Cayman’s natural beauty is its most precious resource – it is what draws visitors from around the globe here.
Whether you are a resident of Cayman or a visitor, one of the best ways to have your eyes opened to the world around you is Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment programme at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
The programme is operated out of the Heritage House, which walks the walk when it comes to the eco focus of the programme, with sustainable materials used wherever possible, a ceiling fan run on solar power, solar tubes in each room to provide natural light and even a small wind turbine which charges a bank of batteries. You will even find recycled denim jeans used for insulation in the walls.
“The programme lives what it preaches,” says Kirstyn Werner, the naturalist supervisor for the programme.
“All the naturalists come from science background and have a science degree, but the guests are having so much fun that they don’t realise they are learning,” she says.
Although the children’s programmes that Ambassadors presents are very well known, they also host programmes for all ages.
“Some of the other really fun adult programmes that we do include the mangrove kayak, and the shipwreck snorkel is also very popular – we usually go to the wreck of the Cali in George Town because it is a great opportunity to teach a bit of history and culture about the Island but then there is also a reef behind it so they get both,” says Kirstyn.
They also offer two truly unique programmes; a night snorkel and an underwater photography course for snorkelling.
The night snorkel is perfect for those who are not quite ready to head out on a night dive, but want to experience the different underwater world at night.
“They meet here, they get a slideshow about what comes out at night. Everyone gets their own underwater flashlight. Once you’re out there your world just becomes where that flashlight is. You have a much better chance of seeing lobster, crabs, stingrays and at night coral comes out as well, so that is a different view of coral as well,” says Kirstyn.
The underwater photography course is also very popular as it is very accessible.
“We provide the guests with a digital camera and underwater housing and that is a great adult and family programme. Our naturalists first teach them a few tips on how to use the cameras before we go snorkelling. The naturalists are there to help point things out, discuss what they are seeing and even help take some pictures with the guests underwater,” says Kirstyn.
Once the snorkel is complete, guests get to process their photos and burn them onto a CD. This makes it the perfect eco-friendly activity, with guests taking only photos and leaving only ripples.
For parents who might want to spend an evening sampling the dining delights of the Ritz-Carlton’s numerous restaurants, the programme also offers night programmes three nights a week.
“Tuesday night we have both the kids and youth programmes, and Friday and Saturday night are all ages,” says Kirstyn.
It is even possible to host kids’ birthday parties there.
“You have the safety and security of knowing that your kids are being well looked after. We have the facility here to keep them safe but still have fun, but there is also the opportunity of knowing that they will be in the hands of trained naturalists,” says Kirstyn.