Maui, Green Travel: Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment

Take one of the most beautiful hotels in the Hawaiian islands, the always impeccable Ritz-Carlton service, a $180 million transformation, and a partnership with renowned diplomat for the environment, Jean-Michel Cousteau, and you have… the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua’s Ambassadors of the Environment program!

We can’t ever say enough about the Ritz. They just know how to do it right, down to the five food and beverage presentations of their Club Level, unmatched service with a smile, and now a program benefiting our most beloved resource… the ocean.

Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment program at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, Maui (and other select Ritz destinations worldwide) offers everything from underwater photography sessions at Kapalua Bay to seasonal whale-watching excursions paired with Trilogy, as well as hikes in the Kapalua Arboretum. The best part? All activities are led by trained naturalists with degrees in the sciences. I visited in February and had an amazing time playing tennis with my husband, enjoying their stunning spa (complete with a private co-ed hot tub), nibbling delectable cuisine on the Club Level (not to be missed if you’re staying at the Ritz), and alas… taking part in the Ambassadors of the Environment program.

Before our guide, Iokepa Naeole, took us on a memorable hike throughout the Kapalua Arboretum, he sang a moving Hawaiian prayer, thanking the environment for allowing us to appreciate her beauty and enter her honorable rainforest. When he sang, it seemed as if everything suddenly went still. The wind, the birds, and the trees. Once inside, Naole informed us about the culture, native endemic species and invasive species, but my favorite part of the hike was swinging from a branch like Tarzan while Naeole picked fruits for us to eat along the way.
The program certainly lived up to it’s goal: inspiring Ritz guests to live a more sustainable life with a greater understanding of the relationships between land to sea, humans to nature, people to people, and present to future. To that end, the center’s furniture is made with completely recycled materials like Marmeloum and tables made of reclaimed shredded U.S. currency and sunflower hull and straw. Using only CFL and LED lights, they also have dual-flush toilets and coreless toilet paper, 100% Recycled and biodegradable non-bleached paper towels, sustainable bamboo floors, reusable containers for beverages, and all single use products (cups, utensils, etc.) are made from non-GMO corn, potato or sugar cane that are biodegradable and compostable.

If that’s not impressive enough, they get their drinking water from one of the most space-age devices I’ve ever come across – an atmospheric water generator (AWG) which converts ambient atmospheric water vapor into potable water. It extracts, filters, treats and purifies water all from the air we breathe! I was so impressed with their eco-friendly earth-conscious tips that as soon as I’m in one place long enough, I’m saving up for that handy water vapor machine.  So we say, get on that first flight to Maui and be sure to follow up your visit by joining Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society (OFS), a non-profit that explores our global ocean, inspiring and educating people to act responsibly for its protection, documenting the critical connection between humanity and nature, and celebrating the ocean’s vital importance to the survival of life on our planet.

The ocean can’t wait!


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