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Spice Up Your Yoga Holiday with Surfing in the Algarve

by Alberto G. Güitrón

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Algarve, the sunniest coast in mainland Europe, is arguably the best place on Earth for yoga and surf. The two practices always go very well together, but the Algarve takes this match to the next level.

Its golden shores, glorious climate and splendid beaches, combined with the wide swell window that offers a long and reliable surfing season, make it an ideal place for a surf and yoga retreat in Portugal

Why would you combine yoga and surf?

yoga on a surfboard

Image credit: AlexINyoga Retreats

But why would you want to surf if you’re a yogi? You’d be surprised about how they complement each other. Indeed, yoga and surfing make a killer combo that’s hard to replicate. Just think about the skills you need on the mat: flexibility, strength, focus, balance and breathing control. Well, you need all these skills on a surfboard as well!

This means that, as a yoga practitioner, you’re already one or two steps ahead even if you’ve never set foot on a surfboard. Who knows? Maybe after your first few waves, you’ll realize that you’re a more talented surfer than you ever thought.

Most importantly, surfing will push you to train harder on a couple of skills that come in handy to any yoga practitioner: patience and stamina.

Did you know that only about 8% of a surf session is spent riding waves? The rest of the time you have to paddle and wait for the perfect wave to come. This requires a lot of patience since not all waves are rideable or worth catching. Make a bad decision and you’ll either have to paddle back after an unsuccessful try or you’ll end up suffering your first wipeout (at least you’d be able to use your Pranayama experience to hold your breath).

So, patience is key when surfing, as it is in yoga when you have to wait until your body is ready to perform certain asanas. In addition, patience is a virtue we can all use to live a better yogi lifestyle. It helps to be kind, thoughtful, mindful and to be able to meditate for longer periods of time.

Lastly, by just paddling you’ll notice how much stamina surfing demands. 15 minutes of surfing could be as exhausting as an intense Vinyasa Yoga class. Wouldn’t you love to perfectly sync your movements with your breath without skipping a beat?

A little bit of the Algarve’s history

yoga on the beach

Now that you know of all the benefits of adding surfing to your yoga practice, let’s dive into the specifics of the Algarve, one of the best places in the world (if not the best) for a surf and yoga holiday.

Being Portugal’s southernmost region, the Algarve has always been a coveted spot for sailing and trading purposes. Since around 1200 BC, the Phoenicians established trading posts; later, in 550 BC, it was controlled by the Carthaginians up until the Romans took over during the first century BC. Then, in the 7th century AD, the Moors conquered the Iberian Peninsula and they ruled the Algarve region for over 500 years.

That’s why the name of this Portuguese region has Arabic origins, “al-Gharb” means “the west”.

And in more recent times, it used to be a strategic port for the Portuguese naval explorations in the 15th century. This back-and-forth of different civilizations has created a unique blend of cultures that you can see in its people, architecture, cuisine, traditions and surf + yoga scene.

Why choose the Algarve for a surf and yoga retreat?

surf class

Image credit: The Lodge Portugal 

The Algarve has had a recent increase in popularity that has brought exponential growth and lots of investment. Millions of visitors come every year and this has increased the number of yoga retreats and surf camps available in the region.

Faro, Alcoutim, Lagos and Silves are all wonderful cities that will give you an unforgettable experience in Portugal. And when it comes to surfing, you have two options – the south or the east coast. And while there are places where only advanced surfers can venture, there are plenty of spots for a yoga practitioner who wants to ride the first few waves.

These are the best places for a yoga and surfing retreat in the Algarve:

Aljezur

yoga in the sea

Image credit: Arrifana Surf Lodge

Aljezur is a small village with picturesque houses and cobblestone streets. It’s home to an ancient Moorish castle, delicious sweet potatoes, stunning beaches and dozens of yoga and surfing retreats.

Located in Costa Vicentina National Park, Praia da Arrifana is the longest stretch of sheltered coast in Portugal, which makes it ideal for beginner surfers. And its dramatic cliffs with whitewashed houses are an amazing backdrop for a good yoga session with the golden sand between your toes.  

Lagos

sup yoga in portugal

Image credit: Kite School Portugal

One of the Algarve’s favorite destinations for travelers, Lagos is a beautiful city with a vast history that dates over 2,000 years ago. Its walled town has architectural gems that perfectly represent the heritage of all the cultures that have passed through this region.

Meia Praia is a wide-open beach right outside Lagos, set amid rocky cliffs, home to a break with gentle waves for beginners.  The water is warm and the conditions are just perfect for surfing any time of the year and to salute the sun with Surya Namaskar every morning of your retreat.  

Praia da Luz is another gorgeous beach nearby Lagos, great for a yoga session and to catch a few waves. However, if this is going to be your first time surfing, it might be better to avoid Praia da Luz since the point breaks are a bit more challenging than those in Meia Praia.

Faro

sun salutation in portugal

Image credit: Ride on Retreats

The capital city of the Algarve, Faro is a historic walled city with plenty of touristic attractions. Its Gothic cathedral, the Bishop’s palace, the Arco da Villa Gate and the bone chapel make it a fascinating town that is often overlooked.

Along Ria Formosa, there are three islands with spectacular beaches which are great for yoga and surfing. The beaches in Faro aren’t as crowded as in other parts of the Algarve and Portugal. You should know that it isn’t a resort paradise, but rather an authentic retreat where you can relax, find inner peace and meet local people.

Best time to visit the Algarve

yoga on the beach

Image credit: Balili Beach House

The Algarve is privileged with warm weather and sunny conditions all year long. Nevertheless, autumn and spring are the recommended seasons to travel, as summers can get too hot and in winter the water might be a bit cold to go surfing.


Ready to add a little bit of surf to your practice? Make no mistake, a yoga retreat in Portugal is the best way to do so! 

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