• United States of America
    • Hawaii
4 - 12 weeks
Program Tags
Adventure Travel College Credit Conservation Cultural Immersion Hands-On Learning Volunteer Abroad Wilderness Yoga Retreats
General grants/scholarships, Payment plans, 529 Plan eligibility
Health & Safety

Program Details

Animal Viewing Camping City Exploring Hiking Remote Exploring Snorkeling Surfing Swimming Trekking
Academic Year Summer
Hostel Hotel Lodge Tent
Primary Language
Age Min.
Age Max


Starting Price
Price Details
All in-country land transport and travel (not flights); All accommodation; 3 meals a day (excluding snacks); All activities, excursions, entry fees and adventure travel as described in the itinerary; Service learning projects in conservation and community development; Informal lectures from resident experts on history, culture, development issues; Experienced Pacific Discovery Program Instructors and local guides; Online image library for your program.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Equipment Meals Transportation
What's Not Included
Airfare Travel Insurance
Oct 18, 2022
Nov 05, 2023
22 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Experience epic surf, golden beaches, the aloha spirit and active volcanoes on this gap year program in Hawaii!

This 6-week mini semester program offers you an enriching and inspiring experience in tropical Hawaii. Hawaii consists of eight islands, which are all unique in their own way. Your days will be as varied as the islands you visit, with a fusion of hands-on volunteer work, surfing, snorkeling, cultural immersion and, of course, non-stop adventure!

There is an endless list of things to do in Hawaii. From learning to smash open coconuts and making beautiful leis, to stargazing on top of a dormant volcano and heading out to one of only four green sand beaches in the world. Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture as you discover its fascinating ocean and mountain landscape and explore the incredible jungle, volcanoes, and beaches.

Video and Photos

Diversity & Inclusion

BIPOC Support

We understand that we have a long way to go in achieving the diversity we strive for among our students, staff, and partners. We are committed to fostering a more diverse and inclusive organization, and we recognize that this requires time, effort, and resources. At Pacific Discovery, we deeply value diversity, equity, and social justice, and we are dedicated to creating educational experiences that reflect and promote these values. Our program curriculum incorporates social justice education and encourages students to explore their own identities. To further support these efforts, we offer a 'Diverse Voices' Scholarship.

LGBTQIA+ Support

All of our Pacific Discovery programs are LGBTQIA+ friendly, and our operations team have attended CIS Abroad's LGBTQ+ Allyship Training, to ensure we’re doing what we can to support this community. We provide an open and non judgemental space for students to explore who they are at this pivotal time of their life, and in our admissions process we seek information not only on a student's gender, but their pronouns and gender identity. We’re aware of the differing cultural perspectives of LQBTQIA in the countries that we visit, and can direct students to a semester location where they’ll feel the most comfortable. Operationally we ensure that our instructors use inclusive language and can facilitate conversations with students around their identity, and discuss the rooming situations with LGBTQIA+ students.

Neurodivergent Support

Our programs are designed to support students with a wide range of neurodiverse conditions while following our essential eligibility criteria. For students needing extra help, we provide personalized wellness plans . These plans include coping strategies, care protocols, and specific requirements to help them engage effectively in the program. Our instructors have access to mental health first aid resources and are well-prepared to offer strong support to students with these needs.

Accessibility Support

Our programs offer a variety of physical activities, including hiking, surfing, rafting, and mountain biking. We make sure to accommodate students with diverse needs such as asthma, diabetes, and chronic medical conditions, while working within the infrastructure of the host country and our program schedules. We're mindful of the varying levels of accessibility in the countries we visit and can help students choose a semester location where they feel most at ease.



Sustainability is one of the 6 core components of each Pacific Discovery program, where we educate students about the local and global environmental issues, how to travel sustainably, and have them think deeply about their impact and what they can do in their daily lives to affect change.

We recently embarked on a Net Positive Benefit project where we are qualifying what impacts our groups have on the local communities, taking into consideration carbon emissions +/- social impacts +/- conservation impacts +/- community impacts. On our programs, students engage with non-profit organisations such as Litter Intelligence, Scholars of Sustenance, Ulu Mau puanui, Llama Pack project where they directly work for a better future - planting trees, eradicating invasive weed species, helping local communities and food banks.

Ethical Impact

We make a conscious decision to partner with host communities and suppliers who are passionate about our students' participation and involvement with them being of a positive benefit to the community. We want our presence to enable positive sustainable growth for our partners and this mantra is ingrained in the fabric of our programs.

Program Highlights

  • Learn from local non-profits how to organically aid in the restoration and conservation of local ecosystems.
  • Immerse in Hawaiian culture learning native food making techniques and the heritage and history of Hawaii.
  • Surf lessons based in Kona, the sunny district on Hawai’i Island.
  • Yoga and meditation in Hilo, amongst the breath-taking, the natural beauty of the northeast side of the Big Island.
  • Hike the Volcano National Park and watch the sunset.

Program Reviews

4.33 Rating
based on 9 reviews
  • 5 rating 55.56%
  • 4 rating 33.33%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 11.11%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Housing 4
  • Support 4.25
  • Fun 4.8
  • Value 4.1
  • Safety 4.9
Showing 1 - 8 of 9 reviews
Default avatar
No, I don't recommend this program

Read this before going

I am currently finishing the 6 week mini trip in hawaii. I have to say the only thing i really found enjoyable were the people and some of the activities. I feel PD was not very transparent about how poor the living conditions would be. we had 4 people crammed into a 2 person yurt, staying at an accommodation with about 10-15 people with 2 toilets and 1 shower. I could barely sleep due to how uncomfortable the living situations were. The packing list was also misleading, i was underprepared and overprepared. They didn’t give us any money in the budget for group snacks, and i spent hundreds on buying my own food. The 10$ a day for spending is not true. PD also didn’t tell me I would be spending 6-7$ on laundry, or getting laundry where the dryer doesn’t work or it is cold so all my clothes smelled weird and didn’t dry properly.

13 people found this review helpful.
Response from Pacific Discovery

Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your experience. It is important to us that all of our students have a positive experience on our programs and so we welcome your feedback. If you feel there are specific details we could add to our pre-departure checklists, we would love to chat with you so we may improve for future programs. Please email us at info@pacificdiscovery.org.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Instructor Experience

As an instructor I was seeking an opportunity to assist in the growth of others while additionally immersing myself in other cultural opportunities through experiential learning along side students. One thing I really look for in an organization is communication and support from headquarters. I have felt Pacific Discovery has allowed me the ability to have a major say in how we handle what happens on the ground as they value our perspective and what is best for the larger group to thrive. My experience with headquarters has been great as they have been a great support system which allows ample check in, while also providing space and trust in you.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Getting to experience Mauna Kea watching the sunset and star gazing 13,803 ft up was unreal. It was such a wonderful time to be one with nature, reflect and share in such an incredible experience with such beautiful people. We got to experience snow...who would have thought we would have experienced a snowball fight in Hawaii!!!
70 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Hawaii Minimester

I went on their Hawaii Minimester course this year and it was one of the most unique and fun experiences of my life. Pacific Discovery are committed to having their students fully immerse themselves in the culture in a way that someone travelling independently would not have the opportunity to. Our days were action packed and we all enjoyed ourselves in activities such as surfing, lei making, hiking, snorkelling and more. Although there were instances where Pacific Discovery was not hugely supportive and though there are things I would change about the program, I am truly thankful for the experience that has been provided to me.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Taro, I had no idea what it was before coming to Hawaii.
71 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing community & experiential education

From learning the art of cutting open a coconut, a proper surf board stance, hiking up Coconut Creek, enjoying a private manta ray tour, or looking at the stars at the top of the volcano of Mauna Kea, I can think of dozens of magical moments these past 4 weeks that were elevated by the support and community of my fellow peers and the Pacific Discovery team. All while prioritizing safety, Pacific Discovery has given my group a rare opportunity of true cultural immersion: daily fun experiential education peppered with moments of deeply personal growth.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My trip leaders Jackie and Annie show me daily how much they care with their compassion and patience with our group. Despite handling planning complicated logistics for our fun-filled days, my trip leaders always prioritize our safety and emotional well-being. Whenever I’ve needed to talk, they have been there for me. My advice for future PD students is to feel empowered to ask for help, since my trip leaders have proven us time and time again that they are here for us no matter what we are going through.
76 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

My Gap Year Experience

Coming from the UK I was nervous about travelling over 8000 miles away to travel with a group of new people. However, it has ended up being one of the most positive and exciting experiences I’ve had so far. The program perfectly balanced hard work and volunteering with deep cultural immersion and a ton of fun activities. Highlights have included surf camp, finding the only snow in Hawaii and snorkelling with manarays. The experience was made by the amazing group of people and leaders that I travelled with. Everyone was open and welcoming and eager to learn and experience the trip. There have been ups and downs in the group but all in all the experiences have brought us closer together. I would highly recommend

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Cliff diving at the southern most point in the US. The cliff was 40ft and had a tiny ladder up the side.
78 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Hawaii Minimester

I’ve have really enjoyed my time on this program. I feel like I have learned a lot about myself and others, as well as the culture and history of the Hawaiian islands. We have had the opportunity to experience some incredible moments, such as snorkeling, cliff jumping, stargazing at Mauna Kea, surfing, and much more. In addition to the fun and exciting activities we have experienced, we have also had multiple opportunities to engage in various service projects which has been incredibly rewarding. I’m so grateful for having the opportunity to go on this trip, and I feel I have grown so much through the experience.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
During our second week in Hawaii we stopped at a fruit stand where I got the chance to try Guanabana which is my new favorite fruit!
74 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Hawaii Minimester

This experience has really helped push me outside of my comfort zone and has overall been very rewarding. You learn many important life skills, meet many amazing people, and become very close with the other members of your group. There are definitely some challenging experiences that you will surely encounter (like camping in the rain), but I now feel more confident dealing with these obstacles. This program is a lot of fun and is a great option for people looking for an amazing experience during their gap year.

What was your funniest moment?
When I tried to chug almond milk and I choked on it
68 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Awesome, adventurous trip to Hawaii

Got to meet really interesting people and learn about Hawaiian history and culture. Also got to do lots of thrilling activities like cliff jumping off a 40 ft cliff, surfing, swimming with manta rays, sharks, sea turtles and much more. I loved the kids on my program, everyone was so kind, smart, funny and adventurous. There was one student who was very disrespectful and unkind to the group and many of the people we met and the student was removed from the program eventually. Other than that one challenge, the majority of the trip was wonderful!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Poi, a traditional Hawaiian dish made with smashed tarp root. Cool consistency, but flavor was not my favorite.
79 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers