updated 04/02/2010 AT 11:00 AM ET
•originally published 04/07/2010 AT 12:50 PM ET
Now that her divorce from NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal is almost final, life’s a beach for Shaunie O’Neal, who is enjoying a romance with a new man.
The 35-year-old mother of five stepped out in Maui on last week with her beau, 23-year-old model Marlon Yates.
“He’s very mature,” says Shaunie, who adds that the couple’s age difference is a benefit. “The age thing keeps it fun. The energy level, being out on the beach. He is working out all the time and he inspires me [to work out].”
Shaunie, who executive produces and stars in VH1’s new reality series, Basketball Wives, which premieres April 11, met Yates through a mutual family friend last November, the same month she filed for divorce against Shaq.
The couple took “a big step” in their relationship by going to vacation together for the first time, she tells PEOPLE.
While her kids are visiting family during their school’s spring break, Shaunie is making the most of her time alone with Yates.
“We’ve been hanging out on the beach, swimming,” she says. “I’ve got a great tan and I m having a good time.
Get a sneak peek of this week’s issue – Sandra Bullock’s divorce dilemma, new Jolie-Pitt twin photos and more – which is on newsstands now
For more about Shaunie and her new boyfriend, pick up this week s issue of PEOPLE