If the recent news of Halle Bailey’s casting in Disney’s upcoming live-action version of The Little Mermaid has you wishing that you, too, could be part of Ariel’s world, I have excellent news for you: A San Diego Airbnb Experience will literally turn you into a mermaid for a day. Offered by “mermaid photographer” Shannon Subers, the “Play Mermaid For The Day” Experience offered via Airbnb’s platform will make you over to look like a mermaid, tail and all — and a few short weeks after the Experience itself, you’ll get a bunch of beautifully shot and edited photos of your magical day so you’ll never, ever forget it. How’s that for a dream come true?
Airbnb Experiences originally debuted as part of the big Trips update to the platform in November of 2016. At the time, only 500 Experiences were available across 12 cities — but in the nearly three years since then, the program has expanded exponentially, with more than 30,000 Experiences now available around the world. Experiences make it easier than ever for travelers to see the spots to which they journey from the perspective of a local — whether by touring speakeasies in Montreal (which, by the way, is super fun) or, in this case, dressing up like a mermaid and starring in a one-of-a-kind photo shoot in San Diego.
Appropriately titled “Play Mermaid For The Day In San Diego,” the Experience is hosted by photographer Shannon Subers. According to both Subers’ SD Mermaids website and her Airbnb Experience page, the “Play Mermaid For The Day” Experience starts with a meet-up at the iconic San Diego beach La Jolla Shores. There, Subers decks out participants with eco-friendly, biodegradable glitter, a seashell or mermaid scale top, accessories ranging from jewelry and tiaras to a keepsake hair clip, and — of course — a tail. Once you’re all mermaid-ified, you’ll take part in a 30-minute sunset photoshoot on the beach. Shooting locations might include La Jolla Shores’ many tide pools, its scientific research pier, or “the scenic cliff backdrops” of nearby Black’s Beach. Nervous about posing? Subers will coach you as you go. About two weeks after the shoot, you’ll receive 10 to 15 edited photos from your shoot.
Subers has been running her Experience since 2017, but she’s been a mermaid enthusiast for much longer than that — since she was a kid, in fact. “From the time I was 8, I was creating ‘mermaid tails’ out of blankets and wearing them while watching my favorite ocean documentaries,” she told SD Voyager in 2018. She discovered the wider “mermaiding” community when she was in college and fell in love with it; said Subers to SD Voyager, “What everyone shared in this community… was a love for the ocean and a whimsical spirit.”
After several years of mermaiding for fun, including some volunteer work at local charity events, Subers decided she wanted to “help others experience the magic,” too. So she got herself a DSLR camera, learned how to use it, stocked up on mermaid supplies, and applied for a slot in the then-recently-developed San Diego Airbnb Experiences market.
She’s now been offering the Experience for about two years — and it’s been a bonafide hit the entire time. Her more than 35 reviews on Airbnb are all overwhelmingly positive, with participants praising Subers’ professionalism, her warm and welcoming demeanor, the stunning photographs, and the sheer joy of the experience. One user in particular highlighted how body positive the whole day was — and indeed, Subers has made a point to emphasize inclusivity. “People of all ages, walks of life, genders, and body types are welcome,” she told SD Voyager in 2018. Elaborated Subers:
“Positive self-image is something I’ve struggled with for most of my life, but the mermaiding community was very accepting of me, no matter my size. I realized that I didn’t have to be afraid to wear a two-piece swimsuit. Kids that saw a mermaid on the beach didn’t care what size I was, they just saw me for the magical creature I was performing. I want to share that with other people — mermaids can be any shape, size, or skin tone and be just as majestic!”
Heck, and yes.
Pricing for the “Play Mermaid For The Day” Experience is currently listed as starting at $85 per person. Up to three guests ages five and over can participate; however, Subers can sometimes accommodate larger groups, so you can always message her through Airbnb to see whether she can accommodate your request. Find out more about the Experience at Airbnb or SD Mermaids.