Travel Writing for Modern Audiences
Kailua, Hawaii, USA

October 21 - 28, 2012

This October 2012, spend 7 days in Kailua, Hawaii, USA with travel writer and author Rolf Potts. Learn the art of travel storytelling and explore the culture and natural beauty of Hawaii. Students will be encouraged to develop memoirs, travel stories and experimental essays.

Though this class primarily aims to sharpen and evolve writers' instincts for constructing narratives, it will also touch on the practical matters of working with agents and editors, and submitting stories for publication. Potts will give one-on-one guidance for each student's work, and final portfolios will include one polished nonfiction story to be submitted for publication.

image: Courtesy - AlohaHawaii

As with the lessons in his book Vagabonding the time spent in Kailua will undoubtedly open up other opportunities including readings, group exploration or calmly venturing out on your own to discover what Kailua has to offer. You will be encouraged to see the town and explore the beaches and activities through your own eyes. Read more about Kailua here in an article from The New York Times.

image: hpandya

Rolf Potts has reported from more than fifty countries for the likes of National Geographic Traveler, the New York Times Magazine,, Conde Nast Traveler, Outside, The Believer, The Guardian (U.K.), National Public Radio, and the Travel Channel. A veteran travel columnist for the likes of and World Hum, his adventures have taken him across six continents, and include piloting a fishing boat 900 miles down the Laotian Mekong, hitchhiking across Eastern Europe, traversing Israel on foot, bicycling across Burma, and driving a Land Rover from Sunnyvale, California to Ushuaia, Argentina.

Potts is perhaps best known for promoting the ethic of independent travel, and his book on the subject, Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel (Random House, 2003), has been through ten printings and translated into several foreign languages. His newest book is Marco Polo Didn't Go There: Stories and Revelations From One Decade as a Postmodern Travel Writer (Travelers' Tales, 2008).

Rolf's essays have appeared in over twenty literary anthologies, and sixteen of his stories have been short-listed for The Best American Travel Writing, including "Storming 'The Beach,'" which Bill Bryson chose as a main selection in 2000, and "Tantric Sex for Dilettantes," which Tim Cahill selected in 2006. His writing for National Geographic Traveler,, Lonely Planet, and Outside garnered him Lowell Thomas Awards in 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007; and he's been cited as an expert on independent travel by publications around the world, from National Geographic Adventure, to TIME Asia, to Italy's La Stampa daily, to the Australian Financial Review, to the Russian edition of Newsweek.


Each student should bring at least one 800-3000-word in-progress travel story or essay. You can bring more than one if you want. You will be encouraged to write in Hawaii (especially as a journal exercise), but it will work best if you bring in-progress writing for the workshop.

Sunday, October 21, 2012:
Arrive in Honolulu, make your way to Kailua and settle into our beachfront home for the week. Relax, walk the beach, get some sand between your toes. Meet and greet, followed by group dinner. After dinner we will have a brief and informal orientation and course overview with Rolf. This is an evening “getting to know you” class where we talk in very general terms about your goals and your relationship to travel writing.

Monday, October 22nd:
Craft class #1 in the morning (2 hours). One on one meetings after lunch; those not in meetings can wander around Kailua, hang out on the beach, or hike the many trails in the area. A schedule will be arranged for one on one meetings. Craft class #2 in the late afternoon (2 hours), followed by pupus (Hawaiian word for appetizers) and umbrella drinks on the beach at sunset. Dinner and the evening on your own. Check out Kailua’s many terrific restaurants, or head into Waikiki for the nightlife.

• Craft classes: Craft classes are the nuts and bolts of writing -- everything from story structure to dramatic arc to grammar/word-use to fact-checking. Craft classes are taught so students have a clearer vocabulary and framework to evaluate each others' writing in the workshop sessions.
• Workshop is when original student work is read and discussed collectively.

image: Egmar Klemmer

Tuesday, October 23rd:
Craft class #3 in the morning (2 hours). The remaining one-on-one meetings will occur in late morning and midday. Your afternoon is again free to soak up some sun, kayak out to the Mokulua Islands (pictured above), or hike to the WW II “pillboxes” on the mountain ridge overlooking the beach. We will discuss as a group what local adventure(s) everyone’s interested in pursuing then work with our island hosts to make arrangements. Dinner and evening on your own.

Wednesday & Thursday, October 24th-25th:
Free time to explore Oahu or take off and explore one of the outer islands. You’ll be asked to consider your adventures a travel writing assignment, so keep your notebook handy! Reconvene for pupus, sunset and dinner on Thursday to share your stories. Wednesday dinner on your own – you and various members of the beach house may choose to cook in or go out to one of the wonderful restaurants or cafes in Kailua.

Here are a few ideas to consider:

• Scuba Diving – Guided tours around the island are available. Several good dive shops in Kailua will help you select the dive that’s right for you. Be sure to bring your PADI card.

• Explore Oahu’s famed “North Shore” – Drive up the coast to Haleiwa, the capital of big wave surfing and home to the iconic Sunset Beach, Pipeline, and Bonzai surfing beaches. Snorkel at Shark’s Cove, get up close with the sea turtles at Lanikea Beach, and sample the shave ice at Matsumotos and the garlic shrimp from one of the many shrimp trucks along the way. Drive back through the middle of the island – cowboy country and pineapple fields.

• Get adventurous! Swim with the sharks in the shark cages off-shore in Haleiwa, swim with dolphins on the leeward side, skydive at Dillingham air field, go parasailing or jet-skiing on the south shore, grab a surf board and catch some waves in Waikiki, learn to kite-surf on Kailua beach, where the sport was invented, or maybe even test your hiking boots on the Pali Puka to Lanihuli Ridge hike.

• Island Hop. Quick flights to the Big Island, Maui, Kauai, or Molokai open doors to the many other sides of Hawaii. Explore the Jurassic Park jungles of Kauai, hike the volcano craters on the Big Island (and stick around for evening lava flows), hike Haleakala on Maui, or explore the history of Molokai’s 19th century leper colony.

Friday, October 26th:
Workshop #1 in the morning. One on one in the middle of the day.
Workshop #2 in the late afternoon.
Group “pitch-in” dinner at the beach house.

Saturday, October 27th:
Workshop #3 in the morning. One on one meetings in the middle of the day. Public readings of original material in a local café in the late afternoon, followed by a final night dinner and luau back at the beach house.

Sunday, October 28th:
Departure day.

Nota Bene: this is a prospective itinerary. It is subject to modest modifications, dependent on local weather, new opportunities and the desires of the group.


This Ace Camp includes:

  • 4 day workshop with Rolf Potts - with one-on-one sessions and a group reading at a cafe.
  • 7 nights accommodation at a beachfront home in Kailua, Hawaii, USA.
  • 7 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 3 dinners - including welcome and final night luau and cocktail party.

You will be sent a list of supplies to bring upon registration.

Workshop is limited to 10 people.

Fee: $1695.00 - airfare is not included

*Workshop only - $925.00 - 4 people maximum - FULL

Deposit: $1000.00 - due when place in workshop is confirmed.
Final Payment of $695.00 due August 15th, 2012