I am so stoked to share that I have been announced as a face of the new The North Face “New Explorer” campaign. What is especially exciting is that through this campaign, we have announced now that I will be taking 6 women on a very special retreat to explore Putsborough, a surfer’s paradise and location very close to my heart.

It was out here, on many a trip, as a teenager, young adult, the woman I am now, seeds were sown for my vision of pursuing creating Mad To Live, and opening this up to women around the world.

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Check out the campaign video below, and enter the competition HERE to win a place on this very special retreat…



We recently had the pleasure of having the awesome journalist Daniela Marchesi come join us in Portugal for a Mad To Live Retreats x The Surf Experience camp.  Check out what Daniela made of her trip for her piece in London On The Inside below!

Book on to a Mad To Live Retreat here, Portugal September & October dates available!

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As the African sun sets on a wildly epic adventure out in Morocco for Mad To Live Retreats, we dust off the golden sand and wipe the zinc off our noses, minds blown after sharing an incredible week with a group of stunning souls from around the world.  Alexandra, Lissette, Ashley, Gabrielle, Kerry, Jess (her FOURTH retreat with us.  We love ya Jess!!) from the US, Elissa, Sabina, Nichola, Elly and Beth (welcome back ladies) from the UK, Lily and Yasmin from Portugal and Sara from Spain.   Check our highlights below and the full video wrap!

Our Mad To Live Retreats babe cave for the week, a private villa at beautiful Banana Beach was the ultimate magical Moroccan surfer girl HQ, nightly dips outside with the setting sun a daily highlight (hands up who's missing 630pm dips dudes?!).  A haul of gifts from our radical brand partners including Billabong, Decleor, The Raw Chocolate Company, Pip & Nut, Kinn LIving, Imsy Swimwear and Mad To Live hats and tees greeted the guests on arrival, an ultimate swag package.

With surfing and getting the girls ripping a key focus of the week, our instructors for the week Bashine and Charlotte went to all lengths to coach the ladies during the week.  The progress was pretty astonishing, and returning retreaters including Lisette Sieholtz and Sara Guel from New York City and Barcelona showing incredible progression, and new surfers Kerry, Ashley and Nichola blowing our minds.

Adventure is around every corner of the raw and beautiful shores of Taghazout, and with camel rides, horse-back riding on Arabian stallions, visits to the all-female run Argan Oil Collective, Paradise Valley to hike, trek and rock jump for the brave, surf-fitness focussed training, an adventurous itinerary complimented by the zen of yoga sessions at the rooftop shalla and a meditation to welcome the new moon led by in-house yogi & bastion of soulful energy Lucy Sweeney, a visit to the local hammam and trips to the souks rounded out an all-time week.

Feasting at the Villa Mandala, wholesome and locally sourced Moroccan feasts fed hungry bellies and souls at the end of a full day adventuring and exploring, a group toast to all the epicness of each day.   Yeah, we LOVE to eat at Mad To Live Retreats!!

A journey to the valhalla of long boarding that is Insouame, punctuated with camels dotting the road, goats chomping argan from trees and staggering views brought the week to an almighty crescendo.  Heading off into the soft-sand desert for a hike and sand-boarding an adventure we won't ever forget, a nirvana of wild beauty. 

The endless possibilities and capacity for adventure and growth when surrounded by a supportive troop of women, when facing fears, when allowing happiness and an endless stoke for living are part of what we champion and part of our DNA at Mad To Live.  Morocco and all these brilliant women were a crucial reminder to us too how powerful and transformative that is, as we tip our hats to the African sun, Hakuna Matata forever engrained.




Book your own Mad To Live Retreats adventure Here and stay tuned for 2019's Morocco dates landing soon!








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My next blog for Billabong Women's hot off the heels of my debut piece on top road trips to do with your girlfriends the summer is now live now on the Billabong website.  I chatted to the Billabong crew about how I started my business and went from being office based to being toes-in-the-sand beach based most of the time!  Check out the full piece below.


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Agadir, Taghazout and its surrounding areas is a veritable treasure trove of adventure and wellness activities.  The azure-hued oceans and gold-dust deserts rich in culture and with super-friendly locals makes it’s a no-brainer as a Mad To Live Retreats base.  We’ve been exploring the epic terrain out here the last year and check out our guide to the top wellness and adventure activities below!




Taghazout, with its breaktaking vistas boasts an endless shorelines of sun-kissed panoramas.  The best way to take it all in and explore is by horseback or for a more local option, camel. With an array of riding schools catering to all levels, get wild and take in the wild terrains on a magnificent horse or doe-eyed camel.



There’s a reason Taghazout is a globally-renowned surf mecca.  With infamous spots welcoming pros including the likes of Kelly Slater of the years, the land of the rights, with killer beaks including Anchors, Devils Rock and more is a must-stop for wave-hungry travellers.  Accommodation is cheap, and operators like Surf Maroc offer an abundance of options that include bed and breakfast and surf touring.



Once you’re done with the waves, heading out into the wildly raw and beautiful sand dunes is a must-do experience.  The scenery is unparalleled and one for the memory bank, and you can surf down the soft dunes for a thrilling experience.



Namaste’in loving yogis are spoilt for choice with a number of choice-yoga options.  Take in all the incredible beauty of the coastline with roof-top yoga classes at spots including boutique hotel Amouage.




Surf-weary bodies and spa-lovers must check out a traditional Moroccan spa for a Hamman experience.  Relax in the sauna spa before having a scrub down with face and body wash, leaving gleaming and fresh.



The other-worldly Paradise Valley, nestled in the hills less than an hour from Taghazout is serious-bucket list territory.  The Palm-laden valley welcomes you as you approach, and a short hike later, exploring the running rivers, streams, tucked away tea spots and raw nature you’ll find yourself at natural pools and waterfalls (in the right season).  The brave will hurl themselves from the natural cliff jumps into the clear-water pools, a scream-inducing jump for most.



Summer is finally beginning to cast it's glow across what has been an unfathomably long and cold winter.  Buoyed up by sunny vibes and a road trip to California, I've penned a piece for my fav women's all-time rock n' roll surf brand, Billabong Womens, hot off the back of the launch of their New Wave collection inspired by Billabong's long-time heritage in surf and the wild and rad bonds of a badass crew of friends.  

If you've seen me on the beach and in the waves you know I have a penchant for all the 80s high cut bathers, and I love this heritage blast collection and all the radical girl power vibes around it, the campaign featuring powerhouse surfer Laura Enever, Josie Prendergast, Alissia Quizon and golden girl Flick Palameeter.

Check out my guide to awesome summer trips to do with your girlfriends over the summer!


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Book now on Mad To Live Retreats

All photos by Alan Krespan




The first budding blossoms of spring bring with it a taste of a summer to come, and with a hot spell stretching it’s giving touch across Europe to the UK, we were blessed with the hottest April on record for a Mad To Live hosted Seafolly Australia Retreat in Devon.  Devon has long been one of my favourite places in the world to explore and adventure in, it’s clean waters, rambling expanses of lush green lands and vast unparalleled beauty.     

Our retreat home for the weekend in the near-mystically beautiful Salcombe, our own Seafolly babe palace, perched on the beach overlooking the crystal green waters of the West Coast.  It wasn't hard to imagine that Tennyson was so inspired by this very place that he penned poems such was the inspiration the otherwordly scenery inspired him with.


With Seafolly beach vibes in abundance and a brilliant crew of women for the weekend, we tucked into a hearty spread by the Potency Team, a vegetarian menu over the weekend fueling us for our endless hours of fun.

Dawn’s golden fingers creeping through our curtains on Saturday, my surf-fitness high intensity class kicked off our first day, introducing the ladies to pop-ups and getting sweaty whilst tesing out the new season Seafolly fitness gear.  

I love the detail of the products, and radical bright coloured designs.

Chowing down some of Potency's award-winning energy balls, we headed beach-way for our stand up paddle boarding adventure.  


All aboard the SeaFolly Express!


Exploring the beautiful bays and breathtaking waters of the bay with our girl gang was an all-time adventure, the endless smiles, team-ditch into the fresh waters and post-SUP beach play with Gracie the puppy leaving us sun-kissed and stoked.


A quick stop of at the local pub The Winking Prawn for fresh grilled prawns slathered in garlic butter and we headed back to our girl-gang abode, ready for a restorative, candle lit stretch.


Toasting the day with cocktails courtesy of Potency and a generous feast, a dance-off as we checked out next season collection of Seafolly (it’s off the chart awesome), and we cosied up for a viewing of the all-time classic chicks surfer movie.  Yup you guessed it, Blue Crush.  

Waking up to another blue-bird morning and a generous serving of poached eggs with crisped coconut flakes over rye with avo, we took the workout outdoors, for an energising conditioning session underneath the sunny skies.

An incredible weekend with the Seafolly girl gang.

To find out more and book on to Mad To Live Retreats, cruise here

Enquire about corporate and brand Mad To Live Retreats at











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SurfGirl Magazine are a staple read and favourite at Mad To Live HQ, and we were stoked to feature in their latest Sofa To Surf Travel Guide, where they take a look at Mad To Live Retreats x The Surf Experience epic dates in Portugal.  

Check out the feature below and book a spot to Mad To Live Retreats here!

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So excited to find Mad To Live Retreats included in our favourite bible of all that is health, wellness, travel & awesomeness, Women's Health UK's run down of the Top 21 Fitness Holidays of 2018!

Check out the feature below, and thanks to Women's Health UK. You rule!

Book a spot on Mad To Live Retreats here!

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"Literally, one of the best weeks of my life..."

Want to know what the ladies who come on Mad To Live Retreats REALLY think of the trips?  I pinned down some of the girls on the last night of their retreat (disclosure: For some of them, some wine may have been drunk ;) )for a natter about what they experienced.

Check it out, and I advise you watch past the credits... ;)




Recent Mad To Live Reteats attendee and friend for life Natalia Fludra is a woman after our own heart.  To me Natalia perfectly epitomises exactly what I have endeavoured to showcase about Mad To Live Retreats: being a modern, successful woman (Natalia works in law) who also is passionate about actively following her interests and dreams and does not sacrifice them.  A regular traveller in search of dreamy waves and adventure, Natalia is also an incredibly talented writer, penning the whimsically stunning blog Days Of Creature.

We were stoked to have the brilliant Natalia join us on a recent leg of Mad To Live Retreats x The Surf Experience in Portugal this summer, and even more so when we read her righteous piece she penned after her travels with us.  Check out the full story below, and cruise over to the retreat page to nab your space on one of our legendary retreats.

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Long-time friend of Mad To Live the legendary Double Olympic Champion Victoria Pendleton (CBE) was spotted discussing her love surfing and Mad To Live Retreats in The Telegraph recently.

Check it out below, and cruise over to the retreat page to nab your space on one of our legendary retreats.

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"One of those tales I'll be telling my grand kids one day...."

How I love running women's surf retreats.  It could be selfish but sheez, I am just getting to meet the MOST radical awesome ladies doing this, and making incredible new friends.  So from a selfish perspective, I LOVE IT as I am making so many brilliant new friends, women that are inspiring me in turn to be creative and do epic things.

"Over the week every single one of us progressed so much. It was an awesome personal achievement, we really turned into a little community and felt stoked for each other improving and catching some great waves. I never thought I'd meet a group of strangers and immediately get on so well with them."

Our most recent leg of retreats in Portugal with our homies at the Surf Experience had all-round legend, founder of the kick-ass blog YOI DACHI (check it out.  It is EPICNESS on another level) join us for our week of surf, shred adventure and general bad-assing.  Hanging out with Bec, a martial arts, surfing, wolf-owning, fellow metalhead enthusiast was a highlight of my trip and I loved seeing her throw herself at everything on offer, a true Mad To Live-er if there every was one.

"Sophie and the SE guys and girls put in a hell of a lot of effort to give you the best week of your life. And no, I'm not exaggerating. It literally was that for me."

Check out what this radical soul made of the trip below, and stay TUNED for all the retreats landing in 2018, book here!

"I made some friends in the space of a week that I hope will last a lifetime — people that have made me think differently about my own life, given me a fresh outlook..."


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The recent leg of Mad To Live Retreats hit epic Lagos, Portugal for our annual collaboration with the righteous The Surf Experience,  bringing together all-time crews of women for the ultimate surf & fitness adventure.

We were psyched to have the brilliant Carly Truss, surfer, warm-hearted soul, badass, and journalist from our favourite women's surf journal, SurfGirl Magazine, along for the ride.

We love this piece Carly detailed on why the retreats are put together the way they are.  Want to know why I put together surfing with horse-riding, boxing, yoga, trail running and mountain biking?  Read on...

With thanks to the brilliant Carly and SurfGirl Magazine.

Like what you see?  Book on to the next Mad To Live Retreats x The Surf Experience adventure this September HERE!  Only a few spaces left!

Mad To Live Retreats Costa Rica Round-up & Wrap Video


The latest leg of Mad To Live Retreats has just wrapped and I have waved off a group of some of the most incredible women I have been fortunate enough to spend time with, let alone be part of their adventure.  Experiencing the highs of catching waves, pushing their limits and more, in the wildly raw and beautiful Nosara, Costa Rica. 

With an all-time crew of ladies jetting in from around the world, the agenda was set, a full 10 days of heart-racing and stoke-inducing adventure in one of my favourite places in the world, Costa Rica, staying with my friends at Surf Bikini Retreat, who collaborated with me on Mad To Live Retreats.  A noted rare blue and green zone on the planet, I couldn’t wait to share the stunning natural beauty and adventure with the chicks, and for them to find out just why it’s one of the happiest places in the world.

The chicks arrived at the Retreat HQ to a bed of goodies courtesy of our awesome partners Roxy, Plenish Cleanse, SeaFolly Australia, Pip N Nut & Ombar Chocolate. 

Fuelled daily by wholesome and fresh meals sourced straight from the local organic farmers market, the ladies went head on into the adventure, embracing the awesomeness of the “Pura Vida” life, taking on their first 5k run of the week and stretching out travel-cramped limbs with a restorative sunset beach yoga session under peach melba dappled skies.

The Costa Rica leg of the Mad To Live retreats adventure sees our surfing instruction led by insatiable head coach Monty Murphy, who, with over 55 years surfing experience, has an incredible wealth of knowledge to share. 

 Head Coach Monty Murphy

Head Coach Monty Murphy


Fellow head coach Adilia Zuniga and co-owner of Surf Bikini, a Vice President of the local surfing association, has long led the charge in Nosara for women’s surfing (you can read all about her and how she introduced surfing to the local female community here). 

Kicking off our surf sessions with a land-based in depth land training session, looking at the fundamental movements of surfing including the pop up, and how through land training you can better execute these movements on water, the ladies were fired up for their surf sessions.   

 Shooting the girls for land analysis

Shooting the girls for land analysis

Later on in the week busting a sweat out with jungle-based HIIT classes, the women were pushed hard, training perched next to the jungles edge, exploring new training methods including tag-fit training and martial art/yoga fusion workouts.

One of the most rewarding parts of my creating the Mad To Live Retreats is by far, being a part of these ladies’ adventure, seeing the stoke on their faces when they catch their first wave, the reward of a hard climb up a hill or wall, conquering fears and realising just what they are capable of, and how incredibly rewarding it is for them.

The women charged at the waves all week, absorbing the in-depth coaching and I was so stoked to see their progression, from paddling into white water waves, popping up, and all of them scoring a head-high wave in the week.

 Mad To Live Retreater Stephanie on a bomb

Mad To Live Retreater Stephanie on a bomb

Right on!  Surfing in an incredible sport in that it provides so many highs, no matter your level, whether its paddling into your first white-water wave, the first pop-up, or carving on clean green waves. 

The flora and fauna of Costa Rica is unparalleled, and setting off in kayaks later in the week, we headed deep into the mangroves of the Boca (river) of Nosara, meeting local wildlife including howler monkeys, herons, and wild horses, a few crocodile eyes may have even been spotted mid paddle.  Setting off on a nature hike to the local bio-park, the ladies darted amongst trees, climbing amongst the rough terrain to the sounds of bird song, monkeys playing and ancient trees rustling. 

The Surf Bikini HQ seemed to be the place though this trip for spotting wildlife – at the villa alone the ladies got up close and personal with some of the natives who tentatively crept over to us much to the chicks’ stoke, including both howler and white faced monkeys, an armadillo, a possum, iguanas, squirrels, pizotes (raccoons), and of course Pipeline, the camp sausage dog who rules the roost. 


Embracing their inner monkey, the ladies were set loose on the local climbing walls, nestled on the side of the verdant jungle.  With the highest walls some 50 ft. tall, these challenging climbs were tackled by the crew,, surpassing a few fears along the way.  It was incredible to see the progression of the group, going from the first lower wall, to embracing the belief that they could and did boss the final steep ascent.  Tears, high fives, and a zangy margarita later to toast, this was one of many moments where I was so incredibly proud and inspired by this badass group of women.

Toasting the adventure with an epic sunset sky-dappled horse ride across the beaches, with hair flying, charging as the sunset, what a crew of women and what an adventure. Here is to your next one ladies.

Check out the full video re-cap of the Mad To Live Retreats Costa Rica adventure below, and let me know what you made of it in the comments!

Pura Vida!

Sophie x

With thanks to Roxy, Sea Folly Australia, Ombar Chocolate, Plenish and Pip N Nut

Mad To Live Retreats collaborated with Surf Bikini Retreat

Book now for the Portugal leg of Mad To Live Retreats here!

Follow the adventures on Instagram @SophieMadToLive #MadToLiveRetreats

YouTube Blogger Carly Rowena's Video Round-Up of Mad To Live Retreats Costa Rica!

We've just wrapped an incredible leg of Mad To Live Retreats Costa Rica.  Having just waved of an all-time crew of the most incredible women, guest and YouTube blogger and all-round righteous babe Carly Rowena has shared her round-up of the trip on her YouTube Channel!

Check out Carly's wrap-up of #MadToLiveRetreats Costa Rica for an in-depth look at what goes down at the Retreat, and what Carly made of it (hint: stoking out, monkeys, dancing around fires and adventuring your soul and heart out features!).

Thank you Carly we LOVED having you at Mad To Live Retreats, and also stay tuned everyone for my wrap-up of the action landing soon.







Find out how YOU can join the adventure of a lifetime with 3 separate retreats happening over the summer - booking open now - all details below!

Always wanted to learn to surf or progress to the next level? Sun salute as it sets in front of you? Ride horses, scramble & charge up hills with the rising sun, get sweaty & stoked with tailored beach workouts, have the adventure of a lifetime with a group of like-minded souls?

Fitness instructor & lifestyle expert, Roxy ambassador, surfer and adventure-nut Sophie Everard of the Mad To Live blog is collaborating with the Surf Experience, the original surf & lifestyle company based in the heart of Europe's thriving summer surf scene, Lagos, Portugal, to create the ULTIMATE women's fitness, surf and adventure retreat in 2017.

Set to be a heart-racing, unforgettable adventure with a focus on physical and mental wellbeing and learning new skills to take home with you, you will immerse yourself in the vibrant Portuguese surf scene and culture and leave feeling charged, healthy and invigorated by the experience of a lifetime.

Hosted by fitness and sports coach Sophie Everard (CV includes Another Space, Move Your Frame & The Soho House Group), the retreats are a jam-packed 7 days of surfing with expert tuition, sunset beach yoga sessions, horseback riding and sunrise trail running through the rugged and stunning Roman and Moor-settled Algarvian landscape. Throughout the week enjoy outdoor fitness classes, including surf specific training, adrenaline-pumping mountain biking and the opportunity to have one on one training with Sophie.  The on-site chef will prepare locally-sourced nutritious meals at the luxurious boutique townhouse accommodation with free gifting from SeaFolly Australia, Plenish Cleanse, Roxy, Pip N Nut & more. You will also have the opportunity to kick back and relax, enjoy the Portuguese culture, beaches and beautiful surroundings.

Limited spacing to join this incredible adventure with Sophie and the Surf Experience is now open!


3rd – 10th June 2017

10th – 17th June 2017

23rd September – 30th September 3 SPOTS LEFT

30th September - 7th October SOLD OUT

All the above are SELLING FAST book quick !


  • 4 days surfing with expert tuition
  • Surf fitness focused workouts
  • Energising beach circuit sessions
  • Sunset yoga classes (dependent on weather)
  • Horse riding
  • Mountain Biking
  • Nutrition focused meals from the on-site chef: All meals except 2 nights out
  • Portuguese culture: Opportunity to visit local fort
  • 1 on 1 PT sessions with Sophie!

Free gifting from SeaFolly Australia, Roxy, Plenish Cleanse, The Raw Chocolate Co, Pip N Nut and more!


£995 (Not including flights, and 2 dinners out)

Transport to and from Faro airport included free of charge

Please aim to arrive at Faro airport in the afternoon of the arrival date, and departure morning of departure day.  You will be greeted by the team at the airport, and taken straight to the accomodation, ready for the first welcome yoga session of the retreat!



Stunning luxury accommodation in the Surf Experience Mansions, a Portuguese townhouse in the heart of Lagos.



Please email me with any questions, or even a chat on +44 7803 628 736!

Need more convincing? Check out our testimonials here and check out a run down of a retreat last year below!



Always wanted to learn to surf or progress to the next level? Sun salute as it sets in front of you? Ride horses, scramble & charge up hills with the rising sun, get sweaty & stoked with tailored beach workouts, have the adventure of a lifetime with a group of like-minded souls?


Fitness instructor & lifestyle expert, Roxy ambassador, free-surfer and adventure-nut Sophie Everard of the Mad To Live blog is collaborating with the Surf Bikini Retreat in Nosara, Costa Rica to bring the ULTIMATE women's fitness, surf and adventure retreat in February 2017.

Start 2017 with a life-changing 10 day adventure in breath-taking Nosara in the Guanacaste region of the lush and wildly beautiful Costa Rica.  The trip is set to be a heart-racing, unforgettable adventure with a focus on physical and mental wellbeing and learning new skills to take home with you.  From touch down get off the beaten track and immerse yourself in the culture of “pura vida” and find out why the region is one of only 7 “blue zones” in the world.

Hosted by fitness and sports coach Sophie Everard (CV includes Move Your Frame, The Soho House Group and Another Space), the retreat will be a jam-packed 10 days of surfing with expert tuition, sunset beach yoga sessions, horseback riding and trail running, climbing, nature hikes, mountain biking, jungle-based circuit training, exploring the verdant and unparalleled native flora and fauna and getting up close and personal with some of Costa Rica’s infamous locals including the white-faced monkey.

Throughout the retreat enjoy outdoor fitness classes, including surf specific training, adrenaline-pumping exploration and the opportunity to have one on one training with Sophie.  The onsite chefs will prepare locally-sourced nutritious meals at the stunning villa perching over the jungle, with free gifting from Plenish Cleanse, Roxy, Ombar Chocolates and more.

You will also have the opportunity to kick back and relax, enjoy the restorative and calming setting of the treetop villa with swimming pool, the Costa Rican culture, beaches and beautiful surroundings, and toast a stunning sunset surf with a beach bonfire. Start the new year feeling revitalised, healthy and energized by the experience of a lifetime, recharging your mind and body after the busy and indulgent festive period.

Limited spacing to join this incredible adventure with Mad To Live Retreats is now open!


18th February – 28th February 2017


  • Surfing with expert tuition from Surf Bikini's certified female coaches
  • Energising jungle-based circuit sessions
  • Yoga classes
  • Horse riding
  • Exploring the local nature, getting up, close and personal with some of the local residents
  • Climbing
  • Surf fitness focused workouts
  • Nutrition focused meals from the on-site chef: All meals except 3 nights out
  • 1 on 1 PT sessions with Sophie
  • Mountain Biking  

Free gifting from Roxy, Plenish Cleanse, Ombar chocolate and more!




Surf Bikini Retreat is comprised of  4 cabinas and a beautiful  Costa Rican “ tipico” Rancho , the facilities were designed utilising the  finest native woods of the Guanacaste region which creates true “Rustico Fino” design”.  The Surfers Rancho as we call it, connects to the pool  where you may want to use the WiFi , have a message or attend a morning yoga class and take in the breath-taking  panoramic  jungle mountain views.  Chances are good you will be waking up to the sound of howler monkeys playing in the trees outside your cabina or hear the unique sounds of the chachalaca.

All cabinas contain a/c private baths , towels, linens, – and  the usual common howler monkey sightings!

  • Air conditioning
  • Bath towels included
  • Wifi available in the house

COST $2600

Not included in the price:

⦁    3 x Dinners out at awesome restaurants
⦁    Alcoholic beverages
⦁    Flights to/from Costa Rica

Please email me with any questions, or even a chat on +44 7803 628 736



Please stipulate your booking is for the Mad To Live Retreat!

Thanks and SO excited to hopefully see many of you on the most KICKASS retreat EVER! 






 Hannah Edy Photography

Hannah Edy Photography

A little over two weeks ago I set out for home in Portugal to kick-off the inaugural Mad To Live Retreat in collaboration with our all-time favourite surf and lifestyle camp, The Surf Experience, in Portugal's vibrant and awesome epicentre of all that is surf, culture & adventure, Lagos.

After spending the last few months busy beavering away to get everything ready for our intrepid guests, I was so excited when launch day finally came, with myself and the team from the Surf Experience all hands on deck to welcome the crew and start an epic week. Check out our retreat summary below, followed by a killer video of all the week's action and stoke!

With welcome packs laid-out on all the guest's beds including goodies from Roxy, shorts from Boardies Apparel, raw chocolate from Ombar (delivered by the chocolate fairy, yours truly, 3 times a week on the guest's pillows), Mad To Live tshirts, a hefty dose of glitter and a quenching welcome juice from our favourite cold-press gurus, Plenish Cleanse, the crew quickly got settled into the Mad To Live Retreat HQ for the week, in the stunning, sun-dappled old town of Lagos.

 Hannah Edy Photography

Hannah Edy Photography

 Hannah Edy Photography

Hannah Edy Photography

And what a crew we had!  With Courtney and Lissette from New York, Olivia and Lucy from Rhode Island (USA), Claire from Ireland, Nicola and Alice from the UK, Lily our local from Portugal and Emma from New Zealand, we had a truly international gang which was brilliant, and brought a global flavour to the week, with all the women sharing adventures and stories from around the planet.

Day one saw our brilliant yogi with the most dulcet tones in the northern hemisphere, the wonderful Igor, lead the girls into a stunning restoriative sunset yoga session.  Stretching out and recovering after their long journeys whilst watching the sky turn shades of peach melba and burnt amber, we toasted the day on the beach with a glass of the local vino verde, feelin' totally zen and relaxed for the week ahead.

 Hannah Edy Photography

Hannah Edy Photography

 Hannah Edy Photography

Hannah Edy Photography

With a jam-packed agenda of adventure all week, the women dove head first into all the activities and adventures, from the first morning's sunrise run along Meia Praia Beach to their first surf of the trip at Val De Figueiras on the West Coast.  With Mark and Millie leading the instruction, the girls were up and riding on day one which was so awesome to see.  Expert coaching and 1-1 tuition with the women ensured everyone was getting the instruction they needed, with 3 of us coaching and filming at all times.

The itinerary has been carefully curated at the retreats to make sure there is enough activity and action to make the most of the incredible area, exploring many of the most beautiful surrounding spots, and tough workouts to push those wanting to really drive their fitness over the week.  Beach circuits at the incredible Camilo beach were rewarded by an insane sunrise, followed by a high intensity 45 minute workout, topped off with a run up 300 stairs back to the top (no sweat, right guys? ;)).

 Hannah Edy Photography

Hannah Edy Photography

 Hannah Edy Photography

Hannah Edy Photography

Food is a HUUUUUUUUUGE part of Mad To Live Retreats. No solo-lettuce-leafin' one-apple-slice-a-day rubbish here.  With all the physical activity and stokery (yeah I made that word up ;)) going on, feeding the women healthy and nutritionally beneficial meals is super important.  Step in Surf Experience and Mad To Live Retreats chef extraordinaire, the irrepressible Rachel Snow.  Preparing a menu that would make Ottolenghi look like McDonalds, Rachel carefully sourced local produce to create a menu that was truly incredible.  Group favourites included prawn, mint and pea risotto, fresh tuna steaks on the BBQ, tapas night with cataplana clams, crispy lamb with pomegramate, home made dips, and paella night.  Breakfast was laid on by the lovely Giuliana, including our favourite granolas by Lucy Rocks Paleo, overnight oats, fresh juices and fruits, eggs, nut butters, seeds, local fresh breads and croissants.  Check the video for full gastronomical highlights, and get ready to drool!

 Hannah Edy Photography

Hannah Edy Photography

 Hannah Edy Photography

Hannah Edy Photography

A challenging, sweat storm of a mountain bike ride up to the cliffs of Lagos pushed the chicks hard, and was made all the more worthwhile by the incredible view from the top, mother nature putting on a show for the women.  I loved seeing how supportive everyone was of eachother, with team spirit ridin' high as we hooted and hollered, encouraging each other up some tough hills and screaming as we cruised under fountains in Lagos and made it to our lunch spot to have the local delicacy of grilled chicken piri piri for lunch on the beach.

 Hannah Edy Photography

Hannah Edy Photography

 Hannah Edy Photography

Hannah Edy Photography

Benzafrim is an incredible part of the Algarve, and exploring the mountains and hills by horseback is probably the best way to do it.  Facing a lot of fears for many of the chicks, getting on a horse can be pretty daunting so it was brilliant to see them all saddle-up and smile.  My reward for them?  A 30 foot jump off the resevoir into the crystal clear warm waters of the Benzafrim resevoir after the ride was up!  Hearts-in-mouths for a lot of us (me included!) we hurled ourselves off the edge, the perfect salute to a rad afternooon out on horseback.

 Hannah Edy Photography

Hannah Edy Photography

 Hannah Edy Photography

Hannah Edy Photography

 Hannah Edy Photography

Hannah Edy Photography

The surf gods were definitely on our side this week and we were treated to the ultimate manna, warm green waves minutes away from the surf house on Meia Praia Beach.  After spending two days sussing the basics and getting on their feet, all the chicks were ready to be unleashed into the green waves.  After an in-depth lesson on paddling, currents, reading waves and dropping in, we paddled out as a team, stoke levels through the roof and with what became our adopted team war-paint colours (purple zinc on our faces courtesy of guest Emma, pow!!).  All the ladies were photographed, filmed, and coached from the water, and it was incredible to see them progress so quickly, catching green waves confidently and mastering the drop ins.

Capping off the week with a team meal out and party night with a sudden guest-vocal spot from retreat-er Olivia as she was thrust onto the stage at the Grand Cafe party (she killed it.  And it made the final edit on the video!), I packed the ladies off, sun and surf stoked, hearts racing full of adventure.

Check the full edit for ALL the action and adventure, madness and radness and more below!

Thanks to all the amazing women who joined Mad To Live Retreats x The Surf Experience, we love you!

With thanks To Roxy, Plenish Cleanse, Boardies Apparel, Ombar Chocolate & Lucy Rocks Paleo