They say that couples who surf together, stay together – Hettie reports on why a surfing holiday might be the best thing for your relationship…
Whenever my husband and I plan anything romantic it usually revolves around surfing. Take him to a luxury hotel and he’s pacing like a caged animal within minutes. A Michelin starred restaurant and he sits there silently looking uncomfortable in a shirt. From our engagement weekend spent road tripping along Portugal’s west coast, to a honeymoon around the best Balinese breaks, I’ve made my peace with it, so long as I get to choose where we stay. I’m fine with rustic, bohemian accommodation, so long as there’s a little luxury woven in. We’ve compromised on an aesthetic known as “surf chic”. So when it comes to planning our wedding anniversary and first night away without our baby, we need look no further than Soul & Surf. Not only is it an hour’s drive from the in-laws in case of an emergency but it perfectly embodies the vibe that we’re both looking for.
The achingly cool surf and yoga retreat is based at a Portuguese Farmhouse “quinta” in the Algarve and is the latest location to grace the brand’s portfolio that already boasts a jungle villa in Sri Lanka and cliff top hotel in India.
With its whitewashed walls, terracotta roofs and ceramic-tiled steps, it’s rustic, yet with the comforts of a palm fringed swimming pool and honesty bar serving up pastéis de natas and wine by the glass. By day we’re treated to a programme of yoga, surfing and massage, by night it’s a communal dining affair with stoned baked pizzas and barbecues – not the typical restrictive vegan fare that you might expect at a yoga retreat – much to my husband’s delight. We’re here for the “Weekend Warrior” – or part of it given that our sixth month old doesn’t sleep through the night yet.
Yoga, Breakfast and Surfing
Our day begins at the open-air yoga shala nestled at the bottom of the garden amidst fragrant orange groves. The 90-minute remedy sets us up for the day, instilling the mental focus, strength and flexibility, required for a session in the surf. There is a great deal of focus on breathing too, a tool for remaining calm in the sea, especially when swells are big.
Next it’s a freshly squeezed orange juice and smoothie bowl before piling into the minibus for a surf at Porto de Mos. A sandy beach lined by beautiful limestone cliffs. It’s looking quite flat. I gaze at my husband nervously – a seasoned surfer, who looks rather resentful of his oversized foamie. To save him from the humiliation of pop up practice on the beach, to my relief, our group splits into different abilities for our three-hour session. For us, it’s straight into the water with instructors who surf with us. As the waves pick up, they spur us on, pushing us into waves, whilst my husband uses the opportunity to practice his “longboarding” skills. It’s a novelty to actually spend some time together in the swell. Usually he’s out back within minutes of entering the water, leaving me to some laptop “surfing” on the beach. It’s actually quite romantic and we vow to plan a weekly surf date together back home in North Devon.
No day is ever the same here, as everything is fitted around surfing conditions. With easy access to the sheltered south coast and the wilder west, 10 and 40 minutes away respectively, there are options for all abilities in varying conditions. After an hour or so frolicking in the waves, we break for an energy ball to give us a much needed boost before returning for a final blast.
A seasonal, soulful lunch
Windswept and salty, we return to the quinta for an Ottolenghi-style communal lunch packed with colourful salads and spicy dips. It’s a spread that satisfies that post-surf hunger without being too heavy. Most of the food is grown in the gardens and picked from fruit trees, which at this time of year are laden with avocados, oranges and kumquats.
Melting massage and mediation
Whilst the others lounge by the pool basking in the sunshine, I slip off for a much needed massage with Becca to work on my parent-induced rounded shoulders and tight hips. After a lengthily consultation, to my delight she delivers a firm acupressure massage using local essential oils infused with lemon that leaves me ache free and in a meditative daze – perfect for our sunset pranayama session.
Pizza and wine
Later that evening we huddle around a fire pit getting to know the rest of our group, a mixed bag of Brits, Dutch, New Yorkers and Californians – each one seeking respite from their daily grind. Our night is spent in an en suite room with a carved wooden bed, terrace and flickering candles for a hint of romance – our bellies full from stone baked pizza and wine.
In a nutshell…
If you’re looking for a solitary escape, girl’s getaway or a romantic retreat, Soul & Surf will leave you feeling healthy and inspired. Not to mention toned and tanned, with a renewed zest for life that will no doubt do wonders for your relationship.
To book your experience with Soul & Surf Portugal visit the website