Hawaii Semester

Hawaii: a land of elemental forces coming together to create one of the most extraordinary and beautiful ecosystems on earth. From active volcanoes and lush forests to the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, the landscape inspires awe and reverence for the power of nature. The connections between humans and their environment are deeply felt here, as the abundance from both land and sea have allowed civilization to flourish here for thousands of years. 

For those who love the natural world, come be humbled by the grandeur of the ocean, the migrations of whales, the vibrance of the land, and the magic of the Aloha. 

A statement on respectful and responsible travel:

We recognize that it is a privilege to visit this island, and even more so in the midst of a pandemic. There is a unique and complex cultural and historical context to be acknowledged in the colonization of Hawaii by the United States. Carpe Diem requests that all students who sign up for this program prepare themselves to be heightened in their humility, sensitivity, awareness, and respect. Carpe Diem will do our best to prepare you for this, but it will require an increased level of maturity to be accepted for this program.


Living and working on a regenerative farm/permaculture site.

Learning to surf from local experts.

Supporting local projects and communities through land-based service projects.

Introduction to Hawaiian culture & visit Hawaiian Sacred Sites with a local healer.

Trekking and camping in the lush Hawaiian wilderness.

Learn about the unique ecology of the land and sea while experiencing one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

Participating in a mindfulness retreat designed to deepen into self, reflect on your journey, and prepare you for the transition home.

Gap year student with a young kangaroo

Program Details


8 weeks

Program dates

Spring 2021
Group 1: Feb 17 - April 14
Group 2: March 3 - April 28

Fall 2021
September 15 - November 10

Group Size

2 Overseas Educators and up to 12 students


Our typical student is between 17-22, though we sometimes work with students slightly outside that range depending on circumstances.

College Credit & Financial Aid

Learn more about: College Credit & Financial Aid

Language Requirements




Program tuition includes all food, accommodations, and scheduled program activities for the duration of the program. Domestic airfare, travel insurance, and spending money are extra.

About Our Hawaii Semester

Home to incredibly diverse ecosystems, Hawaii offers a unique opportunity for visitors to experience a multitude of environments. We’ll explore lush rainforests, towering volcanoes, and the immensity of the Pacific ocean. 

Beginning at a beachfront campground, we will spend time orienting ourselves to our group and best practices for safe and healthy travel, positive group dynamics, and respectful engagement with local communities.

Deeping our connection with this beautiful landscape, we will live, camp, and work on a local organic farm and permaculture site. We’ll focus on regenerative small-scale organic agriculture, environmental ethics, community living, nature connection, and permaculture. Hands-on activities will include all aspects of vegetable production from seeding to harvesting, fruit tree orchard design and care, beekeeping and seed saving.

Turning our attention to outdoor adventure, we head to the ocean for some surfing or sea kayaking time. The group will spend a few days learning to surf from local instructors, who will take us to a location that is excellent for beginners. Depending on weather, one day may be spent snorkeling at a nearby location.

Giving back to the land that is hosting us,  we travel to the Waihe’e area and dive into a conservation project. This may include working with soil/erosions, watershed restoration, and planting of endemic plant species. We’ll also have opportunities to hike to local waterfalls, play in the massive sand dunes, and meet local conservation activists. 

It’s now time to explore the wonder of Haleakalā National Park. The group will take 2-3 days to backpack or day hike the area (depending on current National Park COVID guidelines/restrictions). The group will experience one of two places within Hawaii that boast a sub-alpine ecosystem. 

Taking time to reflect on our journey, we’ll dive into a short mindfulness retreat that includes yoga, meditation, ayurveda, and reflective journaling. This is a time for the digestion, assimilation, and integration of our experiences, as we reflect on our time in Hawaii and set intentions for continued learning and growth. The group will also engage in activities designed to prepare them for reentry back home.

Questions We'll Explore:

  • How do permaculture and organic farming methods enhance people's connection to local food systems, as well as their relationship with the local environment?
  • How are local Hawaiians working to preserve the beauty and sanctity of the environment through conservation and education?
  • What are some exciting and meaningful ways of connecting with the natural world? 
  • How are social and environmental justice connected, and how do these relate to traditional Hawaiian culture?

A statement on COVID-19 and travel during a pandemic:

With respect to Hawaii’s vulnerability to the pandemic, the program will be based on one island, Maui. Maui is the second largest island, known as “the Valley Isle”. We will prioritize the health and well-being of the communities that we visit, and follow any additional COVID-19 protocols that the government or community partners ask of us. To that end, we will take the opportunity to deepen into the experience, having longer stays in fewer locations, and avoiding time in towns, cities, and public spaces. This aligns with what we believe to be the most respectful and considerate manner of travel and engagement.

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