Top wellness retreats in NSW for solo travellers
For your next holiday, leave everything (and everyone) behind and escape to one of these wellness retreats. Learn to meditate, kick start your fitness goals, or get every kink and knot massaged out of you.
Elysia Wellness Retreat– if you like to choose your own adventure
Wellness takes many forms – you might be looking to begin your new fitness routine, fix your sleep issues or cram in as many massages as possible (or all three). Elysia Wellness Retreat, based in the Hunter Valley, allows you to plan your own ideal day. A slower day could include morning tai chi with a view over the valley, a walk through the lush grounds with other guests, a pilates class and a swim in one of two pools. Ready to ramp it up? Try deep water running (an aqua aerobics class with extra resistance), a 10km hike, a game of indoor hockey or a cardio box class. Save time for the spa, with every type of massage you could want as well as facials, body scrubs and manicures.
YHA Pittwater Eco – if you’re seeking complete nature immersion
Spending a weekend immersed in nature is one of the best ways to turn down the noise of your busy mind and leave you feeling awestruck. YHA Pittwater Eco is a great option for solo travellers, where all you have to do is step out the door of this bayside eco hostel to be surrounded the resplendent wilderness of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Hire a single kayak to explore the bays and beaches of this magical waterway (Resolute Beach is a particularly secluded, stunning spot). You can also spot wallabies and birds on a bushwalk, watch the sun rise from a sandstone rock shelf overlooking the peninsula, or simply hang out in the hammock gazing at the view.
Soma Byron – if you’ve always wanted to learn to meditate
Meditation has myriad benefits (improved quality of sleep and reduced anxiety and stress, to name a couple), you just need to find the time to make it a habit. Visit Soma solo to really throw yourself into it – its three-day course will teach you the skill of vedic meditation (inside a breathtaking meditation dome within a bamboo forest), designed for individuals of all levels. Daily yoga sessions, an ice bath and infrared sauna, and access to the freshwater infinity pool overlooking the Byron hinterland are all included. Design lovers will appreciate the stunning Mid-Century Modern lodging with timber cladding, floor-to-ceiling windows and tasteful rooms. Fun fact: Nine Perfect Strangers was filmed here.
Heart and Soul Retreats– if you’re keen to explore alternative styles of rejuvenation
Ever been curious about the ancient techniques of Ayurveda or wanted to try Tibetan singing bowls? Check into a single room at Heart and Soul Retreats and book into its healing centre. The volunteer-run retreat offers a daily program of yoga, themed workshops and guided meditations alongside crystal healing massages and Vedic astrology readings. Located in the foothills of the Royal National Park, make time to explore the surrounding forests and nearby beaches, alone or with like-minded guests to discuss what you’ve learned.
Happy Buddha Retreats– if you need to get the blood flowing
A wellness weekend doesn’t have to be about mindfulness and serenity – it can also be about joyful activities that get your heart pumping. Happy Buddha Retreats offers a week-long program of West African rhythm, drumming and dance (including yoga and guided meditation) taught by Guinea-born brothers Epizo and Sibo Bangoura, who are masters of their craft. The program is completely adaptable – stay for the whole week or just a couple of nights, take advantage of the onsite vegetarian fare or explore the Blue Mountains dining scene or just take a class or two if that’s all you can fit in. Located in Wentworth Falls, solo travellers will be paired with other singles of the same gender or can pay extra for their own room.
Yuin Retreat– if you want to learn about Indigenous ways of knowing
For an immersive cultural experience, the two-night Yuin Retreat with Aboriginal-operated Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness traverses the heart of Djirringanj country of the Yuin Nation, around Narooma. Starting with a traditional smoking ceremony, dance and yarning circle, guests will either embark on a guided walk on the sacred Gulaga Mountain (for the Yuin, this is where life begins and where it will end) or follow the Djirringanj Dreaming Trail and participate in healing connection workshops. Either journey is followed up with an Indigenous Twist Food Journey experience, a collaboration by some of the best chefs in the country and the oldest food culture in the world.
Zensi – if you’re seeking a luxury escape away from it all
At this new retreat 20 minutes out of Mudgee, you’ll feel calmer simply by walking through the door. Opening late November, the owners have a background in luxury building and interior design (and one is now working as a holistic practitioner) and every element of the design of Zensi has been carefully considered to help you slow down and connect to nature. Raw materials like natural stone are used liberally across the house and villa. The house includes a dining table carved from a three-metre tree trunk, floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking neighbouring farmland and handmade artworks. The communal area encourages connection and community but if you need time alone, stay in one of the glamping teepees and book out the wellness space to make full use of the in-ground spa, sauna and showers. Future programs include ones themed around detox, rest and women’s circles.
Elements of Byron– if you need to decompress before you do anything else
If the thought of throwing yourself into a HIIT class or trying to still your mind makes you feel even more stressed than you already are, perhaps you need to start by resting. Elements of Byron encourage guests to go on a self-guided, three-phase wellness journey. Starting with relaxation, take advantage of the blackout curtains and king-sized beds by sleeping in, lie by the pool with a book from the library and soak in the generously sized bath. After a dip, rebalance with a spa treatment, join a beachfront yoga session and still your mind through activities like bird spotting and star gazing. Lastly, revive your body on guided rainforest walks, learn to surf at the region’s pristine beaches or hike up to Cape Byron Lighthouse. Dig into a burger and cocktail by the pool once that’s all done or head into town to try some wholefood options.
Billabong Retreat– if you can only get away for a day
If you can only escape for a day, spending it at Billabong Retreat, only 45 minutes from Sydney, is well worth the trip. The single-day retreats start with a cup of tea (and a deep breath) and include a wellness workshop (with themes like self-care, stress relief and living mindfully, depending on what’s on), a spa treatment (think massages, facials or reiki), a nutritious lunch and an afternoon yoga class. Before you head home, take 20 minutes to wander around the property – listen to the sweet trill of whip birds, meditate next to the lotus garden, see if you can spot a black wallaby or blue tongue lizard and head home feeling like a new you.