JOHN HAWKINS Scuba Diving & Underwater Photographer Interview

March 20, 2017 by Laura Gomez


Name: John Hawkins
Age: 32

College: Ryerson University

Book: Life of Pi
Movie: Last King of Scotland
Food: Korean BBQ

How did you get into diving? When I started traveling a lot I came across many people who were divers so figured id give it a try!

Why do you do scuba dive? I scuba dive to relax, when Im 30 meters under the ocean, nothing else in the world matters.

Were you always interested in photography? Yes, since I was a kid I have always been taking pictures and enjoying seeing cool images

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life today? My parents have always supported me and helped with everything ive done. Even if we are across the globe from each other.

Could you give some tips for those interested in learning to dive? I suggest anyone who loves travel to try scuba diving. It opens up a new world of possibilities for your travel plans. And my number 1 advice, don’t make your judgment about scuba diving after only 1 or 2 dives, as I remember doing my training after 2 dives and thinking “no way i could do this alot”. that was 2000 dives ago. haha

What do you think you would want to be if you weren’t a diver? I am also a teacher, so Id probably just continue doing that. I love to be around kids, they give me lots of energy to live a crazy life.

How long have you been diving? And an underwater photographer? Ive been diving for 8 years, and from the time I did my open water training course I always had a camera. I have changed it a few times as I have become better with my photography.

What was the defining moment that made you want to become a scuba diver? I have always been in love with oceans, lakes etc and love to swim and be around water. Once I saw my first shark ( in thailand) I knew I was hooked and i wanted to search the world for all the biggest sharks!

How do you get ready for a dive trip? Make sure I have all my camera stuff in order,housings, lenses, gopros, mounts, etc. and make sure I know all the conditions about the location I am going. Some places with cold water require wetsuits, gloves, hoods, etc. I always like to be prepared well in advance so I know exactly what to expect when I arrive.

Where is the last place you travelled? I did a 6 week trip to Bahamas and Mexico. Was so incredible and got the chance to see all sorts of amazing marine life big and small.

What is the happiest or funniest moment you’ve shared with anyone Scuba diving?
Happiest moment, being able to pet some sharks in bahamas, and realizing that they truly love it!
funniest moment: well this is actually scary but turned funny. I ran out of air at 27 meters in the maldives after being surrounded by 20 or so mantas, turned funny when we hit the surface and realized it was going to be ok!

What do you think about technical diving? Im not into tec diving, I am not really into going super deep or testing my limits. I enjoy the areas where the sun hits and corals and marine life live!

What has been your biggest challenge in your life? Well, i have been living in Seoul, south korea for many years so id have to say its getting used to this culture, while still trying to stay true to my canadian roots!

Describe your best experience diving? Wow, this is a hard one. I have had so many. In Socorro, I was diving Roca Partida, an epic dive site in the pacific. We heard if you yell at the pinnicle and all the birds fly off its a sign of good luck. so of course we did it. Next dive, we drop down and can hear all these noises under the water. I assumed it to be dolphins of course, but as the noises got closer it turned out to be a huge pod of False killer whales. I had an epic encounter with them as they danced and played all around me. never to be forgotten.

Where is the most amazing place you have dived? another very tough question, I love so many different places around the world for scuba diviing including Sipadan, Komodo, Raja ampat, Mozambiques Tofo, South africas Protea banks, Socorro, maldives etc etc. but I would have to say my favorite place has been Tiger beach and Bimini in the Bahamas, the encounters I had there with sharks was like nowhere else in the world.

Walk me through a day in your life.
haha everyday is different for me, I dont have a fixed schedule so I just go with the flow and do different things everyday. The only thing I plan is my diving trips !

Where do you feel most like yourself? You photographed some incredible animals, everything from whales and dolphins to sharks and mantas to yellowfin tuna and bait balls. What has been your favorite wildlife encounter so far? If i Had to pick one, i would probably say that hitting a shark bait ball during the sardine run in south africa takes the cake! It lasted about 100 minutes and started out the size of a football field, ended when there were no sardines left, hundreds of sharks all around.

What goes through your mind when you’re in deep below the surface of the ocean? not much, its like my zen place, I am experienced enough to where i dont worry much under the water, just try to stay relaxed and take it all in.
Have you had any close encounters with sharks? yes, my true love under the water is sharks and I try to have as many close encounters as I can. Sharks are like puppies in my books !

What countries have you dived in and which would you say is the best dive site? I have dived in several countries all around the world including Japan, philippines, malaysia, thailand, indonesia, australia, fiji, palau, truk, yap, maldives, mozambique, south africa, kenya, tanzania, egypt, sudan, mexico, USA, spain.
Best dive site, id have to go with Roca Partida in Socorro. Its an epic places with lots of sharks, mantas, and almost anything can come out of the blue!

Where will your next adventure take you? I am going to Hawaii to dive with the Manta Rays of Kona at night.

Who are the sportsmen or sportswoman’s you admire the most? Rob Stewart was always an inspiration to anyone who loves sharks and the oceans. His tragic death has made everyone realize more how important his work was and still is as we move forward to save the shark population.

Where’s your next dive trip? I am going to Hawaii to dive with the Manta Rays of Kona at night.

How would your friends describe you? they would probably say im “crazy” but the good crazy! outgoing, fun and always up for any challenge you throw at me!

Define KLASSIK MAGAZINE for the audience? Cool!