Here’s an idea: Go to school where people go to vacation.
You know the draws: tropical breezes, Oahu’s miles of pristine surf, and a citizenry that lives its life in board shorts and flip-flops. Everything may seem to go by a bit slower on land (“island time,” it’s called) but in the water, the sporting can reach high speeds.
U.H.’s rec center is set up to get students atop and into the ever-moving ocean, offering surfing (boards are $10 per day; the legendary north-shore waves of Haleiwa are 33 miles away), SUPing, snorkeling, kayaking, and body boarding. The sailing instruction is four-tiered and the scuba class fee ($210) also buys certification.
Hikers get their fill too: the campus abuts Waahila State Recreation Area—whose ridge trail offers gorgeous views—and is a 20-minute drive to the Ha’iku Stairs trail, often called “the stairway to heaven” for its spectacular 360-degree view across the island once you conquer its 3,922 steps (note that this isn’t entirely legal to do but start before dawn and the guards may look the other way). U.H. students also get to be just five miles from iconic Diamond Head and its worthy path to the top.
Academically, this is an obvious hub for oceanic research. One class, called “Corals and Coral Reefs,” needs you to get underwater. If you plan to spend more time in these climes after you graduate, consider a major within the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, whose classes’ fieldwork will make you an expert about the Pacific islands’ plants and soils.
Honolulu’s got sunshine all year round and not a small amount of urban jungle—Hawaii’s capital city offers all that a world-caliber destination should, from a legitimate public-transit system to nightclubs packed with beautiful bodies.
CONTACT: (808) 956-8975, manoa.hawaii.edu
STUDENT BODY: 13,912 undergraduates, 6,425 graduates
TUITION: residents $9,100, nonresidents $23,932, room and board $10,279