Sun, surf and yoga may already be routine for those who live on Maui, but for "big-city" women visiting from the Mainland, a week spent on the beach is just the vacation they need.
SwellWomen owner Me-Shell Mijangos has been providing surf and yoga vacations in West Maui for a decade.
The California native moved to Maui in 2003 and was hired as the assistant director of Maui Surfer Girls, which provides surfing lessons and camps to men, women and children of all ages. Though she had only expected to stay on the island for a couple of months, Mijangos quickly decided she "just couldn't leave" Maui.
SwellWomen founder and owner Me-Shell Mijangos poses for a photo on the beach.
Photo courtesy of Swellwomen LLC.
Using money she had saved up for a trip around the world, Mijangos instead decided to use those funds to start a business that tied together her passion for surfing and love of yoga.
"This is a true vacation," Mijangos said. "Women are always having to figure out where to eat, the social calendar, what do we do next. I wanted to create something where every detail is already taken care of."
The weeklong retreat includes six-night accommodations at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, surf lessons from Goofy Foot Surf School every morning, sunset meditation and outdoor yoga classes, breakfast buffet, a private massage session, a catamaran cruise and other activities.
Over the last 10 years, women from all over the world - Tahiti, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, England - have enrolled in SwellWomen retreats, though most clients hail from the Mainland.
California resident Melinda Combs has visited Maui three times to take part in the retreats.
"It's the whole complete package," Combs said. "Me-Shell takes care of everything from where we stay, to the surfing lessons to the food to the yoga. There's a lot of attention and a lot of kindness and care, and it's a lot of fun."
She added that the highlight of her trips has always been the women she has met during the retreats - she still surfs once a week with a California woman she met while on Maui.
"It's a huge getaway and a huge recharge, it's just a really fun week," Combs said.
Empowering women has always been one of the goals of the retreats, Mijangos said.
"Surfing and yoga both give your brain a break from smartphones or computers, and it lets you be in the present moment," Mijangos said. "Women need to get away and be empowered from learning a new sport and taking care of themselves."
Honokowai resident Claudia Micco, who teaches yoga for SwellWomen, said that the women who sign up for the retreat are seldom the same women by the end of the week, once they've been "Maui-ized."
"The retreat starts off with people coming in nervous and they don't know what to expect," Micco said. "They're all nervous the first day or two, but by the third day, they look different. The tension is gone, you can see that whatever they brought from the Mainland with them is gone, which is kind of the goal, to let go of whatever they had and be open to a new experience."
All levels of surfers and yogis, from beginners to advanced, are welcome to take part in the retreat.
When asked if she ever regrets not using the money for a trip around the world, Mijangos said, "Not really. Now, the world comes to me."
SwellWomen is offering four retreats this year. Rates range from $2,295 to $3,695 per person. Dates still available are: Aug. 31 to Sept. 6 and Sept. 7 to Sept. 13.
Custom retreat packages and kamaaina rates are also available. For more information, go to swellwomen.com, send email to aloha@swellwomen. com or call toll-free at (800) 399-6284.
* Eileen Chao can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.