Eco-Retreat & Permaculture Center on the Big Island

Live, eat, learn and play in paradise at one of the best values in Hawai‘i.

"Every successful individual knows that his or her achievement depends on a community of persons working together." -Paul Ryan

Choose an Internship Track to Begin

Starting at only $450/month!

Would you like to experience living and working on a tropical farm retreat?

Intern at Hawaiian Sanctuary


Intern Purpose

To host Hawaiian Sanctuary Guests in our farm community wellness experience using the Spirit of Aloha.

Intern Goals:

Educating ourselves in cooperative community practices to demonstrate for Guests:  Personal Wellness, PermaCulture, Community Education & Conscious Event Production at Hawaiian Sanctuary.

Through our Empowerment Internship, you will support daily activities that keep our retreat running, allowing you endless opportunities to learn - through your experience and hands-on participation - the fundamental skills needed to operate a community-minded wellness center. Interns help maintain our orchards, gardens, and eco-tourist facilities, while contributing to the culture of community living and retreat experience for our guests and visitors.

Interning is ideal for those who want to:

  • Experience mind, body, emotion and spirit education
  • Practice living sustainably
  • Return to the source of their food.

Some projects are more strenuous than others, and many provide opportunities to integrate with nature, live in harmony with the land, grow some of your own food, drink water from the sky, and harness energy from the sun. Anticipate a challenging yet rewarding experience.

Our Core Values


Clear and honest communication makes the world go 'round. Our entire existence is comprised of connection, cooperation and communication.


Lifelong learning and education is the key to human intelligence (mental, emotional and spiritual). Curiosity and humility allow unending development.


A life without action is a life without living! It is dedicated, committed all-or-nothing hard work that allows us to achieve our greatest dreams. Are you ready and willing?

Self Care

Without self-care, we would all eventually find ourselves in the throes of burnout. The more we honor and care for ourselves, the more we can offer the world.

Program Benefits

Enjoy a Taste of Paradise

  • Jungle-set shared accommodations
  • Farm-to-table Vegetarian Breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday (prepared by our chef)
  • Use of the holistic spa, yoga & dance studio, vegetarian kitchen, and gym (one of the best on this side of the island)
  • Free classes, such as yoga, permaculture, hula, Compassionate Communication, hoop dance, belly dance & more! 
  • WiFi internet access (***note: we have limited bandwidth due to satellite restrictions, so increasing individual cell phone data plans for tethering applications such as skype/netflix/youtube may be of best interest).
  • Access to Hawaiian Sanctuary's amenities such indoor & outdoor hot showers, acres of nature trails, and walking paths through our edible food forests.


Connect with nature by living in one of our jungalows, nestled in the beauty of the Hawaiian jungle. Living in this environment allows the senses to expand and rejuvenate in a natural setting. These basic, eco-friendly accommodations include electricity, lighting, a cozy bed with linens, and desk space. Shared facilities include bathrooms, outdoor showers, and a community kitchen.

Please note: Interns stay in shared accommodations. If this is not your preference, private accommodations are available at an additional cost of $185 - 385/month, depending on peak season.

Amazing Organic Foods

Together we prepare simple, vegan meals with some farm fresh eggs when available (breakfast and lunch, Monday through Friday), utilizing produce from the land. Our organic garden provides fresh greens year round and there are often racks of bananas available.

Breakfast usually consists of a tropical smoothie, farm fresh hard boiled eggs and a grain.  Lunch is farm fresh salads, delectable dressings, farm stews and protein rich grains.  This will cover some but not all of your food needs.  Please note: Dinner and weekend meals are not included. Please be sure you have adequate funds for your personal food & supplement needs.


Spa & Fitness Center

Enjoy use of one of the most complete gyms on this side of the island. In addition, our spa - which includes an ozonated hot tub, infrared sauna, and high-tech vibration platform - is available Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday for Intern use. For a private spa experience, please make your reservation in advance.  Full week access is available at an additional rate.

Additional Education in Paradise

Experience personal transformation by regularly attending onsite classes, at no cost to Interns (with few exceptions). In fact, as part of your weekly hour log, we have some classes that are mandatory and count towards your hours. This is our Ohana Circle, Compassionate Communication, Permaculture and Hawaiian Spirituality classes.  

Interns are required to engage and log a minimum of FOUR self development offerings per week, in addition to required classes/farm tasks/meetings.  This is best accomplished through yoga, fitness training, spa care, a variety of dance classes, men's/women's groups, meditation, hydrotherapy and more!


Community Living Development

We have found that people living in a community environment benefit tremendously by attending regular community education and communication classes. These techniques can be applied to relationships in all aspects of your life. In addition to improving our communication skills, these classes create a safe space where potential disagreements with other community members can be handled through a “clearing process.” Interns are required to attend the following classes:

  • Ohana Circle (once per week): A space to bring harmony and a sense of family to our community experience.
  • Non-Violent/Compassionate Communication class (once per week): A chance to learn and practice non-violent communication skills.
  • Pono Wisdom (once per month): Aunty Mahealani teaches Hawaiian Spirituality.

These classes can be applied to work study hours (one hour each, two hours for Aunty’s class).

Teaching Opportunities

Perhaps the most rewarding way to take a class is to teach it. Interns that have special talents can apply to teach classes at the Sanctuary, such as yoga, meditation, planting, etc. Our facilities are at your disposal, giving you an opportunity to share your talents with our community. As an added bonus, you will split the donations made from the outside community attendance at your class.


Program Requirements

Intern Hours Requirement

Interns are required to log at least 30 hours of participation per week in Service, Team Meetings, Classes, Events and Apprenticeship.

Please make sure to write down daily hours in your Intern Log to account for these hours. During retreats where the focus is on guest services and food and beverage, weekly hours may increase to 35 with additional gourmet meals and classes available for exchange.  

Stellar participation can earn scholarship rewards.

Depending on your chosen track, we generally split the day up into a three-hour shift in the morning and a 2-hour shift in the afternoon, Monday through Friday, starting at 9am. Each weekend there are guest and garden support needs that will be shared among the Intern team.  

This schedule rotates.  Please make plans to be available for weekend support for class and guest setup/participation and clean up.

This is an internship like nothing else out there. 

Being an Intern at Hawaiian Sanctuary is a unique experience where you will take on the challenge to manage several roles at once.  

It builds character, responsibility, life lessons, self development and flexibility. Since Interns are expected to take on so many different roles, this is a challenge that is very rewarding in the end.

Click HERE for a SAMPLE week on the farm for an Intern.  NOTE: this is subject to change according to season/retreat/farm needs.

Tryout Period

A trial period – your first two weeks as an intern - allows you to experience community living at Hawaiian Sanctuary and gives us a chance to spend time with you, to see if it’s a good fit for us all. After the initial two-week period, a manager will conduct an informal meeting with you to discuss. Approval to continue the internship is based on your enthusiastic contribution, class attendance, ability to fit into and compliment the community, and eagerness to follow policies and procedures in the spirit of Aloha.

Internship Tuition

Tuition varies depending on your chosen internship track. The range is $450-1195/mo.

The full tuition is due prior to the start of the Internship.

Interns can stay 2-4 months depending on the track. Longer stays are negotiable upon completion of a 4 month term.

Aloha Scholarships

Reduced tuition is available on a special case by case basis, for individuals that can participate two plus months, demonstrate special skills or professional abilities that are needed at the Sanctuary (Landscaper, Housekeeper, plumber, Team Manager, Project Manager, etc.).

NOTE: Awardees to pay the full month’s tuition in advance, then the scholarship is reimbursed upon completion of Intern hour logs and following farm procedures.

Scholarship monies can be either reimbursed at the end of the month’s program, or simply applied to the next month’s tuition and reimbursed at the completion of your program.

This ensures that the Intern’s performance matches the spirit of the Aloha Scholarship.  

Remember, we expect scholars to exhibit eagerness to contribute, and enthusiasm for policies and procedures.  Also, scholarships are available to applicants that are able to stay more than 2 months.

Security Deposit

A security deposit of $100 will be collected prior to the start of the internship and refunded upon satisfactory completion of the intern period (minus property damage, if any).


All interns must demonstrate that they have health insurance prior to arrival, and are required to have health insurance coverage throughout the entire stay.

Interns are responsible for their own healthcare treatment and costs. It is expected that interns will be able to maintain a level of physical, emotional, and mental health that allows for the efficient fulfillment of internship responsibilities.

There are several short-term options for insurance. Airlines offer travel or emergency health coverage for the duration of a trip.

Alternatively, many of our interns have also found that the International Volunteer Card (IVC) ( offers effective, low-cost insurance that is suitable for their time at Hawaiian Sanctuary.

If you are a Hawaii resident, you may consider applying for state funded health insurance. Please keep in mind that whatever option you choose, insurance is required and it is your responsibility to obtain coverage prior to joining our community. 

Internship Tracks

Our internship program consists of 'tracks' which are different ways to contribute to our operations. Each track entails a specific focus and set of requirements.

Also, please note that this program helps to support the operations, which has much to do with farm maintenance and guest services.  We practice ALOHA with everybody that visits our sanctuary, whether that’s for a class, a retreat or an overnight stay.

Click HERE for a SAMPLE week on the farm for an Intern.

Empowerment Track

Our standard Empowerment Internship program consists approximately of 1/3 of the week’s hours in community related tasks like upkeep of community and guest spaces: cleaning bathrooms, cleaning shared spaces, doing community meal dishes, guest rooms and classroom care.

Roughly another third of each week’s time is utilized for self development and meetings for collaboration and team building.

The remaining 1/3 of time spent weekly can be utilized with your passions for Farm to table Foods, permaculture, Aloha hospitality and/or management.

Special events and weekend workshops are shared by everyone.


~30% self-development and team building
~30% permaculture/kitchen/management
~30% hospitality/housekeeping
~10% event support


$675/month (approx. $22/day), 2 month minimum

OPTION:  If you prefer to opt out of contributing to the specifics of Guest Services like housekeeping, land care or even Kitchen support, then you may do so by applying specifically for one of the educational tracks below.

nicole kitchen

Kitchen Ninja Track

This track is experiential education with qualified Gourmet Chef Mentor for operating Farm to Table food from the land.

Includes some gardening, harvesting, processing, kitchen hygiene, elixir craft making, knife skills, recipe development and basic catering.

High focus on gourmet vegetarian cuisine, farm-to-table living.

*This list is neither inclusive or comprehensive, it merely highlights some of the areas of focus during your Internship.

This track is for foodies that have strong work ethic and are willing to stretch themselves for success!


~ 60% kitchen
~ 30% self-development/team building
~ 10% event support


$825/month ($27/day)

After one month fulfillment of the Kitchen Ninja Track, specific roles such as Kitchen Seau Ninja or Elixir Barista can be focus. Increased scholarship potential available after one month.

Permaculture SuperHero Track

This track includes daily instruction and hands in the earth permaculture education to tend to gardens, nurseries, food guilds and permaculture design.

This is led by a variety of qualified permaculture instructors and may cover the areas of permaculture design, animal husbandry, composting, beekeeping, vermiculture, compost teas, soil development, food production and more!

This list is neither inclusive or comprehensive, it merely highlights some of the areas of focus during your Internship.

This is for permies that love bio-communication, getting dirty and waking early!


~ 30% permaculture education
~ 30% gardens, orchards care (planting, harvesting, processing, weeding, etc)
~ 30% self-development/team-building
~ 10% event support


$825/month ($27/day) / 2 month minimum

After one month fulfillment of the Permaculture SuperHero Track, specific roles such as Garden Angel or Nursery Angel can be focus with increased responsibilities, projects and scholarship available.


Aloha Guest Services Track

These Angels in Guest Services/Housekeeping will receive training of what it takes to create a clean and spiffy experience at Hawaiian Sanctuary accommodations for our guests and visitors. This person will help to improve/modify our excellent jungle standards, plus will help to train newcomers and is a team leader.

An Aloha Guest Services Angel is responsible for maintaining clean and comfortable facilities for our beloved guests and visitors including:

  • Cleaning common areas
  • Preparing guest rooms
  • Providing daily room services to guests (bed making, fresh towels, etc.)
  • Using eco-friendly products as much as possible
  • Washing and folding laundry generated by guests and other departments
  • Handling any other tasks to maintain a fresh and inviting atmosphere
  • A typical day for an Intern in Housekeeping starts at 7:00 am (or earlier if you like). We begin the day with cleaning, followed by guest room care as needed. All Guest Services Angels will be asked to make beds, vacuum and mop floors, clean bathrooms, deep clean common areas, tidy up after others, and a variety of other tasks. This will take up roughly 50% of a week’s time.
  • Approximately 15% of a week’s time may be spent in welcoming guests, giving site tours and class liaison support. This certainly can be at times in the evening or on the weekends.
  • The remaining time will be utilized in required community classes such as Ohana circle, Compassionate Communication, team meetings as well as other areas of interests such as garden and land team synergies and/or kitchen time to experience farm-to-table care.

This is for people that appreciate SEVA (self-less service), no task is too great and want the most affordable way to play and grow in our community.


~50% intensive housekeeping
~20% self-development / team-building
~10% various tasks (permaculture, kitchen support)
~10% hospitality (on-call)
~10% event support


$450/month, 2 month minimum

After two month fulfillment of the Aloha Guest Services Track, specific roles in Marketing, Event Planning and Management can be focus with increased responsibilities, projects and scholarship available.

Limited scholarships available for each track.

Special Note: all community members help with care for personal and shared spaces as well as community meal dishes, regardless of track. Additionally, all tracks will do some cross training, for instance a Permaculture Superhero that is interested in learning how to make Salad Dressings from the land will have an opportunity to do some kitchen shifts and Kitchen Ninja and Aloha Guest Services Track will have opportunities to explore land and gardens if they have interest.

Responsibility breakdown percentages listed above are approximate and can vary from week to week.

Important Details


Each internship track offers a certification unique to the track focus.

At the completion of your intern program, if you have fulfilled your internship hours in good standing, you will be issued a Certificate of Completion. 

For example, completion of our Kitchen Track offers a Culinary Certification.

This will allow you to show future educational institutions and employers the skills and qualifications you have gained while interning.

Please note: we can adapt the certification program to meet the needs of your college or educational institution, in order for you to qualify for their summer school, internship, or other credit requirements. Many past interns have shared that their certificate was immensely helpful in getting jobs and school credit.

Requirements are specific to each institution.

If you are seeking academic credit, please acquire the appropriate information from your school and be prepared to discuss in further detail in the interview.

What to Bring

The tropical weather in Puna can be mix of rain and sun, with temperatures typically ranging from 70 to 85 degrees.

The Trade Winds blow gently and often, and rain is common almost daily. In the winter season, rain is more frequent and temperatures over night can drop below 65.

In addition to shorts, shirts, and swimwear expected for Hawaii weather, we also recommend you bring the following items:

  • Head lamp or flashlight
  • Rain gear (boots & jacket)
  • Beach towel (or you can buy one here)
  • Laptop, if you wish
  • Camera!
  • Snorkel gear (available locally)
  • Long pants/shirts for cooler nighttime temperatures
  • Long pants/shirts and closed-toe shoes for farm work
  • Sweatshirt and/or fleece for cooler nighttime temperature
  • Clothing that dries quickly
  • Biodegradable soaps, shampoos & toiletries (our showers feed the gardens!)
  • Cash for personal items and food outside of meals prepared by our chef

Please note: The farm is located in the jungle, so conditions can be damp, particularly in the winter months. Mold can form quickly on books and leather items.

Please keep this in mind when choosing what to bring. The Sanctuary will supply bedding, however your towels, camping gear, and beach gear is your responsibility.

Policy of Non-Discrimination

We welcome all people, regardless of race, gender, social standing, age, or sexual preference.

Airport Pickup

If you desire an airport pickup from Hilo to the Sanctuary, located in Pahoa, we can coordinate one for $50 (taxis can run upwards to $80 for the 30 mile trip). Please let us know of your arrival time in advance.

Service with Aloha

You are required to provide services in the “spirit of aloha” to our guests and visitors. We require mature individuals in good health with positive attitudes to assist us in the service to others. As a community member, it is expected that you will offer a high standard of guest services and you will be mindful of your role as a representative of Hawaiian Sanctuary at all times

The History of Hawaiian Sanctuary's Land

The ancient, sacred land of Hawaiian Sanctuary and much of the island were completely decimated and depleted by the Cane Industry, which also found other cheaper lands off island to continue their production.

A Buddhist Church eventually purchased the land here at Hawaiian Sanctuary, and although they did nothing with the land, they held it Sacred with their never evolved plans.

Founder, Steve Lund, was attracted to location and drawn to the land to create a sanctuary for growing our own food and a cleansing center. He began to clear the land and brought in a road, and began to build … one building at a time.

Post Cane Sugar Industrialization, rain, lava fields, and farming left soils depleted and our family has committed to rebuilding the soil and natural habitats to welcome the birds and abundant foods.

Application Process

  • Intern applicants are required to complete a Community Student Application available at the bottom of this page.
  • Management will follow up to coordinate a Skype Interview with you LIVE. Some questions are harder than others and this is to ensure a good fit for all. Questions will be relate to your previous experiences, community skills, how you handle living in a group environment and how well you can get along with others.
  • Reference check
  • Acceptance letter and confirm your spot with a security deposit.
  • Arrive and TRANSFORM!


We accept interns on the basis of availability, experience, eagerness to contribute, and enthusiasm for our policies and vision.

We currently have positions open, but strongly advise prospective Interns to apply as early as possible, in order to reserve your space. 


Apply now for the journey of a lifetime as an intern at Hawaiian Sanctuary! 

Success Stories


Hayley Clark

Kitchen Ninja Intern

The time I spent at the Hawaiian Sanctuary had more of a positive impact on my life than any other experience I’ve ever had.  I transformed spiritually, intellectually, and physically during my five month stay.

It’s almost as if I went in as a caterpillar, and I left a butterfly.  In that sense, the Hawaiian Sanctuary served as a cocoon for me. The program and the beautiful people in the community fostered every aspect of my personal and educational growth. My internship experience brought me color and light and with that, I learned to fly.

The personal relationships I created during my stay were what truly gave me wings. Going into my internship, I was unaware of the bonds I was about to form with the other interns. Though not all of them were present at the same time, I got to meet 15 other interns from all over the world over my five month internship stay.

The sanctuary seemed to attract some truly incredible people, and all at once, we had become a beautiful family. The unconditional love and support from my Hawaiian Sanctuary “sisters” will stay with me for a very long time.

I am eternally grateful that Hawaiian Sanctuary community was able to bring us together to work on something so beautiful together.


Beezhan Tulu

Media Intern

I was raised with two sisters, one brother, and my mom. In simple words, they served my growth and I served their need for love. They loved me unconditionally and I loved them back with all my heart.

Years later, when I was tired of the Hollywood Matrix and was looking for a safe community, I found a pure land known as Hawaiian Sanctuary. Although I had been living in Los Angeles and I was fed up with the dominant toxic culture, I still had hope this would work. So I decided to make Hawaiian Sanctuary my next home.

Once I had stayed there for a week, I immediately felt the same feeling that I was raised with. I served the Sanctuary with my skills and personal strength – the art of storytelling – and they served me with the most progressive lifestyle. Here are only a few details of this lifestyle.

The Beauty

My first daily practice, yoga, started at 6 AM in the Grow Room, big yoga space with screen walls, where you can watch the Albezia trees around you, when you are in your warrior pose.

The Food

Some of the best Kitchen Ninjas serve here. I don’t have to drive to a Whole Foods store to get some Kombucha or have an expensive salad. The garden behind the kitchen is the main source of food. Knowing that much of the food we eat here travels not 2,000 miles from another state and not even 2,000 steps, but less than 20 steps to get to the kitchen table, makes me feel very comfortable. Not to mention, the quality of love that is transferred to the produce by the interns.

The Land

The land is abundant. Steve (Hawaiian Sanctuary founder) has worked 1000’s of hours to keep the health of billions of species here. He has followed the healthiest environmental practices to protect the soil, fruits, and vegetable and also the wildlife on his land. I loved to walk around and watch the birds that fly all over the land, when I needed some artistic inspiration.


They also use some of the most advanced technologies to keep the land as healthy as possible, including the fastest internet connection, solar panels, GeoTea (the most effective compost tea machine), rain water catchment…

Physical Health & Wellness

The Lava Lounge is the most beautiful building you could imagine. The building is the health center that has the following: A juice bar and a kitchen with a lounge that reminds me of the coolest bar in Paris. The outside walls are covered with what looks like black lava that reflects the most exotic texture. One whole wall inside the lounge is painted with a scene of a beach walk. The spa has ThermoSauna, hot tub, and shower. The backside of the spa is open to the jungle. There is also a colon therapy room where you can get the best colon treatment.


I love this community. I truly believe that we all have to build our own communities or join an existing one. We are social beings and need to be around people. But how do you find a community where you can feel comfortable and protected, while feeling loved and can love them back unconditionally?

One of the biggest strengths of Hawaiian Sanctuary is their evolving community. It is mostly a small community of very conscious people who practice respect and non-violent communication, allowing the individuals their personal space, and to help them grow. Terra is constantly studying the qualities of the most progressive communities worldwide, the communities that existed in the past and the communities that are functional at the present time.


Hawaiian Sanctuary is filled with classes, from yoga, to astrology, permaculture, GiGong, kung fu, hula dance… As a community member, you have access to all classes for free. Once you attend some of the classes and notice the quality of information and the teachers, you realize it is an enormous amount of service you are getting.

I am a filmmaker and my first independent film was funded through KickStarter while I was at Hawaiian Sanctuary. The amount of flexibility and support Terra and Steve created through those 30 days is just hard to explain.

What I CAN explain is the amount of respect and gratitude I have for Hawaiian Sanctuary. And finally, the spiritual health of both Terra and Steve are the most valuable jewel I have been personally affected with. I wish every one in this planet could either visit Hawaiian Sanctuary or find a place similar to it to spend some time.

We are all visitors on this precious planet for a very short time, Go find your tribe, and enjoy that beauty of a new progressive culture.

When I arrived at Hawaiian Sanctuary, I was so taken a back by the beauty, all I could do was smile, giggle, and feel special. These emotions were felt for the duration of my stay.

In the kitchen, I have become much more skilled with raw food preparation and human resources management.

The biggest blessings came from being a member of the community at HS. I connected deeply with new friends that I treasure. I loved being surrounded by people with diverse insights on the holistic lifestyle.

The education was an invaluable bonus. Not many other farms and retreat centers offer the variety of opportunities. I took yoga classes regularly and I took classes to learn wild plant wisdom, Hawaiian culture, and spiritual activation. I felt totally fed intellectually. I was given loving support to achieve new levels of self-mastery in an environment of beauty and raw wonder.

The immersion into nature made me feel drastically different than my life on the mainland. As my being began to sync with the nature around me, a window opened for me to discover more of myself.

My creativity blossomed and I witnessed my values expand and become clearer. I had much to bring back to my life on the mainland. I feel more peaceful and equipped to handle difficult situations in the kitchen and with people.

I’m now a more successful person, leading a life with more connection to God and a greater sense of purpose. My experience opened me up to the next stage of my life and learning which was unclear before I went to Hawaiian Sanctuary.

I left with new reasons to appreciate myself and the earth.


Rae Reitz

Kitchen Intern