Make the most of the sea’s restorative powers on a wellbeing break by the coast – from wild-swimming retreats to mindful walking along the cliffs. Words: Alex Reece
1. FOR… BEACH FITNESS
Northern Boot Camp, Bamburgh, Northumberland
At this fitness boot camp, the beach serves as an outdoor gym, with morning workouts on the sand affording views of Bamburgh Castle. The trainers also use the bracing North Sea to push people out of their comfort zone, including body-boarding, coasteering and swimming sessions as part of the programme. Some endurance walks, meanwhile, begin with the spellbinding backdrop of Holy Island. Adding these thrilling coastal locations and adventures to the mix is intended to help clients gain a greater sense of achievement, and to inspire long-lasting beneficial lifestyle changes. Prices start from £90 for a one-day boot camp (01668 260076, northernbootcamp.co.uk).
2. FOR… A BLUE HEALTH RETREAT
S P A C E Retreat, Going Coastal, Bedruthan Hotel, Mawgan Porth, Cornwall
The two-night S P A C E retreats, held at the Bedruthan Hotel in North Cornwall, are described by Going Coastal’s award-winning coach Lizzi Larbalestier as: ‘an opportunity to dial out of the digital space and fall in love with the coast’. Taking place four times a year to coincide with the equinoxes and solstices, they consist of a series of reflective activities, such as yoga, guided Blue Mind meditation and sensory walks by the sea, to enable you to reconnect with your own flow and set intentions for future action. Create a positive ripple effect as you return to the world feeling rested and reinvigorated. From £525pp, including dinner, bed and breakfast and daytime refreshments. For bookings and information, visit goingcoastal.blue/space-retreat or email [email protected].
3. FOR… SALT THERAPY
St Brides Spa Hotel, Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire
Breathing salty air is thought to provide relief from respiratory ailments, such as asthma and bronchitis. It’s something the award-winning St Brides Spa Hotel in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park offers by having a salt infusion room in its thermal suite, to boost circulation and ease congestion. Its outdoor marine hydrotherapy pool contains sustainably sourced sun-dried sea salt and is heated to body temperature to aid relaxation. From the infinity pool, calming views encompass the bay. A range of marine spa treatments is available, too. Prices from £190 for double B&B, including a 90-minute session in the thermal suite and hydrotherapy pool (01834 812304, stbridesspahotel.com).
4. FOR… OUTDOOR WELLBEING
Soul Saturdays by the Sea, Wild Beach School, Brighton, Sussex
Led by BlueSpace wellbeing academic and practitioner Dr Catherine Kelly, Soul Saturdays by the Sea invite you to take 24 hours for yourself in Brighton. Join a mindfulness class on the shore; do some guided beachcombing; make use of an outdoor sauna on the beach, and finish with relaxation techniques and journalling. Come for the day, or book your own accommodation and make a weekend of it. Bespoke events for groups of friends and organisations are also available. Prices from £99-£199. For details, see corejourneys.com and wildbeachschoolbrighton.com or email [email protected].
5. FOR… SEAWEED TREATMENTS
Dingle Skellig Hotel, Dingle, Co. Kerry
Celebrated for its anti-ageing and antioxidant properties, seaweed is also beneficial for skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Enjoy treatments based on this natural wonder at the four-star Dingle Skellig Hotel on Ireland’s southwest coast. Among the spa’s most popular are the Organic Warm Spiced Mud Wrap and Deluxe Facial Experience. Both include products by VOYA, the world’s first certified-organic seaweed skincare brand, made with seaweed hand-harvested in Ireland. The hotel also offers a Bath Butler Bathing Service, where staff will come to your room to prepare a soothing and detoxing seaweed bath. VOYA treatments start from €49; double B&B from €65pp in low season (+353 66 915 0200, dingleskellig.com).
6. FOR… MINDFUL WALKING
Mindfulness & Walking Retreat, Sharpham House, Nr Totnes, Devon
From The Sharpham Trust’s base – a Grade I-listed mansion on the Dart Estuary – there is easy access to the South West Coast Path and its soaring promontories, such as Berry Head and Start Point. On a four-night Walking Retreat, attendees can deepen their knowledge of the surrounding coastline while also developing their mindfulness and meditation practice. During guided hikes each day of around seven to eight miles in length (short sections of which are held in silence), trip leaders encourage a mindful awareness of the landscape and an understanding that we are all part of nature, not separate from it. From £390 for a standard single room, full-board. Retreat dates: 8 June; 27 July; 8 Sept (01803 732542, sharphamtrust.org).
7. FOR… SURFING & YOGA
Drift Retreat, Kempt Tower, St Ouen, Jersey
Held in a 19th-century defensive tower on the west coast, Drift Retreats incorporate yoga, surfing and local food with the aim that guests leave feeling rejuvenated by the sea. Drift is run by Rebecca Coley – a meditation teacher, surf coach and filmmaker – in collaboration with SCOOP, an organic food co-operative on Jersey. Making the most of the location, the team leads uplifting sea swims every day all year round, and there are foraging walks for wild food. As an extra, the June retreat will feature Liz Earle deluxe facials and skincare workshops, while in September longboard champion surfer Kassia Meador is a special guest. From £600 for a single bunk (all inclusive). Dates: 26-29 June; 11-14 and 18-24 Sept (07797 846155, driftretreat.co.uk).
8. FOR… SPIRITUAL HEALING
Aluna Healing Retreats, Torridon, Wester Ross
Align yourself with nature on this spiritual retreat, overlooking Loch Torridon in the Scottish Highlands, which promises to cleanse and renew body and spirit. ‘Being by the sea within this vast and wild landscape brings a sense of wonder and healing,’ says Daniela Lanaia, a healing practitioner, yoga teacher and facilitator, who has been running retreats of this kind since 2005. This six-night programme offers daily yoga and meditation, nature awareness practices, guidance and walks through the coastal countryside. The setting is within the Torridon Estate, surrounded by mountains and the sea. From £820pp in a double or twin room. Retreat dates: 11-17 April; 29 Aug-4 Sept; 24-30 Oct (07475 749967, alunahealing.co.uk).
9. FOR… WILD SWIMMING
Yoga & Wild Swimming, The Zest Life, Plas Cadnant, Anglesey
Launched in 2019, these three-, four- and five-night swimming retreats combine morning and evening yoga with revitalising wild swims off the beaches of Anglesey and in North Wales’ lakes and waterfalls. Designed to heighten a connection with nature and to wash away the nerve-jangling stresses of everyday life, sessions are followed by herbal tea and cake, as you unwind at the water’s edge. During your stay at Plas Cadnant, a country house by the Menai Strait, a vegetarian menu is provided, as are picnics for sharing on the shore. Prices from £470 for a three-night retreat in a twin room. Swimming retreats take place in June, July & September (07989 512859, thezestlife.co.uk).
10. FOR… MENTAL HEALTH
The Sail Into Life – Anchor Project, Sea Sanctuary, Penryn, Cornwall
Cornish-based mental health charity Sea Sanctuary takes therapy onto the water. Aboard its wooden yacht, Fire Dancer, wellbeing therapy is offered in an enriched, three-day residential sail on the Sail into Life programme. The award-winning project harnesses the sea’s mental health benefits, also known as Blue Health. From April to October, the Sea Sanctuary Crew offer one-on-one and group therapy while learning about sailing and being at one with the sea; enjoying the space and salt-scented air. Says Claire Watt of Sea Sanctuary: ‘One previous client summarised it as: ‘the most fulfilling and soul-searching days of my life’. For how to refer yourself or someone else for help from Sea Sanctuary, go to seasanctuary.org.uk or call 01326 378919.