The Salty Pelican combines the social atmosphere of a hostel with the peaceful vibe of a retreat. Perched on a hill above Cascais, it’s a beautiful villa with a beachy interior. From the huge rainfall shower to the cosy downstairs lounge, The Salty Pelican is a comfy place to spend some time. Outside, there are outdoor bean bags in the split-level garden, and these are great for naps in the sunshine. The patio area was made for chatty, post-yoga breakfasts and the small upstairs balcony is ideal for getting some alone time.
The Salty Pelican is a hostel – so unless you book the private double room, you’ll be sleeping in a four, six, or eight-bed dorm. It’s also worth realising that you probably won’t get the best sleep of your life here. The morning yoga class starts at 7 am, and even if you’re not taking part, prepare to be woken up early.
Although it mightn’t seem like it when you’re trudging uphill in the heat – The Salty Pelican is in a wonderful location. A short walk from Monte Estoril station, the hostel is also within walking distance of Cascais town, several beaches, leafy parks, and countless restaurants. Sintra National Park is a bus ride away and Lisbon is 45 minutes by train.
There are two daily yoga classes at The Salty Pelican. The morning class takes place at 7 am near the beach, when the sky is still pastel-coloured and the loudest sounds are the wind and the waves. These are yang yoga sessions – a more energetic form of yoga. But Ida, The Salty Pelican’s radiant yoga instructor, caters to the mix of levels and there are variations to suit everyone. The chance to practise yoga outside in beautiful weather was a major highlight of my time in Cascais.
The afternoon yin yoga classes also happen outdoors but in a nearby park. There are lots of slow movements and restorative poses, which feel great after a day of surfing or rock-climbing.
Of course, The Salty Pelican is also a surf retreat. So if you want to get out on the water every day, you can. Alex, the owner of Moana Surf School, picks up the surfing group after breakfast. The lessons take place Guincho Beach – a wild and beautiful surfing beach in Cascais. And as someone who had never surfed before, I can say with certainty that Moana’s instructors are excellent with beginners.
You can also try Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP) and rock-climbing and you don’t necessarily have to decide before you arrive. The retreat packages are flexible, so you can add in sessions if something tempts you.
My time at The Salty Pelican became so much more than practising yoga and learning to surf. It was also a week of laughter, bonding, and great food. This is probably because The Salty Pelican seems to attract the best kinds of people – the kind of people who make solo travel a great thing. While I was there, the other guests were mostly solo female travellers, which made it extra-easy to bond.
We went out to dinner together, explored Cascais, ate the best gelato in Portugal, and took naps in the sun. We told each other travel stories, life stories, and tried not to laugh when people fell asleep during meditation. Although it was just a few days, I left feeling like I’d known those women a lot longer. Which, as I realised, is the real power of The Salty Pelican.Affordable Meditation Retreats