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Hawaiʻi Outdoors Institute is a non-profit environmental education program on the magical island of Hawaiʻi; the Big Island.  Our mission is to encourage environmental stewardship in future leaders.  Since 2009, we have hosted Waldorf Schools, Expeditionary Learning Schools, Public, Private, and Charter Schools.  Experiences with the land and sea teach students about this unique place, as well as their own place in the world.  Authentic cultural experiences, environmental stewardship projects, and participating in a small community enlarge each studentsʻs perspective and build valuable leadership skills.

On each Hawai’i Outdoors trip, we have four focus areas. They are leadership, education, culture and service. We make the program as hands on as possible for the students. Each student has a job each day which may be cooking for the group, cleaning, teaching short lessons at a nightly meeting, or being our leader of the day.

“It was amazing to learn about Hawaiian culture, but becoming a part of it was amazing.”  “The earth made me feel: happy, free, lucky, small, and strong.”  “I got to really connect with nature and feel life!”  “It’s nice to know that in a world so big and scary there are people who believe family is everywhere we go!  I could not stop laughing and smiling.  This was an experience I will never forget!”

-Several 8th grade students from Dr. Tanʻs class, Davis Waldorf School

Group Contact Form

We specialize in creating custom trips, which can be tailored to suit the goals of your class.  As an example, here is a proposed itinerary that may work well for your school.  Again, trip length and activities can be modified to suit your class goals and budget.  

Day 1-  Aloha!  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 the yard while teachers/chaperones may enjoy private rooms with comfortable beds. We’ll have a program orientation to prepare for the exciting days ahead. 

Waipiʻo Lodge, since 1922

Teacher Room

Student Camping

Day 2-  Service Learning and Hawaiian Culture! 

We’ll set a positive tone for our trip by giving back to the island. At the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative, HOI 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 Hawaii, 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.     

Wiliwili Trees

Waikoloa Dry Forest

Hawaiian Cultural Center

Day 3-  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.    

Coconut Island

“What kind of fruit is THAT?!?”

Kaumana Caves

Day 4-  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.      

Waipiʻo Black Sand Beach

Waipiʻo Taro

Day 5-  Volcanoes! 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!        

Native Ohiʻa Trees

Teachers love Volcanoes!

Volcanic Regrowth

Day 6-  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.   

Pristine Wailea Bay

Snorkel Snorkel!

Kalopa Rainforest Preserve

Day 7-  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.

Hug someone… because leaving Hawaiʻi is hard.

Aloha ʻOe!

Weʻll miss you!


The cost includes all activities, local transportation, lodging, professional field instructors, group gear and healthy meals.  We are also a licensed travel agency able to arrange group airfare to Hawaiʻi if you would like us to.

Would you like to stay longer?  Does your group have a certain focus?  Here are additional options to chose from.  Contact us to find a good fit for your students.  

Mauna Kea Sunset and World Class Stargazing

Coastal Walk and Tide Pool Exploration at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park

Kamilo Beach Marine Debris Clean-up with Camping at Punalu’u Black Sand Beach

Ke Kai Ola Marine Mammal Rehabilitation Center

Backpacking trip to Waimanu Valley

Kona Coffee Farm Tour

Whale Watching


Aren’t your students so excited for their class trip?  Give them an experience they’ll never forget.  We understand what a special time it is for students, teachers, and parents.