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Victor Surma Jr. is a PADI-certified scuba diver and the owner of EcoDive Resort—a nature-friendly scuba-diving retreat in Hawaii.
As a professional who is passionate about the environment, tourism and scuba diving, Victor Surma Jr. knew he had quite the challenge in front of him to create a career out of all three passions. However, being the steadfast entrepreneur that he is, Surma knew that he wanted to launch a vacation experience like no other—one that focused on being green, being relaxed and being curious. Specifically, EcoDive Resort was launched to provide eco-friendly travelers with an opportunity to stay in an authentic Hawaiian retreat and engage in scuba diving to revel in some of the most breathtaking underwater surroundings.
Created after Surma’s graduation in 2011, EcoDive Resort presents a unique opportunity for those who want to engage in sustainable diving. The retreat is situated upon land that was once a coffee farm, capturing not only a rare glimpse into natural history, but also paying tribute to one of the thriving industries of Hawaii. The resort features five small cabins—designed with sustainability in mind—for guests to relax in comfort while simultaneously creating a low impact on the planet. For example, using solar water heaters and solar panels, the cabins are able to provide hot water and electricity to guests with very little impact. The remaining land still functions as a coffee and vegetable garden, where produce is grown to be served to guests, truly capturing the value of locally-grown food.
As far as creating a sustainable diving experience, Victor Surma Jr. has designed a resort in which guests can explore the natural waters of Hawaii, but do not disturb the surrounding marine life.
EcoDive Resort is truly unique not only as one of the few sustainable diving retreats in the world, but also as a true representation of the life and values of Victor Surma Jr. Essentially, to be a guest at this authentically captivating retreat is to be given a glimpse into the heritage and belief system of Surma and his family. While he asserts that EcoDive Resort captures the history of his own past, Surma explains that the vacation retreat is also special, as it pays tribute to the cultural nature of Hawaii.
As an individual who was born in Hawaii, Victor Surma Jr. is quite familiar with the unique history and culture that this state represents. Throughout his childhood, Surma was not only able to gain an appreciation for the surrounding ocean life, but also for the equally diverse physical landscape of Hawaii. According to Surma, these mystifying islands are a perfect example of how man and nature can coexist to a peaceful end.
As a child, Surma was constantly exposed to the travel business and the experiences that vacationers wished to have—especially within the state of Hawaii. Both of Surma’s parents were actively involved in the tourism industry, giving him a chance to learn and grow with this distinctive segment of the Hawaiian economy. As his father was responsible for managing a small resort in Kona, Hawaii, Surma was able to grasp the important concept of customer service and delivering a quality experience to guests. With a mother who managed several tourist-oriented restaurants, Surma also gained a strong appreciation for culinary arts.
According to Victor Surma Jr., cuisine is a major part of Hawaiian culture and it is an aspect that he strives to highlight through his work at EcoDive Resort. Throughout his childhood, Surma recalls regularly shopping farmers’ markets to get some of the best local produce, specifically known to Hawaii—such as sweet onions, Kona coffee, pineapples and other greens. With such a focus on vegetation, Surma came to cherish fresh food, especially as his mother believed that eating what nature provided was an excellent way to commune with the land.
While paying respect to the planet and what it provides is important to Surma’s spiritual life, he is also a proud Christian, as religion played a major role throughout his early life. However, Surma’s upbringing remains unique as his mother was raised with a traditional observation of Hawaiian customs. As a result, Surma grew up in a Christian home that also honored the many customs of Hawaii—including a strong appreciation for nature and the elements. While this pairing of belief systems may not prove typical for many Americans, Surma explains that this background gave him the ability to not only respect the lives of people, but also cherish how man and nature work together in a harmonious fashion.
As a child, Victor Surma Jr. was known for spending a lot of time in the natural environment, allowing him to have the perfect introduction to the outdoor sports that he enjoys today. Specifically, it was during his youth that Surma developed a passion for snorkeling, surfing and hiking. While he has since become a PADI-certified scuba diver, Surma notes that snorkeling and surfing are what allowed him to become so fond of the ocean and the life it holds.
While surfing has since become an international craze, Surma explains that the sport was originally developed in Hawaii, thus explaining why many native Hawaiians are exposed to the activity in their early age. According to Surma, surfing not only allowed him to develop physical strength, but also gain a respect for the ocean and the tranquility it could provide. The unique sport also introduced him to the benefits of friendly competition and regular physical fitness.
In middle school, Surma became an active competitive surfer who participated in many surfing events throughout the state of Hawaii. With the ability to practice and compete in Hawaii, Surma was able to develop his surfing skills to a level that many other international surfers could only dream of. At the young at of 14, Surma’s talent brought him to a national surfing competition held in Huntington Beach, California. The trip was a success, as he finished at sixth place in the competition.
As a surfer, Surma gained a passion for resting on the waves, waiting to catch the next exhilarating set. However, as a snorkeler, Surma developed an interest in the biological nature of the ocean—for him the life that rests beneath the surface is almost like another world. Whether enamored with fish or colorful coral, Surma continues to show a strong admiration for marine life, which he tries to pass onto other scuba divers who are guests at his EcoDive Resort.
Understanding that he wanted to learn more about the ocean and the diverse ecology it represents, Surma set out to take a scuba diving certification course in high school. While he has already become familiar with underwater life as a snorkeler, Surma quickly discovered that scuba diving would allow him to get even closer to marine biology. As such, Surma earned his PADI Open Water certification and eventually saved his money to purchase high-quality dive equipment. By the time he graduated high school, Surma was regarded as a certified dive master.
While he had a strong passion for learning more about nature—in particular that of marine life—Surma pursued an undergraduate degree in business. This formal experience in higher education would provide him with the lessons needed to eventually run his own successful venture. Surma graduated from college in 2011, at which time he decided to move to the Grand Cayman Islands to work at a dive shop to learn more about the industry.
During his time in the Grand Cayman Islands, Victor Surma Jr. became more familiar with green living, particularly that of local farming and sustainable energy. As a result of these experiences, Surma has become committed to implementing these practices in his own daily life, as well as his business.
While the size and capacity of EcoDive Resort remains relatively small in comparison to other hospitality centers, Victor Surma Jr. looks forward to maintaining his business and attracting regular guests. He hopes that by exposing guests to the unique experiences available at EcoDive Resort, more people will not only be inclined to visit, but also become more appreciative of nature, scuba diving and sustainable living.
Many consumers have already become familiar with the concept of “green living” and have adopted many practices to reduce energy use as well as waste in order to protect the environment. While he remains supportive of these actions, Surma believes that the future will bring even more opportunities for people to lead comfortable lives that cause little to no impact to the planet. Surma anticipates the many innovations that will help transform the environmental impact mankind creates and plans on introducing these solutions into his resort if possible.
As a sustainable diving retreat, EcoDive Resort is positioned as a leader in the eco-friendly vacation industry. However, Surma notes that many other hotels, resorts and travel companies have an opportunity to implement sustainable practices in order to benefit not only the consumer, but also the world.
As a PADI-certified scuba diver, Surma looks forward to new innovations in scuba technology that will improve the way that divers experience marine life up close and personal. Although he enjoys exploring the ocean depths near his EcoDive Resort in Hawaii, Victor Surma Jr. also anticipates expanding his travels in the future to take on many more challenging and rewarding dives.
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