Big Island Adventure

Snorkel among colorful tropical fish, view lava flow from the world's most active volcano, hike through lush rainforest to a 400 foot waterfall, get a breathtaking view of the stars high on Mauna Kea, ride the surf on a real outrigger canoe, and discover the rich and beautiful Hawaiian culture.

Program Overview

Hilo, Rain Forest and Waterfalls

The Big Island of Hawaii is a land of contrasts.  Lush coral reefs and mountain summits.  Lush tropical rainforest, and stark lava fields.  

Our trip begins in Hilo, on the lush windward side of the island, where we discover Hawaiian culture, and explore rain forest waterfalls.  At 400 foot Akaka Falls, our University of Hawaii guides share Hawaiian legends and the natural history of the highest waterfall in Hawaii.  The walk takes us through rare and endangered Hawaiian tropical forest, where the diversity of life is amazing.  We also hike to magical Rainbow Falls, which is revered by native Hawaiians.  The 100 foot fall cascades over a natural lava cave, and is said to be the home of Hina, an ancient Hawaiian goddess.

Outriggers and Tidepools

On Hilo Bay, we explore rich tidepool ecosystems with our guides, and try out snorkeling in preparation for our coral reef adventure in Kona. The tidepools teem with exotic tropical creatures like the spider starfish and are a great place to get our first feel for warm Hawaiian waters.

Not far away, we join the University of Hawaii Canoe Club for a demonstration of how outrigger canoes were carved for hundreds of years, and then go for a thrilling ride on Hilo Bay.  We’re sure to get wet as we paddle through the surf line out into the bay.  A fun, wild ride!  

Volcano Day

The world’s most active volcano is Kilauea, and we spend a full day exploring at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  The volcano has been erupting continuously for decades, and the results are spectacular.  Not only can we view lava bubbling up in the main caldera, but with our expert guides we walk through past lava flows to check out the stark, but beautiful landscape they left behind.  We also hike through a rare lava tube, formed when flowing lava receded, leaving a hollow tube behind.  Kilauea is a dynamic volcano, and we are able to plot recent and ongoing eruptions at the Hawaii Volcano Observatory on the caldera rim.  

Depending on lava activity, many groups are able to return to the Kalapana area of the Big Island in the evening, to witness the glow of flowing lava entering the sea, creating huge steam plumes in a dramatic, unforgettable spectacle.

Mauna Kea Astronomy

Hawaii is famous for astronomy, and rightfully so.  Just short of 14 thousand feet, the summit of Mauna Kea boasts clear and dark skies, and is home to a vast array of world class telescopes.  

Many of our groups are able to journey to the 9300 foot level of the mountain, to the Onizuka Astronomy Center, to view the heavens through telescopes set up for our use.  Experts are on hand to guide us in our observations, and as the skies darken, the views are world class.

A bonus of the trip is a chance to watch the sun set, a spectacular sight high on Mauna Kea at more than 9 thousand feet above the ocean.

Coral Reef Snorkeling

On the Kona coast, we set off on an amazing day of snorkeling and ocean fun. Our destination is Kealakekua Bay, a protected coral reef teeming with colorful tropical fish.  From our cruise boat we float over rich tropical reefs, using snorkels, floatation gear, and fins.  The underwater views are nothing short of spectacular.

The cruise boat also features a two story high waterslide and lunch onboard, making for a wonderful day on the water.  

Hawaiian Culture and Place of Refuge

Throughout our trip we learn about the ancient and beautiful Hawaiian culture from native Hawaiians.  At the world famous Place of Refuge at Kona, we explore an important Hawaiian temple complex and learn about the life of Hawaiian people before the arrival of Europeans.  The site was once a refuge where rule breakers could find protection, as well as the ancestral home of the Kamehameha dynasty.  A tour here introduces us to the lives of those who once lived here.

The bay on which the refuge is located is also home to many sea turtles. They can be seen in the shallow water and even coming ashore to bask in the sunshine.  A memorable sight!

 

Hapuna Beach and Hawaiian Luau

While at Kona we spend part of a day enjoying the Big Island’s best white sand beach.  Hapuna is famous for gentle surf, great swimming, and a wide sandy beach.  Then, in the evening we take part in a traditional Hawaiian luau.  From the lei greeting, to hula dancing, fire shows, and all of the tradition Hawaiian foods on offer, this is a great way to conclude a memorable trip to paradise.

Cost and Details

Cost and Length

The 8 Day trip is $2775 per student.  This includes all activities, meals, ground transportation by coach, accommodations and pre departure meetings.  Airfare is not included, but is booked by Earth Explore at competitive rates with major airlines..

Ages and Eligibility

Current students in grades 4-12.  Elementary, Middle and High School groups travel in separate groups. Eligibility is determined by local teacher(s) based upon maturity and motivation.

Payment and Deadlines

A $500 deposit it required upon registration.  Final payment is due 60 days before departure.  No funds are retained if student is not accepted into program.  Monthly payment plans are available.  Trip capacity is based upon the local group status. Most groups reach capacity within 8 weeks of group formation.

Signup and Materials

Parents of students can register their child for the program here.  Program materials can be printed from the PDFs page.