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Diving with… Simon Doughty, Volivoli Beach Resort, Rakiraki, Fiji

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In this ongoing series, we speak to the people who run dive centres, resorts and liveaboards from around the world about their businesses and the diving they have to offer…


What is your name?

Simon Doughty

What is the name of your business?

Volivoli Beach Resort, Rakiraki Fiji Islands.

It is a family owned and operated business. The Darling family, originally from New Zealand found this ‘block of land’ and over the last 20-years have developed it into Fiji’s Premier Dive Resort with clients flocking from around the globe to experience our unique part of heaven.

What is your role within the business?

Sales & Marketing Manager / Dive Operations Manager

How long has the business operated for?

The resort is now in it’s 17th  year however the business initially started via our dive arm which is called Ra Divers back in 2000. We have consistently been growing and investing and now as an award winning boutique dive resort are proud to be acknowledged as Fiji’s Premier Dive Resort within the global diving community.

How long have you dived for, and what qualification are you?

I have been diving for over 30-years and I am an SSI Instructor Certifier (IC)

What is your favorite type of diving?

I love all diving, I love every dive I do however currently diving the beautiful Bligh Water in Fiji I am never amazed at the amount of incredible diversity of critters and colourful corals that are in our waters. I also love spending time in underwater cave systems and historical shipwrecks when I travel.

If you could tell people one thing about your business (or maybe more!) to make them want to visit you what would it be?

At Volivoli Beach Resort our clients frequently tell us they feel more like family than just a guest, after all Fiji is known as the ‘friendliest country on earth’ and once a diver experiences the incredible Bligh Water, ‘soft coral capital of the world’ and Fiji’s # 1 Dive Region we know they will be back. We dive the Bligh Water 365-days a year and have 9-regions with over 80-dive sites.

What is your favorite dive in your location and why?

For me I like Cannibals Cave at the moment due to its massive swim-throughs, and canyons, diversity of marine life, massive soft coral decorated walls however my favourite site changes quite regularly. I also love exploring and mapping new sites and of course world-famous sites like Mellow Yellow, Black Magic Mountain and E6 are always something special.

What types of diving are available in your location?

With over 80-mapped sites in 9-regions we certainly have something for almost every diver. Massive sea mounds coming up from 2,000msw to just breaking the surface on low tide, walls and pinnacles, many starting in just 2msw, some bottoming out shallow at 10 or 12msw with others dropping off to 30msw and far beyond. We have 3 House Reefs with super easy walk-in/walk-out access directly in front of the dive shop. The Bligh Water is universally known as not only Fiji’s #1 Dive Region and the ‘soft coral capital of the world’ and the diversity of marine life from the tiniest nudibranch or pigmy sea horse right through to massive schooling pelagic fish and sharks. We have 5 purpose built dive boats and explore the Bligh Water 365-days a year.

What do you find most rewarding about your current role?

I love seeing our guests return multiple times, it says to me we are doing something right, we have a great offer and service, we know they can choose anywhere to travel and dive however returning clients always make me smile.

What is your favorite underwater creature?

Just like dive sites this changes regularly however I think at the moment I would say octopus as they really are a magical creature.

As a center what is the biggest problem you face at the moment?

Currently like everyone else we are struggling with the restrictions around COVID-19 and international travel, this is especially hard on us at 95% of our business comes from overseas and our borders have been closed since 23rd March 2020, so we are well into our 2nd year of essentially no business.

Is your center involved in any environmental work?

Yes absolutely we do a lot of environmental work and also involve the community and local schools in an effort to help pass on and educate our future generations. Some examples of this are mangrove propagation and replanting, we are currently installing a new hard coral nursery with the longer term plan to be able to transplant the maturing coral to other areas within Fiji that are not so well established. We also run events around World Sea Turtle Day, World Environment Day, World Oceans Day and World Clean Up Day and again actively involve the community.

Are there any exciting changes / developments coming up in the near future?

We never stop! During this ‘downtime’ due to COVID-19 restrictions our construction team have been busy extending our second restaurant and bar, which we call the Ra Bar (we are located in the Ra province of Fiji) on the beach and in the same building as our dive shop. It is magnificent and the perfect place to start a day with coffee and dawn breaking or watch sensational tropical sunset over an ice cold beer or yummy cocktail. We are also part way through constructing our new conference centre which will also be used for photography workshops and classroom with full multimedia and air-conditioned.

How do you see the SCUBA / Freediving / snorkeling industry overall? What changes would you make?

If we currently remove the obvious COVID-19 obstacle the industry appears sound, we are teaching new students, doing lots of specialty courses, our market today may be slightly older than those of the past however SCUBA has few boundaries when it comes to age and our clients of today appear to have more disposable income and the ability to travel the world.

Finally, what would you say to our visitors to promote the diving you have to offer?

Fiji really is an easy sell, magnificent tropical location; the Bligh Water is home to arguably the most vibrant and healthy reef system on the planet, warm water (26⁰c/31⁰c), Fiji is frequently acknowledges at the ‘friendliest country on earth’ – we have a modern boutique resort, 33 rooms, all with ocean views, fully air-conditioned, 2 restaurants, 3 bars, 5 swimming pools, 5 purpose built dive boats, over 80 dive sites and offer unlimited free of charge diving on our 3 House Reefs 24/7 for anyone staying on a full dive package. Arrive as a guest, leave as a friend!

Where can our visitors find out more about your business?

Our website is www.volivoli.com, we are active on Facebook either at Volivoli Beach or Ra Divers and Instagram volivoli_beach_resort – you can contact us directly via email res@volivoli.com or call + 679 992 0942 or our US office audrey@volivoli.com

Gear Reviews

Gear Review: Fourth Element 3mm Neoprene Gloves (Watch Video)

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In a video shot exclusively for Scubaverse.com, Jeff Goodman reviews the 3mm Neoprene Gloves from Fourth Element.

For more information, visit www.fourthelement.com

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Veterans take part in Hadrian’s Wall trek to raise funds for their ‘Red Sea family’

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A group of veterans from Scuba Diving rehabilitation charity Deptherapy have pledged to take part in a 40 mile expedition-style trek along historic Hadrian’s Wall this July to raise funds for the staff at Egyptian dive centre and resort Roots Red Sea.

The dive centre in El Quseir has been closed since the start of the Covid-19 Pandemic last Spring and with Egypt now on the red list for UK travellers it is unlikely to be able to re-open in the near future. UK couple Steve and Clare Rattle, who own Roots Red Sea, have been supporting the 16 staff of the dive centre and their families but faced with an ever increasingly uncertain future, the Deptherapy beneficiaries wanted to add their support too.

Roots Red Sea is Deptherapy’s home from home in Egypt and the location where the charity’s majority of overseas training courses and expeditions are held. The facilities at the Egyptian dive centre and resort are a perfect fit for the charity offering an ideal combination of self-contained and fully adapted accommodation, as well as a team of highly trained staff.

Deptherapy normally runs 2-3 trips to Roots Red Sea each year but recent and planned trips continue to be a casualty of Covid. For the time being, training has shifted to UK waters, but their Egyptian family is never far from the minds of the Deptherapy Team.

“We’re hoping to raise £3,000 for the staff at Roots to support their families due to hardship caused by the pandemic,” explains Tom Oates, Deptherapy Divemaster, Ambassador and former Scots Guard.

“Deptherapy has been a lifeline for so many of us beneficiaries and an essential part of that journey has been our scuba diving adventures at Roots Red Sea. We view the staff at Roots as part of our extended families. They have become close friends. The welcome, service and care we are shown is unbelievable but now it is our turn to give something back. The staff at Roots have given us everything and have helped to save and change our lives. Now, they need our support.”

“This is an amazing endeavour from the guys at Deptherapy,” says Steve Rattle, who is organising the logistics of the trek which is planned to stretch over several days. “We have supported the charity for many years; it’s always been a delight to have them come to Roots and to see them really benefit from the experience. Now the tables are turned, and it is the families of Roots that are in need of help. It is really humbling to have Team Deptherapy now raising money for them. Awesome effort!”

The fundraiser is scheduled to take place from 12th -16th July 2021 starting from Heddon on the Wall in the east to Lenercost in the west. The route has been designed to take in a variety of features including many historical sites such as the Roman Army Museum at Greenhead.

Please give generously to sponsor Team Deptherapy in their quest to raise £3000 for the families of Roots Red Sea at the special JustGiving Page: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/rootsredseafundraiser

For more information about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education visit www.deptherapy.co.uk.

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Competitions

Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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