Out to sea with a friend. Credit: Jope Rabukawaqa
The Deepblu Diver Spotlight series brings you the stories from our community of divers and ocean lovers. This week we interview Jope Rabukawaqa, a life-loving Fijian Dive professional who’s now reminiscing from his new home in Denmark.
You’re one of our more viral users, what gives you the urge to adventure?
I like to see new things with my own two eyes and experience them first-hand, it's like an adrenaline rush. It's exciting to experience new things everywhere I go rather than looking at them on a page of a magazine and dreaming about them or wishing that I was there.
You’ve also developed video and photo skills to share your dives, was this always the plan?
No, it wasn't the plan. I just made dive videos for memories of places I have dove in Fiji, and with different apps now I just thought it was fun just to do a bit of editing on old videos from seven to nine years ago.
Conservation is a big topic for you, us as well, how would you recommend people help the waters and the living things in them?
We can help the water by not polluting it with rubbish, especially plastic stuff. We can help the marine life by teaching our friends and families, villagers and community, about the vital role this marine life plays in determining the very nature of our planet. About how important it is that it is not overfished because marine life produce much of the oxygen we breathe. Shorelines are in part shaped and protected by marine life, and some marine organisms even help create new land.
Back to the basics, how did you get into diving?
I grew up on Fiji, an island surrounded by the biggest ocean in the world, the Pacific Ocean. My love and passion for diving started at a very young, tender age of 10 years old. When kids in the city were going to the movies or shopping at malls, I’d hang out with my friends in the village and spear fish for Sunday lunch, or grill on the beach and simply hang out. That was basically my weekend for a large part of my youth.
We noticed on your profile that you worked in hotels. You seem like a friendly, personal guy. Do you still work in hospitality? How do you incorporate that into your diving?
For nearly ten years, I worked as a diving professional in hotels in the touristy western part of Fiji, mostly around the Mamanuca and Yasawa groups of islands. In late 2014, I migrated to Denmark, but diving will always be part of me for the rest of my life. I still dive but now only on holidays. I see myself as an easy-going person, as you would expect from a Fijian. I live every day as it is my last, always trying to make my family, friends and people I meet along the way happy, and just to enjoy life. At the same time I want them to appreciate the same things and live life to the fullest with no regrets."
How’s your life in Denmark? How did you end up there? How’s the diving?
Denmark is cold, windy, and rainy most times, but summer now is sunny and warm. I ended up here because my wife is from here in Denmark and we moved here because there's better opportunity for our daughter in terms of education and medical care, and also because to get Danish citizenship she has to have lived here for at least one year before she turns 21 years old.
In familiar waters. Credit: Jope Rabukawaqa
What’s the best thing about being under water?
The best thing about being underwater for me is the peace and quiet it gives me. Being surrounded by vibrant color and marine life completely takes over and distracts me—helps me think. It's just a whole different world all together. When I'm stressed or frustrated I go diving just to think. It takes the stress out of me, and when I resurface, I’m recharged with new ideas on how I want to tackle head-on the rest of the day or week at work.
If our community members come to Fiji, what can they expect?
They can expect a lot of wonderful diving places, depending on what they want to do. Fiji time rules, very laid back lifestyle, friendly smiling faces. Fiji is family-oriented in everything we do. Family for us is everything. So, when you land in Fiji we treat our guests as our own family. I always say to guests when they arrive to the hotel, “welcome home!” No matter how long you’re in Fiji, you are family and this is your home away from home. Happy people, very laid back, good diving, and very family-oriented.
Thanks for talking to us, Jope!
Thanks, and hope to see you in Fiji soon.
I sent Jope a follow-up on his group in Fiji, the Beqa Adventure Divers (BAD), or his “bad boys,” who he says have “balls of steel.” He let me know that, beyond being a dive crew, they consist of camera operators, marine biologists, and others doing work for the marine life and the sport of diving in Fiji. That gets us at Deepblu excited to get down there and support their efforts.
-Todd Allen Williams, Senior Editor