Travel With Me: Summer at University of Hawaii - Hilo

Updated: Jul 12, 2018

Am I crazy or what? Who would sign up to go to school in the summer. Well, you would say yes if you had the chance to take a few classes on the Big Island of Hawaii! several years ago, after I graduated high school, my summer trip was a trip to Hawaii to take a Hawaiian history class and take a Biology course where snorkeling was the main feature! I ended up being able to go with one of my best friends at the time and live in a dorm on campus where we ended up having 2 additional roommates. Let's just say that was one of the best times of my life. If you are able to take 6 weeks out of your summer and spend it learning, meeting new people and becoming a local I highly recommend it. Here are all the fun things I did while living in Hilo.

The Campus

The Big Island contains two very different climate types. Kona is the rocky, volcanic, dry and hot side of the island, whereas Hilo is the lush, green, humid and rainier side of the island. I appreciated being on the lush, green side. Hilo campus is pretty central in town. It is a pretty large campus, but at the same time is contained so you don't feel like you get lost.

We stayed in an apartment style dorm on campus. It was a great way to meet new people and we ended up living with two other girls who I have managed to stayed in touch with thanks to social media. Check out the layout by clicking here. Beware. You are living in an open air, tropical location and you will end up finding bugs, lizards and geckos in your bedroom.

The Program

There were about 11 of us from all over the U.S. that came to Hilo for this program. We ended up all bonding and hanging out during the entire 6 week program.

During the six weeks, the campus program we were a part of delegated us a "liason" aka a driver to take us where we needed to go (grocery store, mall, Wal Mart, the beach).

The university also had an option to eat food on campus during the week. This was a huge lifesaver and was easy for us when we didn't feel like cooking. We ended up discovering the 7-Eleven down the street that had delicious steamed pork buns and like any true college student and we also ate our fair share of Top Ramen.

The Weekends

Saturdays were the fun days. As a part of the program, our "liason" would take our little group of "session 2" students on different field trips, including:

  • Captain Zodiac - This was an amazing day trip over to the Kona side. We were whisked away in a 24 foot Zodiac Hurricane RHIB boat (aka hair whipping speeds) to a small cove where we got to snorkel for a few hours.

  • Paniolo Adventures Horseback Riding - I can't even begin to tell you how amazing the views are at this horseback riding spot. They take you on about an hour ride which is well worth it for the views alone!

  • Hapuna Beach - I arrived late Friday before this getaway and woke up early Saturday and was driven to the Kona side to this beach. It was a great way to be quickly introduced to the group I ended up spending the 6 weeks with. We played volleyball and relaxed on the beach.

We got to "live like the locals" and discover off the grid spots like:

  • Boiling Pots swimming - Typically if you are visiting The Big Island, you won't make it to this spot. It is out of the way and is typically visited by locals. If you have the time and want to get off the grid, this is a great place to swim!

  • Several hidden snorkeling spots you would only know if you lived there

  • Richardson's Beach - This ended up being our favorite local beach to go and relax at

The Classes

I took two classes while I was at UH Hilo: MARE 194 and 194 L - Intro to Hawaiian Coral Reefs with a lab as well as KHAW 104 - First Level Partial Hawaiian Immersion. So, what do those classes entail?

Intro to Hawaiian Coral Reefs: This class was so much fun. We would spend one day in the classroom learning about coral and marine life, and Mondays were spent in the field...snorkeling and capturing photos so that we could then identify them. Check out some of the cool photos I took with my underwater camera! When we were snorkeling, we would have a clipboard of coral / marine life that we were supposed to try and find to take photos of. When we got back to the lab, we had to look at the photos and see if we found the items.

Here are some of the amazing things we saw:

First Level Partial Hawaiian Immersion: This class was amazing as well. It was all about the history of Hawaii as well as some of the Hawaiian words spoken. I was able to learn a lot about the history of Hawaii that I didn't know before.

Overall, I am glad my parents decided to send me here as a graduation present. Sure, I was here to take classes, but that summer helped me grow as a person. I was able to get a taste of what the college life was like, what it was like to live on my own and make my own decisions, and experience Hawaii with some of the best people!

#hawaii #travel #travelblog #college #hilo


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