The fumes hit us as the lights turn green and we drive to the airport, home bound. I’m chilled out but tired, like my shoeless buddy on the road, whose Zen attitude sums up my week at Cabarita Ocean Health Retreat in northern New South Wales. -->
A five minute stroll from the resort, the beach has ruined me for all mornings that don’t begin by walking on its shore, dodging rocks and jelly-fish scattered on the sand.
The resort is spacious and each room has a different theme. I spend my nights in “India”, where ornate elephants and four poster beds leave me feeling like I’ve stepped into a fairy tale. The friendly house-keeping staff work hard to keep that fantasy alive, providing a constant supply of herbal tea and chemical-free toiletries. The sound of crashing waves lulls me to sleep and it’s just as well, I use a lot of energy here.
My favourite day is spent cycling to the river, where we paddle around before lying on our boards to meditate in the mangroves, suspended in knee-deep water and shaded by stumpy trees. It’s so surreal, I don’t even flinch when the girl next to me screams because a giant of a spider has raced up her arm.
The ocean later makes me its toy as I go surfing for the first time, punishing my clumsiness, but calling me back for more.
This makes for a daunting session the next day with personal trainer Dan. I lock frantic eyes with other brave souls who have the same idea, as I’m led away. Good luck, they mouth, and I wonder what madness has taken hold. It’s worth it though and I take a personalised program home.
To recover, it’s straight to the spa, where I enjoy a lavish facial that leaves me glowing like a firefly. The therapist traces delicate swirls around my eyes, using a Hawaiian technique that mimics the waves and leaves me longing for the power to freeze time, as every cell in my body drifts out to sea.
Then there’s the food.
Oh, the food.
There’s also the rare, tiny sweet.
And I do mean tiny. Blink and you miss it, but that’s the idea. Portions are smaller here and after some grumbling, I benefit from the lighter load. Back home, I’ll find myself reaching for less salt than I’m used to, as my taste buds continue to function on retreat time.
With only fifteen guests, the setting is intimate and I meet wonderful people I wouldn’t normally cross paths with. From the food to the activities, everything is about vitality and I’m keen to embrace it all.
This means I’ll be walking more, and yes, shoes will be left behind.
Guests can stay for 3, 5 or 7 nights. Each package includes a health and well-being program, organic meals, group activities, entertainment and at least one spa treatment.
Keep an eye out for special deals through Luxury Escapes, or elsewhere, for discounted prices.
Flight services are available from major cities into Coolangatta-Gold Coast Airport, where a complimentary shuttle transfer service can pick you up. A small fee applies for guests staying less than 5 nights.
Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Cabarita Ocean Health Retreat or Luxury Escapes.