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The Big Island Hawaiʻi is a land of contrast and extremes, both rugged and lush.  Lunar-like landscapes and majestic valleys feel like the land before time.  From the crisp air of Mauna Kea to the steam vents of Volcanoes National Park, the Big Island is spectacular!  With 11 of the world’s 13 climate zones, it’s a learning laboratory like no place on earth.  As “the endangered species capital of the world,” you’ll make an impact by working alongside conservationists in critical habitat preserves.  You’ll harvest and plant with local farmers and enjoy tropical produce from top notch farmer’s markets.  You’ll discover the intersection of world class astronomy and Hawaiian culture on the slopes of Mauna Kea.  With Hawaiʻi Outdoors Institute you’ll explore the Big Island from reefs to rainforests, from seas to summits.

Our Big Island basecamp has a soaring ocean view with large platform tents for students and comfortable rooms for teachers. This program fits best for Middle School and High School Students ages 14-18. The location is perfect for smaller groups of 12-15 students. Waldorf group class trips are welcome!

Sample Big Island Itinerary


We’ll greet you at the airport about mid-day. After a quick swim in the ocean we’ll settle in to to the Waipiʻo Lodge, an original plantation home and our basecamp for the trip. Built in 1922, the lodge rooms were historically occupied by sugar cane plantation workers from the Philippines. The walls have stories to tell! Students will camp in platform tents while teachers/chaperones enjoy private rooms with comfortable beds. We’ll have a program orientation to prepare for the exciting days ahead.


Waikoloa Dry Forest
We’ll set a positive tone for our trip by giving back to the island. At the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative, Hawaiʻi Outdoor Institute has adopted an acre that our students care for. We’ll help plant or protect critically endangered Wili-Wili trees in one of the islandʻs most unique ecosystems. Endemic to Hawaiʻi, the trees we plant may live for hundreds of years. Besides that… it’s “Willi-Willi” fun! This afternoon, we’ll spend time at the Hawaiian Cultural Center of Hamakua. From a Hawaiian Cultural Practitioner, we’ll hear local stories and historical events.


Hilo Day!
Today begins by exploring the historic town of Hilo. At the best farmer’s market on the island, we’ll have a chance to taste exotic fruits locally grown and support local shops. We’ll also swim at the local hangout, “Coconut Island.” After that weʻll explore Kaumana Caves, wandering through a fern forest, soaking in unique underground lava formations and lush vegetation.


Black Sand Beach and Waipi’o Taro!
Today we’ll explore lush Waipiʻo Valley by hiking along Hawai‘i’s best black sand beach. Waipiʻo is a cultural treasure, and one of the most sacred places in the Islands. Known as the “Valley of they Kings,” it was once a flourishing community of Hawaiian royalty. A few families still live and farm in the rustic valley. They keep Hawaiian culture alive by harvesting traditional taro crops and making poi. We’ll experience the valley’s culture by learning from a charismatic local farmer while helping him work in his family taro patch.


With it’s vast, ever-changing landscapes, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park has been honored as a “World Heritage Site” and “International Biosphere Reserve.” Today we’ll hike through rare native rainforest and volcanic craters with steam vents and lava tubes. There’s no place on earth quite like it!


Reef and Rainforest!
The Big Island is considered to have the best snorkeling in the Hawaiian Island chain. As the newest island, it’s underwater topography is the most interesting with caves, reef shelves, tide pools and healthy coral. We have the cleanest seawater in the northern hemisphere, which makes underwater visibility excellent. This afternoon we’ll explore Kalopa State Park, a high elevation rainforest with an abundance of rare and beautiful native trees. We’ll reflect on our time here on the Big Island to prepare for a memorable closing ceremony around a warm evening fire.


Souvenirs and Aloha ‘oe!
On our final day, we’ll have a chance to shop ‘till we drop for souvenirs and gifts for friends and family. We’ll then say our aloha’s at the airport.

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