Once I decided on Sri Lanka being the first official stop on my trip I really got it in my head I wanted to get a head start on my new no-stress life by learning to surf and taking up yoga. It didn’t take me long to stumble across the website for Soul & Surf and instantly got obsessed. 24 hours after deciding to go to Sri Lanka, I had booked my flights, found Soul & Surf and paid my deposit to secure my place.
Boom! Countdown was on!
Soul & Surf is essentially heaven. Tucked away in the jungle is a beyond beautiful villa, once you arrive you literally have nothing to even think about! Your meals, snacks, water, yoga lessons, surf lessons and board hire are all included in the price.
First of all, feast your eyes on these snaps below … just a little peek at what I saw as I arrived at the villa.
Obviously I had seen the photos online before booking, but lets be honest, as a general rule the photos online look great but once you arrive you can expect to be about 20% less impressed. Website photos are done professionally, using the best lighting, camera lenses and angles, then you need to expect some wear and tear to have happened. NOT HERE FOLKS!
Another lovely thing was that one of the guests, Katie, actually was the interior designer of Soul & Surf and was back to admire her handy work a year on. Hearing her funny stories about sourcing as much of the fabrics and materials locally and getting the place ready to open was a really nice extra insight.
Literally. Still. Perfect!
We were greeted by Anna, Su and Nieka who were so lovely and had fresh coconut water and big smiles waiting for us, there were butlers (their term … not mine!!) on hand to drag my ridiculous bag inside and take it to my room.
So now lets talk about my room, this also blew my mind! I booked a room to share with another solo female guest. But as it wasn’t peak season just yet I got ridiculously lucky and they actually gave me a room to myself because there were some empty ones.
Hi, I’m Helen and I’m a princess.
My room was giant! I could have done cartwheels around the bed, the only thing stopping me was the fact I can’t do a cartwheel but lets not dwell on that.
Outside my room was a little porch with a drying rack for my wet things, an arm chair on each side of the door and some candles. They had thought of everything!
There were sun loungers by the pool, a lounge area full of surf books to get you inspired, excited and educated, a seated area down at the end of the pool and a gorgeous shaded area where our meals were served. I honestly couldn’t believe my luck!
When I decided to up and leave my family, friends and job back home my priorities changed a lot. Relaxing isn’t my strong point. I am always checking emails, texting, rushing from one social event to the next, agreeing to too much because I don’t want to miss out or let anyone down. The one thing I really want to get from my travels, aside from a killer tan and a shit load of passport stamps from new adventures is to learn to switch off. To relax and take time for myself. Instantly Soul & Surf felt like the perfect place to start that journey.
So how much surf and yoga happens?
So the amazing crew at Soul & Surf literally make your life EASY! They run a tight ship but in no way is it suffocating or forced.
The crazy train leaves at 6:30am every morning after you’ve woken up with tea, coffee, bananas and protein shakes.
What is the crazy train I hear you cry? It’s the tuk tuks with the surfboards strapped to the top, filled with tired but excited guests and heading to the beach. Every day starts with a 2 hour surf lesson, and yes it’s early but honestly as soon as you’re in the sea you couldn’t be more happy to be there.
After morning surf it’s back in the tuk tuks to the villa where the breakfast banquet is served.
Then you get to lounge around for a little bit enjoying the paradise you’re staying in.
Next up yoga at 3pm! Now I personally am the least ‘yoga’ person in the world. I’m terrible, and so when I have tried before in London I have always got the awkward giggles and never gone back to classes because all the serious yogi’s hate me and scare me. Determined to make the most of my week I threw myself into the classes. Jessamin the yoga instructor must have the patience of a saint! She came over to talk about my restrictions due to my arthritis and throughout the classes she always checked on me to see how I was getting on. Adapting the poses for me where necessary. She would also laugh along with me when I was nervously looking around tying myself in knots and it was clear I had completely lost the plot! If you want to hear more about my yoga skills I will be starting a blog series very soon so keep your eyes peeled!
When 4:30 rolled around it was time to head to the beach again for more surfing. These weren’t so much lessons, more time for us to practice ourselves. The instructors would be out on their boards making it look easy, but still shouting tips and encouragement to us on the baby waves.
But wait, there’s more…
On top of 2 surf classes and a yoga class each day there were other bits included. Yin yoga happened twice a week, FINALLY a yoga I could really get on board with. Done in the evening after dark it was so relaxing and a lot of it involved lying on the floor with your eyes shut. WIN!
Surf theory was another class where we learnt things like how waves are made, how to spot a rip, generally all the things you’ll need to know to surf safely once you aren’t on a lesson.
Video analysis was hilarious, essentially out takes of us all followed by a bit of feedback on what we were doing wrong and how to improve in future.
Wednesdays were our day off, which was well needed! We had the option to go stand up paddle boarding which I’m really glad we did. Going around the river running behind the villa the views were amazing. So much greenery, palm trees galore! We went for sunrise so were out the villa by 6:30am, I’m so glad we did. It rained as we were making our way around and Coral, the wonderful photographer got this epic picture of the rainbow that appeared!
Friday night was our last night and it was movie night. We were initially the stars of the show with a slide show of photos from the week which was a really nice touch! Then we settled down in bean bags eating beetroot burgers and watching a surf movie, View from a Blue Moon, about professional surfer John John Florence. The perfect end to the week!
All this talk of activities is making me hungry.
Something I wasn’t during my time at Soul & Surf was hungry! So much food!!! All of it delicious, healthy and mainly vegetarian!
We all ate together in the shade by the pool. Breakfast was and endless stream of toast with butter and monkey jam, fruit, eggs, porridge and a different daily special each day.
Lunch was different each day, my favourite was falafel and flat bread, closely followed by one day when we had veggie wraps with salad. My mouth is watering as I type!
Dinner was another feast each day, I honestly cant describe how good the food was so I won’t bother, just book yourself in for a week and find out!
So what did I really think of Soul & Surf?
I loved it!
I was frustrated with myself as on the second day I woke up in so much pain with my arthritis I couldn’t go surfing or do yoga. It was a wake up call and annoyingly after that I had to be really careful not to try and do too much. I need to remember I literally am disabled and not to try and push myself beyond my limits.
My sulk didn’t last long as everyone there was so kind and understanding, there was no pressure to join in if you didn’t feel up to it. Yes, there was a schedule in place but you could join in as much or as little as you wanted or needed to.
It was the perfect start to my solo adventures and despite being absolutely terrible at both yoga and surfing it didn’t dampen my experience! So if you’re rubbish at one or both of the main activities, don’t worry about it! You’ll still have an incredible week, in a beautiful location, with the nicest set of people!
During the rest of my trip I’m going to stick with the surfing and yoga, practice makes perfect! I have 6 months until I hit Australia and I’m determined to be catching waves properly by that point. You can follow my progress in my blog series, ‘Tales of a Terrible Surfer’. Volume 1: Sri Lanka will be posted shortly!
My only negative of the week … cake! Too much cake! I don’t even eat cake in the UK but here I went in on it as there was always a delicious option for dessert after dinner.
So let’s be honest, if the only bad thing I have to say about my experience at Soul & Surf is that they forced me to eat cake, then I’d say it was a pretty incredible experience!
Oh and if all that isnt good enough for you … they have an adorable puppy!