I arrived to the island late Saturday evening to the welcoming warm ocean breeze, a slight contrast to the rainy welcome on my visit first visit back in October. I greeted Mario like an old friend and was driven up to the villa above Vis town along with some of the other guests. My friend Vicky was already tucked up in bed and so after catching up on the gossip, we soon dozed off to sleep seemingly to awaken just a couple of minutes later, ready for our first class of the week. But not before I’d glimpsed out of our bedroom window at the stunning sight below.
Each day began at around 7:30am with a warming and gentle Vinyasa flow on the rooftop, led by our lovely teacher Vanessa Fleming. At 8:15, we’d swap our yoga wear for swim wear and the rooftop for the beach, strolling down leisurely with our paddles and fins, ready to greet Mario who would be waiting with the boards. Having tried SUP a couple of times in the Philippines, I was quietly confident about the SUP yoga but I soon realised that standing on the boards and then moving through asanas on the board were two different things entirely! It was certainly a great workout though, firing up every muscle and getting our metabolisms going ready for the epic breakfast Milda was lovingly preparing back at the villa. Class complete, we hopped in the minibus back up the hill – a necessary trip despite the proximity to town, especially after all that exercise!
Breakfast was a nice leisurely affair as we filled our bellies and got to know the other guests. Then the plans for the day would be set, whether a trip down to the stunning Stiniva beach, a boat trip to the Blue Cave or a free day to wander around the town drinking coffee and browsing in the stores at the local delicacies. Vis is a bit different from some of the other islands in Croatia. A lot of the typical ‘Brits abroad’ (and Aussies and Kiwis) have chosen Croatia as the latest partying destination, and it’s easy to see why with all the festivals, yacht parties and the endless sunshine on offer. But Vis has still remained a little unspoilt treasure, tucked away from all the action, so although there are a few tourists wandering around, you still feel like you’re getting a real taste of island life.
Gate-crashing the party
Despite being on a yoga retreat, the vibe was definitely one of embracing all that was one offer and so when Milda mentioned that she might be able to get us on the guest list for a yacht week party in Fort George, of course we jumped at the chance!
The setting was stunning, the music had us busting out the moves, not really caring that the rest of the party-goers were a little more refined, and with a few gin and tonics making me merry I could have happily stayed all evening dancing the night away in my own little bubble of happiness. But the others weren’t enjoying the atmosphere quite as much as me and so when the bus arrived around 1:30am, we hopped on board and headed back home to bed. I was anticipating hitting snooze on my alarm the next morning but I was still high on endorphin’s from the previous night and post-yoga, we had even more excitement to look forward to as I was finally going to get to visit the beautiful blue caves.
Our skippers helped us to carry on the party, blasting out the music as we bounced up and down with the waves and ventured out to the caves. When we arrived at the mouth of the cave, the skipper shouted ‘DUCK’ and we quickly we curled up into little balls before squeezing through the tiny gap to get into the cave. Photos just can’t do this place justice and it’s worth putting the camera down for one of those rare moments when you just want to take it all in without the distraction of a lens. After a circle of the cave, we each hopped off the back of the boat and decided to swim our way back out, trying with a little more energy than anticipated to fight the current to get back on the boat and again jet off to another stunning beach,Bisevo. Here we spent the afternoon eating and swimming off the excess of the previous night before.
After the day’s activities, we would head to the rooftop for a gentle Yin practice, or even better, back onto the SUP boards to thoroughly relax as we bobbed along with the waves and listened to the sound of the church bells reminding us it was time to wake up from Savasana and head back home for another delicious dinner.
As if the rooftop wasn’t an idyllic setting enough, we also had an evening practicing on the roof of Fort George one evening, the class ending just in time for us to watch the most stunning sunset over the water. A slightly different experience than the previous evening of partying at the Fort, but equally as fun!
As ever, dinner was one of my favourite times of day. We’d sit down as a group on our outdoor patio and enjoy whatever culinary delight Milda had prepared for us that day – from black bean Mexican chilli one evening to peach, brie and walnut topped bread bites for lunch, all the way through to the Indian inspired spinach curry – the food NEVER gets boring. And when you’re doing that much exercise, it’s only right to fuel your body with extra nourishing portions right?! But it was the social aspect of dinner that made it all the more pleasurable with trips to Roki’s local taverna and post-class dinner at Fort George offering a change of scenery mid-week.
As if two visits to this wonderful island weren’t enough, I’m already on countdown until I return this September 17th-24th for the Balance Yoga retreats. I will be leading the morning classes in the Vinyasa style of yoga, alongside Vanessa Fleming who will be taking us through a restorative Yin practice in the evenings. If you fancy joining me, here’s everything you need to know.