Muslim Friendly Surfing and Yoga Retreat in Portugal
I was invited to try Chicks On Waves yoga and surfing retreat in April and as soon as I realised that it's women onl I knew I had to go and test it out for you!
Especially that you ladies LOVED the Hijab Free Muslim Women Retreat in Morocco. I wanted to bring you a different kind of experience that is very active and lots of fun. Prior to getting invited, I didn't even realise that there are options for women only retreats in South Portugal, Algarve. The organiser of this retreat is Katrien, a surfer from Belgium, who moved to Portugal 15 years ago. Her main purpose was to get girls in the water. She started eight years ago and now runs weekly retreats from April until November.
I have already written a detailed review for the retreat on "A World To Travel" blog, but I wanted to share more information with you on here in terms of how Muslim friendly is the retreat since a lot of you are practicing Muslims and I want to make sure you know more about it.
Disclaimer: I attended the retreat in exchange for the review and the video, but all opinions are my own.
Is Chicks On Waves Muslim Women friendly?
The short answer is yes, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind before going. This retreat is run by women from other faiths and are not Muslims and although they are very accommodating they might not know about specific Islamic rules, so all you have to do is to chat about what works for you with them and they will do their best to make your stay with them comfortable.
When you book a retreat make sure you don't select the "mixed group", which means men might be there, but the regular bookings are women only. They also arrange group bookings, so if you will be more comfortable with only your friends and without any strangers, it can be arranged.
As I said, this is not a Muslim retreat, so alcohol is served during dinner time. All the ladies there did not even get tipsy. It was responsible drinking and everyone went to bed early.
Is Chicks On Waves Hijab friendly?
I wear the turban/ hijab/ headscarf and I found this retreat hijab friendly for the most part. The owner's husband stops by in the villa to fix things and they have male staff for cleaning the pool and gardening, so you have to be careful when it comes to that. I have only seen the men twice during my four day stay. I basically had my scarf on my shoulder, so when I knew a man was coming or heard a man's voice, I would put it on my head.
Can I surf wearing the Hijab?
YES! Hijab is only fabric, so you can do anything you want in this life with it on or off. It's completely your call. To surf with my hijab on, I had to buy a special styles that slips on and stays on similar to the one sold in Nike Hijab. My only issue with surfing with the hijab was changing my clothes. I tried wearing things under my wetsuit, so I am never naked, BUT it's better without the extra layer. There are usually bathrooms on the beach. Just make sure to give the instructor notice, so you can go change there. Please keep in mind, wetsuits are very tight in nature, but you will be inside the water for the most part.
What To Pack For a Surfing Retreat?
You are provided with a wetsuit for the lessons and unless you are planning to do this full time I wouldn't advice buying a wetsuit unless you want to tho! Here are a few suggested items that you can keep in mind while packing:
- You can pack your burqini to wear on the beach afterwards.
- Get a huge towel to cover yourself while changing in public if you don't find a bathroom.
- Maybe have really light t-shirt and leggings to wear underneath your wetsuit if you don't feel comfortable taking clothes off. There is a bathroom that is 10 minutes away in some beaches and there are cafes around that you can use the bathroom of to change as well.
- It might be a good idea to have a cover up to wear on top either while you are changing or afterwards.
- After you get out of the water, chances are you will need something warm to wear, so pack a sweater or a jacket (plus dry clothes too!)
- Don't forget the beach life basic items: flip flops, beach bag for everything and sunscreen!
I have a few suggested items for you below:
Can I go only for the yoga or the location?
If you are not big on surfing or don't want that level of activity, you can certainly only go there for the beautiful location and the yoga part of the retreat. If you time it right with a women only retreat option, you will get to enjoy the pool hijab free as well!
Overall, I really enjoyed the retreat. You have to keep an open mind when you go though because chances are most women there will be from other faiths and you will have to answer some questions, but it's a good opportunity to tell them about you and make international friends with a shared interest! If you have any questions or concerns, contact Chicks On Waves directly!
You can also watch the video I made during the Chicks on Waves yoga and surfing retreat to get a feel of how it was and all the things I did while there:
Over to you: Have you tried women only retreats before? What were they about and where! Share in the comments below