And relax… 6 of the best destinations for wellness experiences
After the stresses and strains of the past weeks, we all need a little TLC. Let us focus your mind on the wonderful wellness experiences that await you on your travels with P&O Cruises – we’ve picked six of the best that combine unique cultural traditions with rejuvenating rest and relaxation.
1. Find peace with al fresco yoga in Stavanger, Norway
The wild landscapes and extraordinary beauty of Norway’s fjords are spiritual experiences in themselves. Some choose to hike off into the wilderness to find peace; others take to fjordic waters in kayaks to find calm. And others find true sanctuary in a sun salutation. Whether you join a group or simply do your own thing, an al fresco yoga session surrounded by the glories of Norway can help you become at one with nature and find inner harmony. And worry not – you won’t be alone. Yoga is a huge part of the Norwegian lifestyle (Oslo has hosted an International Yoga Day for five years on the trot) so don’t be surprised if on your travels you see locals stopping to stretch, breathe and meditate, inspired no doubt by their country’s magnificent mountains, natural wonders and pure waters.
2. Try SUP paddleboarding in Barcelona, Spain
The beaches closest to Barcelona’s centre are popular with locals and tourists alike and are lively spots during the warmer months. To enjoy cooling sea breezes and escape for some me-time, head out onto the calm coastal waters for a spot of SUP stand up paddleboarding. Originating from the home of surfing, Hawaii, these wide boards are a lot larger and more buoyant than a classic surfboard, making balancing much simpler especially in the mostly wave-free waters of this vibrant Catalan city. Once you’ve got the hang of using the paddle, you can glide blissfully along the coastline, filling your lungs with fresh ocean air, soaking up unique city views and getting a workout without even realising it.
3. Enjoy an Ancient Greek Massage, Athens, Greece
The Greek capital Athens will transport you back in body and spirit to the 5th Century BC. Lose yourself at the Acropolis, whose jewels include the Propylaea, the Erechtheum, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Theatre of Dionysus and crowning glory, the Parthenon. At the Acropolis Museum, closer inspection of Ancient Greek artefacts and artwork reveals a people deeply connected to physical wellbeing through sport and therapeutic rituals in line with the teachings of Hippocrates (the father of medicine). Athens-based physiotherapist and alternative therapist Elly Tsoukani has revived Hippocrates’ practices with a new therapeutic approach, Ancient Greek Massage. The body undergoes a programme of dry kneading with geolite powder, circulatory-enhancing brushing with horse hair, a massage with hot Greek olive oil mixed with Greek essential oils, suction-cup treatment to release tension and further activate circulation, and a focused neck, head and face massage to expel tension and negative thoughts. Just the ticket after a hard morning exploring astonishing ancient treasures.
4. Lose yourself in Bonaire Marine Park’s underwater wonderland, Bonaire, Dutch Antilles
Don your mask and snorkel to find paradise in the seas of Bonaire, one of the most serene and best-preserved islands of the Caribbean’s Dutch Antilles. The locals’ dedication to sustainability, ecotourism and preserving the wonders of their crystal-clear seas and marine life are showcased in Unesco World Heritage Centre, Bonaire Marine Park. The protected underwater area safeguards the reefs, seagrasses and mangroves that surround the island. The reefs are the least degraded in the entire Caribbean Sea and boast more than 50 varieties of stone coral and more species of reef fish than anywhere else in the Caribbean. They’re also home to Green and Hawksbill turtles and a seemingly infinite array of other marine creatures.
5. Explore the serene caves and pure white sands at The Baths, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands *
Take a step out of the real world for a day at The Baths on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. The geological wonder comprises a landscape of awe-inspiring granite boulders, secret sheltered sea pools and awe-inspiring sea caves – all set against a backdrop of dazzling blue seas and pure white sands. Swim, snorkel, walk, wander… This prehistoric playground beckons you forth, so chuck off the sandals and head barefoot into a blissful state of exploration. Look up at The Cathedral (an iconic triangular formation named after the rock’s pure acoustic effects), squeeze through secret passageways and dip in secluded pools when you need to cool off.
6. Soak up the geothermal goodness of Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik
Seawater, silica and algae work their wellbeing magic at Iceland’s number one visitor attraction. This unique milky, aqua blue pool simmers at 37-39 degrees centigrade courtesy of the Svartsengi geothermal energy plant – it’s powered by geothermally heated seawater, which is pumped from 2,000 metres below the ground before it is released into the Blue Lagoon. What started out as an eccentric bathing ritual for hardy locals in the early 80s is now a mecca for those seeking deep relaxation and the lagoon’s skin-healing benefits. Wallow in the balmy waters; breathe in the soothing steam; enjoy massages and spa treatments based on the algae and silica’s health-boosting properties… And hold on forever to those ethereal vistas and volcanic landscapes, like nowhere else on Earth.