Last year I met Lila Jones, who told me she just started a mermaid school in Maui. I met up with her again in the spring of 2016 with my daughter and friends to experience this unique school first-hand. The seas were angry on this particular day, but despite some big waves and rough waters - the girls had a great time. Had it been a normal calm day in Wailea, they would have put on masks and learned about the underwater ecology.
Here’s the story I wrote for Marin Magazine, about Lila's dream to become a mermaid (which explains it all).
For the ultimate in underwater sightseeing, how about being a mermaid for the day? Luckily, if you’re heading to Maui, it can happen. Lila Jones, a newly minted marine biologist from Hawaii Pacific University, has just invested in a quiver of strap-on tails and is open for business. Her company, Light of Lemuria Retreats, is named after the mythological ancient civilization Lemuria, the Pacific Ocean counterpart of Atlantis. “I always loved the ocean,” says Jones, who grew up in Concord in the East Bay, and “I was lucky I was born at the perfect time to become obsessed with mermaids” — the late ’80s, when the Disney movie The Little Mermaid was showing. Jones’ mother continually encouraged her daughter to create a vision for her life.
“When I was little and told her I was going to be a mermaid, she looked worried and told me that wasn’t a real job,” Jones recalls, “and she tried to convince me to visualize other things, so I picked marine biology,” having seen “Free Willy at the age of 5.” After some parental nudging, Jones moved to Hawaii to pursue a marine biology career and worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but has now found a way to make mermaids part of her métier. “Now I’m using my degree and working as a mermaid to teach people about the ocean I love in a way that sticks with them when they leave,” she says. “It’s a magical experience, especially during humpback whale season when the whales are constantly singing.” It’s also “a unique type of family retreat with a dash of education,” she adds. “This is how you make an impact on a personal level to inspire global change.” Clients leave with a smile, a deeper appreciation of the world we share with so many fragile sea creatures, and “a really great new profile pic for their Facebook page.”
If you want to book a lesson email me at mimi@HawaiiIslander.com, or contact her directly and let her know you heard about her through HawaiiIslander.