In 2008 Kristin took a leap of faith, following her heart to the most remote place she’d known to date—the north shore of Maui. She left the comfortable confines of a stable life and landed in far humbler circumstances with no job, in a recession. Why? Nature called her to explore. And she did—swiftly getting involved in projects that brought her to Africa, Asia, and into interactions that forever changed her way of seeing the world. As she says, “I experienced more magic than I could have ever imagined, leading up to meeting Sven Lindblad on Maui in 2015.” Now she’s exploring further, on a firm passion platform: ocean advocacy.
After three years of traveling to some of the most remote areas of the ocean, diving extensively, and developing a more serious underwater photography practice, Kristin recognized that she loved working in the field with scientists and raising awareness for important ocean issues. She began writing and sharing stories—Virgin, Newsweek, and Scientific American. And serving as an ambassador to ocean-oriented non-profits, Oceanic and Beneath the Waves.
She also truly loved expressing the beauty of the ocean.
In August of 2018, she launched OCEANSCAPES, an ocean conservation-focused photography brand that invites and encourages all to “feel the ocean.” This April, Kristin launched an eco-waterwear line in partnership with Ranifly Bikini. It features custom prints developed from Kristin’s OCEANSCAPES photographs, on fabric created from recycled materials including ocean plastic (ghost fishing nets). And in June, she will present a solo exhibition in San Francisco hosted by WildAid, the organization committed to fighting illegal wildlife trafficking worldwide.
Proudly multi-hyphenate, Kristin shares “all things life” with her partner, Sven, in a triangle—Maui, New York and the world. And through her active and ardent activism, she makes the case that women, with their keen sense of intuition and ability to multi-task and problem-solve, are the quintessential explorers. We salute her as one who clearly is.
> We asked Kristin Hettermann:
Why do you explore?
To get a greater understanding of the planet and interconnectedness between natural and human systems. I explore as a practice, to constantly be reminded to feel gratitude for the blessings I have, and humbleness for the magnitude and power of Mother Nature. I explore to inquire deeply and gather research about energetic attractions—in the field, interacting with animals and learning more about how they like to interact with us. I explore to observe, to open my eyes and feel. Through sharing and caring, we are able to positively influence and affect other’s interpretation of the world around us, and that sometimes can raise awareness for challenging and important issues.
What is your favorite Lindblad destination?
French Polynesia. For one, it combines two things important to me: Hawaii, and a deep interest in learning more about the Polynesian spirit; and France, where I studied French language and culture. I also feel the oceans of French Polynesia are some of the most abundant in the world, and hopefully, with the right measures, will continue to be. It’s one of the best places in the world to see sharks. And nothing is more romantic than getting lost in the endless chain of picture-perfect pieces of paradise. I also feel a connection to the Lindblad itineraries. Sven first took me to French Polynesia in 2016 to do a preliminary scout in the Tuamotus; on an official reconnaissance trip in 2017; and in 2018 we joined National Geographic Orion on her first season exploring French Polynesia.
What’s your advice for the next generation of women explorers?
- Be kind: it opens up a lot of doors
- Be thoughtful: It shows you care
- Connect: Feel the energy of the land, and tune in to the current of the people’s lives; be on their level
- Say yes: You never know what you might see and learn
- Show appreciation: It’s a gift to be an explorer and when people help you along the way, show how much it means to you
- Create: Wait for your inspiration and follow it.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I get quite nervous speaking in front of people. Often during my 15 years in public relations, I was behind the scenes promoting other people’s dreams and agendas. Now I’m moving into a phase of a life where it seems as if destiny is calling me forward, so I think I need to take a course in public speaking!
To see Kristin’s ocean image gallery, visit oceanscapesphotography.com. And if you’re interested in seeing the eco-waterwear line, designed and created by Kristin and her partner, visit raniflybikini.com