The 14 Best Wellness Retreats in the World for Active Travelers from Outside mturner

Health and wellness is highly personal. Sometimes our bodies want a challenging mountain trek and a big dose of carbs. Or, after I’ve adventured hard, I might crave a nourishing week of yoga or a few days of planted-based meals and mindfulness sessions, preferably on a beach somewhere. Other times, I long for the support of a like-minded community while exploring a new place.

Whatever your needs, what you’ll find below aren’t your typical wellness retreats. They’re for active people who like to travel in some of the most beautiful places in the world. I chose spots with a variety of price ranges that meet a number of different goals, from hiking in spectacular mountains to surfing perfect swells to chilling out at a zen center. Better yet, I’ve been to many of them and share my personal take on why they’re the best places to recharge. Here’s to your health. Now get planning.

Aro Ha Wellness Retreat, Glenorchy, New Zealand

The lodging at Aro Hā looks out on Lake Wakatipu and is an awesome launching pad for adventure on New Zealand’s South Island. (Photo: Aro Ha Wellness Retreat)

Best For: Hikers who want to explore the Southern Alps

The Experience: The Tolkien-worthy views are breathtaking at this 21-acre, self-sustaining retreat just outside of Queenstown on the South Island. Sparkling Lake Wakatipu and the snow-capped peaks of New Zealand’s Southern Alps are on full display from the 20 suites, yoga deck, and outdoor plunge pool of its minimalist lodge. Daily, guided hikes immerse guests in the beauty of the mountains. There are treks for all fitness levels, from mindful walks through towering beech and medicinal Manuka trees to quad-burning climbs of up to 10 miles, including a portion of the famed Routeburn Track. Six-to-eight-day retreats are designed around the concept of rewilding mind, body, and spirit.

Hiking in the Southern Alps is a bucket list trip, and it’s right out the back door of Aro Ha. (Photo: Aro-Ha Wellness Retreat)

A typical day starts with a sunrise vinyasa flow class, followed by a bowl of fennel coconut muesli, then a three- to-four hour hike and a well-earned plant-based lunch like veggie Pad Thai. Free time allows for a therapeutic massage or kayak outing before an afternoon workshop in fermentation or journaling. Dinner might be accompanied by a tart cherry and magnesium shot (alcohol and caffeine aren’t allowed) and all the fresh air and physical exercise guarantees you won’t have any trouble falling asleep. Aro-Hā bills itself as a mind-body reboot, but it’s also great conditioning if you want to extend your stay three days and tackle the full 20-mile Routeburn Track.

The Cost: All-inclusive six-day retreats from $4,320

Ojo Caliente Spa and Resort, Ojo Caliente, New Mexico

Ojo Caliente’s therapeutic pools soothe muscles after a hike exploring the area. (Photo: Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa)

Best For: Hot spring devotees who love the southwest

The Experience: This high desert oasis located halfway between Abiquiu and Taos is steeped in history and healing. For thousands of years, Northern Pueblo communities made pilgrimages to the area’s restorative thermal waters. When Ojo Caliente opened in 1868, it was considered the country’s first health spa. Today, the resort includes a farm-to-table restaurant, suites with kiva fireplaces and vintage trailers, and a spa. But the sulfur-free, therapeutic hot springs are why people come. You can devise a soaking circuit to soothe whatever ails you. A pool of iron-rich water provides an immune boost, while the arsenic spring may help achy muscles. The soda pool promises digestive relief and if you’re feeling down, the lithia pool is purportedly a natural mood enhancer. There’s also a mud pool where you can cover your body in purifying clay and new bathhouses with saunas and steam rooms. Drop in for a day soak or create a DIY wellness weekend and join vinyasa flow sessions in the yoga yurt and bike and hike the high-elevation trails right at the resort’s doorstep. The trailhead for the cottonwood-lined 1.8-mile Bosque Loop is steps from the lobby. Nearby, the Abiquiu Lake Vista Trail system offers sensational views of the 5,200-acre reservoir, Cerro Pedernal mesa, and Georgia O’Keeffe’s beloved summer home, Ghost Ranch.

The Cost: Rooms from $239 + communal soaking from $45

Euphoria Retreat, Peloponnese, Greece

From the Euphoria Retreat, guests can trek to Mystra, a Unesco World Heritage Site preserving Byzantine ruins and ancient history.  (Photo: Euphoria Retreat)

Best For: History buffs who want to sightsee while they sweat

The Experience: Programs at Euphoria combine the physical training of ancient Spartan warriors and the wellness wisdom of Hippocrates, with influences of Taoist philosophy, traditional Chinese medicine, and the latest science-based therapies mixed in. The 45-room retreat resembles a medieval village on 90 acres of hills in Mystras, a 13th-century town outside of Sparta in the Peloponnese region of southern Greece. A sprawling four-story spa complex is built around a heated, sphere-shaped pool with an underwater soundtrack of whale songs. All guests have access to the Byzantine hammam (a type of steam bath), salt therapy room, infrared sauna, sensory deprivation pool, and gym. You can also customize your vacation with a la carte treatments, like a detox cupping massage or sign up for a retreat, like the Spartan Spirit of Adventure. This multi-sport program doubles as a sightseeing tour over three, five, or seven days. Every day you’ll be challenged with two to three hours of physical exercise. You might trek to the 7,890-foot peak of Mount Taygetus mountain or go rock climbing at Lagada, one of the best sports crags in Greece. Meals are customized for each guest based on a test that looks at metabolic markers such as glucose and glutathione, and can feel, well, a bit spartan. We won’t tell if you hit up one of the nearby tavernas.

The Cost: From $284 per night, including group activities

Blackberry Mountain, Walland, Tennessee

Blackberry Mountain, the sister resort to Blackberry Farm, is perched in the Tennessee mountains near Smoky Mountain National Park. (Photo: Blackberry Mountain)

Best For: Active people who like good food and a tipple of whiskey after a hike

The Experience: Blackberry Mountain’s deep selection of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon was my first hint that this wasn’t your typical wellness retreat. The second: I was encouraged to work up an appetite. The spectacular setting makes that easy. Situated 20 minutes from the entrance of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this 5,200-acre hotel feels like a private playground, laced with 36 miles of hiking trails and 8 miles of singletrack. You can get after it trail running, bouldering, and mountain biking, then revive your muscles with fascial flossing (a technique that simultaneously elongates and contracts the fascia) at the recovery lab.

You can adventure hard or soft here. (Photo: Blackberry Mountain)

Or slow things down with aerial forest yoga followed by spa treatments like candlelight sound bathing and crystal reiki. An on-site art studio encourages guests to flex their creative side with pottery and watercolors. Blackberry Mountain puts a lighter spin on the decadent seasonal Southern cooking of its sister property, culinary mecca Blackberry Farm. I fueled my days with sweet potato oatmeal cakes topped with honey creme fraiche, then rewarded my efforts at night with dishes like hanger steak, smoked carrots and oyster mushrooms, and a sip of whisky. I left feeling like I’d just spent an energizing weekend at adult summer camp.

The Cost: Rates start at $1,595 per night based on double occupancy and includes meals and unlimited morning fitness classes

Kamalaya, Koh Samui, Thailand

Guests can paddleboard, kayak, or lounge on the beach while at Kamalaya, which sits on the Gulf of Thailand. (Photo: Kamalaya Koh Samui)

Best For: Ayurvedic-focussed healing on a stunning island

The Experience: Founded by a former yogi monk and a master of traditional Chinese medicine and Indian Ayurvedic philosophy, this 76-room wellness sanctuary sits on a dreamy slice of jungle shrouded sand. You could come to the island for a beach vacation and book a la carte therapies. But the majority of guests are drawn to the 20-plus programs Kamalaya offers that range from three to 21 days and address everything from gut health to burnout. A team of in-house experts—including osteopaths and naturopaths, as well as visiting practitioners— administer treatments like Chi Nei Tsang, a Taoist abdominal massage, in treehouse-inspired rooms.

Guilt-free raw chocolate cake made with avocado, dates, and cacao at Kamalaya. Yum. (Photo: Kamalaya Koh Samui)

If you’ve come for the signature detox program, you’ll dine on ​​flavorful, yet portion-controlled plant-based, low-inflammatory, low-allergenic, and low-glycemic food. Otherwise you can indulge in Thai specialties, like thom kha gai (chicken and coconut soup). All programs have downtime to take advantage of activities, like a half-day cruise aboard a wooden Turkish Ketch along the southern coast.

The Cost: Three-night minimum. Three-night programs start at $1,400, including meals and treatments

Root Adventures, Peru + Puget Sound + Banff

On Root Adventure’s nine-day trek in Peru’s Andes mountains, you’ll camp in spectacular settings. (Photo: Root Adventures)

Best For: Those seeking outdoor adventure and community

The Experience: A lot of wellness retreats cultivate mindfulness and push us physically, but Root Adventures also emphasizes the importance of being part of a diverse, inclusive community. Domestic and international itineraries combine the knowledge of local guides with the expertise of Root Adventures’ tour leaders, who include yoga instructors, wilderness therapists, justice advocates, and body positivity coaches. Most trips are capped at 12 people and pre-trip Zoom calls allow participants to bond while post-trip calls keep new friends connected and help reinforce new habits with supportive coaching.

You might see orcas while kayaking on the Puget Sound in the San Juan Islands. (Photo: Root Adventures)

Itinerary highlights for 2024 include:

A four-day kayak and low-impact camping expedition around Puget Sound ($2,995) with daily yoga and meditation, locally-sourced food, and possible orca sightings.
A challenging nine-day trek in the Andes of Peru ($4,595) that involves five to eight hours of hiking a day, journaling sessions, and camping in local communities.
And a six-day backpacking and camping adventure in the rugged Canadian Rockies around Banff ($3,595), where you’ll wild swim and forest bathe.

Mountain Trek Health Reset Retreat, Nelson, British Columbia

After a morning hike, peace and quiet awaits guests back at the Mountain Trek lodge. (Photo: Mountain Trek Health Reset Retreat)

Best For: Mountain lovers who want to recharge in the Canadian Rockies

The Experience: A good wilderness ­ramble can do wonders for our health. Mountain Trek amplifies the benefits by complementing rigorous hikes with holistic healing therapies, lifestyle workshops, and a diet free of processed foods, caffeine, sugar, and alcohol. A team of 40 experts, including nutritionists, naturopaths, and certified forest bathing guides, take care of 15 guests each week. Based out of a timber lodge in B.C.’s gorgeous Kootenay Range, the daily schedule starts with sunrise yoga, followed by three to four hours of nordic hiking with a break for a picnic lunch. Groups are broken up based on fitness levels and depending on the season, you might trek past meadows of alpine wildflowers or patches of golden larch, and spot bear, moose, or marmots. Back at the lodge, you’ll attend lectures on topics like the art of goal setting and have down time to soak in the hot tub or the natural mineral hot springs just a five-minute walk away. Dinner is at 5:15 p.m. and might feature cedar plank grilled salmon and baby spinach and arugula salad. A post-meal crystal singing bowl session ensures you’ll wind down for a deep sleep.

The Cost: $6,700 a week, all-inclusive

Crestone Mountain Zen Center, Crestone, Colorado

The zendo where meditation is practiced is in the foothills of the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains. (Photo: Crestone Mountain Zen Center)

Best For: Those craving solitude and quiet

The Experience: When life gets overwhelming, this Zen Buddhist monastery and retreat, tucked sixty miles south of Salida between the jagged Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Colorado’s vast San Luis Valley, is the ultimate escape to still the mind and reset. And a visit doesn’t resign you to a monastic life of 4:30 a.m. wake up calls and marathon meditation sessions. You can create a custom retreat from four days to three months, be it solitude in the wilderness or a quiet, distraction-free space to read, breathe, hike, or regroup. Accommodation options range from a 10-site campground and a yurt to simple cabins and a five-room guest house. Stays include three garden-grown vegetarian meals per day and guests are welcome to join residents in group meditation. It’s also a great base if you’re craving some contemplative solo adventure time. The campus is surrounded by 240 trail-laced acres of piñon pine and juniper forest and is at the doorstep of some of Colorado’s most majestic hikes, like the Spanish Peak Trail and Kit Carson Peak, as well as natural hot springs.

The Cost: Starting at $75 a day for camping

SHA Wellness Clinic, Alicante, Spain + Riviera Maya, Mexico

On January 26th, SHA will open its second location in the beach town of Costa Mujeres, Mexico, above. (Photo: Sha Wellness Clinic)

Best For: Those looking for a total reboot

The Experience: This health retreat is in the middle of Spain’s Sierra Helada Natural Park. Of every 100 guests who arrive, more than half are repeat visitors who consider this a health check up that doubles as a vacation. SHA’s sleek, white-washed design and cabana-lined, rooftop infinity pool could be mistaken for a fancy seaside resort in the Mediterranean. But the real draw is a tried-and-true holistic approach to biomedicine backed by a team of 30-some full-time doctors and specialists who work in partnership with Harvard Medical School and NASA. Personalized health programs range from four to 21 days and address nine areas, including nutrition, cognitive stimulation, and physical performance. Diagnostic tests measure everything from nervous system activity to melatonin biorhythms. Based on results, you’re prescribed a routine that might include sound therapy with Tibetan singing bowls, a photobiomodulation session where you wear a helmet of LED infrared lights to stimulate cell repair, and a daily visit to the hydrotherapy circuit where you’ll rotate through the sauna, cold plunge, Roman and Turkish baths, and therapeutic water jets. Customized meals are inspired by Japanese and Mediterranean culinary traditions, and SHA’s Healthy Living Academy offers cooking classes, as well as workshops on meditation and fitness coaching, to send you home with healthy habits. On January 26th, SHA will open its second outpost in the beach town of Costa Mujeres, Mexico, with a sea-to-table culinary concept and activities like swimming in cenotes and scuba diving in the large coral reef in the Americas.

The Cost: Four-day program, all-inclusive at SHA Wellness Clinic Spain from $7,796 and at SHA Wellness Mexico from $5,770

Eleven Deplar Farm Live Well Retreat, Troll Peninsula, Iceland

If you’re lucky, you’ll get a spectacular Northern Lights display while you’re staying at Deplar Farm. (Photo: Eleven Deplar Farm)

Best For: A bucket list splurge packed with adventure and relaxation

The Experience: Adventure collective Eleven is known for its high-thrill experiences. But the company’s new winter-only wellness retreats bring your body back to baseline with a float tank and yoga nidra sessions after the adrenaline. Deplar Farm, a remote 13-room lodge with floor-to-ceiling windows framing craggy peaks, is the perfect setting for transformation. At a visit here last winter, I braved the extreme elements on Icelandic horseback expeditions, Arctic surf missions, and cross-country ski outings to a silent lunch in a cozy cabin.

Scouting for trout and fly fishing are on the adventure menu at Deplar Farm. (Photo: Eleven Deplar Farm)

Back in the comfort of the lodge, I reset my nervous system with guided breathwork, sound baths, and a Viking sauna ritual that involved alternating between sweating in what looked like a hobbit house, then dunking in the cold plunge. Nourishing meals highlighted Icelandic ingredients in dishes like wolf fish with braised cauliflower puree and deconstructed skyr cake with almond crumble. At night, I’d watch for the Northern Lights from the geothermally-heated saltwater pool and would lull myself into a meditative state.

The Cost: Four-night retreat from $11,000

The Ultimate Costa Rica Wellness Retreats

A hotspot for wellness and longevity—the country’s Nicoya Peninsula is one of the world’s blue zones, a place people regularly live past the age of 100—I couldn’t leave Costa Rica off this list. Here are four more incredible trips that will leave you re-energized.

Surf Synergy

Best For: Surfers who crave personal instruction

There are six nearby beaches at Surf Synergy in Costa Rica and one of them is bound to have a wave for you. (Photo: Surf Synergy)

The Experience: This eco-minded lodge in the beach town of Jacó was co-founded by Marcel Oliveira, Costa Rica’s reigning national SUP champ. Week-long one-on-one surf and SUP immersions include twice-weekly massages, ice baths, daily yoga, breathwork training, and healthy meals featuring ingredients from the on-site permaculture garden. With six beaches within easy reach, programs can be tailored to all experience levels and coaches provide video analysis that breaks down your technique.

The Cost: Seven nights, all-inclusive from $2,765

Hike Coast to Coast Along el Camino de Costa Rica

The author Jen Murphy hiking coast to coast in Costa Rica. (Photo: Jen Murphy)

Best For: Hikers who like to explore

The Experience: I thought all of Costa Rica had been discovered until I trekked el Camino de Costa Rica, a 174-mile trail stretching between the Caribbean and the Pacific. Its 16 stages highlight rural communities, an Indigenous territory, and rarely visited parks and nature reserves. During my hike with outfitter Urri Trek, I spotted an insane amount of wildlife, from glass-winged butterflies to two-toed sloth and racoon-like coati, dined in the homes of welcoming locals, and overnighted at simple hot springs hotels and low-frills eco-resorts. Be warned, this isn’t a walk in the park. Each stage averages four to 24 miles and the trail contains some serious elevation gain and requires a few river crossings.

The Cost: 16-day trips on the Camino de Costa Rica with Urri Trek from $1,950

Blue Osa Yoga Retreat, Osa Peninsula

The view from the yoga studio at Blue Osa is ridiculously serene.  (Photo: Blue Osa)

Best For: Yogis who love the beach

This solar-powered jungle lodge in the southwest province of Punta Arenas is steps from a quiet stretch of sand. You can customize your own wellness vacation (beach yoga, a coconut body scrub at the spa, a day-trip to Corcovado National Park) or book a structured retreat. The Best of Costa Rica program is packed with yoga sessions but also takes groups off property on mangrove kayak tours, hikes to waterfalls, and birdwatching. Communal meals are a highlight (there’s even a Blue Osa cookbook) and showcase produce from the lodge’s on-site organic garden and local farmers. Start the day with Costa Rican coffee and tropical fruits, midday, refuel with a vegan chimichurri sweet potato bowl, and at night, feast on house-made rosemary focaccia and pesto pasta.

The Cost: $1,440 for a four-night, all-inclusive retreat

Surf with Amigas

The waves on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula are the perfect place to learn how to surf. (Photo: Lena Hentschel)

Best For: Solo surfers looking to make new friends

The Experience: This surf retreat company founded by former pro Holly Beck runs trips around the globe, but Costa Rica is hands down the most popular destination thanks to the variety of surf and pura vida vibes. The week-long, women’s-only Northern Costa Rica Surf & Yoga itinerary is perfect for both beginners and shortboard shredders. Your hotel, located 40 minutes outside of Tamarindo, sits on a long sandy beach known for super consistent waves that break both right and left. Daily yoga classes help revive paddle-weary muscles and if the surf isn’t up, you’ll tour local farms, go on horseback rides, and visit national parks.

The Cost: From $2,400, all-inclusive

Outside correspondent Jen Murphy is constantly on the road finding the best places to adventure. Her next stop? Surf Synergy in Costa Rica to work on her surfing skills. 

Murphy mountain biking at Blackberry Mountain in Tennessee (Photo: Jen Murphy)

The post The 14 Best Wellness Retreats in the World for Active Travelers appeared first on Outside Online.

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