Imagine: your boat glides through the cold North Atlantic waters. As the boat slows, your anticipation builds. The captain cuts the engine, and you slip over the side of the boat into the icy water. Not far off, you see a plume of spray shoot into the air. You dive down under the surface and see a giant moving toward you. You can’t believe your eyes as you realize you are now face to face with a curious humpback whale. This is just one of the many exciting options people can choose from when they take an excursion with Ocean Quest Adventures.
Now in its twentieth year of operation, Ocean Quest Adventures was founded by Rick and Debbie Stanley in 1997. A diver himself, Rick wanted to be able to take friends out on the water to explore the local marine life and the many shipwrecks surrounding Bell Island. Specialized equipment was needed for these excursions, and thus the concept for Ocean Quest Adventures was born. By 2001, Ocean Quest Adventures had its own dive shop, training pool, and boat—all of which were located in Conception Bay South. By 2015, Ocean Quest realized it had outgrown its space in the Stanleys’ backyard, and Rick and Debbie moved their headquarters into St. John’s.
In 2013, Holly—Rick and Debbie’s daughter—took over as co-owner of Ocean Quest and joined her father in the family business. Holly began diving at the tender age of 8, and was eager to become a part of Ocean Quest’s legacy. As General Manager, Holly Green oversees 8 year-round staff and over 20 seasonal staff. She plays a key role in the company’s sales and marketing, and plans and books tours/excursions.
NLOWE sat down with Holly to discuss her experience with Ocean Quest Adventures and the future of her family business:
What are some of your most memorable Ocean Quest moments?
“Swimming with whales every summer. There’s just something about being down in that dark water and seeing a white glow coming up from the depths. When it gets closer, you can tell it’s a whale. They are just as curious about us as we are about them. It’s incredible.”
What is the biggest challenge that comes with operating a tourism business in Newfoundland and Labrador?
“Definitely the seasonality factor, stemming from the Newfoundland weather. Because the entire business does not operate year-round, it can make keeping qualified staff challenging.”
Who are some notable people who have taken part in an Ocean Quest Adventures excursion?
“A few individuals of note are Jacob Hoggard (lead singer of Hedley), Newfoundland and Labrador comedian Shaun Majumder, and a number of well-known nature cinematographers.”
What does the future look like for Ocean Quest Adventures?
“We are looking forward to helping grow the cultural side of the tourism industry in Newfoundland and Labrador. We plan to embrace the weather and resources and work to expand our tourism season.”
If you could offer one piece of advice to someone looking to start a tourism-based business in Newfoundland and Labrador, what would it be?
“Embrace what we have to offer, whether that’s nature, our seasonal weather, or our culture. Stand by that, but don’t be afraid to diversify if needed.”
Three of the most popular Ocean Quest adventure excursions (in no particular order):
- Snorkelling with Whales—Jump into the water with humpback whales in this awe-inspiring experience.
- Wrecks & Reefs of Bell Island—Dive in the waters of Conception Bay South and see WWII shipwrecks and sea stacks (reef diving) while you experience rich marine life.
- Sea Caves Tours—Explore the rocky coastline and get into the nooks and crannies via kayak. Or get right in the water and snorkel. Afterwards, enjoy a picnic lunch on the banks of the Manuels River.
“Did two days of wreck diving with an incredible staff. The wrecks of Conception Bay South are incredible and must-see for any diving enthusiast. And Snorkelling with Whales is unique, fun, and breathtaking.”
“The snorkelling trip was a once-in-a-lifetime experience! The team is top notch, with your safety and that of the whales their primary concern. First-rate equipment is available for rent and the team work very hard to make sure you have an amazing experience. Great people, amazing setting, and an unique experience.”
“Four of us went on the Whale Close Encounter tour and it is the best experience I’ve had in Newfoundland to date. Professional, organized, and genuinely fun people run the trip. We swam with two humpbacks for an hour and it was truly mesmerizing.
Great trip, no fussing about, and would recommend it to anyone.”