Wanna be where the people aren't? Think that it's better down where it's wetter...?
As a little girl I’d avidly watched Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Splash!, and religiously attended my swimming lessons every Saturday morning. So imagine my delight when I’d heard about the fantastical new sport of Mermaiding, birthplace: BORACAY!!!
What is Mermaiding?
‘Mermaiding’ a word coined by the Boracay Philippine Mermaid Swimming Academy (PMSA) is described as being ‘an artistic expression and a fun, whimsical way to keep fit’, and the Philippine Mermaid Swimming Academy was the first in the world to educate people in the art of swimming like a mermaid (or merman!). It’s accessible to everyone – all age groups and genders. And it’s SO. Much. Fun.
Mermaid School Boracay
When I arrived at Fisheye Divers in Station 1, where the Boracay Philippine Mermaid Swimming Academy is based, I was asked my foot size so I had a correctly-fitting monofin. The mermaid swimming instructor showed us how to fit the gorgeous stretch-fabric mermaid tail, by the Mermaid Tail Factory to the monofin and we headed to the beach for a photo-op. As we walked, the other three girls in my ‘class’, all in their 20s, were chattering excitedly and I was enchanted to see that the childhood fantasy of becoming a Madison or an Ariel was as exciting for them as it was for me.
Before the tails went on, our Boracay Mermaid Swimming Instructor took us through a few simple stretches on the shore to ensure we didn’t injure ourselves in the water. The plastic mermaid tail can apparently feel a little heavy on the ankles, but doing the stretches helped loosen us up.
A dream come true
Then, sitting in the sand, grinning with anticipation, I slipped my feet into the mermaid tail and rolled the light stretch-fabric up. Feeling my legs snugly encased, I adjusted the waist…. And bingo!! I was suddenly transformed from human into a real Boracay Mermaid! It felt amazing and I flapped my mermaid tail in the sand in glee. Our mermaid swimming instructor showed us the best positions to pose in, in order to achieve the perfect mermaid look for our photos and, after a few shots in the sand, we shuffled like reverse caterpillars into the shallows.
Mermaid Swimming Lesson
Being in the water with ‘one leg’ felt really odd to begin with and the fin a little heavy, but I quickly realized that propelling yourself forward requires the typical undulating move you see dolphins use – the dolphin dive. With the mermaid swimming instructor’s help, I found it relatively easy to master this move and you can really speed forward, powering through the water, it was a fantastic feeling! I just wished I had the ability to hold my breath for longer – no – I wished I could breathe underwater like a real creature from the deep! We were showed a couple of other movements; breast stroke and back stroke, and then moved onto some mermaid-esque tricks for us to play with.
The forward and backwards rolls – simple somersaults in the water – I found pretty tricky, but then I recall being rather poor at those in swimming class all those years ago but a mermaid tail really helped me improve my technique! Mermaid handstands were next on the list, weirdly addictive as I felt like I’d nailed it… then… hold it, hold it… down my tail toppled, back into the sea. Take two… same again, then suddenly, after a few gos, I was upright for a couple of seconds and even managed a little wiggle of my mermaid tail. Very satisfying!
Armed with our newly-learnt skills, we were given time to practice and play, just like real, happy-go-lucky mer-people, and spent what only seemed like five minutes (but what was more like half an hour) splashing happily in the warm water, imagining what it would really be like swimming down, down, down into the depths towards the Kingdom of the mer-people. Mermaiding in Boracay is such a fun activity and I could have carried on for hours, attempting to perfect my tricks and technique, but sadly the lesson drew to a close and we headed back to shore to de-fin.
It felt really strange and a bit sad taking the mermaid tail off, I was surprised as to what an authentic feeling you get from wearing it; by then I actually felt like a mermaid, it was incredible! And you feel a bizarre sense of freedom being able to walk and move your legs individually after an hour of them being locked together. Back at the Philippine Mermaid Swimming Academy, our mermaid swimming instructor rewarded us each with a little certificate to mark our adventure and to commemorate our Boracay mermaiding achievements – a nice touch.
Is it worth it?
Definitely!!!!! Mermaiding with the Philippine Mermaid Swimming Academy Boracay is the perfect Boracay activity for anyone at any time. You can have a laugh with your girlfriends, attempt to coax your man into a mermaid tail, or do as I did and just go on your own for something to do one afternoon. Either way, it’s a great activity and it’s certainly something to tell everyone at home about. I know I’ll be going back for more, whether it’s by myself, with a group of friends or with the merman of my dreams!
People who love life and love trying new things: families, friends, stags/bachelorettes, couples, private photo shoots, pregnancy shoots, nervous swimmers, everyone really! All ages, genders and abilities! (You can even do Scuba Mermaid if you're a certified scuba diver!)
What we loved:
– You get to be a mermaid or merman… say no more!
– The tails are really comfortable and beautiful
What we didn’t:
– If the weather’s bad you have to go to a pool (which isn’t so Insta-friendly), but it’s still awesome
– People on the beach are of course intrigued to see mermaids, so be prepared for tourists to want to have their picture taken with you may be a bit intimidating if you’re the shy type!
– 9am-5pm, 7 days a week
– Introduction to Mermaiding, 1.5hrs: 2,000php
– Photo op (no swimming), 30mins: 1,000php
More juicy details:
– Check out the Philippine Mermaid Swimming Academy for all classes and contact the Boracay Mermaids on Facebook for bookings.
– If you want your very own mermaid tail (and what self-respecting mer-creature wouldn’t?!) check out the Mermaid Tail Factory.
– Lastly, if you’re truly ‘hooked’ on Mermaiding and fancy a career change, become a professional Mermaid Swimming Instructor with the International Mermaid Swimming Instructors Association. Now that’s a dream job and a half!
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