June 24 - July 5, 2018 // 12 Days
July 8 - July 19, 2018 // 12 Days
Completing Grades 7-8
Indulge your adventure spirit and fall in love with Hawaii’s Big Island. Journey clockwise around the Big Island on this epic 12-day middle school environmental community service trip and adventure program. Geographically diverse, the Big Island boasts everything from hardened lava deserts to lush rainforests and majestic green-sand beaches. Wake up in paradise next summer as you camp in the enchanting rainforests, hike the trails in Volcanoes National Park, marvel at flowing lava, discover ancient Hawaiian legends, learn to hula from a Kumu Hula, immerse yourself in the rich culture of Hawaii, and paddle out into the big blue on this epic introductory middle school adventure.
I learned so much in just a couple of weeks about other cultures and about myself.” - Participant on Hawaii: Aloha ‘Aina 2017
Discover ancient secrets and witness the primal power of molten earth while hiking and exploring the trails at Volcanoes National Park. Journey through a 500 year-old lava cave, enjoy a picnic lunch by the Kilauleau Caldera, or summit Mauna Loa, Hawaii’s most massive volcano while we adventure in this bucket-list National Park.
There's nothing like the Hawaiian thrill of getting up on a board to catch a wave and be propelled by the ocean's power!
Hike to Papakōlea Green Sand Beach for breathtaking views of the olivine sands. Papakōlea is one of just two green sand beaches in the United States, and it's rare sands attract visitors from all across the globe. Get your adventure on as we hike to the coastline for a this once-in-a-lifetime view point. Photo by: Thomas James Caldwell.
Paddle Kona’s crystal-clear blue waters and keep your eyes peeled for spinner dolphins, green turtles, and manta rays. Embark on a kayak and snorkel tour of Hawaii’s rugged coastline and colorful reef systems. Luxuriate in the warm Pacific waters, explore enchanting sea caves, discover ancient tidal species. Learn local history from our expert guides, and reward yourself with fresh tropical fruits at the end of our adventure.
While on the Big Island, we explore two of Hawaii's main exports: Coffee and Macadamia nuts. Swapping stories with local farmers and seeing first hand how these crops are produced, we discover how these plants first arrived to Hawaii (all the way from Austrailia and Spain!) and the cultural, social, economic and political realities of producing them!
Besides all the beautiful sand beaches, amazing food, fascinating culture, and adventurous activities, another attraction awaits: the state's most beloved ocean species, the spinner dolphin. These playful creatures are often seen skimming the surface of the ocean, spinning and leaping.
From Rainbow Falls to 'Akaka Falls, indulge your adventurous side as we traverse the east coast's stunning Humaka coast in search of Hawaii's most splendid falls. Journey to the 442 ft tall 'Akaka State falls and catch glimmers of magic at Rainbow Falls. These picturesque Hawaiian falls are even home to the rare Goby fish that use special suckers to climb walls and spawn. Rejuvinate and replenish at the foot of these falls.
In Hawaiian culture, the Hula is more than just dancing. It is a way of life. Receiving an introduction to Hawaiian culture, we learn about the history of the Hawaiian people, their cultural system, and the forces of nature that sustain them as we challenge ourselves to learn the basic moves to the Hula.
Grassroots environmental service on the Big Island
A Certificate of Community Service indicating the total number of hours worked will be issued upon successful completion of the program.
Kayak/Snorkel Expedition: Kona Coast
Surf: Kona Coast, Hapuna Beach
Tour: Imiloa Astronomy Center, Big Island Bees Farm, Coffee Farm in Ka'u, Hilo Farmer's Market
Attend: Hula dancing lesson and cultural lessons
Hike: Volcanoes National Park, Papakolea Beach, Akaka Falls, Rainbow Falls
On the Big Island we sleep in tents near the beach. Showers are available; however, we shower every three to four days to conserve resources and support sustainability. Bathrooms are a mix of flush toilets and latrines.
Kona, HI (OGG)
A leader-escorted round-trip flight will be available (but not required) for those travelers who wish to fly with a leader. This flight will depart from LAX. Please contact our office for details.
Inspiring a love for natural spaces and Hawaiian culture, our 12-day Big Island program provides participants with the opportunity to immerse themselves in local culture and gain hands-on adventure skills.
Our very first adventure takes us out onto Kona’s Pacific coast, where we kayak and snorkel alongside sea caves, spinner dolphins and tidal pools. Paddling with our local guides, we discover ancient legends and learn about Hawaii’s cultural ties to the landscape. After we finish, we rest and rejuvenate our spirits with some fresh tropical fruit: pineapples and watermelon galore.
We spend our afternoon at Big Island Bees, where we learn about the importance of pollinators to the island ecosystem and treat ourselves to some sweet honeycomb treats.
Traveling clockwise around the island, we make time to surf, snorkel, and explore Hawaii’s famous beaches (hello Hapuna!). Continuing on our journey, we travel to the sunny side for once-in-a-lifetime waterfall hikes at Akaka State Falls and Rainbow Falls and to explore the colorful markets in Hilo.
In Hilo Bay, we venture through the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, where we learn about the historical significance of astronomy to Hawaiian culture, discover the voyager tradition and wa’a ancestral canoes, and learn about the debate over having modern telescopes on the culturally significant Mt. Mauna Kea.
We spend the final portion of our trip in the southern district of Ka’u. Here, we uncover ancient secrets and witness the primal power of molten earth. Hiking the trails at Volcanoes National park, we journey through a 500 year-old lava cave, enjoy a picnic lunch by the Kilauleau Caldera, and witness the giant Mauna Loa, Hawaii’s largest volcano.
Our time in Ka’u is filled with rich cultural experiences and wild landscapes. Here, we hike the olivine sands at Papakōlea Green Sand Beach, connect with local coffee farmers to learn how coffee is grown, keep our eyes peeled for green turtles the Punalu’u Black Sand beach, enjoy fresh pineapple and locally grown macadamia nuts, and learn the hula (both dance and storytelling tradition) from a Kumu Hula (or master Hula). With our heartbeats in tune with the landscape and local people, we join forces with a local environmental organization to connect with the land and give back.
On our final night in Ka’u, we are welcomed by the local community for an evening celebration and traditional Hawaiian luau. Embracing the Hawaiian way of life and embracing the love around us, we reflect on the experience before transferring to the airport for our flights home.
After meeting at the airport in (LAX) or Kona (KOA), we transfer to our accommodations and spend the evening getting to know each other and our new island paradise.
Today, we rise with the sun for an early morning paddle through Kona’s crystal blue waters. Kayaking and swimming in the gentle pacific waves, we keep our eyes peeled for spinner dolphins, green turtles, and manta rays. After the paddle tour, we enjoy lunch on the beach and then head over to Big Island Bees to learn about the importance of pollinators and beekeeping on the Island.
On day 3, we challenge ourselves to an introductory surf class in Kona before heading North to Hapuna Beach, one of the island’s most famous beaches, for an afternoon of snorkeling and hiking along the enchanting coastline.
Relocating to the east side of the Big Island, we hike through the lush tropical rainforest, passing wild ferns, orchids, and bamboo stalks, before arriving at the impressive 400 ft Akaka waterfall. We also visit Rainbow Falls, a waterfall that cascades over a lava cave and is rumoured to be home to the ancient Hawaiian goddess of the moon.
Traveling clockwise around the island, we arrive in Hilo Bay. Here, we visit the Imiloa Astronomy center to learn about the importance and cultural significance of astronomy to Hawaiians. We also discover and learn from our local guide about the controversy surrounding modern telescopes atop the historic and culturally significant Mauna Kea.
We spend our next two days adventuring alongside volcanic craters, scalded deserts, rainforests, live lava, and petroglyphs in Volcanoes National Park.
Making the most of our time in Ka’u, we learn the ropes of coffee farming on a local farm, hike to the world-renowned Papakōlea Green Sand Beach, and learn the cultural significance and traditional Hula dance moves from a Kumu Hula.
Community Service and Luao Celebration (Day 10):
Today, we get our hands dirty and join forces with a local environmental organization for a day of volunteering and learning. In the evening, we celebrate our journey and join the Ka’u community for a traditional Hawaiian Luao.
Our last full day in Hawaii sees us to the most famous black sand beach in Hawaii, Punalu’lu. Here, we complete a short hike and keep our eyes peeled for the hawksbill and green turtles sunning on the beach. We learn from our local guide about the environmental history and cultural significance of turtles and soak up the sun while we can. After our beach exploration, we transfer to the airport to make our late night connections to the mainland.
Our escorted flight arrives in LAX in the early morning. From there, we say our final goodbyes!
The Road Less Traveled does not require any vaccinations or immunizations to travel with us, other than an up-to-date tetanus shot or booster (within the last nine years).
Please click below to view your program’s equipment and packing list!
Hawaii: Big Island Packing List - 2018 list coming soon!
Coming soon! Please call the office at 773-342-5200 for more information on this program.
It is highly recommended that participants on this program are comfortable being in the water and swimming.