Silver Island review | yoga retreat Greece
A private Greek island for yoga & downtime
The Quick Read: Silver Island is one of the most authentic, peaceful yoga retreats we’ve been to in a long time. A gorgeous, laid back, eco friendly but luxurious retreat a 15 minute boat ride from the coast of Evia island, it offers week-long yoga holidays from April to October with hand-picked teachers from around the world and takes a maximum of just ten guests, so there’s plenty of individual attention. This is a place to truly get away from it all, free your mind from its daily task treadmill, detach from devices and make room your creativity in an artistic and relaxed ambience.
Who it’s best for: Anyone who is into yoga, at any level, who also wants to digitally detox and escape. There’s something for most yogic tastes throughout the season, and each yoga teacher can cater for beginners in the class. Their website describes each teachers style helping you select the right retreat for you.
There’s usually a strengthening Vinyasa week with celebrated yoga teacher Liz Lark, or try Fela Adebiyi for a week of dynamic Hatha, or Marley Vigdorth who teaches Vinyasa Flow with pranayama and meditation every morning – all three have been with Silver Island since the yoga retreat started in 2013.
As all rooms are shared, this would be a great retreat to go on with a friend, unless you stump up double the price. The vibe is relaxing without being cloyingly pampered, and if you like your eco living with a touch of luxury, you’ll love it too.
What you can do: Each week features twice-daily yoga classes, usually two hours each in length, in an open air yoga shala which takes in views over the Aegean and surrounding islands. It’s a sturdy structure, with a circular, concrete floor and canvas roof. Curtains are pulled over to create temporary walls when the sun shines directly into the space. Watching the sun set at the end of your evening class is a soothing wind down. To get to the meditation platform you wind along a path to high point on the island, where a flat spot has been covered in mats. Possibly the most breathtaking views of the island? Hard to say as there are simply so many beautiful vistas, but the pink sky seems to stretch to infinity when you’re sitting there watching the sun rise at morning meditation. Bliss.
Most yoga teachers offer treatments on their retreats, but if they don’t, Silver Island makes sure that someone’s always on hand to complement your yoga practise with massage and holistic therapies. Treatments take place in a cabin hidden away among the olive and pine trees you reach via a path from the main house.
Between yoga classes and treatments, take that stack of books you’ve been meaning to read, embrace your inner artist, be inspired by the beautiful surroundings or just enjoy stretching your legs around the island’s winding paths. The calm waters around the island are perfect for swimming, and they stay relatively warm right to the end of the season in October. There’s also a reclaimed 1970s pedallo, kayaks, snorkels, masks and rock shoes for you to use to explore the coves. And if all that sounds like too much activity, simply walk out to the jetty, adopt the goddess pose and breathe in great big lungfuls of the clean, crisp marine air. There’s something incredibly soothing about the island, and everyday worries swiftly become mere dots on the beautiful Aegean horizon.
Where you stay: This 60 acre private isle has a romantic lighthouse, two white-washed, blue-shuttered houses, an open air yoga shala with views over the Aegean, a meditation platform, a couple of cute, pebbly beaches and over 2500 olive trees (whose silvery branches are said to have inspired the island’s name). Tracks criss-cross the island with signs in elegant lettering made out of blue thread nailed to wooden posts showing the way to favourite spots – Jetty Beach, Pebble Beach, Sunset Rock, the Lighthouse. Fuschia-pink bougainvillea is dotted here and there and pink, orange and red geraniums grace the terraces and balconies: nature’s art.
Lissa is an artist and her home is a colourful and creative place to be, strewn with wildflowers, giant travel photographs, interesting arty installations and hidden hideaways – there’s even an art drawer packed with paints and crafty bits for your use. There are pockets of art everywhere too. A wooden donkey saddle acts as an art installation, small wooden hearts from Malawi grace the dining table and there’s a wall of unusual hats made by Lizzie Lock Millinery.
There are so many outdoor places to hang out and chat or hideaway with a book on Silver Island – from hammocks with a view to sun loungers decked out in blue and white stripes beside the main house where you’ll also find a small living room next to the bedrooms if you want to keep cool indoors.
Bedrooms include three ensuite rooms in one building, and three rooms with shared bathrooms in the main house, all named after Greek goddesses. Our favourites are Rhea (great mother and queen of the mountain wilds) and Panacea (goddess of healing), next to each other with a shared balcony. Above that is the marvellous Hemera – primeval goddess of daylight and the sun – a twin room with ensuite bathroom and a large balcony. If you are a couple or friends or just a solo traveller wanting to splash out, take this.
All rooms are simple yet welcoming, and feature Lissa’s stylish interiors touch. The walls were white painted, lifted by maybe a green and brown jute rug made in India and bought in Athens, a colourful Madagascan throw, an egg yellow bathroom rug or a gigantic photo of Victoria Falls taken by Lissa. Beds have one hard and one soft pillow, feather duvets and quilts for the cooler months. Each room has thick curtains with blackout lining to ensure a good night’s sleep. There are mosquito nets that hang above each bed – which look as soft and romantic as they are practical – the mosquitos on the island can be bothersome, so these are essential! There are drying racks and complimentary reusable cotton slippers.
Simple artistic touches include flowery handles on the copper taps in the bathrooms and pretty glass knobs on the wardrobe doors; a hard-backed photo book, telling the story of the Island; the first genuinely stylish reusable water bottle we’ve ever come across (yours to take home), and Turkish hammam towels in pretty sorbet colours for the beach, which you can also buy at the end of the week.
Lissa and Claire are committed to supporting local businesses, so the fragrant toiletries are made by a local mum and daughter team, who originally came to the island on a retreat. Their products are handmade, 100% natural and biodegradable, and smell delicious, as they take inspiration from the surroundings with scents of honey, geranium, mint and other herbs.
How was it for us: Caroline experienced a yoga week here in Silver Island’s first year of opening – read her review here. Pat tried a week with Hatha teacher Evie Bouzaki in the Summer 2015 – read her review here.
What we took home: Being unplugged from social media and wifi for a week did incredible things to our brains, giving us space to reflect, look inwards and slow down more than we had done for months. We also took home organic, cold-pressed olive oil, fig syrup, a jar of organic honey and some super leather sandals modelled throughout our week by Lissa.
Would we go back: Without a doubt. Both of us rarely repeat visit holiday destinations as I always feel I’m missing out on seeing somewhere new – but there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll go back to Silver Island. You just know you’ll be welcomed back like an old friend by both Lissa and Corné.
People watch: Silver Island Yoga is run by Greek South African sisters Claire and Lissa Christie, whose family has owned the island for over 60 years, and the yoga holidays are hosted by Lissa and her charming Namibian husband Corné, who live on the island for most of the year.
They’re a down to earth and loveable couple who are brilliant hosts and always interesting, easy company – our mealtimes were peppered with stories about the island and the local people, all delivered with wit, and the two of them are impressively practical – they drive the boat, do the shopping, cook great meals, clean the rooms, grow the veg.
Lissa taught us fun things like how to say ‘thank you’ in Greek (‘ef harry’s toe’), and as an artist and former creative producer to Bestival, is incredibly creative too – it’s her travel photographs, installations, paintings, hand made signs and arty touches that grace the walls and the spaces on the island.
Food watch: Most meals are eaten outside, sitting around a long white table with amazing views out to sea, and every meal is cooked by the talented Lissa. The attitude to food at Silver Island is, like most things, artistic. Rather than taste test her dishes, Lissa creates by colour, just as if she’s working on one of her pieces of art. The food arrives on the table in decorative bowls, some of which have been in Lissa’s family for years, and the table is laid with a different tablecloth, picked up from one corner or another of the globe every mealtime.
Meals are vegetarian but, aside from the no fish and meat policy, the only thing Lissa is strict about when it comes to diet is ‘everything in moderation’. So, there’s wine with the evening meal – a light, table wine from a local maker. Mealtimes are peppered with stories about the local producers who provide everything you eat and drink on the Island, from the yogurt – delivered in terracotta pots by a family in Oreoi who’ve been making it for three generations – to the winemakers whose main source of income is the Island and can now afford to stick labels on their wine bottles!
Breakfast revolves around granola, fresh yoghurt, nuts, chunks of sesonal fruit, local honey and bananas. When Corné takes his turn at breakfast duty expect eggs and pancakes, too. Lunch and supper highlights while we were there included carrot and pumpkin fritters with Greek parmesan and sage; tomato, beetroot and Greek ricotta salad with crushed seeds and herbs and lemon dressing; Tart tatin with honey and toasted nuts, pears or figs; red lentils with tomatoes, garlic, crushed cumin seeds and wilted beetroot leaves or cheese stuffed peppers. This is healthy, locally-sourced mediterranean food at its Grecian best.
What’s lowly: The mosquitos were on the rampage while we were there in October, though not visible at all on our May visit. If you’re prone to being bitten bring full-length leggings and something to cover up with.
Insider tip: Do let yourself get lost on the island; it’s rare that you can genuinely wander around and not worry at all about where you are or how you’ll get home. Eventually, a road will bring you back to the main house.
Price with a companion: From £1150 per person sharing in the Eos Room, which is located in the main house, including 2 yoga classes a day and all food and drinks (including the local wine). All therapies are at an additional cost of between €60 and €80.
Price going solo: Because the retreat is so small, welcoming just 10 guests each time, there isn’t the option to pay a single supplement, you have to pay double the shared room price, which makes it costly if you’re determined to have your own space. We would suggest coming with a friend you’d enjoy sharing with if you’re really averse to sharing with a stranger. It shouldn’t be especially difficult to convince someone!
Value for Money: Silver Island is an incredibly special place and there is a real feeling of care and attention to detail that makes it worth every penny.
Maximum number of guests: 10
Nearest airport: Athens. The journey from Athens airport is rather involved (but worth it!) and takes about 4 hours via public transport and the same by private taxi.
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