A warm island breeze is blowing, the heady perfume of gardenias gently tickling my nose. The sounds of a ukulele fill the air as a beautiful sarong-clad woman drapes my neck with lush tropical flowers… “MOM! I HAVE TO FIND A BATHROOM!!” Wait, what? Something is interrupting my fantasy. Oh yes, now I remember. This is a family trip and the little girl doing a dance beside me is actually mine. It’s funny, I never really thought about including the kids when I imagined our first trip to Hawaii. I assumed it was too expensive and more of an adult destination. A little research and a fabulous new travel opportunity exclusively for homeschool families has proved that sometimes reality is better than fiction!
During the week of October 7-14, 2017 or again in October 2018, homeschool families have an incredible chance to experience the unique beauty, culture, land and history of Hawaii. The Big Island and Oahu Educational Immersion Homeschool Program offers an in-depth study of island life and tons of family fun. Imagine hiking through lush, green tropical forests with the clouds surrounding you at the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary. Once you get your head out of the clouds, train your gaze to the night skies with a narrated astronomy workshop- a “stellar” moment for star-gazing! This is just a taste of what’s in store during your week-long Hawaiian adventures.
As many children do, my daughter Molly went through a deeply obsessive “volcano” phase during which she wanted to learn about all things volcano. During your traveling classroom experience, an interpretive guide will join you in exploring these natural wonders, from the black sand beaches of Punalu’u to the volcanic reef below the crystal waters teeming with tropical fish. You will explore the Thurston Lava Tube, a 300 ft cavern where lava flowed thousands of years ago in the middle of a giant fern forest. You’ll even have a chance to hike the Devastation Trail, baron fields of cinder formed by the 1959 Kilauea Iki eruption. A stop at the VNP Visitors Center will include discussion about tectonic plates and the Ring of Fire, which contributed to the formation of the island chain. The Steam Vents, Jagger Museum and Halemaumau Crater round out this full day of volcanic fun.
If U.S. history is part of your homeschool curriculum, a visit to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial will top your bucket list of hands-on learning experiences! We’ve all studied that fateful day in December 1941 in textbooks, but to experience the place that launched us into World War II is the ultimate history lesson. It promises to be a significant and powerful teaching tool for your entire family.
If world culture is your focus, look no further than the Polynesian Cultural Center, highlighting the diverse cultures of Polynesia and the Hawaiian Islands. Of course, your studies won’t be complete until you feast on local cuisine at the Ali’i Luau Grounds with traditional Hawaiian music, followed by the “HA” The Breath of Life show. Awesome!
While you are exploring the Aloha State, don’t forget that this island paradise is home to one of the most famous beaches in the world- Waikiki. You’ll have a chance to “hang loose”, try your hand at surfing, or dive into an underwater world of colorful fish, dolphins and giant sea turtles during a catamaran snorkeling adventure. Don’t forget that a stop at the Waikiki Aquarium is included, with a special workshop highlighting Hawaii’s delicate coral reef system.
The Big Island and Oahu Educational Immersion Homeschool Program is the perfect marriage of education and vacation. It’s a fantastic option for comprehensive study and quality family fun! While my fantasy for Hawaii was lovely, it’s even better to know that entire families can enjoy a week in paradise together, exploring all the mystery and history of this magical place! Check out all the details at Hawaii’s Traveling Classroom on the Group Travel Odyssey website!