I can’t think of much that’s better than spending a whole weekend learning to surf, practicing yoga, and meeting amazing people in Cornwall!
And that’s exactly what I’ve just had the pleasure of experiencing last week. Based at Widemouth Bay just outside Bude on the North Cornwall coast, Freewave Surf Academy have just launched their new Surf & Yoga retreats ready for 2019 and I was kindly invited to go and experience their first ever one to review!
I’ve been excited about this for weeks – a whole dedicated weekend of surfing and yoga? What’s not to love!
Arriving at the Beach House
On Friday late afternoon, we packed up and drove up to Widemouth Bay (managing to catch ALL the rush hour traffic on our way… oops!), buzzing for the weekend ahead and a little apprehensive about the wind, rain and stormy weather lashing outside the car windows. Lucky for us though, this storm was only going to last a few more hours, and the next couple of days were set to be sunny and mild.
Just before 5pm, we arrived at The Beach House; a stunning, modern 5 bedroom property just 200m from the beach, with a huge driveway, open plan kitchen, two lounge areas and the most gorgeous outside space. From the relaxed, light and airy decor to the awesome bi-fold doors and decking, I couldn’t stop saying WOW – this is literally my dream house!
The retreats have a maximum of 8 spaces, so you can either share or have your own room if you pay a 10% supplement, but I imagine lots of people will end up booking with friends anyway. And if not, the bedrooms are nice and large anyway so I wouldn’t have minded sharing with a stranger!
Once we’d dropped our bags off into our room, we came downstairs to meet the others and get ready for our first surf session of the weekend – yes, in the crazy stormy weather! It made for some very funny faces and attempts to stop our boards from blowing away in the wind… but on the plus side it made the ocean feel much warmer in contrast.
Improving Our Surf Skills with Lessons & Video Analysis
Freewave Surf Academy is run by Robin, and him and his team member, Charlie, took us out each day for our surf lessons during the weekend. With most of our group having never tried surfing before (and me and Frankie just being beginners), we started from the beginning and hung out in the white water for most of the weekend – which is definitely fine by me!
I’ve been on a few surfing days and retreats before, and have started going a bit more regularly with Alex recently too, so it was great to get some expert feedback from an instructor and push myself to the next level as well.
By the end, I was catching good white water waves, popping up, and working on both my forehand and backhand turns too. Robin even took me out back to catch a green wave (an unbroken, bigger wave) on my last session too, which was scary but exciting and it was great to go a little further out of my comfort zone with it.
A great feature of the weekend was our video surf analysis too. During our lessons, we were filmed on camera and GoPro and after breakfast each day we’d all sit down to watch the recording and watch ourselves back – incredibly useful to see what we were doing from an outsider perspective! I hadn’t realised how hunched over and not-upright I was until I watched it all back. We had a good few giggles watching our wipeouts back too.
Relaxing & Stretching with Anna Young Yoga
On the Friday evening after our surf, we had our first yoga session with Anna Young, an amazing yoga teacher who was with us throughout the retreat (go subscribe to her YouTube channel – her voice is so therapeutic!). The weekend included a total of 6 yoga sessions, one each morning doing a Vinyasa flow rejuvenating style of yoga, and one each evening doing a super relaxing, restorative Yin yoga session.
Anna was amazing and such a lovely person too, and her sessions definitely helped us stretch out our tired muscles from all the surfing.
Exploring Bude & Beach Cleaning in the Bay
On Saturday afternoon we had some free time between our late morning yoga and an early dinner that evening, so we all headed in to Bude to explore a bit and get some coffee. We headed to an independent coffee shop/boutique called Temple (a few of us had seen it on Instagram and couldn’t resist – and yes, it was VERY Instagrammable!) and sat chatting together about the weekend so far.
On the Sunday during the afternoon time, we had the opportunity to join a local activist and Beach Clean organiser for a walk along Widemouth Bay to talk about what the local community do about plastic pollution, and pick up some rubbish along the way. For a seemingly clean beach at a first glance, we managed to collect a full bag of plastic along the way – mostly consisting of fisherman’s netting and tiny pea-sized pieces.
It was very humbling to see, but also great to hear about the community’s efforts to clean up their coastline and be responsible with their waste (over 80% of their waste is recycled and turned into new materials, such as fibreglass for kayaks, or even to make one of the stages at Glastonbury!).
Eating, Drinking & Making Great Friends!
The highlight of the trip was meeting awesome people and getting to know them throughout the weekend. Whether from London, Bath or further afield, we all had lots in common due to it being a press trip and all having blogs/Instagrams, and got on really well, and I hope to stay friends with them going forward too!
With a communal meal on the Friday night, and delicious breakfasts each morning after our early surf sessions, we all had plenty of time to chat and get to know each other. On the Saturday night, there was the option to eat at a local restaurant, but Frankie, Amy (The Bath Blogger) and I opted to stay in and cook (to save a bit of money!). Us three ended up spending a lot of our time together, and we can’t wait to all stay in touch with each other!
There was also a BBQ on the Sunday night too which looked delicious, but unfortunately Frankie and I had to leave early due to having busy weeks with work and stressing a little about our workloads (we forget sometimes that certain areas of Cornwall don’t have the best internet connection!). It was such a shame to leave but our weekend spent in the sun with new friends will definitely be remembered!
The retreats run either from Friday to Monday, or Monday to Friday, and are hosted several times throughout June, September and October (off-peak less touristy times!). The retreats can be in a recommended format or created to be more tailored and bespoke to what you need; it’s an awesome idea for stag dos, hen parties or large groups of friends, so get in touch with Robin for more details of what he can offer for you.
Find out more about the Freewave Surf & Yoga retreats on their website; the September, October and 2020 dates are already up!
* This press trip was gifted but all thoughts are my own; I had an awesome time and can’t recommend it enough!