A Yogi's Guide To Wellness & Adventure in Milos

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Quaint, quiet, and oh so dreamy, Milos was a wonderful surprise.

Post-retreat, my boyfriend Thomas and I decided to hop over to the island of Milos so to get some final R&R before heading home. Just from what I saw on the short drive from the airport to our hotel in Pollonia, I knew we had made the perfect choice. 

Where To Stay on Milos

The southwestern most island in the Cyclades, Milos is only 61.83 mi2 and home to just under 5,000 people. Milos has seven towns/villages:

Adamas

The port town where all of the ferries come in. This town is probably the busiest on Milos and is a great place to go for shopping, restaurants, and nightlife.

Plaka

Is a small hilltop town known for it's incredible sunset views, There are some shops and restaurants but when we drove through mid-day on a Monday, it was eerily quiet.

Pollonia

Situated in the northwest of the island, Pollonia is a small fisherman's village decorated with a restaurant-lined pier and a sleepy white sand beach. There are a couple of shops in town to get souvenirs and a cave winery (YAS - more on that below), but otherwise this is the perfect place to rejuvenate by relaxing all day on the beach in between visits to the pier for some food or a mid-day espresso. 

Also, there are cats EVERYWHERE, so as cat-lovers we were in heaven. :)

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We stayed at the Aigialia hotel which was right on the beach and situated perfectly to watch the sunrise in the mornings. In the evenings we had just a 30 second walk around the corner to watch the sunset. Large rock formations extended from the beach into the clear blue water, creating a perfect place to relax, swim, or practice yoga in the sunshine. 

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Klima, Mandrakia, Fourkovouni, and Fryopatomas

These are the 4 small fisherman villages of the islands and are known for their colorful buildings and traditional characteristics. 

Best Adventures on Milos

Milos is known for its unique and stunning beaches, clear blue water, and coves like the old pirate hideout of Kleftico. 

Rent an ATV or Scooter

We only had 2 full days on Milos and wanted to be able to explore at our own leisurely pace. So, the first day we rented a motor bike. Recently a law was passed that you need an international license to rent a bike or ATV, but we got lucky and someone allowed us to rent anyway. The 5 other places we called though were strict, so I recommend getting an international license before you go. 

Go Beach Hopping

Some of the beaches of Milos can only be accessed by boat but many of them can be seen by taking an ATV or motor bike close by and then walking down. We used our motor bike to explore just a couple of the many amazing beaches on Milos. I'm telling you, we definitely could've used at least 2 more days on the island. 

The first beach we went to is called Papafragas. This beach consists of an enormous cave that is carved out of the cliffside to create a large natural swimming pool. You have to hike down a small path to get to the tiny strip of sand that forms its beach. Here you can relax, swim and float in the blue crystalline waters, and explore the smaller caves within the enclosure.

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Sarakiniko was the next beach on our adventure and for a moment I thought we literally had landed on the moon. Greyish-white volcanic rock that has been shaped by the incoming waves has created stunning and unique sculptures along the shoreline. The smooth rock surrounding the small beach was perfect to relax on and the small cove allows for a perfect place to swim and float around. 

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Sikia

One of the "beaches" that is only accessible by boat. Sikia is best described as a sea cave with a collapsed roof.

Firopatamos

Trees surround this beach and you can look out at the clear blue water as you eat and drink at the canteen on the sand. 

 Firiplaka

A stunning beach in the southern part of the island, Firiplaka has a long stretch of sand and chairs you can lounge around on. 

Kleftico (see below)

Thermal Water Beaches

There are thermal hot springs scattered all over the island, inland as well as at the sea. The volcanic nature of Milos means warm soil, water vapors, and thermal wells that create healing waters that have long been used for medicinal purposes. Find your way to one of the many beaches hosting these therapeutic waters for a nice recovery from your adventures. 

Take a boat tour

Taking a boat tour to Kleftico, the old pirates' hideout, is something we didn't have time for but that I will 100% be going back for. 

You can take a day long excursion or a half day trip on a boat that will take you to Kleftico for a couple of hours of swimming and snorkeling around the cove. On the way they also take you to some of the other beaches that are only accessible by boat.

 

Enjoy local food and wine

Milos is famous for its fresh seafood but as vegans we were very pleasantly surprised, as this was the first island to seem to know what vegan was! 

During our stay in Pollonia, we ate at almost every single restaurant on the pier. With our dietary restrictions, there was about 5 things on each menu that we could have, but it was still fun to try out the different flavors at each place. 

Breakfast

Just a few of the restaurants along the strip are open for breakfast. We enjoyed our breakfast both mornings at Anezina's. They had the amazing smoothies and a ton of different food options, including sweet and savory crepes, pancakes, some egg dishes, and LOTS of other sweets. 

Lunch

We also went back twice for lunch to Alki's Pizza Cafe, where we found probably our favorite meal in our whole time in Greece: big, yummy vegetarian pita sandwiches for just 2.50 euro, vegetarian pizza, my new favorite- eggplant salad (basically Baba Ganoush) with warm pita, and locally made Rose. 

Dinner

Dinnertime was stunning in Pollonia, it's the perfect place to sit and watch the sunset over the small floating boats and characteristic white and blue homes to the west. 

Our first meal on Milos was dinner at Rifaki, which has an entire page of it's menu just for vegans. WOOHOO! We had eggplant salad with warm pita, a potato salad, and vegan orzo salad. 

One of the nights we ate dinner one night at Enalion where we had tomato fritters, potatoes, and a simple pasta, and our last night we enjoyed delicious cocktails edamame and seaweed salad at Hanabi

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Visit The Cave Winery

Konstantakis is the only winery on the entire island and my wine-loving self was very excited when I saw signs pointing in its direction.

We walked up there around 8pm as the sun was starting to go down. The light on the vines was beautiful and the tastings we were greeted with beyond met my expectations. The man pouring us our tastings told us the story of how his family started making homemade wine on that same farm long ago.  About 6 years ago, the build the winery into a large natural cave on the property. They also have guesthouses on the property that you can stay at. The place was charming and we bought enough wine to have to buy another small suitcase in the airport on our way home (OOPS).  

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If we had one more day....

I would have loved to explore some more of the beaches and the hot springs, and of course, Kleftico! 

We hope this guide is helpful for your first visit to Milos! If you have more to add to the conversation, leave a comment and help a fellow traveling yogi out!

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A Yogi's Guide To Wellness & Adventure in Greece

 Shipwreck Beach on Zakynthos 

Shipwreck Beach on Zakynthos 

Ah, Greece... Where to even begin when it comes to experiencing the "cradle" of the western world.

Thanks to diverse terrain of picturesque islands, ancient mystical philosophy and inspired cuisine, the Greek islands have been a top 20 tourist destination worldwide for decades. It is truly a place to come and enjoy all that this human life has to offer, and a destination that you must tick off in this lifetime.

Greek Culture 101

Greek people are full of passion, full of life, and full of love. They see beauty in the mundane and believe in doing whatever it takes to bring a smile to someone's face. The culture is extremely welcoming, and in every cafe, shop, or public area, you will be treated as if you are family. 

While yoga has not quite made its way as a staple in Greek culture (we're talking awe=struck gawking when stretching or meditating at the beach, and explaining what it means to be vegan), we're here to tell you it is possible to embrace your yoga lifestyle in this part of the world. 

Aside from the ideology that life is meant to be enjoyed and people are everything (can I get an amen?!), Greeks are also into the ancient mysticism and philosophy that their culture was built on. Strike up conversations and keep an open mind. Suspend your judgment and just learn how other people view things. It'll be refreshing. :)

Our most recent yoga retreat took us on a slew of adventures through the islands of Mykonos, Santorini and Crete, and we're sharing all of our favorite experiences in hopes to inspire your own epic & conscious travels.

Vegan Cuisine in Greece

You're definitely not in California anymore. There's not hip vegan restaurants on every corner, and most Greek chefs and restaurant staff will not know what it means to be vegan. That being said, the majority are absolutely intrigued by the concept and more than willing to work with you to make a dish that you will feel good eating. 

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Greek Salad - traditionally served with a massive block of feta, however very easy to ask for it without.

Dolmades (stuffed vine leaves) - one of my favorites, and so very Greek! We had them stuffed with seasoned rices, red cabbage & nuts.

Pita bread & all the dips - we basically lived off of creamy hummus, eggplant (aubergine) salad dip, and fava bean dip. You can find these as appetizers in most restaurants. 

Risotto - most places will offer a vegetable risotto on the menu, and unless there is some sneaky cheese added, it should be prepared completely free of animal products.

Grilled vegetables - we may have had enough grilled squash, zucchini, tomatoes and peppers to last a lifetime, but we were sure happy that most restaurants we went to had this on the menu. 

Falafel - this is what I think of when I think of eating vegan in Greece. A dish made of chickpeas and seasonings, you'll find this as a starter in the majority of traditional restaurants.

Spanakopita - a savory baked pie filled with spinach. Insert droll emoji here.

Gemista (stuffed pepper - sometimes stuffed tomato) - make sure with the chef that they don't have minced meat in their recipe, but traditionally this dish is made with rice, herbs, and veggies.

The Best Greek Islands For Adventurers

There are approximately 6,000 Greek islands sprawling over the Mediterranean, Ionian and Aegean seas, and 227 of them are inhabited by humans.

That's 227 destinations you could mean when you say "The Greek islands are sooo on my bucket list!" and they are not created equal when it comes to getting your Dora the explorer on. 

Santorini

You cannot go wrong with a visit to Santorini. One of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, Santorini is just as magical as you could imagine. The island itself is an active volcano, offering up both black and red sand beaches, and the caldera views and white washed architecture and charming villages simply won't quit. 

Check out our full guide to Santorini!

Zakynthos

 Planetware.com

Planetware.com

Zakynthos gets many experts' votes for the best beaches in the Greek islands, so you know it's on our bucket list! This Ionian island is home to a Shipwreck beach, only accessible via boat, and a cool underwater Marine park. This place is all about water sports and dramatically high cliffs as their best vantage points. We're about it.

Milos

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Kelly got the tip off from one of her good girlfriends to visit Milos, and it made for the perfect addition to the Mykonos, Santorini, Crete route. Check out our post for all of the best beaches and of course places to grab vegan grub.

Crete 

By far the biggest of the Greek islands, Crete is a world all its own. Go here for beautiful untouched nature and authentic Greek experiences in food and wine and handmade crafts. The southeast part of the island even has a pink sand beach and tropical turquoise waters! 

Check out our full guide to Crete.

Kefalonia

Okay so I'm actually dying to go to Kefalonia. A girl I met in my last teacher training runs her family's wellness retreat on Kefalonia, and it is absolutely stunning. Kefalonia seems to have it all- a laid back culture and wellness centers on the island, mountains and caves, lush green plant life and what's been voted as THE most beautiful beach in all of Greece - Myrtos Beach. This is my next choice when I visit the Greek islands again!.

Corfu

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Corfu has been voted as a great family island, and it also has a ton of rad fruit trees, flower plants, and unique species of birds, reptiles and mammals. Geographically it is the northwestern most point in Greece, so add this one to your bucket list if wildlife and plants are high up there on what you want to see during your holiday!

Hydra

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The island of Hydra looks cool because it is stuck in a time warp from 50 years ago. The entire island is pretty much free of motor vehicles and super eco friendly. It is listed as an architectural reserve, so the old charm of the buildings isn't going anywhere. Could this be the Cuba of the Greek islands? I'd be willing to go back and find out.

Andros

Andros is the popular vote as the best Greek island for hiking and cliff walks, so you know we have to include it on the Greek Island bucket list. It's a Cycladic island - think beautiful white and blue architecture like Santorini - and I've also read of Andros' many waterfalls, natural springs, and rock structures jutting out of the sea. 

Skyros

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Skyros is remote and the entire island shares a common dedication to holistic holidays. You can find life coaching, painting, sketching, yoga, sailing, and likeminded travelers and locals embracing wellness. Spirituality is an open and embraced part of life on Skyros, and it's also a hot spot for diving and museums.

Mykonos

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Any trip to the Greek islands is worth a stopover Mykonos. The island itself has desert terrain, and the main square is too adorable to be missed. Check it out for a day of beach hopping, shopping, and be ready to take out a bank loan on a day bed and a cocktail. Life is meant to be enjoyed, right?! Pro tip - stay at an B&B or private hostel room in town for a reasonable price. You won't get all the bells & whistles of a villa but you can be in town, saving money on transportation and accommodation!

Check out our full guide to Mykonos.

Navigating the Greek Islands

Nearly everyone in Greece speaks English, but it is helpful to check out a quick Travel & Leisure article on Greek words and phrases. Also, be sure to carry plenty of Euros around or have access to cash as many shops and cafes across the islands are cash only.

Transportation between islands can be tricky as some flights and ferries only go on certain days of the week, are only accessible going through Athens, etc. Plan your route early to be as time and cost effective as possible.

We took both the SeaJet and Blue Star, and both ferries were relatively on time / minor delays were communicated accurately. Letsferry.com is a good site that pulls from the many different ferries available in the Greek islands. You also might consider flying (usually costs more, but travel time can be shorter. Be sure to plan your route early on so you don't have any excess boat or air time or any surprises.

We hope this is helpful if you are traveling to Greece this summer and we'd love to keep the conversation going! If you have more to add, leave a comment! What is your favorite Greek island and why?

A Yogi's Guide To Wellness & Adventure in Crete

Crete is so much bigger than any of the other Greek islands that it really does feel like another country altogether. Its landscapes are rugged, with vast displays of both mountain and jungle terrain and deep gorges plunging into the earth's surface, and the coastal cliffs are dreamy as ever.

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1 in 5 tourists to the Greek islands have Crete on their itinerary and the over 3 million visitors that come to Crete each year are drawn by the authentic villages, food and wine, untouched nature, and the rich history and mysticism buried deep in naturally formed caves and rolling hills. 

You'll definitely want to visit Crete on your Grecian adventure if you want to connect with nature more and to get a touch of quaint traditionalism away from the party scenes at the white washed beaches that the other famous islands offer.

Where To Stay in Crete

Like we said, Crete is huge. And you could easily spend a lot of time navigating around, hitting all of your must sees, so it's important to stay somewhere centrally located. A good majority of attractions are situated along the north part of the island, so that helps a bit.

 Our crew at The Art Villa.

Our crew at The Art Villa.

We stayed near the town of Agios Nikolaos and were happy to have many restaurants, cafes, super markets, etc in walking distance., yet the residential area still felt very away from the rest of the world (in a good way!) 

Malia has more of a nightlife, so if that is what you seek on Crete you could consider a villa in that area, or Heraklio for the convenience of a bigger city and easy airport / port access. 

Best Adventures in Crete

Crete is characterized by the tall mountain range going west to east across the island, and as such, hiking and nature walks are one of the best ways to take in the island. 

Cretan Safari

We went on a day long Cretan safari with a local tour company, and it took us up to pick fresh herbs in the mountains, to the traditional village of Kritsa for handmade Cretan goods, and to the Lasithi Plateau where we went into the Dikteon Cave. Legend has it that Zeus was taken there to be born, and subsequently hidden in there from his flesh-eating father. Pretty trippy vibe.

 The cave is 800 meters down, and gets freezing cold almost right away!

The cave is 800 meters down, and gets freezing cold almost right away!

A highlight of this fun day was the delicious lunch we had outside with a local wine and Raki maker, who made sure we were enjoying ourselves as much as him! And as encourage guests to do, we embraced the moment, taking turns shot after shot of Raki, dancing and taking pictures on tables all over the restaurant. It was a total surprise, and everyone had a great time.

 After sweating and exploring in the mountains all morning, this was the most fun lunch ever!

After sweating and exploring in the mountains all morning, this was the most fun lunch ever!

If you don't do an organized tour in the mountains, The Samaria Gorge is supposed to be one of the best hiking trails on the island for amazing views and a good challenging hike.

Sailing

We set sail for a day on an authentic Cretan sailboat with a very authentic Grecian captain, and it was a super fun day! We went out past an old fort and castle which was still very nicely contained and really cool to sail past. We also got to jump off the boat and go swim into cave formations on the rugged coastline.

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Enjoy local food and wine

Crete is a world renowned destination for foodies and winos, and we were into the likes of both. Look for these vegetarian (some vegan) choices at most restaurants! Try the local wine and oftentimes be ready to meet the winemaker, who will also make Raki- the Cretan spirit. 

Dakos -- basically a Cretan bruschetta. The bread is crumbly and delicious, and it's topped with crushed tomatoes, fresh herbs, olive oil, and goat's cheese. Insert drool emoji here.

Cretan cheeses -- goats and sheep roam freely around the mountains in Crete, and almost every village has its own signature style of cheese. We felt good eating the cheese here as you can see the care and freedom given to the animals, and experiencing local culture through their cuisine is always important to us when traveling. 

Vegetables and herbs - Crete has rich tradition in the cultivation of vegetables and herbs. It's so easy to eat fresh here. Most restaurants will have grilled vegetables on the menu. Artichokes grow beautifully on Crete, as do tomatoes, almonds and olives so look for menu items with these ingredients.

Seafood - if you're going to have seafood, Crete is the place to do it. 

Marmalades and honey - Crete is known for its deliciously rich marmalades from the bounty of citrus and wild berries growing in the mountains. Enjoy at breakfast, and take some home! 

If we had one more day....

We're starting a section on these destination guides called "If we had one more day...." because oftentimes there is one thing we really want to go back for, and you just need to know about it when considering your itinerary! Sooo...

If we had one more day on Crete, we would have totally traveled across the island to the southwest corner and gone to Elafonisi Lagoon for Caribbean clear waters and pink sand! 

We hope this guide is helpful for your first visit to Crete! If you have more to add to the conversation, leave a comment and help a fellow traveling yogi out!

Wellness & Adventure in Santorini

Santorini is like, really really pretty. One of the most beautiful places I've ever been in fact. Immediately upon arrival, one asks "how do they keep the buildings so white?" (they're washed pretty much all day). It is pristine and alluring to say the least, and one of the only places made more charming by the human touches.

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Although dormant, the island is an active volcano, which is evident in the vibrant colors of the beaches - red, black and white. There is honestly not a bad view on the island. It is long and narrow, and the roads wind up and down the caldera from village to village. 

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Getting Around Santorini

I'd recommend renting an ATV quad or motorbike to get around the island. As long as you're careful, we've found it to be a safe and efficient way to see the island. You can get them for less than 40 Euro a day, and zip from destination to destination without having to worry much about parking. It's good fun as well!

Thira

The main town is Fira, and basically to get anywhere on the island, you'll be directed through here. I use Fira & Thira interchangeably because you'll see both. It's the same place.

It's cute. Spend an afternoon taking in the shops and many nice vantage points. Check out Volkan on the Rocks Cafe and Cinema.

Oia

You'll also want to spend some time in Oia, the other prominent village located on the north end of the island, and home to the famous Santorini sunset.

Perissa

Perissa is one of my favorite spots on the island. It's home to the alluring black sand beach and dramatic cliffs. It's located on the south east side of the island, away from all the crowds and crazy high prices. I've stayed in Perissa twice and really enjoy how laid back it is. Take the ATV to the crowds, and stay here. 

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Best Adventures on Santorini

Hike Fira to Oia

Our must do on Santorini is the caldera trek from Fira to Oia. It's 10k (6.5 miles) and you hop from one village to the next, and up and down the windy roads. Start early in the day; it gets hot out and you'll definitely get in a good sweat. You'll likely be walking with other groups who are doing the same thing, and locals are helpful if you need reassurance that you're going the right way. 

Bring a swimsuit and a change of clothes, and when you get to OIa head to Ammoudi Bay for a swim, and if you're feeling adventurous, swim out to the rock point and jump in from 20 meters high!

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Wine Tasting

Santorini is famous for dry white wines. Their vines grow straight out of the ground, which is really interesting to see as you explore the island. You can find a tour or see if a local or your Air B&B host can recommend their favorite for a tasting! 

Akrotiri

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Be sure to hop over to the far east part of the island for some pretty cool ruins from the Minoan era. You can also go check out the archaeological site which we found pretty interesting. The Red Beach is over in this area, and a neat lighthouse! Worth the drive out there. 

Guide to Santorini's Beaches

Perissa Beach

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The best beach hands down is Perissa. It's chill and has a local feel. Plenty of good restaurants and cafes, and not very crowded.

Red Beach

Our second choice is Red Beach in Akrotiri. It's rocky- not very comfortable to lay on and you'll need to hike down to it. Great place for a swim though, and you'll likely be hot checking out the rest of the Akrotiri area! 

Healthy Restaurants in Santorini

Passaggio has one of the healthiest menus in OIa, and is pretty off the beaten path. You can get juices, smoothies, coffees, and they have a full menu with light bites to share, which I always love doing! 

Tranquilo in Perissa is a great choice for a tranquilo afternoon! Straight forward menu with healthy comforts.

Sunset Ammoudi was my favorite restaurant. We all shared apps like salads, seafoods, etc, and then got pasta as well! Awesome view, and you can be outside covered away from the sun. 

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Overall, absolutely love Santorini. I've been twice, and I'd go back again and spend a week or so just taking in the luxury of Greek living. Have any more tips to add? Keep the conversation going in the comments below!

Wellness & Adventure in Mykonos

Mykonos is one of those places that you just have to experience for yourself once in this lifetime. It is the epitome of a European party island, and is a revolving door to travelers from May to September.

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While Mykonos is easily the rowdiest place we've ever taken people for yoga, it is truly a bucket list experience,. And since we're all about finding balance and enjoyment in life, we embraced the vibe here while staying well too! 

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Best Healthy Restaurants in Mykonos

As you walk around Little Venice and the main square by the port in Mykonos, you'll find tons of adorable cafes, delicious Greek and Italian restaurants, etc, and most of them you can find some naturally vegan / vegetarian / healthy seafood options.

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Katerina's - We took our group here for a beautiful view of the water, and we all shared lots of vegan and vegetarian appetizers including Greek salad, pita bread with eggplant dip & tzatziki, and veggie risotto was a hit for the table as well. 

The Point - wonderful picturesque cafe with fruit smoothies, crepes and coffees.

Vegera - cute restaurant with lots of veggie options. 

Best Adventures in Mykonos

Walking Little Venice

Walking around the cobblestone streets of Little Venice is so simple, but honestly one of the best ways to spend your time in Mykonos. Greek history lives in old windmills and picturesque stairwells, and there's beauty at every turn, so have your camera ready! Shop for jewelry and handmade ceramics and locally designed beach frocks.

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Sunset Yoga at Mykonos Castle

We didn't have time to tick this one off the bucket list, but it sounds and looks absolutely stunning! Take in an epic view of the town and watch the sun go down as you flow with a local teacher. Oh yeah, and it's at an old castle.

 Our first morning practice in Mykonos, at our villa! 

Our first morning practice in Mykonos, at our villa! 

Rent an ATV / motorbike

A great way to get around town. It gets the adrenaline pumping a bit, you get to navigate away from all the crowds and maybe even head to the rugged north shore without a plan. Most are less than 50 Euro for the whole day! 

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Best Beaches in Mykonos

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Mykonos is known for its beaches, and with good reason. Many have plenty of beach bars and restaurants, complete with day beds and over priced cocktails. 

Our favorite beaches are Paraga, Platis Gialos and Psarau. They're all right next to each other on the map, and you can hike around the cliffs to go from one to the next, or jump on the hop on hop off ferry for 5 Euro.

Mykonos Bucket List

Cocktail at Nammos beach bar in Psarou

Dine with a windmill & sunset view 

Stay up way too late shopping, night clubbing at Moni or Scorpios, or simply taking in the amazing people watching in the streets!

 The Galinivilla, where we stayed in the middle of the desert!

The Galinivilla, where we stayed in the middle of the desert!

Overall adventure rating for this island is a 5. It's beautiful, definitely bucket list worthy, and a blast, but to get your adrenaline pumping- you'll simply want to hop to another island. 

Check out our complete guide to the Greek islands to see which ones are right for you!

 

The Transformational Power of Journaling

Do you keep a regular journal? Whether you reflect on the daily happenings of your life, put pen to paper to set weekly or monthly goals, or it's your tool to purge and process emotions, writing is an incredibly powerful form of introspection. Journaling has been a huge part of our healing and growth, and as we launch our May Journal Challenge, we are inspired to share with you the benefits we've personally noticed in our own lives from keeping a journal and our top tips for maintaining your writing habit. 

Benefits of Journaling

  1. Strengthen Self Discipline. Setting aside time to reflect and write is 100% an act of self discipline. No one else can make you do it, or will care if you do or don't for that matter. We discipline ourselves when the value we see in a practice is worth the time and emotional investment. Self discipline is just like a muscle too- the more we use and strengthen it, the stronger it gets. 
  2. Heal & Process. Several studies have shown that writing is a helpful when processing severe trauma and illness, as well as coping with anxiety and depression. Writing is also a healing practice for life's daily occurrences and dramas.
  3. Improve communication skills. There is no doubt a connection between written and spoken word. Writing encourages us to think before we speak, and trains us to say only what we mean. When we take the time to clarify things for ourselves, we communicate more clearly, and naturally become better at holding space for others to communicate their truth as well.
  4. Increase Emotional Intelligence. Utilizing language more frequently can not only stretch our IQ, it also makes us more aware and mindful beings. When we write, we tune into our own emotions and can begin to witness ourselves objectively, and in turn feel empathy for others without attaching to or becoming emotions.
  5. Reprogram Your Mind. What we focus our energy on expands. Have you ever practiced writing mantra? You craft a positive statement in the present, and write it over and over and over. Focus with your highest capacity of intention. For example, one I work with a lot is "I am strong, I am capable, everything I need is already within me". Kelly loves "I am in flow with the abundance of the universe". Try writing line after line, 108 times!

Seems like spending 20 minutes could be worth all of these benefits, yeah? Whether daily, weekly, or even monthly is your speed, use the tips below to keep yourself on track and get the me most out of your journaling practice.

Tips for journaling:

  • Make it a ritual. Try to journal at the same time everyday or same day each week. Create a space in your home where you love to journal, and if possible where you live, you could associate solo trips to the beach or forest or mountains or somewhere sacred with journaling.

  • When journaling on a prompt (like we will for this challenge!), take your time to meditate on the question and focus your attention on feeling out Once you begin writing allow the words to flow and don’t worry about spelling or sentences making perfect sense. Just write and let words come through you. Aim to write at least one page.

  • Have an accountability buddy. We’ll keep each other on track in the Facebook group and on Instagram, but ultimately having one other person for support and to check in with is a great way to prioritize the challenge and ritual of journaling.

  • Remember there is no end goal. Just to get more in touch with your feelings and yourself.

  • Be honest with yourself (satya) Journaling is a great chance to shine light on the shadows, and to come out of hiding from ourselves. But it doesn’t work unless we’re willing to lay all of our shit bare and really take an honest look at where we are operating from.

A Roaming Yogi's Guide To Yoga, Adventure, & Healthy Eats in Dubai

From the world's tallest building to old world architecture and traditional souks, Dubai has it all. 

Dubai is largest and most populated city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and is iconic for its massive skyscrapers and high rise buildings. Not only that, it also hosts stunning deserts and beaches, luxurious hotels and malls, and plenty of attractions and adventure to last you for weeks. 

In the 4 days that I spent in Dubai on my way to our retreat in Sri Lanka, I was able to experience a wide-variety of new and old culture, yoga, food, and of course, adventure!

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Yoga

Dubai is filled with yoga, pilates, and fitness so it is a perfect destination to visit if you like to keep up with your healthy routine while traveling. 

Yoga @thepark

On my first morning in Dubai, my friend Amanda took me to a free yoga class overlooking the Dubai Marina. With views of both the water and giant sky scrapers, it was a perfect introduction to Dubai. The instructor was great and her all-levels vinyasa flow felt amazing on my body after being on a plane for 17 hours the day before.  

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Zen Yoga

Zen yoga is the oldest yoga studio in Dubai at 10 years old. They have both yoga and pilates and are known for having the some of the best instructors in the city. 

136.1 Yoga

Overlooking the Dubai Marina, 136.1 Yoga is one of the most popular studios in Dubai and offers up to 20 classes a day! Need I say more?

 

Adventures & Sights To See

Dune Bashing/Desert Safari

So. Much. Fun!

I got super lucky to have locals to be my guides all weekend. My friends Amanda and Brendan took me out to the desert in their SUV and showed me the ropes of dune bashing, which is basically off-roading on the sand dunes. I got to have an adrenaline rush as I took in the stunning views of the vast desert and I even got to see families of roaming camel's on the way there. Absolute perfection. 

There are desert safari excursions that you can book that will also take you dune bashing and on a tour of the desert. I recommend looking for one that does not include camel rides as there is no way to know for sure if they are treated properly. 

Tip: Stop at one of the convenience stores on your way out to desert and pick up a dishdash - or headscarf - to wear on your head. :)

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Big Bus Tour 

The Big Bus Tour is a company that does tours in cities all over the world. I am not usually one for "tours" but I found that this one was pretty awesome. It costs about $40 and you can get off and on at stops all over the city. The best part? You can explore by yourself and while you're on the bus you can plug your headphones in and listen to information about the sights you are passing. If you are someone who likes tours, they also offer scheduled tours as you go. 

While on the Big Bus Tour I visited Deira - aka Dubai Creek. This charming area is one of the oldest in Dubai and was different then anything else I had seen during my trip. While there, I explored the Spice Souk and the Al-Arsa Souk where I bought rose and fruit tea, sandalwood incense, and beautiful embroidered pillowcase. I also took a ride on one of the traditional Abras and visited the charming Juthoor Art Cafe for an americano.

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The Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa, and Dubai Fountain 

The Dubai Mall, located in Downtown Dubai, is a sight to see. At most times of the day and night it is packed with tourists, X pats, and Emiratis in their traditional kanduras and abayas .  

Burj Khalifa is on the property of the Dubai Mall and is currently the world's tallest building. I must say, it is pretty insane. 

Right after getting off the plane, I went with Amanda the the Dubai Mall to grab dinner with a view of both the Dubai fountains and the Burj Khalifa. Every night, a light show is played on the Burj Khalifa and lucky for us, the emirate was celebrating a special occasion so they played the same light show that was shown on New Year's Eve. It was spectacular. 

I also took a 2nd visit to the Burj Khalifa to go up the building to the 125th floor for sights of all of Dubai. It was really cool but I recommend going in the evening when there is less of a line. 

The Dubai Fountain is another record breaker of Dubai.  Also situated right next on the outside of the Dubai Mall, this is the world's largest performing fountain. You can watch this captivating spectacle from the railings, from an Abra on the Burj Lake, or from a restaurant like we did. 

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Burj Al Arab & Sunset Beach

The Burj Al Arab is world's only 7-star hotel and the 3rd largest hotel in the world. Not only that, but it is a shaped like a sailboat and is located right on an island of reclaimed land 280 meters offshore. Without shelling out the big bucks to stay here, you can visit the hotel by making a reservation at one of its two restaurants. 

Another way to view the Burj Al Arab and to soak in the sun on one of Dubai's beautiful beaches, is by visiting Sunset Beach

Visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

Completed in 2007, this giant mosque is the largest in the country and is a key place of worship for Friday gathering and Eid prayers. It is filled with intricate details, ornate columns and archways, sparkling chandeliers of  epic proportions, and it is surrounded by glassy fountains. When visiting you must keep your shoulders and hair covered by wearing an abaya that you can borrow when you check-in. 

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Sky Diving

Sky Dive Dubai has one of the most epic sky diving experiences I've ever seen. If you are looking for an adrenaline rush with a high price (around $600 USD) and insane view of the man made Dubai Palms Island then this experience is for you. 

Scuba Diving

The UAE offers incredible diving where you can view ship wrecks, pristine reefs, and an abundance of marine life. Make sure to find a reputable company like PADI when diving in new places. 

 

Healthy Eats

Dubai is filled with restaurants of all price ranges and cuisines. You can find something healthy to eat at most restaurants which was a huge relief for me. 

Social House

After having to eat plane food for the last day, I was craving something fresh and got lucky by coming to Social House to watch the Dubai Fountain show. They have a large variety on their menu including fresh juices and many healthy food options. I chose a fresh green juice and spinach salad. 

Brunch

Brunch in Dubai is not your typical brunch. In fact, brunch here actually takes place at night. Mind. Blown. 

Restaurants all over the city host brunch and it is a popular way that the locals get together and socialize. Like your typical brunch, there is bottomless flowing champagne and other cocktails and a set menu. We paid $40 a pop to spend the whole night eating, drinking, and talking away. 

Last Exit Food Truck Park

This place was super cool. Off the highway on our way to and from Abu Dhabi is this street food truck park with a super fun atmosphere and plenty of different types of food to help soothe any type of craving. We chose to get falafels from  truck called Gyros and Doner and my mouth is still watering just thinking about it. 

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Al Hallab Restaurant

Located in the Dubai Mall, I had one of the happiest moments of my life here. Why? Because I had the best hummus I have ever tasted. Seriously, it was so good. If you're a lover of fresh hummus with warm pita then you have got to go here. 

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I'll wrap it up here. If you are a lover of city life, modern culture infused with tradition, and the finer things in life, then Dubai is for you!

Til next time Roaming Yogis, Xoxo

A Yogi's Guide To Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka holds a very special place in our hearts. This island off the southern coast of India is home to many amazing wildlife creatures, a few dreamy boutique retreat centers, and some of our favorite Roaming Yogi memories so far.

We've compiled yogi's guide to this tropical paradise, complete with where to practice, stay, eat, and adventure. If you are traveling to this beautiful country feel free to reach out with questions, happy to help where we can! And if not, enjoy this photoblog of our retreat! 

A Yogi's Guide To Sri Lanka

First things first, let's talk about where to go. Sri Lanka is huge, and traveling to different parts of the island requires some time and research. All international flights arrive into Colombo, the buzzing capital and largest city. Colombo is known for good shopping and performing arts, and has all the classic features of a big city, including the highest crime rates in the country.

Many visitors will choose to go to central Sri Lanka, making their way to Kandy and Ella and the surrounding area. This part of the country is dotted with tea plantations, aesthetically pleasing temples and hikes, and some of the most scenic train routes in the world.

Some will also choose the Eastern part of the country- Arugam Bay in particular, home to arguably the best surf in Sri Lanka, but an area that is still experiencing many visible repercussions from the civil war that spanned from the 1980s to 2009.

A yogi's paradise, however, is the 80km stretch from Galle to Tangalle in the Southern Province. Here you'll find affordable retreat centers, delicious fresh food, empty beaches, and a fun loving mindful community made up of locals and long term visitors from all over the world. 

Best Yoga Retreat Centers in Southern Sri Lanka

There are heaps of retreat centers dotting the Southern coastline, all complete with beautifully adorned yoga shalas and their own dining facilities focused on fresh, local ingredients. Many also have a full spectrum of Ayurveda treatments to choose from or their own surf camp. You can sleep, eat, practice and dwell comfortably either in healing solitude or intermingling with other likeminded guests. Here's our top choices.

Talalla Yoga & Surf

We chose to host our week long yoga & adventure retreat at Talalla Yoga & Surf and it was a truly magical experience. They run their own retreats each week, and they did a great job accommodating our private group as well. In addition to yoga, there's also a weekly surf camp happening at the property, which brings fun energy and people.

We reserved sea view rooms for our group of 11. The rooms are comfortable and have beautiful outdoor showers, and guests are given the choice to have AC or not. In late February / early March we were comfortable without it and just used fans.

We woke up each morning to the monkeys and peacocks saluting the day, and answered their call by watching the sun rise over the ocean. We took advantage of all three of the open-air yoga shalas on site, and enjoyed having the serene ocean and jungle as backdrops to our twice daily practice.

The food at Talalla is talked about along the entire Southern Province, and for good reason! Guests can choose how many meals to include in their experience (full or half board). Breakfast & dinner are buffet style (standard at the inclusive retreat centers) and consisted mostly of creative curry and salad dishes with fresh, local ingredients- think coconut, pumpkin, lentils, potatoes, fresh fish and vegetables, endless tropical fruits, and mouthwatering spice like cinnamon (indigenous to Sri Lanka), chili, curry leaves, tumeric, cardamom and lemongrass. They also have a great lunch menu, rich coffee, and plenty of little snacks and smoothies to stay satiated throughout the day.

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Underneath the Mango Tree

Underneath the Mango Tree (locally known as UTMT) is a high end Ayurveda hotel and spa. They have a daily yoga schedule for guests staying at the property, but what they are known for is their highly regarded Ayurveda specialists. 

Guests stay for anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks at a time, and most begin with a consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor and then spend their time on a personalized wellness retreat. The staff at UTMT also organize excursions from the property an have movie nights on site. 

All meals can be included, and they have tons of information in their dining hall about eating according to dosha type as discovered by the initial Ayurvedic consultation. 

Pop Yoga

Pop Yoga is new on the scene in Southern Sri Lanka, and founded by one of our friends we met on our travels! Geda is a longtime yoga practitioner and teacher, world traveler, and all around good human with many stories and insights to share. Geda has lived in the area since 2016 and has cultivated a world class team of healers and teachers to bring his vision of Pop Yoga to life. Guests can choose from a wide range of yoga classes, Ayurvedic treatments and cultural excursions and the Ayurvedic dining program is second to none. Check out Pop Yoga here.

 

Adventures in Southern Sri Lanka

Udawalawe National Park

You weren't going to visit Sri Lanka and not go on a wildlife safari, were you? That would be a big mistake.

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There are two main park areas to go on a day long safari in the Southern Province. Yala National Park is known for leopard sightings, but also known for heavy crowds and SuperJeep traffic jams.

We recommend checking out Udawalawe National Park. It's closer to the main areas for accommodation in the south, and you'll see elephants in their wild habitat, multiple species of birds, water buffalo, peacocks, mongooses, and deer. There's also the occasional leopard spotting, but it is more rare than at Yala.

A quick google search will return plenty of companies who hire Super Jeeps and a driver for the safari, and will take you to the entrance where you can buy your entry into the national park. A great way to spend a day out in nature! 

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Snorkeling at Polhena Beach

One of our favorite days was snorkeling with giant sea turtles in Polhena Beach near Matara. Matara is located in the center of the action of the Southern coast, and it's super easy to rent equipment. Take a tuk tuk to Polhena Beach, and you'll see several options right off the road as you pull up. Rental should cost around 2,000 Sri Lankan Rupees per person, so don't get tricked into paying more! 

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Surfing at Horsehoe Bay (Hiriketiya)

The best surf and the most fun beach in the area are one and the same. We could have easily spent a whole week (or two) at Horseshoe Bay in Hiriketiya. There's a rock point break for more experienced surfers and a gentle beach break for surfers of all levels to enjoy. 

You can easily get a quick lesson from one of the locals if you'd like (expect to pay about $40 USD), or hire a board from the beach.

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Pro tip: Go get a massage at Beach House after your surf sesh. You won't regret it. 

Whale Watching in Mirissa

We didn't actually go whale watching in Mirissa, but many people recommended it and as such we thought to include it here. Blue whales feed off of the unusual amount of plankton near the small town of Mirissa Beach, and there are regular tours and sightings from November to April. Cost is around $60 US per person. 

Cultural Experiences in Sri Lanka

Mulkirigala Rock Temple

During our retreat, we spent a morning at the Mulkirigala Rock Temple, and it was nice experience to have in our itinerary. It's a 500 step hike up a beautiful rock formation set amidst the jungle. Along the way you'll find temple rooms with many dedications to Buddha carved right into the rocks and painted in caves. At the top there's a beautiful view of the jungle, which makes for a perfect spot for a picnic and meditation. We also received blessings to live a long prosperous life, which was a cool touch. Ladies, it is a temple, so be sure to cover your shoulders and legs to show respect to the culture.

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Virgin White Tea Plantation

Tea is an integral part of the culture in Sri Lanka and about an hour inland from the coast you'll find rolling hills of tea plantations. Take a trip to Virgin White Tea Plantation and learn about how the teas are grown and produced, and create a meditative tea tasting experience for yourself or your group.

Cooking Demonstration

As yogis, we're very passionate about what we are putting into our bodies, and getting a cooking demonstration was a highlight of the trip! We learned how to make dahl curry (a Sri Lankan staple), pumpkin curry, and radish curry, and learned all about the spices and ingredients used in other classic Sri Lankan dishes. Most retreat centers or hotels an organize something like this for you- 10/10 would recommend.

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Eat, Drink, Shop & Be Merry

Galle

Honey Beach Inn

We loved this cute little guest house off the beaten path in Galle. It felt super private and was extremely affordable + they have a workspace and outdoor area right on the beach! 

Salty Swamis Cafe & Surf Shop Hikkaduwa

Delicious coffee, surf rentals, and vegan + gluten free options. If you're in Hikkaduwa, don't miss out on this hip hangout! Open for breakfast and lunch (8am to 3pm).

Coconut Sambol Galle

Super local spot with delicious curries, salads and desserts. Come hungry! Vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options available.

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A taste of America right in Sri Lanka. If you're craving the comfort of home, come here for a wrap & superfood smoothie or juice.

Shopping

Galle is the best place you'll find for souvenirs and clothes and jewelry shopping. I'd recommend buying your friends and family an array of spices, and pick up some moonstones (they are native to Sri Lanka!). 

Walk around the area by the fort and lighthouse, and you'll find yourself easily wandering in and out of stores for a whole afternoon.

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Hiriketiya Beach & Dikwella Town

Verse Collective

I could write another whole blog post on how much I loved my time at Verse Collective. A five minute tuk tuk from the hotspot of Hiriketiya, Verse is a newly opened social aesthetic with a private accommodation, a co-working space, cafe and surf shop. 

It's a converted old colonial house that sits right on the beach, nestled faraway from the hustle and bustle of the main street running through Dikwella town.

It's run by a South African couple (Penny & Jeremy) who are just lovely, and the whole staff is super personable. The food and coffee are delicious, and the space is buzzing with raw creative energy. Please do yourself a favor and stay here if you are looking for awesome affordable accommodation in the area!

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Salthouse

Salt is a super chill hangout in Hiriketiya. Come for a cocktail and bite to eat (they have vegan and gluten free options) and be sure to check out the shop at the back- they sell the most amazing hand crafted kimonos and men's shirts. 

Grove

Another great spot right around the corner. The lawn is a beautiful location to have a coffee and enjoy a slow morning, or come for dinner and stay awhile. They also have a small shop selling things like cacao and homemade bug repellent. 

Dots

We did some of our best shopping at Dots in Hiriketiya- think cute local labels, a healthy cafe & delicious local spreads and snacks to take home. We caught a night of live music here. The venue is pretty big and the show was great! 

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The Doctor's House

There's not enough good things to say about Doctor's House. We went on the first Saturday of the month, which meant there was live music all afternoon. They have an awesome bar, great food menu, and the vibes just don't stop. We were devastated when we had to leave the party to go straight to the airport, but what a last day! 

Nomad Cafe & Boutique

A great spot to have breakfast or lunch. Most of the menu is vegan, and they have cozy outdoor seating with shade trees. 

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Southern Sri Lanka was so good to us. A trip here provides a healthy dose of vitamin D and a chance to truly getaway from the world. There's also a really cool creative scene budding here that kept us inspired and stoked on life. We enjoyed getting to know the culture and easy going way of life here, and will welcome many more Roaming Yogi Island Adventures in the future! 

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