Yoga On a Shoestring, La Gomera
Deeply relaxing yoga with reviving winter sunshine
Anyone frazzled or frantic. All levels of yogi are welcome, but it’s ideal for beginners to intermediates
Anyone in need of 5-star pampering or who feels allergic to a commune-style environment
Yoga On a Shoestring’s unusual and insanely beautiful location on the Canary Islands is La Finca Argayall on the stunning island of La Gomera. An old style finca farmhouse right on the edge of the ocean in a secluded bay and sheltered by volcanic cliffs, it’s been a hippy commune since the Eighties, that has since and rather marvellously opened its doors to retreat guests, and you’ll share the space with long term residents. Mix daily yoga and mediation with veggie meals and lots of downtime. La Gomera has a hugely varied landscape and lots of nature to explore, from rainforest hikes to sea kayaking and whales and dolphin boat trips.
The location right on the water is off-the-scale gorgeous and you’re in the perfect spot to join dolphin and whale watching boats leaving from the local port. There is no internet here, so it’s a great place for a digital detox.
This is not a hotel, so don’t come expecting hotel service – you are sharing the venue with commune residents, some of whom are smokers.
Read our personal review
Read our expert personal review by our reviewer Sharon Walker as she reviews this enriching yoga holiday at Finca Argayall on La Gomera in The Canary Islands and finds an experimental community, a chef to fall in love with and wondrous yoga with the sparkly Lisa Powell. Or read our personal reviews at Yoga on a Shoestring in the Oxfordshire countryside or Kefalonia in Greece.Have a peek Contact retreat
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Twice daily yoga classes are mixed with lots of down time and the chance to join other replenishing activities that run as part of the commune.
There are twice daily 90-minute yoga classes. The morning class builds a flowing dynamic sequence, gently opening the body and working through the chakras. The afternoon classes delve deep into relaxation with yoga nidra (guided rest), chanting and meditation. Teachers and styles vary on each date, but all are expert at dealing with a group of different levels. On our retreat, the sparkly UK-based Lisa Powell offered excellent, nourishing classes and encouraged us to journal throughout the retreat. Check the website for this year’s teachers.
The Finca puts on various wellbeing activities for the residents which you are welcome to join or not as you like. These are held in the mediation hall and open to retreat guests (at no extra charge), as well as local residents and holiday makers. They include 45 minutes of Vipassana silent morning meditation, which consists of sitting quietly until the bell sounds – there’s no guided element, and afternoon classes in different subjects such as Pilates, Kundalini Meditation (which focuses on breath work and chanting), Five Elements yoga (dynamic moving meditation) and Five Rhythms dancing.
There are a variety of treatments offered by the Finca’s resident practitioners, from deep tissue and holistic massage to Lomi Lomi (Hawaiian massage), Thai massage, craniosacral therapy, reiki and homeopathy (costing from about 80 to 160 euros). Open evening activities such as slide shows, fire ceremonies and sound baths using instruments like didgeridoos and gongs to ‘bathe’ you in a sound vibration are also available.
Most of our Yoga on a Shoestring group tended towards sunbathing and relaxing rather than joining extra classes. There’s an attractive town 10-15 minutes-walk away with cafés, shops and restaurants, or you can book onto a hiking tour, hire a bike, go and see the rainforest, enjoy a sea kayak or book a dolphin and whale watching excursion.
Bedrooms: We liked the Seaview rooms, which will suit you if you like to fall asleep to splash of the ocean. All have ensuite bathrooms and open out onto a shared terrace. They’re probably the quietest of the room categories – unless there’s a storm.
The wooden garden huts are also lovely (and more affordable). They’re tucked into the lush tropical garden and each one has its own private seated area just outside, as does the A-fame hut and the Pyramid hut, which are also in the garden. The garden huts all share communal bathrooms.
The garden terrace rooms seem like the short straw option, as the view is more terrace than garden. The middle garden terrace room doesn’t have a window, so felt too much like a cell. These rooms rely on a communal bathroom, which is very close by, so they’re not ideal for light sleepers, who could be disturbed by people going to the loo at night.
Other places to be: You won’t want for a quite contemplative corners. There’s a big empty beach right on the retreat doorstep and plenty of little enclaves around the finca, from the hammock strung between trees behind the meditation hall through to the terrace looking out to the sea by the fire pit.
There’s no internet here – you can use the finca computer if you desperately need to get online, or go into town, a 10-15-minute walk away. Don’t miss the rainforest – it’s stunning.
There are plenty of guided hikes but if these don’t fit your schedule, get a group together and hire a local driver, who will also give the inside track on the history of the island. If you can’t face an early morning flight to make the afternoon ferry to La Gomera, go the day before and stay the night in Tenerife. Yoga on a Shoestring will help you with a list of decent hotels.
When to Go
The Canaries are nice and sunny most of the year, but after June it can get too hot which is why these yoga holidays don’t run over the European summer. The retreat residents we spoke to thought May was just about perfect, hot and dry without being too oppressive.
You eat outside on large communal tables next to the pool, surrounded by incredible nature with looming volcanic cliffs and the soothing splash of the ocean. There’s even one table with an incredible sea view.
The finca kitchen cooks up a storm of incredible vegan and vegetarian food, providing several dishes to help yourself from at every meal. About 20% of the ingredients come the organic garden and the rest are local, seasonal and organic, where possible.
Breakfast is a feast of eggs (hard boiled or scrambled), porridge, yoghurt, delicious breads, cheeses and an incredible selection of fruit. For lunches and dinners you can expect lots of juicy vegetables, bursting with flavour and cooked to perfection, along with plenty of salad and delicious dressings. Dishes might include tasty basil pesto ishes, canarian mojo sauce with red peppers, garlic and chili, homemade hummus, beetroot salad and creative creations like creamy coconut wok cooked veggies and aubergine curry.
You can help yourself to beer and wine from the honesty bar, just make a note and pay at the end of the week. Squeeze your own juice at meal times, or help yourself to the spring water tap. There are also flasks of tea, coffee and ginger and lemongrass, which you can help yourself to throughout the day. As well as a coffee bar with proper expressos and cappuccinos, which cost extra. The kitchen is closed one night a week, giving you a chance to explore the local restaurants.
This is a proper eco-retreat with solar panels (so no phone charging after dark) which are supplemented by a generator in winter and a permaculture garden designed to work on the principles of nature, so no pesticides. They also recycle their waste.
Finca Argayall, E-38870 Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera, Canary Islands
Airport: Tenerife South
Transfer time: 15 minutes from the airport to the Los Cristianos ferry port, then 45 minutes on the ferry, then 1.5 hours by taxi to the Finca