Surf camp for grownups
An all-inclusive Maui getaway introduces one woman to the fine art of surfing.
SwellWomen Surf School (© Ian Strickland/SwellWomen, LLC)
From an ant's perspective, it was a tsunami -- a frothy thundering wave, curling and crushing sea anemones in its path. As it approached me, I paddled furiously with my tiny T. rex arms feeling the wave rise beneath me.
Pushing up on my yellow surfboard, I awkwardly hoisted myself upright and held my breath. In a teetering attempt to catch my first wave, I hunched over like a prehistoric hominid, hovering in gawky limbo for approximately 2 seconds before promptly losing my balance and doing a face-flop into the salty Pacific Ocean.
This was day one of surf camp at SwellWomen, a weeklong surf and yoga retreat along Maui's west coast, just afew miles north of Lahaina. It's an all-inclusive, all-women's wellness program offered from April to September. Founder Me-Shell Mijango started SwellWomen eight years ago. She left her corporate job in New York City and vowed to "follow her bliss" by traveling around the world. Shortly into her adventure, she came to Maui and, what was supposed to be a two-month visit, turned into a 10-year business venture. "I combined my two passions of surfing and yoga to create a wellness-minded retreat," she explained "This program is a way for women to give back to themselves, feel empowered and have fun learning something new."
While there are surfing meccas all over the world, from Costa Rica to Indonesia, Maui's gentle waves and warm waters make it a great surf choice for beginners. The birthplace of surfing, Hawaii in general is a good choice for a getaway. A trip to this distinctly atypical American state gives you an exotic flavor without a hassle. No international flight drama, no foreign currency or language barriers, just clear blue waters, white sand, surf and a whole lot of hula souvenirs.
There, bobbing in the water on a mission to live out my Point Break dreams, I prepped myself for my next wave. All the lessons we learned in class were racing through my brain: how to read the waves, control your board, navigate in the right direction, do a turtle roll and abide by the unspoken code of surf etiquette. It's a lot to think about when you're just trying not to fall on your face.