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HawaiiIsland Adventures, Culture, & Service

With rushing waterfalls and soaring volcanic peaks, fascinating heritage and stunning beaches, the Big Island is the ultimate tropical paradise. Travel to Hawaii this summer and experience its remarkable ecosystems up close through hands-on experiences and local service work. Along your journey, engage with Hawaiian culture and embrace adventure as you stargaze and learn how Hawaiians navigated by the constellations; lend a hand on conservation-focused service projects; and get up close to fascinating marine life on snorkeling, surfing, and kayaking excursions.


June 30–July 12, 2023
13 days
$ 5,890 + airfare
Departs from Los Angeles
14-16 students, 2 leaders


  • Explore the waterfalls and lush valleys of the Big Island’s east coast
  • Work with Native Hawaiian groups to restore plant habitats
  • Surf, snorkel, and kayak in Hawaii’s rich coastal waters
  • Witness fresh lava flows and steam vents in Volcanoes National Park


This itinerary represents our best projection of the group’s schedule. However, we may implement changes designed to improve the quality of the program.

  • Departure
  • Travel Day

Meet your fellow student travelers and one or more of your leaders in Los Angeles, California, and fly together to Kona, Hawaii. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

  • South Point
  • 4 days

Begin your program by settling into your Japanese-inspired house nestled among the macadamia nut trees of an active pick-your-own orchard. Get to know your peers and group leaders and have an in-depth orientation to become acquainted with Hawaii. Peer over dramatic cliffs at Ka Lae, the southernmost point in the United States. Explore thousand-year-old year old lava caves and tube systems once used by Hawaiians for water collection and shelter from the elements. Join service projects in protected areas to help restore critical habitat and native species that have lost ground to industrial farming and invasive species. Meet with Native Hawaiians and hear their stories of growing up on the island, learn words and phrases in the Hawaiian language, practice traditional chants, and take a hula lesson.

  • Hilo
  • 5 days

Travel to the wild eastern coast, where countless waterfalls and deep rainforest await, contrasting the semi-arid environment of the west. Visit Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano known as White Mountain for its snow-covered peak, rising over two miles above the ocean. Peer into Kilauea Caldera, the most active and researched volcano in the world. Learn how ancient Hawaiians navigated by the stars, visit the world-famous Hilo Farmers’ Market to sample fresh fruit, and discover incredible beaches and hidden waterfalls. Try your hand at outrigger canoeing and other Hawaiian cultural practices. Gaze at the stars with astronomers and learn how ancient seafarers were able to navigate from Polynesia to Hawaii across thousands of miles of open ocean without modern technology.

  • Kona
  • 3 days

Cap your time on the Big Island by exploring the wild volcanic landscapes of the Kona coast. Dive into turquoise waters on snorkeling excursions, take a surfing lesson with professional guides, and go sea kayaking on the pristine waters of Kealakekua Bay. Ascend the slopes of Hualalai volcano, where world-famous Kona coffee is cultivated in the acidic lava rock, and participate in the cultivation of the beans. Reflect on your time together as a group, and present your independent project to your peers, enjoying a final celebratory meal.

  • Return
  • Travel Day

Fly from Kona to Los Angeles with your group and a leader, then continue on to your final destination. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

A Day in the Life: South Point

  • Due to the traveling nature of this middle school summer program, each day is different. Here is a snapshot of a day in South Point.
  • Enjoy breakfast with your group on the lanai overlooking an orchard
  •  Start your service work with local partners
  •  Break for picnic lunch on the trail
  •  Head down the road to a black sand beach known for its green sea turtles
  •  Participate in a traditional awa ceremony with Native Hawaiians
  •  Have a group dinner out in town
  •  Group meeting to discuss the day’s work and learning

What to Expect

  • Service

During your time in Hawaii, you can expect to work on approximately 10 hours of volunteer projects, focused on environmental restoration.

  • Independent Project

Pursue an independent project and explore an aspect of local culture of particular interest to you—become an expert on sea turtles, teach the group Hawaiian expressions, or profile one of our service partners, for example.

  • Physical Activity

This is a moderately active summer travel program, with almost all of your time spent outside. You do not need to be at peak fitness to participate, but it is important that you have a desire to be physically active, and that you are excited about trying all activities.

  • Altitude

This program briefly visits a high-altitude destination—Mauna Kea. We take a day trip to Mauna Kea, reaching an elevation of 9,000 feet.

  • Accommodations

In Kona and Hilo, we stay in hostels, in single-gender rooms with 2-4 beds. In Southpoint we reside at a large house located at the base of Volcanoes National Park. Students have access to common and outside space at our accommodations for community meetings, working on projects, socializing, etc. Leaders reside with students throughout the program.

  • Meals

We make and pack our own lunches most days, especially on service days at remote locations. We enjoy breakfast and dinner from small Hawaiian establishments, so the group has a chance to taste the incredible fusion flavors of the islands.

Explore the Destination

Next Steps

This program is directed by Portia Watson. If you have questions or would like to talk further about this program, please get in touch!

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