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BEGINS IN: HILO (HAWAII), HAWAII

Hawaii's National Parks: Exploring Five Islands from Volcanoes to Pearl Harbor

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Road Scholar
Program #2810RJ

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17 Days | 16 Nights
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Active
Road Scholar has thousands of educational adventures to choose from. A good way to narrow down our list is to browse our collection of "Most Popular" programs.
See all of our Most Popular programs.
EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. Minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
ChallengingGet ready to keep up with our highest-energy group. These demanding, and rewarding, programs are for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
George from Lakeland, FL Number of programs attended: 2
Date attended: 06/01/15 - 06/17/15
We (my wife and I) must agree with our fellow travelers. This program was excellent. Our guide, Susan, is a terrific leader, well organized and very knowledgeable about Hawaiian history, culture and native flora and fauna. The food was very good to excellent, depending where we stayed. Several box lunches, but considering where we were going that day, it was the only way to have a lunch. Moloka`i was our favorite. Such a laid-back island with very friendly inhabitants. Our small group of 16 (including Susan) was just the right size. We all got along famously and were very comfortable traveling together. Most, if not all of us, would not have been comfortable or happy with a larger group. Overall, a most enjoyable traveling experience (except the very long plane ride - 11 hours), one we would do again, especially if we had Susan as our guide. Our recommendation to those contemplating this trip, try, if at all possible, to be in a small group. You will find the journey much more enjoyable.

Carol from Monroe, WA Number of programs attended: 6
Date attended: 06/01/15 - 06/17/15
Outstanding learning experiences! Susan, our leader, was terrific.

Stuart from Washington, NJ Number of programs attended: 1
Date attended: 06/01/15 - 06/17/15
This was our first Road Scholar trip and perhaps we should have tried a shorter trip first to get a better feel for the pace and overall experience. That being said, this was an exce Lent opportunity to get a thorough introduction to the history, culture geology and geography of the Hawaiian Islands. Going in the early summer was a plus. We had a few rainy days, but mostly we had fine weather. Also, because of the summer schedule, the group was smaller (15) which made for more opportunities to get to know all the fun and interesting folks in the group. The group leader, Susan McGovern, was excellent. She knew her stuff and all the people we met with along the way. At times the schedule could be called intense, but that was a small price to pay for an overall wonderful learning experience.

Pete from Davis, CA Number of programs attended: 17
Date attended: 06/01/15 - 06/17/15
I agree with Jacqueline. This trip is not for the person who likes to take it slow. There had to be lots of airport moves because we were doing 5 islands. If I had to pick only one island as my favorite it would be Molokai. The 2nd would be "The Big Island" I had some concerns after reading some of the past reviews. In general no problems with the food. Had quite a few bag lunches but there was no real alternative. KMC on the big island was interesting. It is a military base. I stayed in a BOQ with two large rooms. Brought back many memories of my Army days. One big surprise was when we checked in at Hilo to start the program. There were 15 of us plus Susan our leader. I agree with everyone who said the group was too large at over 30. We had a mini van and went places a big coach could not if it were a regular size group. I know it would cost more but there has to be a way to get this program down to mini bus size. I can't imagine trying to get 35 group members through all of the transfers. I can't say enough about Susan our group leader. She is organized and available to everyone in the group. Susan was a delight. My best regards to all of my travel mates. It was a good group and I had a good time.

Jacqueline from Monroe, WA Number of programs attended: 6
Date attended: 06/01/15 - 06/17/15
This is a fantastic program. Be prepared to get up early, move frequently, be active, and learn a lot about the history and culture of Hawai`i.

David from Mint Hill, NC Number of programs attended: 63
Date attended: 02/09/15 - 02/25/15
Although this program had a few rough edges, I would not hesitate to recommend it. The great thing about this trip was seeing five different islands in detail, and learning how different they were from one another. The best segment was Molokai. But as another reviewer in our group (Larry from Brimley MI) said, I felt we were shortchanged on Oahu - an additional day needs to be added for this island. (Speaking of Larry from Brimley, what happened to his review??? It's now blank! I know he had a number of critical comments, but surely RS tender sensibilities wouldn't extend to outright censorship. I trust there's another explanation.)

Road Scholar's response:
Thanks for your comments. We looked into Larry’s missing review and he seemed to be having some issues posting to the website. I am happy to say that our technical team was able to resolve the problem and Larry's review has been posted.
William from Rochester, NY Number of programs attended: 8
Date attended: 03/09/15 - 03/25/15
Great program. Be sure to sign up for hawaiian airlines before you go so you can get a reduced rate for the baggage transfer. It is free.

Mimi from Peru, IN Number of programs attended: 16
Date attended: 03/09/15 - 03/25/15
The highlight of the trip was Molokai, however there were some issues that road scholar should address on this tour. The hotel in Kauai was unacceptable.....dirty, broken down and with very poor meals. The trip is not active. Most of the trip is riding in buses with virtually no time for experiencing Hawaii. If you do buy the trip, think about taking at least one extra day in Oahu so that you can walk up Diamond Head (easy walk) or stick your toes in Hawaii sand and water. Don't be afraid to take some time to yourself if you get tired of the spiel on the bus. This was our 17th trip and we have 2 more RS trips planned. This was the most disappointing trip we've taken, but we did learn a lot about Hawaii and volcanoes. In our opinion, this trip has too many complicated transfers to be effective for a group of 32!

Charna from Gainesville, FL Number of programs attended: 1
Date attended: 03/09/15 - 03/25/15
This program is a superb blend of mental and physical activity. The entire program staff are superb. A highlight was participating in a luau that felt genuine, not a touristy, phony presentation.

Larry from Brimley, MI Number of programs attended: 11
Date attended: 02/09/15 - 02/25/15
I just attempted a lengthy review of the trip and lost it all. Time limit on writing it? I was impressed with much of the trip--good food , accommodations. Criticism: too large a group (32). Buses with only 1 entry/exit. Not enough stops for photo ops, esp. on back side of Maui with sweeping vistas going up the mountain and no chance to shoot them.. Pearl Harbor rates a full day's visit; I felt cheated. Pacific Air Museum and BB "Missouri" should be included. Guided tour of specific graves and burial sites at Punchbowl instead of bus drive-by. People we met were wonderfully friendly and helpful. The luau was outstanding. Excellent guides. Steve's rehash of pre-War and WWII history was overly simplistic, even inaccurate in places, but "interesting." I'll quit now before I get cancelled out again.

Judith from Mint Hill, NC Number of programs attended: 63
Date attended: 02/09/15 - 02/25/15
This was a very active program. You were on the go from morning to night. It was an excellent way to see the true Hawaii. Going from island to island was worth the plane rides! All the instructors were wonderful and went out of their way to make the program so good.

Barbara from South Bend, IN Number of programs attended: 8
Date attended: 01/12/15 - 01/28/15
I found this trip to be all that was advertised and more. It brought us to 5 islands giving us an overview of how the islands were formed and the history of the people. The persons who did not click with the program hadn't prepared for the trip by reading the activity rating levels of trips or the background readings for the program and perhaps weren't prepared for what they were getting. Perhaps they were looking for a more active programs than what they signed up for. We did spend a lot of time traveling, but to see the variations in the islands and to learn that much in that short amount of time for that little money in a very high cost part of the world was well worth it for us. It helped us to know where we would like to go back if we wvwe have the chance and to take away memories we wouldn't otherwise have.

Scott from Fishers, IN Number of programs attended: 3
Date attended: 01/12/15 - 01/28/15
I would not recommend this trip. First of all, this trip is by no means "active". Most of the time is spent sight seeing from large tour busses with a lot of time waiting on transfers. The food was generally awful and the accommodations mostly were substandard. I am OK with basic accommodations, but most of these were filthy and uncomfortable. It was difficult to communicate with the outside world as Internet and phone service was spotty. By the middle of the trip, my wife was crying and ready to go home. Some of the sights were interesting, but some were obviously added to just fill time. Several days could have been cut out of the trip. This trip was too expensive for the quality. Overall a poor value

Road Scholar's response:
We’re sorry to hear that your program was not as you expected. This program was designed to offer participants the chance visit all 7 Hawai`i National Parks spread across 5 islands, including both the Hilo and Kona sides of Hawai`i Island (the “Big Island”). It is an exciting itinerary that includes many field trips, which in turn requires bus transportation (and multiple inter-island flights, which are included in the program! Some locations we visit offer limited choices in accommodations and meals, but please be assured that all options are considered and are chosen based on logistics, location, variety, amenities, etc. This particular program has always operated with the same group size, but we did offer a special Small Group departure to celebrate Road Scholar’s 40th anniversary this year for those who wanted a smaller group size with upgraded accommodations. Thank you again for your valuable feedback, as we consider all comments when planning future dates and creating new programs.
Richard from Evanston, IL Number of programs attended: 1
Date attended: 01/12/15 - 01/28/15
I am in general agreement with Cynthia’s review below. Hawaii was beautiful, the weather was great, the instructors were generally fine, our Trip Leader was great, but the accommodations, meals, and general logistics were dismal. The main problem was group size: 35. This meant using a BIG bus for most travel. There was no trip in which the guide didn't say "There's something really interesting near here, but our bus is too large to get there." This group size also made lots of hotels/restaurants unavailable to us. The hotels were mostly shabby, and the meals (with occasional exceptions) were repetitive and uninteresting. Almost every lunch was a bagged sandwich. Perfectly OK sandwich, but by the 12th or so, we were pretty tired of them. Food and service at the Kilauea Military Camp in particular were awful. Everyplace we went, guides pointed out good local restaurants. We generally had limp, overcooked buffet dinners in hotels. In Honolulu, with thousands of interesting restaurants--Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean, Polynesian, Latin restaurants all in walking distance from our hotel--our one restaurant meal was cheeseburgers! For a 15-day trip that cost over $5,000 per person, it seemed like everything was done on the cheap. Shabby hotels, bare bones meals, school buses that had no schedule flex because they had unload us to go pick up school kids. At Kalaupapa (great destination), it took TWO HOURS to get everyone flown down to the park, because Road Scholar only engaged one plane (of many available) which had to make four separate 1/2 hour round trips. Most destinations were neat; some were superfluous. For example, I would glad have traded the little state park in Honolulu for a visit to the Bishop Museum. Finally, I was really disappointed that we saw NO live volcano activity. I understand that RS can’t control nature, but the RS literature did a poor job of advising that seeing a live volcano is a real crap-shoot (we came up snake-eyes).

Alice from Middleton, WI Number of programs attended: 5
Date attended: 01/12/15 - 01/28/15
Our Hawaiian tour was packed with variety and information. Our coordinator and all the guides were knowledgable and entertaining, and we have come home with a much enhanced understanding of Hawaii's geology, history, and natural beauty.

Cynthia from Ottawa, ON Number of programs attended: 15
Date attended: 01/12/15 - 01/28/15
This program had some very positive aspects, but some negative ones as well. We had excellent instructors, and we learned a lot from them. Our group leader, Pat, was wonderful at getting us from place to place, resolving difficulties and dealing with individual concerns. There was jaw-dropping scenery and fascinating national parks. However, there were some problematic aspects too. Our group of 35 was much too large, given the complex itinerary. We spent many hours on buses, sometimes getting to interesting places, but just as often to places that were not worth the time and effort involved. Our accommodations, with a couple of exceptions, were clean but down at heel and poorly maintained. Meals were mostly mediocre to unacceptable: high in starch, sugar and fat. There were always lots of fresh greens, but fruits were normally available only at breakfast, and dairy products were almost totally absent. Drinks at meals consisted of water, tea, coffee and sodas. Fruit juice, except at breakfast, and milk were not included. There were many very early mornings, with start times between 5:30 and 7 a.m. It was exhausting. Many people developed colds and coughs. Several took time away from the program in order to rest and recuperate. I am sorry to write so critically of this program, because Hawai’i is a beautiful part of the world with a rich culture and fascinating history, and because the 14 other Road Scholar programs we have taken in the US and Europe have been very positive experiences. This program, however, did not meet our expectations.

Sue from Oshkosh, WI Number of programs attended: 1
Date attended: 10/13/14 - 10/29/14
I wouldn't change a thing. Even the hurricane didn't stop us from having an amazing and unique program. When we were all together there was a good sense of community, both within our group and with the Hawai'ians we met. There were so many terrific activity options it was hard to choose what to do! Our leaders were excellent. What Susan didn't know Steve did, and they continued to learn right alongside of us. It was amazing. I'm a cheapskate and this trip was worth the money.

Stanley from West Chester, PA Number of programs attended: 3
Date attended: 03/31/14 - 04/16/14
Hawai'i is so much more than Waikiki, Pearl Harbor and pineapples. Yes, it is our 50th state, but so culturally different and diverse it is akin to visiting another country; without the hassle of passports, a foreign phrase book and changing money. You've seen the beautiful pictures - wait until you see it "in person!" Aloha is much more than "hello" and "goodbye." Aloha is the warmth, openness and welcoming nature of its people and brings joy to ones heart. Every Hawai'ian will proudly recite their ethnic ancestry. This 5 island venture will take you to places few individuals and no cruise ships go. The educational component is deeper than any guide book. If Hawai'i is on you bucket list, sign up now. If it's not on your bucket list, add it.

Charles from Flagstaff, AZ Number of programs attended: 3
Date attended: 02/10/14 - 02/26/14
An amazing program, with the opportunity to see many parts of the Hawai'ian islands that few see. Frequent changes of locale with packing and unpacking plus really early morning baggage pickups were challenging but worth it. Less emphasis on geology or economics than I would have liked. Lots of emphasis on history of Polynesia, island plants and Polynesian culture. Some really unforgettable experiences with both locales and locals.

Lauren from Sarasota, FL Number of programs attended: 10
Date attended: 02/10/14 - 02/26/14
This was a comprehensive tour of the Hawaiian islands. The instructors were knowledgeable and enthusiastic. The tour leader was very organized and sensitive to the needs of the group. The accommodations were well chosen for amenities and location to sites and shopping within walking distance. The food was meager at times, but nothing that would upset delicate constitutions. Not much free time to explore on your own, but the tour covered so much that most participants were glad to have an hour before dinner to just relax.

Kathleen from Lewiston, ID Number of programs attended: 1
Date attended: 02/10/14 - 02/26/14
As a solo traveler I found the other participants very welcoming and friendly. I came as a stranger and left feeling part of a family in the "aloha" way. As a first time visitor to Hawaii, I was impressed with the opportunities presented to see and learn about the geology, history and culture in action. The organization of the entire program was excellent and the trip adviser was great. Mahalo.

Philip from Miami, FL Number of programs attended: 4
Date attended: 01/13/14 - 01/29/14
If you are Hawaii dreaming, then this tour is your dream come true. The experiences are varied and often surprising and unexpected. You will know what is meant by the "Aloha Spirit" and may find your own perspectives about the family of man to be enlightened. All of the guides and instructors are outstanding. The Hawaiians that are encountered are authentic cultural treasures that offer insights unavailable to most visitors.

Philip from Loveland, CO Number of programs attended: 3
Date attended: 01/13/14 - 01/29/14
Program was as described and an excellent way to get an overview of much of the Hawaiian Islands. Got to visiting many places few would normally see. Some guides and instructors were outstanding. Group leader did an excellent job of keeping us on track. Accommodations and food were for the most part good to excellent. I would recommend this program to others.

Pia from New York, NY Number of programs attended: 1
Date attended: 01/13/14 - 01/29/14
This program covers well the geology, environment, culture, present day issues of the five islands. Some of the places visited are stunning and unforgettable. Frequent transfers very early in the morning. Food barely adequate.


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Our Value Promise To You

You won't find a better value.

Included
at no additional cost on this date ...
16 nights of accommodations
47 meals: 16 breakfasts, 15 lunches, 16 dinners
3 Expert-led lectures
15 Field trips
1 Performances
3 Flights during the program

Ratings

4.6
Ratings are determined by participant evaluations.

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