Summer Camp at Sea: Pacific Adventures for Kids Who Love the Ocean

Whether it’s what’s on the waves or what’s under the surface of them that captures your child’s attention, you know that the ocean is a magical place. A summer camping-at-sea experience along the Pacific Coast in California, or as far away as Hawaii or Fiji, could inspire your aspiring marine biologist and embolden the leader they have inside.

Whether it’s working with sharks or turtles, exploring coral reefs, or simply snorkeling the surface, there’s plenty to attract your kiddos, whether near or far from home base.

Catalina Sea Camp

Is your child looking for a way to dip her toe into the salty blue waters of marine biology while still having a pretty chill time at summer camp? Sea Camp on Catalina Island is just a few miles from the Southern California coast, yet offers kids a whole new world to explore.

One-week camps for kids 8 - 13 and three-week camps for teens 12 - 17 provide just the right level of independence and age-appropriate education. Toyon Bay’s private beach resort, built in 1929, is a great home base of operations for campers of all ages to learn new watersports, enjoy s’mores around a campfire, and choose their own electives.

One-week camps give younger kids the opportunity to try scuba classes, night snorkeling, sailing lessons, and marine biology labs. Kids will learn how to identify ocean invertebrates and algae, then dive into the ocean and discover those creatures in their natural habitat.

During the three-week itinerary, campers will have enough time to gain scuba and dive certifications, and participate in lifeguard training. Although the three-week camp does not have an advanced marine biology concentration that would suit older teens, it’s a great place to learn diving skills before setting out on a conservation and study specific program in a university or in another summer program.

Hawai’i Outdoors Institute

Teens looking for a more academic approach can head to the Hawai’i Outdoors Institute for a combination of adventure travel and eco-education on the lush and tropical Big Island.

The summer program focuses on teaching students about the human impact on nature, delving into questions about sustainability and food justice. Kids from 13 - 17 are taken on a 21-day journey through the island. At the end, they’ll make a presentation about a sustainable project they can start in their own town. Additionally, in their downtime, kids will snorkel coral reefs, explore volcanoes, and swim in pristine waterfalls.

In addition to the summer program, there is also a semester study abroad program, which accepts high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors. This pre-college program focuses on sustainability, environmental conservation, leadership, culture, and community service. During the semester program, students can also choose to learn more about local Hawaiian literature, Hawaiian culture, or leadership. With Hawaii as their classroom, it’s a wonderful way to learn more about the environment while preparing for college by living away from home.

Broadreach Fiji Shark Studies

They don’t call it paradise for nothing. The remote isle of Fiji in the South Pacific is one of the world’s most relaxing tropical islands. On Broadreach’s Fiji Shark Studies program, your high school teenager (the program takes kids 15 and up), be able to work alongside conservationists and researchers, and even dive with sharks in a controlled environment.

The program takes kids on an educational adventure to understand the ocean’s predators, reframing the negative narrative about sharks along the way. Kids should come already scuba-certified, so get those courses up-to-date. Once they arrive on the 24-day program, they’ll be in the water right away, collecting data on the shark population.

Once teens learn how to identify the different sharks that live in Fiji’s waters, they will help researchers catalogue these creatures and aid in conservation efforts. On shore, they will learn how Fijians have come to respect and understand sharks through their own cultural narrative.

Before the end of the program, teens will create their own research project, in the process learning what it takes to be a marine biologist out in the wild. For anyone who thought Fiji was just about relaxing on the beach, you’re in for an amazing surprise.


Action Quest Australian Adventure

An oceanic voyage from Sydney to Cape Tribulation on Australia’s south coast is the perfect high seas adventure for a teen whose interest lies in scuba diving, sailing, and cultural exploration. Teens 15 - 18 are welcome aboard Action Quest’s Australian Adventure, a month-long sailing adventure down Australia’s east coast, one of the world’s greatest examples of biodiversity.

While scuba diving and whale watching are an important part of the ocean itinerary here, this adventure is more about discovering Australia’s diverse ecosystems—from rainforests to reefs—than getting too deep into any one research project.

Students, in a group of 10 - 14 kids with several adults, stay in towns and villages along the coast before taking completely to the sea aboard a sailing yacht in the Great Barrier Reef. Between the research, adventure, and life-changing freedom, your teen may never want to give up the laid-back Aussie lifestyle.

Is your future marine biologist considering studying abroad? Let us know of the programs they’re looking into!

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