Hawaii GAP and Summer Programs | Pacific Discovery

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About

Our Programs offer you an enriching and insightful fusion of environmental service projects, cultural immersion, personal development, and, of course, the sun, sea, and sand!

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 hiking, surfing, and snorkeling. Join us for a journey on Hawai’i Island, and a pivotal semester of exploration.

Highlights
  • Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture learning Hula, native food making and the heritage and history of Hawaii from local residents.
  • Surf camp based in Kona, the sunny district on Hawaii’s Big Island west coast.
  • Yoga and meditation in Hilo, amongst the breathtaking, natural beauty of the north east side of the Big Island.
  • Hike the Volcano National Park and watch the sunset.
  • Very personalized small group experience, maximum of 12 participants.

Popular Programs

Hawaii GAP Semester Surfing

The United States is, in many ways, a country unlike any other, and this experiential travel semester offers you enriching and insightful fusion of environmental service projects, cultural immersion, personal development, and, of course, the sun, sea, and sand!

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.

Hawaii Spring GAP Semester

The United States is, in many ways, a country unlike any other, and this experiential travel semester offers you enriching and insightful fusion of environmental service projects, cultural immersion, personal development, and, of course, the sun, sea, and sand!

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.

Hawaii Minimester Program

This 6-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.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

8.89 Rating
based on 19 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 73.68%
  • 7-8 rating 21.05%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 5.26%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Housing 8
  • Support 8.6
  • Fun 9.3
  • Value 8.7
  • Safety 8.5
Showing 1 - 8 of 19
Default avatar
Davis
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life-Changing Experience

I was prepared to go to college, prior to the pandemic. After I elected to take a gap year amid the program, I selected Pacific Discovery’s Hawaii/Western US the program for the Spring of 2021. In the words of one of my friends from the program, the trip was “what we never knew we needed.” Throughout the 70 days, we visited Hawaii, Arizona, Utah, & briefly Colorado. Trip highlights included surfing, cliff jumping, peaking Mauna Kea, mountain biking, hiking, paddle board & silk yoga, and rock climbing. Even more memorable than the activities were the service projects & cultural immersion. We learned so much about Hawaiian culture, sustainable agriculture & farming, and being aware of our personal environmental impacts. I particularly enjoyed how much control students have throughout the program. While everyday has structured activities & the instructors take the lead for most aspects of the trip, students have large roles in the decision-making processes. In particular, we meal-planned & cooked together nearly every night which was intimidating at first but soon became some of the most memorable aspects of the trip. In addition, there was a perfect amount of free time or “rest & relaxation” days to both provide days of rest for students, but also provide time for activities that weren’t on the itinerary (such as hiking, paddle boarding, zip-lining, skiing, biking, soaking in hot springs, etc). One of the best aspects of the trip was self-led week. We were given the ability to chose, for six days, what areas to visit, where to stay, what to do, meal planning & everything about the trip. For our self-led week, we were tasked with getting from Sedona, AZ to Moab, UT. For the six days we were able to visit Grand Canyon, Zion, & Durango, CO—some of the best memories of the trip. Pacific Discovery did an excellent job selecting wonderful instructors (shoutout Jon & Lucy), providing meaningful & thought-provoking weekly curriculum regarding life-applicable lessons such as environment, communication, values, humanitarianism, etc, and providing us with service projects & cultural immersion experiences that educated & inspired us (especially in Hawaii). Our group became extremely close with each other & our instructors, and the relationships I’ve created on program are some of the best aspects of this trip. If you’re reading this, and wondering whether or not to take a gap year (and if so take this trip), I would highly encourage you to. Coming from someone who wasn’t planning on taking a gap year, this was by far the highlight of my gap year, and to be honest, one of the highlights and best times of life. Jump in feet first, be prepared to get out of your comfort zone, enjoy life-changing experiences, and mature/grow immensely over the course of the trip.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Rock climbing & mountain biking were definitely some of the most challenging but rewarding (and slightly nerve-racking) activities in the program, but with the great support of our group, we were able to persevere & really enjoy those experiences.
4 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Nicholas
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Pacific discovery Hawaii western us

The pacific discovery program that I attended was so memorable and could not have been better. It was kind of funny how we originally had to where masks when we were first getting to know each other because after the first 5 days when we started taking our masks off it was the same time that we started to bond. It’s almost as if the masks got taken off after we learned about each other. I actually liked doing the hard conservation work out in Hawaii first. Not just because it got it out of the way, but because it provided a great way to bond. The tours of the beaches, volcanoes, and snorkeling sites, as well as the surf camp provided such fun. Camping every now and then also helped us bond. Hawaii was also a great place to traveled since it has its own culture. The west provided a lot of fun as well. The views seen after completing them provided memorable moments. Arches and canyonlands NPs were much more glorious than expected. Self led week was my favorite part not just because we got to pick what to do, but because Zion, the Grand Canyon, and Durango were all so much fun. I’ll definitely ride a bike at Zion again someday and do the same hike. Not just to get a great view bu to remember this trip. It was cool ending it in the cold snow at park city after starting everything in the heat. The core sessions done provided deep thought and help my mind grow. To everyone who looks at this program I would say go for it you will never forget it

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
I got a concussion while we were surfing. I was so sad and annoyed thinking that it would all be downhill from here, but the people on the program keep me feeling happy and staying involved. After eleven long days of being out of the loop I rejoined everyone and some people provided me with hugs
2 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Jackie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Pacific Discovery— Living Life to the Fullest

I took a Pacific Discovery gap year and it turned my entire year around. My peers in the group are some of the most supportive people I have ever met, and they helped me grow in ways I didn’t even know were possible. My instructors always approached the program with a positive attitude and taught me to have a growth mindset in whatever we do. Each day was a new adventure and I loved the diversity of activities we got to experience. I took up things like surfing, rock climbing, hiking, biking, and so much more during this trip and it felt so rewarding to face my limits head on with the people who I can now call my family.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
My most nerve-racking moment was hiking Angels Landing at Zion National Park. 2 members of my group took me by the hand (literally) and helped me face my fears and make it to the summit. It was really a beautiful moment to be a part of and I’m so grateful for my PD family who made it possible for me to do this and it ended up being one of my favorite days of the trip!
5 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Caroline
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Pacific Discovery Hawaii and Western US

This program allowed me to push myself to my boundaries to see what I can really do. You’ll find that you can do a lot more than you think you can if you just give it a shot. It’s also a beautiful thing to live with the same people 24/7 for 10 weeks. The deep relationships you build and the things you learn about yourself are life changing. Additionally challenging yourself to try new things and adjust on the fly really allows you to grow for the future. I learned how to cook new meals and be creative on the trip as well!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Learn to be comfortable with discomfort on this trip. You learn a lot about yourself by going outside your comfort zone.
2 people found this review helpful.
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Anna
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Pacific Discovery Changed My Life

Pacific Discovery program completely exceeded my expectations in every way. Not only did I get extremely close with the people in my group, I also met many other inspiring people through conservation work and other activities. This program allowed me to push myself in ways I had never done before and when I accomplished something I felt immensely proud of myself. I was able to recenter and ground myself in my values, who I want to be, and what I want to put out into the world. I’ll never forget this experience and the people that I met on Pacific Discovery.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
My most nerve-racking moment was right before I jumped off a 45 feet cliff into the ocean. I was so scared and had never done anything like it before. I ended up not thinking and just running off the platform without warning anyone because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to do it.
2 people found this review helpful.
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Alex
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Growth, experiences and stories

I am so glad I did this. It truly changed my life, how I view things, and how I operate. I am extremely grateful to be able to do this program. I got so many unique and cool experiences and I now have some really crazy stories. I feel like a much more well rounded person after this. This will be something that I hold on to for the rest of my life. If I could give my self a year ago any advice it would be to take the risk and go on this trip. I met so many new close friends, experiences life changing things, and truly grew and transformed.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
I would advise a future traveler to come with an open mind, go with the flow, and be spontaneous.
2 people found this review helpful.
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Cameron
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

PD changed my life

This program provided tons of opportunity for growth. The activities were fun and the hikes were awesome. I loved mountain biking, skiing, surfing, going to the beach, and doing yoga. The most valuable part of the program for me was most definitely the relationships that I created while I was here. We shared tons of funny, memorable, and amazing moments together on the trip. I’m going to miss traveling around with this goofy bunch of people and seeing all the beautiful places of the country. Was hungry a lot though.

What would you improve about this program?
Something that would massively improve this program is less phone use.
2 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Devin
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Pacific Discovery

Pacific Discovery helped me learn a lot about myself and pushed me past my comfort zone. I discovered so many new activities that I loved doing and am looking forward to continue doing. There were so many different things I was tentative about, but kept an open mind and ending up loving! I was exposed to so many new cultures and ideas that allowed me to learn so much about myself and others. I made such great friends and memories! I am so glad I came on this trip and was able to have the experience I did!

2 people found this review helpful.