Hawaii Sea Turtle Trip Overview
Join us this summer on a student trip to Hawaii for some sun, sand, and sea turtles as we explore the Hawaiian islands! From vibrant Honolulu to laid-back Maui, this program covers some of the best highlights of Hawaii including beautiful waterfalls, postcard-perfect beaches, and plenty of adventure!
We partner with a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting Maui’s sea turtles and coral reefs through marine conservation efforts, education, and outreach. Learn about sea turtle conservation and participate in several Hawaiian community service projects to protect green sea turtles and the endangered hawksbill sea turtle. Projects include snorkeling and reef surveying, beach and habitat cleanup, and watching over sea turtles as they bask on the island’s beaches. At the Center, we’ll spend time up close and personal with turtle patients–cleaning and bandaging wounds, taking fluids, massaging their fins, and monitoring their way back to release. The Center serves as the main rescue team for injured or stranded turtles. A call may even come into the Center to help a turtle in distress where you will directly assist with the rescue!
We’ll complement our service projects with plenty of adventure. Zipline through lush jungles, walk through bamboo forests to waterfalls, hike to the top of a volcanic crater, take a surf lesson, and more on this incredible student trip to discover the best Hawaii has to offer!
Hawaii is one of our most popular destinations. Check out our other Hawaiian programs!
During this program, you will:
- Earn up to 20 hours of service credit helping with a sea turtle conservation project
- Learn about sea turtle and reef conservation and protect the endangered hawksbill sea turtles
- Work up close with injured sea turtle patients
- Learn to surf on the famous shores of Waikiki Beach
- Snorkel with vibrant marine life in the biodiverse Molokini Crater
- Kayak through the cerulean waters of the Pacific Ocean
- Enjoy a traditional Hawaiian feast at an authentic Hawaiian luau
- Take a step back in time and visit Pearl Harbor Memorial
- Hike through lava tunnels to the top of Diamond Head Crater for stunning coastal views
- Spend time playing with the local children of Oahu
- Zoom over the lush jungle canopies on an adrenaline-pumping zipline tour
- Try scuba diving and explore the world under the ocean’s surface*
- Catch the sunrise from the top of Haleakala Volcano and take a nature tour down through the clouds*
- Play beach volleyball, swim in crystal clear water, and enjoy life under the Hawaiian sun
*This is an optional excursion
Don’t want the fun to stop? Check out our 21 Day Hawaii Ultimate Adventure & Service or head up to Alaska on the 21 day Hawaii & Alaska Service for more service hours and a truly thrilling summer experience!
DAY 1: DEPART FROM LOS ANGELES (LAX)
DAYS 2-3: HONOLULU > WAIKIKI
Oahu is the perfect island for a little bit of adventure! We will take a surf lesson on the famous shores of Waikiki with professional instructors who will have you riding waves in no time. Our hotel is just steps away from the beach, so we will have plenty of time to relax, swim, and enjoy some quality time in the summer sun! For a truly unique experience, we’ll hike through a lava tunnel to the top of famous Diamond Head Crater for breathtaking views of the island.
No visit to Oahu would be complete without a journey to the past to pay respects at the USS Arizona and Pearl Harbor Memorials. Accessible only by boat, this memorial is one of several sites in Hawaii commemorating the attack on Pearl Harbor and honoring those who lost their lives as well as the few remaining survivors.
DAYS 4-10: MAUI
Maui is truly a Hawaiian paradise with pristine white sand beaches, colorful coral reefs, lush vegetation, and turquoise ocean. Lucky for us, our hotel is right across the street from some of the best beaches on the island! We can hop over any time we like for beach volleyball, relaxation, and a refreshing swim.
Maui is also home to our sea turtle service project. We partner with a local organization dedicated to protecting and researching this endangered species. We’ll learn all about the hawksbill sea turtles and participate in a variety of projects dedicated to sea turtle conservation. Some of these projects include snorkeling and reef surveying to collect ocean data and look for turtles, beach cleanups to protect their natural habitats, and watching over basking turtles on the beach. At the Center, we will work first-hand with injured turtle patients–tending to wounds, taking fluids, and whatever else these gentle friends need on their road to recovery. In the evening, we will enjoy a sunset dinner cruise.
Our service work will be complemented with plenty of fun activities, including a boat trip to snorkel in the famous Molokini crater, sea kayaking, scuba diving (optional), and ziplining!
There will also be an optional excursion to catch the sunrise from the top of Haleakala Volcano and take a nature tour down through the clouds. For those who don’t feel comfortable biking, don’t worry, there is the option to ride down in a vehicle too!
DAY 11: RETURN FLIGHT TO LOS ANGELES (LAX)
Authenticity is engrained in everything we do. Eat, stay, and travel like a local.
Check out what past travelers have to say about TFT and discover why we are awarded top youth travel organization year after year.
"With this being Owen's first time away from home in quite some time, we have been so grateful for the level of care and attention that you and the team put into every single detail of the trip. Even with the flight issues at the beginning you managed everything smoothly and ensured they had the time of their lives. It was so great to be well informed every day with emails and photos so we didn't even feel like we had to text Owen at all during the trip. I know he appreciated this independence! Owen had an unforgettable trip to Hawaii, met new people and had new experiences, and for that we can't thank you enough!"
"I was so lucky to be able to experience a TFT trip. I went to Hawaii on the sea turtle service and adventure. On my trip I met many new friends and created bonds with them which I will forever have. I had amazing role models as my counselors and I felt extremely comfortable with them. This trip all together was really the opportunity of a lifetime. I was able to begin my passion for traveling through this wonderful program. I learned many lessons that I will carry with me for my whole life. This experience was truly life changing and booking this trip was the greatest decision I ever made. can honestly say that I had the best summer of my life in the year of 2019 and that is all thanks to TFT."
"Over the summer going into my senior year of high school I took a trip with TFT to Hawaii. I wanted to go out of the country, but my mom was skeptical. I honestly decided to go to Hawaii because it was the farthest state away from home for me. Before going on the trip, I never really thought about what I wanted my major to be in college. I can honestly say that TFT gave me the push start on my current major and helped me find my passion. During the trip, we did beach clean ups, learned about sea turtles, and hung out with some local children. I got volunteer service hours while having so much fun. I had the best time and met so many amazing people. I am a freshman in college now studying conservation biology at the University of Minnesota. I still to this day keep in contact with some of the people I met on that trip and I am so thankful I did it. To anyone thinking about traveling with TFT- I highly recommend it."
Travel with us and discover why we are consistently winning awards for Top Youth Travel Organization.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of teen typically participates in this program? What are the requirements to join?
Teens from all over the world join this program! Typically, our participants are culturally curious individuals who are excited to make new friends, experience something unique, and interested in stepping out of their comfort zones and expanding their horizons.
This program is exclusively for students who are currently in grades 9th through 12th and approximately 14 to 18 years old. Students living outside of the USA are welcome to join!
Where do we stay?
Our hotels are chosen specifically in safe areas and are well suited to facilitating group supervision. We stay in centrally located accommodations, usually within walking distance of the main attractions. We do not use large, impersonal chain hotels on the outskirts of cities; we prefer to select smaller, family-run hotels where we establish personal relationships with the owners.
In Oahu, we stay at a great hotel right in the center of vibrant Waikiki that is walking distance to all of the shops, restaurants, and best of all, just a few blocks from Waikiki Beach! In Maui, we stay at a centralized hotel right on the beach.
For safety reasons, we do not publish the names of the accommodations we use. We do not feel it is safe to publish the name of a hotel where a group of teenagers is staying abroad. After registering, participants and parents are given access to our secure parent website where you will be able to see the names of all of the accommodations for a program.
Do most travelers go on their own?
Yes! In fact, over 75% of students who travel with us choose to come independently. This encourages teens to step further outside their comfort zone and make new friends. We believe that one of the most rewarding and exciting elements of travel is the new friendships that form along the way. When we travel by ourselves, we are bound to make new friends from all over the country and even the world. The best part is, you can travel again with your new friends on another TFT program the next summer!
If you are thinking about joining a TFT program by yourself but you are feeling unsure, please let us know! We have plenty of references from solo travelers who had great experiences and would be happy to chat with you about it.
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! We ask that if you do come with a friend, you and your friend(s) maintain openness to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.
What do students like most about the Hawaii Sea Turtle Service & Adventure trip?
Hawaii Sea Turtle Service & Adventure provides eye-opening conservation service while still enjoying everything Hawaii has to offer. Experiencing the hazards of human impact on marine life firsthand with our service projects along with exploring the breathtaking beaches and endorphin-fueled activities gives students a whole new perspective on the islands.
What is unique about the Hawaii Sea Turtle Service & Adventure trip?
Our work with our service partner allows us to get up close to the amazing sea turtles of Hawaii! On Hawaii Sea Turtle Service & Adventure, you will work first-hand with turtle patients, assisting the team with bandaging wounds, fin massages, and anything else the turtle may need. Truly a once in a lifetime opportunity!
What is included?
Tuition cost includes ground transportation; accommodation; chaperones and guides; program-related activities and admissions; taxes and tips; all breakfasts and dinners.
Not included in cost (this is not intended to be an exhaustive list): airfare; lunches; visas and visa application fees; personal and medical expenses; activities and admissions that are not program-related or referenced in the itinerary; beverages other than filtered water at meals; participant expenses that are outside of the program description, such as excess baggage fees and damage to hotels; expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters.
What is the average group size?
We pride ourselves on small group sizes to create a more authentic and personalized experience. Our group sizes fall between 13 and 24 students – the perfect size to facilitate new friendships without feeling lost in a crowd! We believe smaller groups eliminate the likelihood of cliques, and allows for a well-rounded, healthy group dynamic.
How do the optional group flights work?
Upon registration, you will be contacted by our International Logistics Team to discuss the program’s flight details. There is no requirement to take the group flight, but there are several advantages to doing so. The group flight is usually chaperoned by a TFT staff member, and it also offers an opportunity for the students to get to know one another prior to the start of the program. Parents are responsible for coordinating transport to the departure airport – however, the logistics team will send out instructions detailing the exact meeting spot and airport point person. For additional information about flights, visit our dedicated flight page.
How does this program connect to other programs?
Our program dates are designed specifically so that participants can opt to combine trips throughout the summer. When connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the program and assist you in meeting your next group at your new destination.
Who leads the program?
Our staff is a cut above the rest! We seek out two main characteristics in our counselors – extensive knowledge of and experience in our destinations, and a passion for working with teens. Our staff’s backgrounds include living abroad and working in summer camps or other educational settings. Team members are proven leaders and role models, who connect easily with others and form genuine friendships with each student – all while bringing each destination to life.
We celebrate diversity! Our staff represents 49 different nationalities, speak a combined total of 21 languages, and visited 142 countries. Additionally, 80% of our staff lived or worked abroad in their lives. With so many unique experiences to share, you are sure to gain a global perspective.
Our average minimum ratios are one staff member to every seven participants. Each program has one Trip Director with several support staff, depending on the group size. Directors must be at least 25 years old within the calendar year and have prior experience working with TFT.
What are the safety qualifications for our staff?
Our staff members undergo a rigorous hiring process. They receive the same background check as school educators, an extensive training process to go over all safety precautions and protocols, and are required to be certified in CPR and First Aid. We exclusively hire responsible, multi-talented individuals who are safety-minded and are as passionate about teen travel as we are.
What is the food like on this program?
In a word – delicious! At TFT, we believe food should be an integral part of the travel experience and always make an effort to eat at authentic establishments when we can. What better way to immerse yourself in the culture of a place than by sampling the local delicacies, and we encourage students to do so whenever possible! Just as we stay away from hotel chains, we try to avoid restaurants with menus that cater only to tourists because every good traveler knows the best food is found wherever the locals are eating!
The food in Hawaii involves plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and of course, seafood! Some typical foods we will have the chance to try are poke bowls, acai bowls, poi, and breadfruit.
Of course, we are always willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
Do we ever get time to go off on our own?
Our staff and teens are nearly always together, but we do provide the opportunity to break up into smaller groups to allow for flexibility and customization within the itinerary.
We offer free time in defined safe areas – for example, shopping in a market or exploring a museum. During these times, students remain in groups of at least two and are given no more than an hour. Of course, the counselors remain nearby and available. Additionally, a lifeguard-certified counselor supervises the campers any time they are involved in water activities.
Do I need any vaccinations for this program?
We recommend checking with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the destination you are visiting. For more information, please check the World Health Organization’s website. Upon registration, we provide a list of recommended vaccinations that can be discussed further with your doctor. For Specific questions pertaining to the COVID-19 vaccine, click here.
Do I need to bring anything special for the community service portion of the program?
Due to the nature of our service work outdoors with habitat restoration and local wildlife in both Australia and Hawaii, all you’ll need are clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty and a water bottle to stay hydrated. A more detailed packing list will be provided upon registration.
What kind of visa do you need for this trip?
US citizens do not need passport or visa for this program, but a form of government-issued identification is needed for airport security.
When joining a TFT trip from outside of the US, please be sure to check your country’s specific visa requirements.