If you are in the seemingly never-ending hole of research for a surf and yoga camp in Portugal, you are likely overwhelmed with the amount of options available and need help deciding. If you are looking for a holiday where you can learn to surf or do yoga (in a safe environment), meet travellers without having to sleep in a 24 person dorm, chill out in beautifully designed spaces and eat nourishing insta-worthy meals prepared for you daily – you are in the right place.
As I wrote down how I was feeling about my stay at Soul and Surf, an environment where I had allowed myself to relax to the point where one yoga session a day had become an effort, I realised I’d found a special place.
One of the first things that caught my eye about Soul and Surf was their gorgeously curated Instagram. I doubted it could be THAT GOOD, but I kept coming back to the camp on my search. Something was telling me it was going to everything they were selling on those little square grids – peaceful yet social, homely yet exciting, tasty but healthy. And I was right.
The Soul & Surf house is located ten minutes in a car from the centre of Lagos town, a five euro uber ride. By day seven of my stay they were concerned I would never leave as I had only ventured into town once. I had become completely absorbed with the beauty of the house and did not feel the need to leave my relaxed bubble. The sunrises and sunsets just rolled on and on.
However don’t be a hermit like me, and do go and explore the cute cafes and picturesque beaches of Lagos. It would be impossible to find yourself at a bad beach here as they are literally dotted next to one another along the coastline. If I had to choose one quintessentially ‘Lagos’ beach to recommend it would be Praia Dona Ana or Praia Do Camilo. One of the best excursions I did a few years ago here was hiring a kayak and visiting them all.
Pre-covid there would be much higher guest occupancy levels at Soul&Surf Lagos, but as rooms can only be rented privately or in groups (if you are travelling with friends/family) – it is more intimate at the camp. To be honest, I preferred it. You create a closer bond with the people who are there, more personal conversations are shared and you aren’t struggling to remember twenty peoples names. There are endless opportunities to engage with people, and enough space to find a quiet corner if thats your thing. I find most people are travelling solo at camps – so rest assured you will find your person to gel with!
The staff were so welcoming, peaceful and respectfully involved in the social aspects of the camp – which can often be totally hit and miss with too little or too much interaction. By the time you leave, you will feel like family.
Design + Aesthetics
If I were a fly on the wall during the design stage of Soul & Surf Lagos, I’m sure I would have heard ‘rustic Portugese country living’ as the design brief. As the orange dirt roads lead you to a crisp white house surrounded by small rocks (the ones that make it really difficult to make a smooth entrance with a hefty suitcase), you reach the main building with the reception, shop, kitchen and lounge area. Stepping through this it opens onto a large grassy space where there are lounges under trees, an honesty bar (where you’ll usually find a few staff to chat to), long wooden tables for social meals and the pool – with each room looking out to this area.
The rooms themselves are simplistic, clean and the air conditioning works. I must note – having been here to work and catch up on Netflix (very important holiday tasks), it is important to know the wifi connection does not reach your room. Also don’t forget to bring your own bathroom toiletries including body wash, shampoo and conditioner.
The camp have their very own masseuse who you book in for on the spa black board. She was away whilst I was there, but I hear very good things. When something like booking a massage requires too much research/effort/trust in a foreign establishment, I tend to do something else – but this makes it really easy to add some self-love to your holiday.
When I wasn’t eating meals very slowly across the day, having a wine at the bar or stretching at yoga – I was by the pool. The pool furniture could be improved, as they do get uncomfortable to lay on – however you probably won’t spend 50% of your day horizontal as I did.
Wine and Dining
I am very spoilt working on a super yacht where we have really talented chefs dedicated to cook for the crew, meaning yacht crew end up thinking they are Gordon Ramsay. Based on the affordable weekly price of Soul&Surf Lagos, I was sceptical about the food. When I arrived I was shocked to find every meal/sauce/marmalade was created from scratch with local seasonal produce by chefs genuinely passionate about nourishing their guests.
Because some of the chefs have worked in various Soul & Surf camps across the world, you’ll often get meals that were taught to them by the local chef from the India or Sri Lanka camp. People ask for their recipes so much they are discussing a Soul & Surf recipe book!
Breakfast – Is a small affair of freshly baked savoury muffins with salted butter and home made marmalades (the highlight!), fresh bread, whole fruit, coffee and tea. This was very basic, and I would have loved to have seen something different like a chia seed pot, some avocado, tomato or eggs. After seven days it can feel slightly repetitive, but considering the price of your stay includes 3 meals a day it is very understanding. If you are surfing, breakfast is before you head off, I was doing yoga in the afternoon so could wake up anytime before 9am and ask for mine.
Lunch – Is a set menu, and currently due to covid is being served ‘plated’ vs ‘buffet’. The meals come beautifully presented and you always leave feeling full and content.
Dinner – Was a very special occasion every night, from haloumi and peach fritters on a bed of mushroom and roast vegetables with a side of cous cous, pizzas cooked in the outdoor stone pizza oven, fresh fish and SO.MUCH.MORE. The desserts were so interesting and unique, I will let the pictures do the talking.
Drinks are serve yourself from the honesty bar which includes red wine, white wine, beer and soft drinks – all reasonably priced and paid for at the end.
The Sparkle (aka why I LOVED it)
What I initially thought was a negative of staying at Soul & Surf Lagos ended up being the biggest blessing in disguise, and the reason why I loved it so much. The location. Yes its out of town, yes you need a car or an uber account to get anywhere – but this was the magic of the house. You could watch the sunset hues from your bed, you could step out onto a large grassy space, you did yoga in an outdoor shala surrounded by fruit trees under a thatched roof, and ate dinner surrounded by nature under fairy light.
You can buy ‘things’ to make a hotel/camp/hostel look good, but you can’t buy the ‘feeling’ to match it.
And the feeling of being at Soul&Surf Lagos is really special.