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Forbes Senior Contributor Bill Springer shares his recent once-in-a-lifetime adventure in Fiji. While there to become SCUBA certified, Bill soon realized it would be “more than fun. It was going to be special.”

I’m extremely grateful that my “job” as a yachting journalist brings me to some of the most exotic, exclusive, and extreme destinations in the world. The stories I’ve written about my high-latitude adventures with EYOS aboard Hanse Explorer in Antarctica, and Nansen Explorer in Iceland, are some of my all-time favorites.

But now that I’ve just returned from a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Fiji (and finally got certified to dive), exploring warm, impossibly-blue-crystal-clear-water filled with pristine coral reefs in the South Pacific has jumped to the top of my all-time favorites list.

I knew diving in Fiji was going to be fun. However, it wasn’t until we were greeted by a group of smiling locals singing a traditional welcome song, and I almost started, um…crying that I realized it was going to be more than fun. It was going to be special.

Needless to say, the welling up on arrival surprised me a bit. But I wasn’t the only one in our little group to be moved by such a warm welcome. We’d all traveled a very long way. We’d all escaped the stress of modern American life. And this was our first taste of authentic Fijian culture that values community and produces a wonderful feeling of kindness and love that you could see in people’s eyes and feel in your chest.

Everyone on the island, from our local dive instructors to the rest of the support staff, were happy, smart, friendly, capable people who cared for us in the same way they care for their families and the natural world—with their hearts.

The mornings were filled with world-class diving and the afternoons were filled with world-class relaxing. And I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had way more than my fair share of relaxing on superyachts and hyper-luxury resorts over the years. But it wasn’t until we were offered a chance to visit a nearby village that I was reminded that the most important and restorative trips are often way more than just relaxing. The best trips are the ones that can help you see the world with more reverence, respect, kindness, and contentment.

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That’s exactly what happened to me on this trip. We saw how increased storms and sea level rise have made a significant impact on village life. And we helped plant 150 new mangrove shoots to help the locals make their shoreline more resilient too. Of course, planting a few trees is not going to fix the problem of global warming and periodic village flooding. But, getting our hands dirty and planting trees side-by-side with our hosts who were grateful for the help was actually pretty powerful in ways that I’m only realizing now.

First off, and this is a well-known fact, working to help others and taking positive action, no matter how small, will always produce a feeling of gratitude and contentment that all of us humans yearn for—but frankly don’t always realize. And the bonds we formed with each other, and our hosts, by simply planting a few mangrove shoots produced feelings of human connection that we humans also crave—and need to reinforce more than ever after years of pandemic-forced isolation.

And all those truly meaningful encounters happened before we were introduced to the ladies of the village who welcomed us with a traditional Fijian kava ceremony in the main meeting hall. (Kava is a mildly narcotic drink made from the crushed root of the yaqona and water and served in a large communal bowl).

And I’m not too proud to report that my heart simply broke open when we visited the one-room village school. Seeing those smiling kids in that humble school filled with love did more than just touch me. Visiting that Fijian village has honestly made my life just a little bit better simply because It’s helped me be just a little more grateful, compassionate, and understanding than I was before.

Who knew a luxury dive trip to the tropics could be so meaningful? Stay tuned for more.

To plan your own Fijian adventure aboard Hanse Explorer in 2024 contact info@eyos.com and begin your journey into the Pacific.

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