• United States of America
4 - 12 weeks
Program Tags
Adventure Travel College Credit Conservation Cultural Immersion Hands-On Learning Social Justice Wilderness

Program Details

Camping Snorkeling Surfing
Fall Spring
Cabin Guesthouse Hostel Lodge Tent
Age Min.
Age Max


Starting Price
Price Details
Program tuition includes all food, accommodations, and scheduled program activities for the duration of the program. Note that you'll need to budget for your airfare, travel insurance, and spending money. Airfare to/from Hawai'i estimated $700 - $1,000 and an inter-island flight estimated at $60 - $100.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Some Equipment Meals Park Fees Transportation
What's Not Included
Airfare Domestic Airfare Some Equipment
Dec 20, 2022
Dec 06, 2022
10 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Spend the semester on Maui and the Big Island exploring our natural world via the island ecosystem. On this semester, you'll engage with a deeper side of Hawai'i - it's no beach vacation. As a land of elemental forces coming together to create one of the most extraordinary and beautiful ecosystems on earth, Hawai'i hosts the most isolated population center on Earth, resulting in a distinct culture that remains vital and alive today.

For those who love the natural world, come be humbled by the grandeur of the ocean, the migrations of whales, the vibrance of the land, and the magic of the Aloha. For those who wish to have greater insight into Hawaiian culture, the complexities of U.S. colonization, and the ongoing dialogue about Hawaiian sovereignty, land rights, and social justice, come learn about important cultural and social issues that are happening within the United States.

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • Delve into permaculture: Live and learn from experts on a regenerative farm alongside passionate conservationists
  • Mountain to sea adventure: Trek and camp in the wilderness, then grab your surfboard for a lesson among the waves
  • Listen and learn: Engage with the history and tradition of Hawaiian culture as your new neighbors share their expertise in food systems, star navigation, and Hawaiian language
  • Form your perspective: Together, we explore the effects of colonization, and the social, political, and environmental activism aimed at restoring Hawaiian sovereignty
  • The Carpe Diem experience: Participate in a mindfulness retreat designed to deepen your knowledge of self, reflect on your journey, and integrate your experiences


Carpe Diem Education Scholarships

Carpe Diem Education awards $30,000 annually to support diversity and inclusion in its programs. The Access Scholarship provides up to $5,000 for a gap year semester or full-year experience. The Inclusion Scholarship offers up to $2,000 for a gap year semester. The Carpe Mundi Scholarship is for Portland-based students. Grants are mostly need-based, and applications open in January.

Program Reviews

4.92 Rating
based on 12 reviews
  • 5 rating 91.67%
  • 4 rating 8.33%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Housing 4.6
  • Support 4.85
  • Fun 4.85
  • Value 5
  • Safety 5
Showing 1 - 8 of 12 reviews
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Yes, I recommend this program

A Semester of Self Reflection

While attending Carpe Diem’s Hawaii Gap Semester program, I learned about a lot of different topics. We learned about things from history to permaculture, but the most important/unexpected? I learned about myself! This program gave me space to reflect deeply about my values in life and gave me clarity about my future plans. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to this beautiful place, be so immersed in the natural world, learn about the culture and history and make friends as I did it.

6 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Hawaii Spring 2022 - An Authentic, Valuable Experience

At first, I was hesitant to spend ten weeks away from home with a group of people I have not met before, but I completed this program and left with no regrets. These ten weeks were probably the best weeks of my life. I got to experience what it feels like to live and bond with people in a genuine, human way, which was especially beneficial during the pandemic. A huge part of my life has been dominated by the use of technology and screens, and this program allowed for me to connect with people in a wholesome, face-to-face manner (in one of the most beautiful places on earth!). I made such great friends from this program, and learned so much from it, too. I now feel much more confident traveling, and I have a greater appreciation for different cultures and ways of living as well. I have learned several very important lessons about myself from this experience that I will take with me through the rest of my life. I would strongly recommend this program to any gap year student.

  • Program fostered self growth
  • Ability to connect with people was unbeatable
  • Allowed for cultural immersion & enlightenment
  • Had to get used to wearing dirty clothes
  • Majority of the program was spent camping in tents (a pro for me, but may be a con for some)
25 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Once in a Lifetime Experience

I went to Hawaii looking for an informative experience both about a culture I was unfamiliar with, as well as environmental resilience. I left Hawaii feeling more myself than I have in years (along with having a much deeper understanding of Hawaiian culture and sustainability). Carpe Diem clearly puts a lot of effort into their partnerships with local families and organizations, and provided tons of unique opportunities across two islands in the archipelago. From working with conservation groups and permaculture farms to surfing, snorkeling, and hiking, this trip brought together adventure and cultural experience in a very cohesive way. The format of the trip flowed well, the overseas educators were so well qualified and joys to travel with, and I made so many friends both within the group and the greater community on the islands.

It isn't a walk in the park kind of trip; there are challenges, as not everyone is accustomed to camping for extended periods of time, or cooking every meal for themselves. But these were valuable experiences that I think I benefited from.

  • Meaningful, personal connections with locals
  • Lots of travel within Maui and the Big Island
  • Great partners
  • A lot of camping, if you aren't into that
  • A lot of time is spent cooking
28 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Spring 2022 Hawaii Semester

I loved my experience with this program! There were ten students total and two OEs, which I thought was a comfortable number of people. Everyone in my group got along from the beginning and we were able to not only exist together very well but also form deep connections that I hope will last a long time. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to see the side of Hawaii that most tourists don’t see, and that I was able to learn directly from the locals and native Hawaiians about the complicated and dark history of the land. We went on hikes, learned to surf, tried paddle boarding and canoeing, watched many sunsets, visited beaches, learned a hula dance, and much more. I also really appreciated that all the students came in on a level playing field, meaning that none of us knew each other previously and there were no grudges or friendships from the past. This program helped me grow as a person and taught me more about myself that I wouldn’t have realized otherwise. 100% recommend

  • Very limited access to phones and technology for students, which helped the group bond and made everyone more present
  • There was a lot of space to form close bonds with people in the group
  • Really safe environment and clear rules
  • The vast majority of the program is camping, so if you don’t like camping it’s probably not for you
  • Limited access to laundromats and time to wash clothes
  • I personally would have like more opportunities to buy fresh food from farmers markets and locals rather than big box stores
20 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Experience

This environment was extremely pivotal in developing both my confidence and awareness of the world around me. It was extremely supportive emotionally as well as safety wise. The OEs and fellow students on the trip are definitely going become life long friends. We were bonded by hands-on experiences that are difficult to give justice to with mere words. This program has sparked a new fire inside of me that is curious about not only traveling, but also finding ways to learn more about the area that I already live. These memories will live in my mind forever.

  • Very supportive
  • Amazing cultural immersion
  • Time to have fun and relax built in
  • If you do not enjoy camping this is not the right program
  • NA
  • NA
26 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Carpe Diem Hawaii Trip Spring 2022

I loved this trip! It was really well organized and very safe. The activities were incredibly fun (we did a mix of work like farming and clearing land and fun things like surfing, paddle boarding, and hiking). The program was very educational as we learned a lot about protecting the environment (marine and land conservation), Hawaiian culture and history, and social/life skills. We stayed in tents for the majority of the trip which was a challenge for some of us. Sometimes the tents got wet inside and there were bugs but we worked through it and in my opinion, it was worth it. Carpe Diem has a huge emphasis on pushing your personal boundaries and the program educators definitely encouraged us to do this so it's important to be open minded coming into this. If you're the type of person who likes a lot of alone time, this probably isn't the trip for you. We were constantly surrounded by the group and though there is some chill time that you can take alone, there were definitely many times when my group would've appreciated more relaxation time. We had 5 days of student travel near the end of the trip which was really nice because we learned how to plan activities, transportation, food, and budgeting.

  • insanely fun living and making memories with friends
  • learned so much about Hawaiian culture and became close with Hawaiian locals
  • I learned a lot about myself and grew a lot
  • limited food because of cooler situation (1-2 coolers with ice that melted fast)
  • stayed in tents (many bugs, sometimes tents got wet inside)
29 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Aloha experience

I came into this trip very hesitant because I wanted to just be in college like my friends. After the first two days, I knew I was going to enjoy it. I became really good friends with certain people and as the semester went on, that bond expanded to the whole group. I have a deep love for the ocean and being on this trip just helped support it. There is a good chunk of surfing which was amazing. Living in a group can be stressful at times but I felt as if I learned so much more with that aspect. I wish I could do it again.

What would you improve about this program?
One of the rules was no cliff jumping and that really stunk. We saw a lot of fantastic spots and we were not allowed to do it. It’s a very small and irrelevant thing but it would’ve been a ton of fun.
32 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Aloha Hawaii 2021

My semester is Hawaii was both everything I’d hoped for and nothing like what I expected.

We did everything I’d expected we’d do— we participated in community service, worked with local contacts, and learned about Hawaiian history and culture. I learned so much about those beautiful islands and the people who live there.

What I didn’t expect was the personal transformation I experienced. I came into this program knowing myself in one way, and left knowing myself in a completely new light. I realized what my values truly were and the kind of person I did and didn’t want to be. I pushed myself past what I thought my limits were, whether that was related to physical exhaustion or my emotional endurance.

I feel the greatest lesson I learned from my semester in Hawaii is that, by clearing my mind from the chatter of social media and the ‘outside’ world on my phone, I can step back and recognize that I am not my emotions or my thoughts. In any given situation, the way I feel is not necessarily the way things are. This clarity brought me a perspective (in tough situations especially) that helped shed light on the most productive solutions, instead of stewing in anger or guilt or sadness.

I would highly recommend this program to anyone who wants to get to know the real Hawaii (not the touristy Hawaii!) better, while also getting to know themselves in a new way.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Find a way to cope with stress— besides with something on your phone! That was the biggest challenge for me, but once I learned how to take care of myself without my phone, it was so freeing and I was able to enjoy my semester in Hawaii much more.
27 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers