My Amazing Week at The Gerry Lopez Surf/SUP/Yoga Retreat at Turtle Bay.
Hey– It’s my birthday!
Well, I didn’t plan on this post coming on out on my birthday, but it is happening that way and now I can’t imagine a more appropriate time. Because if I’ve ever felt truly spoiled, it was on the retreat I get to tell you about today.
Last week I was invited to spend four nights at Turtle Bay as part of a small group for the Gerry Lopez Surf/SUP/Yoga retreat. Though the week is now over, my heart will be full for a long time.
Most of you know, I’ve always believed in taking mini-getaways. Getting away to breathe and reflect…to actually miss our kids and our spouses and our laundry (wait, no not the laundry!) is truly valuable.
So I hope this post inspires you to plan your own getaway — big or small.
And also: It’s not too soon to start planning next fall’s retreat at Turtle Bay.
^^view from my room. I know! (but it’s my birthday and therefore you can’t hate me.)
Thank you for giving me the chance to gush just a little about my truly outstanding week at Turtle Bay.
The main attraction — Gerry Lopez: The really special and unique part of the retreat was that it was hosted by Gerry Lopez, and his wife Toni. I know that those in the surf community are already bowing in honor, but if you’re not familiar, Gerry is considered a founding father of modern-day surf. “Mr. Pipeline.” In the 60’s and 70’s Gerry shared his fluid and poetic surf style with the world, which has been an inspiration to surfers ever since. Gerry is loved and respected all over the world.
Gerry also began practicing yoga while he was young, and found it to be extremely helpful in his surfing. Years later, after their son Alex was born, Gerry and his wife Toni (who I absolutely adore) moved to Bend Oregon, where you can imagine, Gerry took his surfing to the mountains and became an incredible snow-boarder. (His son now snow-boards professionally, no surprise.)
The rest of the retreat lineup: Gerry and Toni brought with them Bridget, their yoga instructor from Bend (and my new good friend!) Also helping host the retreat were two young, world-class waterman from Maui and Oahu, Kai Lenny, and Noa Ginella. These two (insanely talented and only in their early-twenties) added a ton of fun and adventure to the week.
The retreat guests: The retreat guests added even more fun to the week: Coming from New Zealand, South Africa, Florida, California, and Hawaii, the group was diverse, and so much fun. As you can imagine, after five days hanging out together, we all felt a bit like family.
But what you really want to know is: What went on during those five days?
Well, besides staying at Turtle Bay Resort, which is in itself a luxury retreat, a lot went on. (Honestly, I had promised myself that I would skip some activities to just rest and enjoy my hotel room, but I loved the people and the experience so much, I didn’t want to miss out, so I didn’t skip anything all week!) (#extrovertproblems)
The schedule: The days all began with morning yoga in a beautiful little pavilion, looking out over rolling waves. Bridget taught my favorite-ever yoga class, focused on dynamic movement, balance, and stretching. I found this to be a special time to focus on the beauty of God’s creation, and the blessing of this rare opportunity to just breathe.
Yoga was followed by a fabulous breakfast buffet in the Kula Grill where we all gathered around tables, like a really cool grown-up summer camp. Then the rest of the morning was all about getting on the water with Gerry, Kai and Noa. Surfing, stand-up-paddle, or your choice of water or non-water activity. (The jacuzzi counts.) (As does the spa, which I’ll have to cover in another post.)
Lunch was catered by a different healthy venue each day. (the Beet Box Cafe, Kahuku Farms, The Elephant Truck. ALL. SO. GOOD.)
Afternoons were a mix of more watersports of choice, again led again by Gerry, Noa, and Kai. One day there was an optional hike. Another day they brought us to the famous Pipeline house where Gerry used to live (and is now owned by Volcom). We had lunch as we gathered around listening to Gerry tell stories of the early Pipeline days. RICH!
The final afternoon was a blast as they brought out the huge “Supsquatch” boat, and Rocky from Turtle Bay brought his dogs. It was just one big party on the water.
By 5:00 we gathered back at Turtle Bay each afternoon for Yoga into the sunset with Gerry.
Then dinner: Each night a unique setting. One night we ate seared Ahi rolls, and a spread of insanely delicious foods outside by the pool while fire dancers entertained. Another night was fresh fish at Lei Leis on the golf course. The final night we were out in the forest near Turtle Bay (apparently where Hunger Games was filmed!?) under a tent with white lights while a chef prepared “farm to chopsticks” cuisine in a five-course meal, each course paired with a locally brewed beer. (yeah, pinch me.) After dinner one night, we had reserved seats in Surfer the Bar for Talk Story Night. Gerry, Kai and Noa were up on stage sharing their lives, stories, and humor while a big screen behind them wowed us all with video footage to compliment their stories.
The real gift: The itinerary alone is obviously packed and amazing. But what a schedule of events cannot show you is the depth of relationship and all of the golden nuggets of wisdom that came from the week. Gerry’s gentle spirit and quiet humble ways are almost a shock to the system in this world of people clammoring for attention and recognition.
My family visit: On our final evening, Dave and the boys visited to meet Gerry, and join for an evening yoga class. (Dave needed it after my being gone all week, haha.) The evenings had been mostly about gentle stretching, so I thought my guys could all handle that. But the night my family came Gerry had decided to mix things up and do balance poses, headstands, and handstands. My over-achieving husband, who does not exactly do yoga (at all). was determined not to let Gerry down. I looked over to see Dave in full headstand position, balanced brilliantly. Golden.
Finally, Dave asked Gerry for any words of wisdom for our competitive surfer, Luke. True to his style, Gerry very thoughtfully spoke of deeper things than just surfing. “Just keep paddling” was his theme for Luke. “In surfing, and in life, there will be times where things are hard. Where you want to quit. Where you’re stuck in a scary place, or feel like you’re going to drown.” “When you are there,” Gerry said, “Just keep paddling.” “Things will even out in time, but it may take a while. So never quit” Luke listened, and I tucked all of these things away in my momma heart.
Finally: I’m sure if we asked all twenty retreat participants about their week, each person would have a different story. Each of us will agree the hotel, the meal, the excursions were all top-notch. Fabulous. But I would bet that each person had some special moment, a talk with Gerry, or a time on a wave that shifted their perspective. I’m pretty sure that none of us ended the week the same person we started it.
And since we all declared dibs on a spot back at the retreat next fall, it may be filling up fast.
Contact Turtle Bay and tell them Monica sent you to put your name on a spot for next year! 😉
Thanks for letting me share this super special experience with you on my birthday.
29 has never felt so good!
With so much Aloha and a grateful heart,
Most of the photos come from Erik Aeder, a long-time friend of Gerry’s and a legend in his own right. (Also, an absolute gentleman. Thank you Erik!) (Follow Erik on Insta: erikaederphotography. )
That sounds awesome and yes, I am going next year!!!!
That sounds amazing and so beautiful. Thanks for sharing. Maybe one day…….I too will experience something like it. God knows my heart ♥️
Happy, happy birthday to a special lady! 🙂 What an amazing way to spend a week. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I’m slightly jealous, but in a good way. It is so well deserved for you!
Happy Birthday, Monica!!!!!
Thanks for sharing your experience with us–I feel more relaxed by extension, through your words and the beautiful photos!
Hope your birthday is full of joy and happiness to kick off a whole new year of YOU!!!
Thank you Wendy! I receive all of that!! 🙂 Bless you my friend!
So happy to hear you had such a great time,Happy birthday my dear dear Monica,I remember so many birthday weeks with you when you where a litla girl the longest lasting birthday weeks, and fun.I love you and think so often about you.big hug to you darling.
Oh thank you Bidda! Yes, many great memories and I think of you often too! Can’t wait to see you soon!! xoxo
Amazing!!! Truly! I think I was made to live out there instead of the east coast! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Monica!
Thank you Paige! Hope you’re at least planning a visit then… 😉
Happy Birthday!! Loved hearing about your retreat!