Take a look at what you'll be doing for your 21 days with HPA's Summer Outdoor Program.
*This itinerary may be modified due to weather and/or special circumstances, but any substitutions will be equally adventurous.
Day 1: If you are not from Hawai'i, today you'll arrive on the Island of Hawai'i, the largest in the Hawaiian chain. Depending on your arrival, you will have a chance to hit the beach and get acquainted with your fellow adventurers. You'll be able to try out many of the different water activities we'll be doing throughout the program, including snorkeling, paddle boarding, and kayaking. Don't worry if you are a novice, our lifeguard certified trip leaders will be there to help you out. Expect a swim test to evaluate your comfort level in the water.
Day 2: First day of service! Nā Kālai Wa'a, dedicated to preserving Hawaiian culture and customs through open-ocean voyaging, is the first non-profit organization we'll be working with. Opportunities with this organization change depending on their current needs. In the past participants have helped remove barnacles off Makali'i, a Hawaiian voyaging canoe that travels all over the world, and drydock renovations on the canoe. This service work will help you understand how the first Hawaiians arrived on the island, and you'll learn about ancient voyaging methods that are still practiced today. In the afternoon you will get to paddle smaller Polynesian canoes that are used in local and international races, as well as snorkel and practice paddle boarding in the harbor.
Day 3: Waimea is a unique community rich in ranching traditions. You will get to experience life as a paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy), as we explore the volcanic hills of North Kohala on HPA's horses. These hills offer spectacular views of Mauna Kea and the Kohala coastline. Keep your eyes open for the pueo (Hawaiian short-eared owl), a native resident found in this habitat. Then it's off to the Kohala Forest Reserve, where we will hike into Pololu Valley and enjoy a secluded black sand beach and exhilarating views of some of the oldest terrain on Hawai'i. The overlook provides some of the best views of the otherwise unreachable and jagged coastline.
Day 4: Today begins our adventure into another section of the Kohala Forest Reserve, this time into Waipio Valley. Be prepared to get muddy and wet, as we'll be working on a taro farm, learning about this most important crop in Hawaiian culture and tradition. Waipio is also home to many waterfalls, and you will swim into and stand under a waterfall more than 1,000 feet tall! Sunset on the beach is not to be missed, but you'll want to get to bed early for our first backpacking trip into Waimanu Valley, nine miles up and down the most ancient gulches on the island. This verdant valley is abundant in fresh fruits, tropical birds, and even wild horses have found a home in this paradise.
Day 5-7: To get to Waimanu Valley you'll be traveling on the beautiful Muliwai Trail, which follows the timeworn coast through dense forests and traverses many untouched streams. Along the steep trail, you'll be rewarded with restful places to cool off in these streams, including a waterfall you can soak under. Once in Waimanu Valley, you'll get to enjoy a remote black sand beach, and perhaps espy a most frequent visitor to Waimanu, the endangered monk seal. Waimanu is home to more spectacular waterfalls, and on Day 6 you can explore this lush valley while munching on fresh guavas! On Day 7 we will embark on a return trip to the Hamakua Coast. After a few nights in the backcountry, you'll be thrilled to visit a local landmark restaurant in Honoka'a where you can experience fresh baked malasadas, a Portuguese decadent delight and a local favorite. We'll also be returning to HPA's campus where we will be able to shower and rest up for our next adventure.
Day 8-10: Now it's time to visit a completely different ecosystem, the dry forests of Mauna Kea (13,803 feet). After years of goats ravaging the mountain, many native animal and plant species are near extinction. We'll be working with the Mauna Kea Forest Restoration Project (MKFRP), a part of the Hawai'i Division of Forest and Wildlife, to plant native tree species in the hopes of revitalizing endangered populations of animals reliant on these habitats. Enjoy camping in MKFRP's Pu'u Mali Restoration Area, which is completely closed to the public, and earning more than 16 hours of community service at elevations between 5,200 and 7,800 feet. We'll also take some time to visit the Ka'ohe Restoration Area, where we will use binoculars to spot the endangered palila bird, found only on Mauna Kea. On the evening of Day 10, we will visit the summit of the mountain and see one of the most spectacular night skies one can ever experience due to the uniquely pure air.
Day 11: After high elevations, it's back to the luscious rainforest of Hamakua and Hilo. We'll be adventuring along secluded waterfalls, checking out lava tubes, and climbing some of the largest banyan trees on the island. After exploring the historic city of Hilo, we will be heading to Puna where you can warm up in one of the natural hot ponds. These ponds are volcanically heated and an amazing natural phenomenon that lets you know you are getting closer to the active lava!
Day 12: Wake up to one of the best places to surf and boogie board on the east coast of the island! After checking out the waves, we'll seek out calmer waters and see what's underneath. While most of the accessible snorkeling we'll do is on the west coast of the island, Kapoho tide pools offer a completely different ecosystem in which to snorkel. These pools are both created by tides and by fresh springs and some are even heated by the volcano. You'll also get to visit more of Puna today, visiting natural steam rooms and additional naturally heated pools. In the evening we'll depart for Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park and check out the glow of the lava lake inside Kilauea Caldera, or possibly see flowing lava, depending on the behavior of the mountain that day.
Day 13: Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is an enormous park, with so much to see! Today we'll be working with the Friends of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park doing service in the park, while also exploring the diverse landscape. You'll get to see fern forests, steam vents, lava tubes, and lava rocks that have been formed in just the last 50 years! You'll definitely want a good night sleep, however, to prepare for the next big adventure.
Day 14-16: Get ready to start our backpacking trip at 2,280 feet. Overlooking some of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park's most unique landscapes, we will then scale our way down to the ocean shore where you'll get to camp on some of the most remote and beautiful beaches on the island. The endangered hawksbill sea turtle nests in these sands during the summer, and exploring the tidal pools will offer other rare finds. You'll also get to swim in anchialine pools, so pristine you need to wash off sunscreen before entering, to prevent damage to this rare ecosystem by the sea. As we travel through the backcountry of the park, we'll be participating in numerous service projects in coordination with national park rangers. Projects can include trail maintenance, campsite renovations, and removing invasive species. On our last day, you'll get to walk on some of the newest lava in the park, and discover numerous sea arches that are spread along the coast. On Day 16, we'll be leaving the park and heading even further south, camping at a black sand beach, which is home to dozens of sea turtles.
Day 17: You can cross off visiting the southernmost point in the United States when we visit Ka Lae (South Point). The cliffs of Ka Lae offer some epic thrills and gorgeous views, as do the caverns and sea caves that are scattered through this region of the island. We'll go for a caving expedition of one of the larger caves in the area, crawling into such tight spaces that you'll need to use knee pads and helmets to get through. This part of the island is also known for Papakolea Beach, an olivine beach with green sand, only one of four in the world! Because you have to hike into this beach along the coast, you can guarantee that it won't be too crowded, and the deep blue waters will make you wish you never had to leave.
Day 18: Today is a Kona day, another historic location on the island. You'll start the day off on a boat trip, where you will probably spot spinner dolphins, and possibly sharks, as we head to Kealakekua, an underwater state preserve. This spot is known as one of the best snorkel spots in the entire state, with numerous fish and coral species in crystal clear and protected waters. Kealakekua is also rich in history, having once been the place where Hawaiian royals lived for hundreds of years; also famous as the location where Captain Cook was killed. In the afternoon you'll have free time to explore Ali'i Drive and practice your surfing, visit local farmers markets, and snorkel. After an afternoon in the city, it's off to our secluded beach campsite to make s'mores by a roaring fire.
Day 19: After spending the night camping in Kiholo Bay, today you'll have more time to explore the area. There is a lagoon often frequented by turtles (once students spotted more than 35 turtles in the lagoon!). You can also snorkel, paddle board, kayak, and adventure into some more caves called the "queen's bath," swimming along to the back of this natural lava tube will take you into total darkness. In the afternoon we'll check out more local beaches in the area where you can continue to practice your surfing, snorkeling, paddle boarding, or kayaking. There's one last sight for us to check out along the Kona coast, and that is the majestic manta rays that live here. This evening you'll take a boat ride to one of the best places to snorkel with manta rays. These plankton eating animals can get as large as a car and are amazing animals to swim with!
Day 20: Having circumnavigated the entire island, back in Waimea you'll have one last opportunity to give back to this amazing place in which you've spent so much time. You'll be conducting service on HPA's own organic farm. With students gone for the summer, there will be plenty for you to do to help out! You'll learn about what crops were once grown in Waimea, and you'll learn about aquaculture. In the afternoon we'll explore the back hills of HPA, where more impressive waterfalls and swimming holes can be found, and the view of the Kohala coast at sunset is unparalleled. For our final night, we'll enjoy a special evening enjoying an authentic Hawaiian feast as we say our farewells.
Day 21: It's time to say goodbye to this special place. Depending on the time of your flight, if you are not from the island, you might get to visit the Koaia Tree Sanctuary, only two miles up the road from HPA. This is a great photography location for capturing both Mauna Kea and the Kohala coast on film. There is also a good chance you'll see a pueo and you'll get to see some endangered Halapepe trees planted by HPA students 20 years ago. Saying goodbye will be hard, but you'll leave with a better understanding of Hawai'i's spirit of Aloha, which will stay with you forever.