Talalla Retreat

»A little luxury and a little surfing in sparkling Sri Lanka «

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If you're yearning for a week of sand, sun, surf and blissful yoga taught by top-notch teachers, then it's hard to go past Talalla. This indulgent retreat has spread its wings as a world-class vacation destination at unbeatable value-for-money. Purist yogis will be pleased with the high standard of teachers, amateur surfers will be pleased with both the surf conditions and the instructors, and anyone who is partial to a beach vacation will be pleased as soon as they step out into the warm air.

  • What we love
  • As well as yoga/surf retreats, Talalla also offers the 200-hour Yoga Alliance Certification in Yoga Teacher Training
  • The friendly staff and excellent combination of high-quality surf and yoga instruction
  • Talalla has the friendly feel of a backpacker's hostel with the fittings of a high-class resort
  • What to know
  • Retreat packages must be pre-booked
  • Surfing is year-round, advanced surfing best from November to May
  • Talalla is on a swimming beach, all surf beaches are within 30 minutes drive
  • Talalla is not only a yoga retreat, yogis mix with general holidaymakers
  • Minimum guest-age of 8 yrs during August and the period December to April
  • Why go
  • Uncrowded
  • Ideal beach vacation
  • Yoga & Surf

In the past, armed conflicts tarnished Sri Lanka’s reputation as a vacation hotspot, but places like Talalla Retreat are working hard to change any negative (and outdated) perceptions. Positioned right on a beach complete with azure warm water, bleached-white sands and a couple of local fishermen greeting early risers, Talalla combines an authentic local experience with a full-service sun and sea vacation.

Talalla is a general retreat, rather than being exclusively a yoga retreat. It is included on our site thanks to their dedication to both guest-happiness and a world-class standard of yoga they provide. Now that they also offer surf packages they are becoming one of the best all-round beach-side yoga and wellness centers.

The owner and founder of Talalla, Laurie Rose, has been practicing yoga for a quarter of a century. This is pretty indicative that any yogi who stays here is in safe hands. The in-house instructors are chosen for their yogic skill of course, but also for their ability to teach, which is very different from being a great practitioner.

There is one in-house yoga retreat offered at Talalla each month, taught in a classical Hatha style. Other, private, retreats are run by guest teachers who bring their groups to stay. There are two shalas (yoga halls) at Talalla, ensuring that there is no clash between the in-house daily classes and any visiting groups.

Although the surfing season runs year-round, beginners will be well-catered for from June to September when the waves are plentiful yet gentle. More advanced surfers will appreciate the swells that appear from October through until May. Talalla is right on a beautiful beach but ardent surfers must note that the numerous surf beaches used by Talalla are actually 10 - 30 minutes drive in either an easterly or westerly direction.

All retreats (surf-based or regular) run for a week and the package includes six nights accommodation, all meals, two yoga sessions each day, airport transfers, and one massage. The yoga classes are held in the morning and afternoon, leaving plenty of time for those surfing lessons for guests who have booked the Yoga & Surf package. Surf and Yoga retreats run year-round. They come in 7, 10, or 14-day packages and include water lessons, 'dry' lessons (when a guest practices on the beach and watches video footage of their practice later, to see how they can improve), daily yoga classes, all meals, accommodation, and airport transfers. This entire package works out at around US$150 a day, making it an unbeatable value-for-money yoga/surf retreat.

The surf instructors at Talalla are regulars, and are not only dedicated surfers but very familiar with local conditions. Jack teaches at Talalla from October to May and is especially popular. His teaching skill and enthusiasm are infectious as he by turns encourages, teases, and coaxes the best out of his students.

Waking up in an open-sided, double-story villa in a tropical location is a blissful start to a day filled with yoga, surf lessons, and peaceful relaxation.The open-sky bathrooms mean that your daily shower will have a canopy of either bright blue sky or clearly-visible stars. Serenity is the goal at Talalla so there are no radios, Internet access or TVs in the villas, although if your neighbors sing loudly in the shower, there's a good chance you'll be hearing them. The openness to the elements means that there is no sound-proofing. This can be occasionally amusing, or annoying, depending on your tolerance level for noise.

Although the villas are built far enough apart that noise is not a factor in every stay, it has meant that Talalla has been implementing a trial of limiting the age of their guests to those over six years old during the peak mid-December to mid-January month. This has brought mixed responses, and they don't seem in too much of a hurry to enshrine the new rule into official policy. Possibly because this is such a lovely place to bring the whole family, and perhaps also because the Sri Lankan attitude to children is generally warm and welcoming. Families with children should be aware that as the villas have an open balcony on their upper levels that anyone staying with children as part of their group can only book ground-floor rooms.

Food at Talalla Retreat has had mixed reviews in the past. A couple of years back they identified the restaurant as being among their weaker elements and have overhauled their policies and their menus. Red meat is not an option, as the menu is based largely on micro-local sources, and the fish you eat in the evening was probably that morning swimming less than two kilometers from your bedroom. Other protein options include chicken and eggs, also local, and the crunchy elements are in abundance: tropical fruit, homemade cereals, fragrant curries, and organic herbs grown right there in Talalla's garden. Talalla-owner Laurie likes to describe the food here as ‘low-mileage.’ It’s easy on the planet and hasn’t traveled very far from habitat to plate!

Sri Lanka has had some hard times within its tourism industry over the last few years. Conflict has given this beautiful place a bad reputation, and places like Talalla are often less-than-fully booked. This seems a shame considering the beauty of the natural environment, the warmth of the locals and retreat staff, and the superb quality of the yoga instruction. Not to mention the simple pleasures of waking up not to the sounds of an alarm clock, but of the sounds of chattering monkeys playing in the treetops.

About the area: Gandara

Poised on the southern tip of Sri Lanka, Gandara is known best for it's unspoilt coast and rambling jungles. The climate is pleasant year-round, with the entire year sitting in the 28 – 30C range (82 – 86F). Like the rest of Sri Lanka, the local cultural attitude is to appreciate a calm approach. This can be confusing for visitors from countries where being direct – and often loud – gets results. That kind of attitude is seen as obnoxious here, and will often be met with a vague and passive reaction. This is not a sign of incompetence, it is a sign of discomfort with confrontation. The best way to get information, good service, or any kind of help in this sweet-natured country is to approach with a soft voice and a peaceable attitude.

Image credit: Talalla Retreat

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