Jean-Michel Cousteau Society Teams With Ritz-Carlton Kapalua

Furthering the effort to educate visitors to Maui on why Kapalua is so culturally significant, the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua has launched an "Ambassadors of the Environment" program in partnership with the renowned Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society. This marks Cousteau's first venture in the State of Hawaii.

The program, open to both adults and children, takes participants hiking through previously inaccessible portions of the mountains above Kapalua, snorkeling among the coral reefs of West Maui, and on various educational jaunts between the two. They include hikes to the Maunalei Arboretum where patrons explore native and exotic plant life, in addition to how ancient Hawaiians managed both land and marine animals across the ahupua'a. Another program teaches participants about the migratory humpback whales that pass near the Maui coastline each winter. A close look is taken at their feeding habits, reproduction, travel patterns and conservation status. Yet another jaunt takes kids through a multi-media presentation to understand the habits of Sea Turtles, which ends with an opportunity to swim with and observe the turtles in the wild. One of the adult programs includes an underwater photography session with Cousteau experts.

"Ours is the first partnership that has found a perfect balance between ocean and land," said Clifford Nae'ole, Ritz-Carlton Kapalua cultural advisor. "This is a working ahupua'a. Everything that happens up at the top affects the middle, and the bottom. If we don't take care of the land, we eventually will lose the ocean."

Na'ole's brother, Iokepa, is the director of the Ambassadors of the Environment program for the Ritz. Both an educator and Hawaiian cultural historian, Nae'ole specializes in the holistic methods of Hawaiian plants, spirituality and the nurturing of children.

"This program will be alluring to the children, but it will grab the adults, when they see the excitement their kids express," said Nae'ole. "There will also be classes at night, regarding star navigation, traditional Hawaiian growing methods by the moon's cycle, and more. Everyone participating will become a contributor. It's a big change from the resorts that encourage you to lay down your money and take whatever you want."

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"This program will be alluring to the children, but it will grab the adults." Clifford Nae'ole