Don’t have the time or the money for a relaxing tropical holiday? We are going to let you into a secret: you don’t have to head to a deserted island to recharge yourself. In fact, you can enjoy a body-and-soul boost without ever leaving home. Just try some of these feel-good activities, guaranteed to have your stress levels plummeting and send you soaring into the chill-out zone.
Start the day with supercharged breakfast
You already know that your usual coffee-and-a-slice-of-toast doesn’t really cut it as a healthy breakfast. So this weekend, start the day with a proper dose of goodness by visiting one of Sydney’s buzzing cafés, and feel the difference. Try Cornersmith (at Marrickville and Annandale), where eggs are served with a side of brussel slaw, and gluten-free toast is topped with buttermilk ricotta and swathe of healthy greens. Alexandria’s wholefoods haven, Bread & Circus, dishes up a super bowl containing biodynamic yoghurt topped with a stack of tropical fruits, while at Bronte’s famous Three Blue Ducks, you can feast on mango bircher before enjoying a refreshing dip.
Picnic on your own private island
Sure, you could join the glampers on Cockatoo Island, or take a tour of Fort Denison, but if you are after a more intimate experience of one of Sydney Harbour’s islands, then we have found the perfect place. Clark Island, located just off Darling Point, gets very few visitors, mainly because there is no regular boat service. To enjoy a crowd-free picnic with views of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, just sign in with the National Parks Service (there is a $7 fee), book a water taxi, and you are good to go.
Strike a pose (with a view)
Inhale. Exhale. A yoga class is a surefire fix for whatever ails you; take it outside and you increase the benefits. A number of outlets now offer yoga classes in the great outdoors including Yoga by the Sea, which runs classes not just at Bondi Icebergs, but also at the surf clubs at Tamarama, Bronte and Manly beaches. Alternatively, you might want to try the Rancan Sisters’ Yoga/Kayak classes, which start with a 30 minute yoga practice at Balmoral Beach, followed by a 40 minute kayak around the area’s bays and beaches.
Get steamed up in a Moroccan hammam
Pressure point massages? Hot stones? All so last week, darling. The best pampering in town comes courtesy of the Moroccan Hammam Ritual on offer at the indulgent Darling Spa inside The Darling Hotel. This 2.5 hour treatment, most of which takes place on a heated stone bed, is inspired by the ancient traditions of the Moroccan bathhouse, which include being lathered with black soap, undergoing a full body exfoliation, and having Rhassoul clay applied all over your body. The experience finishes with a 60 minute oil massage, after which you will float out. Want to maximise the pleasure? An overnight stay at The Darling hotel offers even more five-star spoiling.
Discover a secret garden
Shaded by towering figs, with meandering paths leading to tranquil fern-fringed pockets where you can sit and gaze out across the harbour, it is no wonder that Wendy’s Secret Garden has become a favourite retreat for in-the-know Sydneysiders. This beautiful spot in Lavender Bay was actually born out of heartbreak. When acclaimed Australian artist Brett Whitely died, his grieving widow Wendy channeled her energies into transforming a disused train yard into a verdant garden. She continued the project for 20 years, with a number of volunteers chipping in along the way, including the artists who donated sculptures that are dotted throughout the garden.
Go stand-up paddle boarding
Who needs meditation when you have the ocean? Just watching the ever-changing water – its ebbs and flows, its waves and ripples – is enough to induce a sense of calm. Double down on the sensation by trying out stand-up paddle boarding. The calm waters of Rose Bay and Balmoral Beach are the perfect place to give this addictive activity a go. Don’t mind those first few wobbly moments; you will find your balance surprisingly quickly. Once you do, the feel of the water flowing beneath your board and the regular rhythm of the paddle is guaranteed to send you into the Zen zone.
Unleash your inner artist
Have you ever noticed how happy children look when they are finger painting? Getting in touch with your own creativity is a great way to recharge your spirits, so give yourself a boost by signing up for an outdoor art class, The Art Studio holds al fresco sessions in some of Sydney’s loveliest locations, from the Botanic Gardens to various beachside locations. All materials are provided: you may find yourself working with watercolours or pastels, acrylics or ink. Feel free to experiment and see what ensues.
Book a treatment at thedarling.com.au
* The Star practices the responsible service of alcohol.