sustainability on a global scale. At the end of the program, you will walk away with a Certificate of Completion, showing the total contact hours of this internship (50 in total), a great asset to your resume!


  Community Choice Award Best Program


This Summer Internship Is For You if You...

✓ Want to relax on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world

✓ Are interested in immersing yourself in Hawaiian culture

✓ Love activities like surfing, hiking and snorkeling

✓ Are enthusiastic about conservation and agriculture

✓ Want to add skills and volunteer work to your resume


Thoughts From a Former Hawaii Student

   Being surrounded by other teens allowed me to reflect internally while learning from people around me as well. The trip pushed my comfort zones but at the same time was the most supportive environment I have been in all throughout high school. I loved getting to learn in a new way that wasn’t burdened with tests or monotonous assignments.” 

- Gigi Deinard


Not sure where you want to go yet?

Get the full Summer Program run-down in our catalogueThis catalogue provides information about Pacific Discovery's values and program design, as well as program descriptions, testimonials and a comparison chart!

Request Online Catalogue

  • Service-learning and Volunteer Projects:
    • • Learn about conservation and sustainable living from a local non-profit
    • • Remove invasive vegetation that threatens water quality and local fish species
    • Live at a permaculture farm and practice local farming techniques
    • Restore a local village fishpond and plant native food plants
    • • Gain real-life work experience at 3 local non-profits and a Certificate of Completion, showing a total of 50 contact hours
  • Personal Development
    • Work confidently and collaboratively with others
    • • Get comfortable with change, uncertainty and the unknown
    • Apply innovative leadership that encourages and empowers others
    • • Become a global citizen with a global perspective on environmental issues
    • • Experience deeper gratitude for the life and opportunities you have at home
  • Fun and Adventures
    • • Practice your surfing skills in the blue waters of the Big Island
    • • Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture by learning about the heritage, history and traditions
    • • Snorkel the reefs of Kona and keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and manta rays
    • • Explore the waterfalls, trails and botanical gardens of the Big Island
    • Focus on strength, flexibility and breathing during a yoga session

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

Week 1. Permaculture Farm & Farm-to-Table Meal

Aloha! On arrival in 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. We will start with our exploration of local agriculture this week, and head to Honokaa, an area that used to be covered with sugar cane. The region is also known for the most beautiful stretches of scenery on the island, and you will be amazed by the stunning vistas, tranquil green valleys and trickling waterfalls.

This week will be a whirlwind of experiences. We’ll spend four days at a permaculture farm and learn about the local areas farming techniques, composting, and permaculture design. While we're here, we will also get hands-on by making macadamia nut milk and coral reef sunscreen lotion, and even picking our food straight from the garden before cooking an amazing meal with it.

Week 2. Waterfalls & Sustainable Living

This week, we will roll up our sleeves for three 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.

We then head to Hilo on the eastern side of the island, with its rainforests and lush green landscape. We’ll spend our days exploring the Botanical Gardens, Shipman’s Trail, and Akaka Falls. We’ve also been given an incredible opportunity to get out into the water 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!

Week 3. Surfing & Marine Conservation

We continue our stay in Hilo with a marine conservation morning, which has us removing invasive vegetation, restoring a village fishpond, and planting native food plants, before heading off to explore the Kaumana Caves. We’ve also scheduled our yoga session for the next morning to allow for relaxation, and to start our day present and fulfilled.

On to Kona we go! We’ll take a deep dive into native Hawaiian traditions, from making beautiful and delicate leis from the local trees to learning the importance of Hawaiian history and how that has shaped the place we are visiting today. We will also be exploring the town and its exotic fruits and veggies, snorkeling through clear waters and colorful coral reefs, keeping our eyes peeled for manta rays and other marine life on a boat charter.

For two days we will have surf lessons from a local legend, who is sure to get even the clumsiest and most unathletic of us at least skillfully 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. We’ve got some days of sun, sea and sand to finish this Internship Program!


*Each week there will be some designated free time so that you can catch up on email, laundry, rest, and explore.
**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.

For full program details, please request the information booklet

What's included?

✓ All in-program travel and transport

✓ 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

Activity Level


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 trail building or the removal of invasive plants.

Camping Level


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

Volunteering Level


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


Frequently Asked Questions

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:

  • Breakfast: cereal, milk, oatmeal, pancake mix, bread, peanut butter, local fruits, cinnamon rolls, granola bars, and eggs.
  • Lunch: sandwiches or wraps (PB&J, turkey, hummus, veggies) salad, leftovers from dinner, fruit, mac and cheese, rice poke bowls
  • Dinner: hot dogs, veggie burgers, salad, chili, corn bread, roasted potatoes, corn and bean salad, rice, curry, poke bowls

Camping meals will be adjusted to the cooking equipment at hand

To make things easy for you, we partner with a full service travel agency that can arrange flights, appropriate travel insurance and post program arrangements for our students.

They have access to a "Cancel For Any Reason" or CFAR travel insurance for US citizens in participating states. This optional travel insurance product allows travelers to cancel for any reason whatsoever up to two days prior to departure and still receive a significant refund. This allows you to keep planning for the future while avoiding the stress and the financial worry of canceling a program if you need to.

Our program locations and itineraries have been carefully selected and modified to minimize risk of exposure to anyone outside the group with most being located in rural areas. This allows for a more focused learning environment, as well as a safe haven from the stress of our modern world.

We've been working hard and watching closely to any CDC recommendations about group sizes and testing requirements to come up with options that will allow you to have a safe, healthy, and stress-free Gap Year experience. We do the hard work so you can come and enjoy the fresh air, adventures, and new friends!

We have been running successful Hawaii programs in Spring, Summer and Fall 2021. The students shared their experiences in testimonials and wrote their stories down in blog posts - feel free to have a look. 

Check out the information on our COVID-19 page to find out more about our Covid-19 policies, procedures and updates.

We have answered the most frequently asked questions in the FAQ SectionIf you still have any other questions, feel free to schedule a call with our admissions team for more information.

Summer Dates 26 Jul - 15 Aug, 2023
Duration 21 days
Program Tuition $6,599 USD Estimated Flight Cost $500 USD
Availability Open
Group Size 12 Students & 2 Instructors Ages 15 - 17 ideal
Optional College Credit No Start/Finish Kona, Hawai’i (Big Island)