Hawaii Teen Trip Overview
Join us on a teen trip to Hawaii this summer and discover all four of the main Hawaiian Islands! Experience bustling and vibrant Oahu, enjoy meaningful service projects in beautiful Maui, relax and discover the dramatic landscape of lush Kauai, and explore active volcanoes on the Big Island on this once in a lifetime Hawaii teen tour!
Our time on the islands will involve plenty of exploration and adventure with a variety of service projects mixed in, including working with animals, children, and marine life.
In Maui, help with sea turtle conservation, one of the most important issues facing Hawaiian ecosystems. You’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.
On the Big Island, experience hands-on learning while working closely with marine biologists on important projects all focused on the ocean. Snorkel, survey reefs, collect ocean data and become educated about reef ecology.
Plenty of adventure will complement our service projects. Swim in secret waterfalls, sail alongside pods of dolphins, hike through lava tubes, snorkel with giant manta rays, take a surf lesson and much more on this incredible journey to discover the best of Hawaii!
During this program, you will…
- Earn up to 40 hours of community service
- Work up close with injured sea turtle patients
- Visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and hike through a lava tube
- Snorkel with manta rays at night
- Kayak and hike to a secret waterfall and reward yourself with a refreshing swim
- Enjoy a scenic ride as you cruise on a catamaran along the world-famous Napali Coast and watch hundreds of dolphins as they swim alongside you
- Learn about reef ecology and become a certified reef teacher
- Discover and explore Waimea Canyon, also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific
- Scuba dive in the incredible waters around Oahu*
- Catch the sunrise from the top of Haleakala Volcano and bike down through the clouds*
- Learn to surf on the famous shores of Waikiki Beach
- Try your hand at sea kayaking
- Learn to hula and enjoy a traditional Hawaiian feast at an authentic Hawaiian luau
- Capture a once-in-a-lifetime sunset from the summit of sacred Mauna Kea*
- Learn about island sustainability on a local coffee and tea farm
- Take a step back in time and visit the 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
- Zipline through lush jungle
*This is an optional excursion
DAY 1: DEPART FROM LOS ANGELES (LAX)
DAYS 1-5: HONOLULU > PEARL HARBOR > 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 Diamond Head Crater for breathtaking views of the island, as well as visit the breathtaking Manoa Falls.
No visit to Oahu would be complete without a journey to the past in order to pay respects at the USS Arizona Memorial 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.
An optional activity of scuba diving gives you the chance to explore the bustling, vibrant underwater world!
DAYS 5-8: KAUAI
Kauai is often considered the most beautiful of the Hawaiian Islands. Known as the Garden Island for its lush vegetation, this island is home to thousands of waterfalls, pristine beaches, an abundance of marine life, and the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” Waimea Canyon. During our time here we will explore everything this island has to offer and discover why it is often compared to Jurassic Park!
We’ll enjoy sailing on a catamaran to swim and snorkel along the Napali Coast, one of the world’s most beautiful coastlines. The dramatic cliffs jutting out of the turquoise water, scattered with waterfalls and caves, is something you will never forget! Pods of dolphins are guaranteed to accompany you as you gaze across this stunning coast.
We will also take a trip through Waimea Canyon, where we will stop at the best lookout spots for photo opportunities and to admire the breathtaking views.
Kauai is a perfect island for adventures, so we will paddle kayaks down a peaceful river to enjoy the views before hiking through the jungle to a secret waterfall where we can enjoy a refreshing swim. We will glide through the lush jungle and wide valleys on an endorphin-fueling ziplining tour!
DAYS 8-16: MAUI
Maui is truly a Hawaiian paradise with pristine white sand beaches, colorful coral reefs, lush vegetation, and turquoise ocean. 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. We will also enjoy a sunset dinner cruise.
While on Maui, we’ll work with a local ecology organization to learn about sea turtle conservation! We partner with a local organization dedicated to protecting and researching this endangered species. 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. We will also address the global trash crisis that is polluting our oceans. Throughout our years of volunteering in Hawaii, TFT groups alone have cleared over 2,000 pounds of garbage from Maui’s delicate shores!
Our service work will be complemented with plenty of fun activities, including snorkeling, ziplining through the jungle, hiking, and a sunset dinner cruise.
There will also be an optional excursion to catch the sunrise from the top of Haleakala Volcano and bike 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.
DAYS 16-21: KONA
Our last stop on our Hawaiian journey is the Big Island! This island has an abundance of healthy coral, exotic marine life, and plenty of sea turtles! We will participate in a hands-on service project working closely with marine biologists for three days and at the end of our project, we will be certified reef instructors! We’ll snorkel, collect ocean data, survey reefs, and educate others about Hawaii’s marine life.
We’ll have plenty of adventures on the Big Island! Take a day trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to wander through lava tubes and hike the rim of an active volcano. We’ll spend an early morning and afternoon cruising on a boat and spotting dolphin pods and even snorkel at night with giant manta rays. We’ll spend a morning on the beautiful slopes of the active Hualālai volcano on the sacred land of a local Hawaiian family for a truly unique cultural experience.
We will have the option to take a journey to the top of 13,000-foot Mauna Kea to watch the sunset and experience incredible stargazing in some of the clearest night skies on earth! You’ll also go horseback riding in the lush Waipio Valley, visit a monk seal hospital and an octopus farm that researches and cares for these intelligent creatures.
Our time in Hawaii will be topped off with an authentic Hawaiian luau, complete with amazing performances and delicious food! We’ll celebrate the past three weeks and reminisce about our incredible adventures under the Hawaiian sun.
DAYS 21: RETURN FLIGHT TO LOS ANGELES (LAX)
Authenticity is engrained in everything we do. Eat, stay, and travel like a local.
"Thank you, Kevin! She was really hesitant to try something like this before the trip, so we are so happy she participated and delighted she managed it well. Thank you again for your leadership and for doing such a thoughtful and wholehearted job!"
"Totally blown away! From day 1 to day 11! Breisen and Kristina are two amazing people. I don’t know how else to express my complete gratitude to & for them. I am just blown away and have been since the beginning. The funny thing is, from the get go, I saw it in the pictures that were posted on Waldo. They were amazing, fabulous, wonderful pictures that really told a story (as far as I am concerned). What I saw was a group of strangers that truly appeared comfortable, respectful of each other and appeared to really get along with each other. Part of that is just the group itself but the main reason, I believe, is that these amazing people made that happen & ARE TRULY EXPERTS AND AMAZING IN DOING WHAT THEY DO! They nailed it! I had basically no fear throughout this trip and when I did have a concern, there was an explanation immediately. All I can say is that I would send my children on a trip, (almost) anywhere in the world, with Breisen and Kristina! Throughout the morning at the LAX airport they happily and enthusiastically got every child either safely on their flight or at the very least, safely to their gate destination. I saw it! That is a HUGE feat! I flew into LAX because I was just nervous about my daughter in LAX by herself but I TOTALLY didn’t need to do that. This is one happy momma!!"
"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!"
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 next to the beach. In Kauai, our hotel is in the charming local town Kapaa, also right on the beach. There is a boardwalk we can bike along as well as plenty of boutique shops and restaurants to explore. On the Big Island, we stay at an amenity-packed hotel in Kona. The location is right next to a small bay, perfect for swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, and right in the heart of Kona’s many shops. There are swimming pools at all four of our hotels, perfect for cooling off after a fun day spent under the sun!
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 the 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 Ultimate Adventure & Service trip?
Students love the insight they gain from experiencing the “real Hawaii” off the tourist track through the unique service on this program. On Hawaii Ultimate Adventure & Service, participants will experience the varying cultures and spectacular sights each vastly different island has to offer.
In addition to the service component, students love the exciting mix of activities that make each day a new adventure!
What is unique about the Hawaii Ultimate Adventure & Service trip?
Hawaii Ultimate Adventure & Service provides a variety of meaningful service projects and thrilling adventures across four incredible Hawaiian islands.
Having a wide variety of service projects allows students to explore different types of service and gain a deeper connection with Hawaiian culture. Working with animals, children, marine life, and coral reef is the perfect way for students to discover the many ways they can give back to the beautiful state of Hawaii.
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; optional excursions, 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.
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.
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 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 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 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.
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 Americanized 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.
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.