The Ultimative Vegan Sri Lanka Yoga, Surf and Meditation Retreat Guide
The Ultimate Sri Lanka Yoga, Surf and Meditation Retreat Guide
It may seem weird at first to write a guide about Yoga, Surf and Retreats during a time where travelling is impossible. But if we look closer, it may be exactly what so many of us will need after this challenging period - some time for ourselves, time to recharge. And isn't it now that we got time to think about the places we want to visit next year?
Sri Lanka is a magical island, so spiritual that you can almost feel it and the best place imaginable to go deeper into Yoga and Meditation, to balance it out with surfing and well-balanced vegan food. Whatever you're looking for, this guide covers places for everyone which are all vegan friendly.
Up in the mountains above Kandy, the Knuckles, lies a beautiful property owned by a British-Sri Lankan couple. It’s a retreat for everyone, no matter if you want to hike, do yoga, enjoy wellness or get creative. From Kandy there is a bus that takes around an hour, and another 15-minute TukTuk ride to the Villa. If you drive yourself, there are small roads through villages from the north or the same route as the bus takes from Kandy. What makes it so extraordinary is the family feeling - as soon as you arrive you feel instantly at home. Cosy rooms, a big living room area, meals on the veranda and a Shala with one of the best views you will ever get. That combined with a local staff and a relaxed atmosphere will let you slow down instantly.
Every morning and evening there is a yoga lesson in the Shala; sometimes they also offer special courses and Yoga Nidra sessions. There are activities every day and the team is happy to organise whatever you feel like doing. There are trekkings in the knuckles with a local guide who tells you everything about the flora and fauna, an excursion to an Ayurveda spa, waterfall tours, painting with local artists or visiting a bakery in a remote village where you can bake your own bread, try out spices and cook with Welikande own cooks.
Another extraordinary thing about this place is the food: everything is vegetarian except one dish every evening and most of it is vegan. Just mention your diet and they will tell you what's available. Breakfast is served after morning Yoga and includes a huge variety of local food, sweet and salty, a freshly made ayurvedic drink and locally grown tea. For lunch there is either rice or lunch packages if you're on a hike. But the true highlight is dinner: There are dozens of different dishes every night, no matter how long you stay, there is rarely the same combination and it will be some of the best food you can get on the island. Everything is locally sourced and what can be found on the market is served every day, so in a week you will be able to try the whole jungle. Leftovers can be eaten by the staff the next day and if there is still something left, it is fed to the dogs to create as minimal waste as possible. They try their best to be as environmentally friendly as possible, the only use of plastic is in the packed lunch but that could easily be replaced.
There are several different rooms available: from dorms, double bedrooms or family villas there is something for everyone. Situated either on the top or bottom of the property, you can relax in beautifully decorated rooms equipped with big bathrooms and mosquito nets.
Welikande is heaven on earth, it may not be a luxurious resort but a place where you can recharge and even bring your friends as there is something for everyone.
Around 20 minutes above Galle, hidden behind a big gate, the Zoysa Villa is a place that couldn't be better for a Yoga retreat. A spiritual place, run by a local who makes the house into something very special. The beach is close-by and is perfect for surfing, meditation or just a swim. The huge house is impressive as it is and you can feel the history running through it.
They regularly run Yoga workshops, and during other dates there are always classes in the morning and evening. The Shala is beautifully located next to the pool and secured with a mosquito net; two dogs and a cat are also part of the package, so it won't get boring here. You can check online which teacher is currently resident, they circulate frequently.
Everything is built with so much love and peace, there is a tree in the middle of the living area and a huge dining table where everyone meets after Yoga. A big variety of local food is served every night, most of it is vegan and the staff is happy to tell you what exactly. Same goes for breakfast, you definitely won't get bored by the food here!
The rooms are big, bright and beautiful; some even have a balcony and access to the terrace. It’s kept simple but very comforting - a place you want to stay longer than you thought.
Make sure to stay here longer, take part in a program, wind down and give yourself enough time - you won't be disappointed.
Kite Surfing Lanka
It may not be your traditional retreat and is definitely specialised, but visiting Kite Surf Lanka will bring you tons of new friends, a once in a lifetime experience and it’s on you what you make out of your stay. If you're not the ‘lay down and not move anymore during a retreat’-type, this is your perfect choice.
The north west of Sri Lanka is one of the least touristic places on the island, alongside the very north. This place is a kitesurfer’s heaven, but even if you don't fancy flying over the lagoon, this camp has a lot more to offer than just that. A bus will take you up from Colombo to Kalpityia in a 4-5-hour ride, followed by another bus journey for 45 minutes until you reach Kite Surfing Lanka. If you carry equipment or just want a more comfortable transport, they also offer pick up for a reasonable price.
The property is huge, accommodation is available in either glamping tents or well-equipped huts, so no matter if you seek a bit more luxury, you're covered. There is a massage parlour onsite, meals are held all together in the big dining area with loads of vegan options and if you mention your diet - they may even organise some dessert extra for you! Twice a day there is a yoga session in the beautiful Shala with a view over the lagoon, you can book kite lessons, rent kites, take a SUP for free or just bring your own kite. On top of all that, there is a special activity every day which can be a party night, music quiz, beer pong, movie night or a beach volleyball game. The beach is a five-minute walk away, same goes to the nearby village and a gym with an excellent cafe with tons of well-marked vegan options. Multiple chill out areas and a bar will make you wanna stay longer than you planned for sure.
What makes this place so extraordinary in comparison to all the other kite surfing places around it? The owner was the first person to introduce kiting to the region and it was just a start of tourism development for the surrounding villages. You will rarely find a place that cares so much about the environment: food is locally sourced, plastic is recycled and used to build art or eco bricks. The plants you see on the photos are mangroves, which are planted all over the area.
If you're looking for a classical Yoga retreat, that is everything you connect with the term but actually so much more - Green Peace Inn is everything you can wish for. Situated in the touristic village of Weligama but still away from all the trouble with a direct access to the beach, this place is an oasis of peace, spirituality and some of the best, westernised vegan food you can find in the south. Martina and Alex are the owners and the soul of Green Peace Inn, alongside their staff, they spent countless hours and thoughts into the construction of a beautifully balanced retreat that will make you leave as another person.
Wherever you go in the house, no matter how long you stay, you will always find new little details. There is cafe where you can buy lunch, everyone eats breakfast and dinner together, a yoga storage room where everyone has their own mat, an outdoor shower downstairs, a veranda and a rooftop where the daily Yoga is held. The rooms are bright and each is a bit different; you can feel the love that the couple put into making this place something special. But if you're a bit on a budget they also have a dorm available.
The day starts with an intensive yoga or once a week with a breath work session, followed by a daily changing, nutritious breakfast and free time that you can spend surfing on the beach. Boards can be rented for 250 Rupees right in front of the house. At 5pm the calmer evening-yoga takes place on the roof. Afterwards everyone meets for dinner that is most of the time cooked by Alex himself and where you'll learn what mindful eating means. The day ends with an intense meditation session or a singing circle. The whole group connects so deeply during these seven days, you will make friends for life.
If you want to challenge yourself, get taught by incredible yoga and meditation teachers, face your deepest self and either start or go in depth on your spiritual journey - Green Peace Inn is the safe place you were looking for.
Now you're ready for your next time out after Covid-19, what are you waiting for?
If you got any questions, please ask it in the comments and I`m happy to get back to you!