Hawaii. The Big Island.

Adventure, culture, social justice, and sustainability on Big Island.


‘A‘ohe pau ka ‘ike i ka hālau ho‘okahi. All knowledge is not learned in just one school. ‘A‘ohe hana nui ke alu ‘ia. No task is too big when done together.

Experience the indigenous knowledge of Hawai’i‘s people, dive into the environmental history of the Big Island and its progressing efforts to role model self-sufficiency.

Blending awe-inspiring beauty and transformational learning and service in the areas of permaculture, natural building, and climate justice with a foundation of Hawaiian culture and exploring social justice issues, this program will be an unforgettable, perspective-shattering experience.

Experience Big Island
This is the place for you.

Watch this 4-minute video to get a sense of how your immersive experience in Hawaii will unfold while you travel with like-minded peers and top-quality leaders.

This 4-week summer program is ideal for students ages 14-18, who are looking for a meaningful experience with a balance of service, cultural immersion, and adventure. The Hawaii program is a perfect fit for students passionate about sustainability, the environment, social justice, and learning the history of Hawaii and both historical and modern sovereignty movements.


Experience the power of nature and creation as you watch lava give birth to new earth as it merges with the ocean at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Immerse yourself into Hawaiian culture: language, food, mythology. Learn about the Hawaiian sovereignty movement and hear ‘story’ from elders in the community.

Practice Mālama ‘Āina (to take care of the land) as you dive into the key principles of permaculture, traditional and modern approaches to sustainability, eco-forward practices, and climate justice.

Experience 11 of the 13 microclimates, all on one island and get way beyond the traveler’s track.

The island is uniquely stunning with mountains, beaches, valleys, volcanic earth, dense forests, and sparkling ocean. Hawaiian history and culture is just as complex and beautiful. With Global Routes, I got to soak in the incredible stories and views of these islands with some of my closest friends. It was a trip I’ll remember forever.”
Zoe, Hawaii Alum
Program Details
July 1 - July 28, 2023
Starting/Ending Point
Kona, Hawaii
Learning Goals
Permaculture, social justice, ecology, natural building, leadership, outdoor skills
Service Hours Earned
40-70 hours
Language Requirement
None required
High 80°F, Low 55°F,
Group Size
up to 18 students, 2 U.S. leaders, local staff
Spaces Available
Enrolling 2023
Hawaiian, Asian, and American cuisine
Program Fee
Airfare is not included in the tuition. Our chaperoned group flight, roundtrip airfare from Los Angeles to Kona will be approximately $775.
Rainforest Lodge, Hostels, Hotels, Guest Houses, Camping, Farm Stays

Enroll Now

Your Journey

Days 1-5

After your journey across the Pacific to the isolated Hawaiian Archipelago, you and your group will head directly to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We will be joined by a Hawaiian practitioner with whom you’ll learn proper protocol for visiting sacred spaces. Stepping foot into this park feels like stepping onto another planet. Or in reality, stepping into the beginning of our own planet. “Recent lava flows stretch out for miles in a rocky wasteland that more closely resembles the Moon than Earth. Huge waves send sea spray dozens of feet into the air along the wild, craggy coastline. Endangered birds waddle across the path on an ascent up the world’s largest single mountain. If the timing is right, catch a natural fireworks show of lava pouring into the ocean or of plumes of molten rock arching above one of the planet’s rare lava lakes.” National Geographic.

Along with your group, you’ll explore the origins of our planet and Hawaiian mythology and religion while hiking across calderas, traversing lava tubes, and teeming rainforests, swimming in remote bay, and showing reverence for the earth at work. Here we’ll build the framework for our group and program building group dynamics, group mission statement, and having a blast learning and adventuring together.


Days 6-24

Now that you’ve bonded with your group, we’ll dive into the heart of the program. We’ll be collaborating with some of the best examples of permaculture, organic regenerative agriculture, natural building, and climate resilience projects all over the Big Island. You’ll learn and participate in traditional farming techniques, plant trees, and learn how homesteading and off-the-grid projects are designed to prepare and mitigate against the most extreme consequences of climate change. 

You’ll explore native Hawaiian forests and ‘talk-story’ with Hawaiian elders, learning about ancient values that carry on through modern times. You’ll investigate the social justice issues affecting the Big Island from the Hawaii Sovereignty Movement to the controversial telescope projects on the summit of the revered volcano, Mauna Kea (which is incidentally the tallest mountain on earth…truth!)

Throughout the immersion component of the program, you’ll be exploring 11 of the 13 microclimates on the Big Island, the most diverse set of ecological zones on earth from the semi-dry desert of the Kona Coast to the micro monsoon region of Paulio, to the tundra on the summit of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. 


Days 25-29

After a final circle of gratitude with our hosts throughout the program, we’ll head some of the most beautiful beaches on this fine planet to snorkel and swim with dolphins, visit monk seal rehabilitation centers, and traverse some of the other mindblowing experiences on the Big Island. Students will play will a key role in designing their final travel experience.

You’ve earned this celebration! You’ll spend this time reflecting on your experience, what you’ve learned, how you’ve changed, and you’ll work on your own “SAP” (Sustainable Action Plan) to take everything you’ve learned on this program to apply it to your life at home and beyond.


Over two decades of experience has demonstrated to us that providing financial aid awards increases the diversity of our student body and thus the depth and quality of our programs. Global Routes strives to make our programs accessible to students who otherwise, due to financial reasons, would not have the opportunity to contribute their energy and special gifts to our projects.

We offer aid packages of between 10% and 50% off tuition, which is exclusive of airfare.

Learn More About Aid

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