Maui’s Mermaid Magic

In the waters of Hawaii, a maritime myth becomes reality


Forget whales and dolphins. The most unusual marine mammals you may discover in the waters around Maui are mermaids. Yep, as in women with tails. Make that women wearing tails. A mermaid suit may seem like a costume, but it’s actually an innovative type of diving gear that has spawned a new sport. Built into the tail is a special swim fin that resembles the tail fluke of a whale. Known as a mono fin, it holds the user’s two feet inside one fin to create a powerful whale-like swimming motion. Mono fin swimming first gained popularity in the sport of free diving, and it was only a matter of time before imaginative innovators added the fabric sheath to create the appearance of a tail.

three mermaids

A trio of breath-holding free divers wearing special mono fin-equipped mermaid tails descends onto a coral reef on the western shore of Maui. Photo: Hawaii Mermaid Adventures

Swimming with a mermaid tail takes a bit of practice, which is exactly what is offered at Hawaii Mermaid Adventures. Located in the Kihei region on Maui’s west coast, this school for aspiring mermaids offers training sessions that prepare participants for supervised swims on nearby coral reefs. Instructors are certified lifeguards with years of experience. In addition to teaching the techniques of monofin swimming, the program delves into mermaid mythology and sailors’ tales, along with fascinating facts on marine life and underwater environment. A high point of the two-hour swimming session is an underwater photo shoot that captures mermaid memories with images that can be shared as proof that mermaids really do exist.