Women's Retreat

Meet Our Retreat Leader Series - Carly Fox

I believe that we are all here on earth in this form to learn, to expand our understanding and to experience the wonders of being human
— Carly
Carly on Beach Laughter.jpg

Part Two of Meet Our Retreat Leader Series brings you a gem of a person, Carly Fox. Carly brings a natural warmth and a quiet leadership to our retreats. She’s the kind of individual that radiates strength from within, and she possesses a deep well of knowledge and practice in the areas of yoga, meditation and self-exploration. Kind, compassionate, and strong, Carly creates a welcoming and comforting energy for those around her. Hailing from the winter heartland of Canada, Winnipeg, Carly has spent extensive time living abroad. Keep reading below to learn more!

You have lived quite an interesting life so far, with your lifestyle interests merging well with your career path, and it’s taken you on a journey of living abroad for quite some time now. Tell us how that came to be and where are you now.

I have always had the drive to follow my passions, maybe I can thank my parents for that. After university I spent a few years working, saving my money and taking long trips whenever I could to explore the world. It was then I started surfing which really changed the trajectory of my life.  In September of 2011 after years of regular yoga practice I took my 200hr YTT in Costa Rica. I chose the training in Costa Rica because of the teacher, and then also because I knew there would be surf nearby on my days off!  After completing my training I took a few months off with the plan to surf and get teaching experience in Central America.

In November of 2011 I arrived in Nicaragua on the hunt for waves and I never left!  I lived in Nicaragua for 7 years and started my business Papaya Wellness there- with India Reinartz a fellow Canadian female surfer and yogi. We have been doing yoga and surf adventure retreats together since 2012 and it has led me to a lot of beautiful places and opportunities- including this one with Noorish and Dryft! Last month after 7 years in Nicaragua I moved to San Pancho, Mexico to keep exploring, growing and hopefully surfing a lot. 

Photo Credit: Papaya Wellness

Photo Credit: Papaya Wellness

In addition to working with Noorish Tofino, you are the owner and operator of your own surf & yoga wellness retreat company, Papaya Wellness. What inspired you to start your own business?

Papaya Wellness from the start has been a project grown out of love. India, like me, lives what she loves. We connected through our complimentary perspectives on achieving a state of health through balance, daily creative movement, connection, travel, mindful breathing and a lot of ocean time. We both have the desire to create the space to share that lifestyle and energy in a fun and playful way with everyone we can! We created Papaya Wellness to share and celebration what has brought to our own lives so much joy and inspiration. I have found that when I slow down and connect with myself a beautiful path unfolds from there with more connection to nature, deeper and more compassionate relationships in the world and an overall feeling of health and vitality! That is our goal and the experience I try to create for our clients! Life is instant and we relate to each other through technology now more than ever. I view cultivating channels of connection to ourselves, to nature and the human beings around us through practices like yoga, meditation or going for a walk in the woods as holding the utmost importance to the overall health and wellbeing of the whole planet

carly arms open.jpg

A lot of people are going to read this and think, she’s living the dream! Working remotely in a warm destination, surfing all day. What is the reality of a typical day for you?  

My days are super varied. I would be lying if i said I didn’t have days like you mentioned above. I try to surf a lot and when the waves are good I get in the water daily. When I’m at home I try to design my work day with enough freedom to schedule around the tide times for optimal surfing. What can I say, it’s an addiction! I work online and also am studying online so carving out unplugged time is vital to my wellbeing. 

I also end up travelling a lot for work which is amazing and has it’s challenges. Maintaining balance and healthy habits can be tough when on the road and working retreats. On retreats most of my energy is flowing outward to be present in the moment for the guests and ready for anything (and unexpected things happen everyday!!). You have to walk a fine line of sharing a calm and loving space for guests while smoothing out the unexpected and sometimes hectic things that can arise when you are with groups in remote destinations

Photo credit: Papaya Wellness

Photo credit: Papaya Wellness

What would be your best advice to someone who wants to pursue their dreams and passions, like you, but are afraid.

Well, you have probably heard this before AND really you just have to do it. Whatever it is. If you can’t stop thinking about, it terrifies you and you keep coming back to the idea- that thing. Do it!  I believe that we are all here on earth in this form to learn, to expand our understanding and to experience the wonders of being human. When you can approach any experience as a learning opportunity, you really have nothing to lose. Would you rather wonder forever what life would have been like if you stepped into the unknown and tried? I’m more of an experiential learner. When you are opened to finding the learning or catalyst for growth in any opportunity, truly everything can become a blessing- even a small blessing. What did you learn that you would have never otherwise known? That’s a gift right there! It doesn’t mean that it is always easy or rainbows but we truly do have the power to frame any experience however we like and that is an incredibly empowering space to live from. 

Photo credit: Papaya Wellness

Photo credit: Papaya Wellness

What do you say to someone who might like to join you on a retreat but have never surfed or done yoga before?

I guess it’s along the same lines as above. There is so much capacity for learning and growth when we dance outside our comfort zone! That is a great reason!

Also because they are awesome! Obviously ;) but seriously- it’s a pretty special platform to meet really beautiful people, some that will inevitably become life long relationships. 

Photo Credit: Gerald Acevedo

Photo Credit: Gerald Acevedo

What are you currently reading? 

A friend gave me a book called the New Codependency that I just started to read. I’ve been sober for 2 years and am learning more and more about my relationship to substance and also how I operate and relate in most of my other relationships and this book seems like it has some practical tools. 

We are so thrilled to have Carly join us on both our upcoming retreats to Morocco and Tofino. 4 spots left for our southern Morocco trip in May 2019 and now accepting reservations for Tofino June 2019. You can also join Carly on a beautiful retreat to Mexico with Papaya Wellness, in February and March 2019

Meet Our Retreat Leader Series - Elizabeth Finkle Sans AKA "Mama Liz"

We are starting a new series of posts at Noorishing Thoughts so you can get to know us a little better. We start with Noorish’s premier partner, Elizabeth Finkle Sans of Dryftwater Sports, who is an inspiration to me. We call her Mama Liz (she’s mom to two teen daughters) and she’s always looking out for everyone around her. She’s an accomplished athlete (former pro skier!), entrepreneur and a big part of her community in the Hamptons in New York. Mama Liz gives us some insight into what makes her tick.


Tell us a bit about yourself - who is Mama Liz and what is she all about?

Mama Liz is a wife/ mother/ yogu/surfer/skier/hippie trapped in a 45+ body, a peter pan who never wants to grow up! I worked so hard to be a grown up while working on Wall Street for 20 years, I want those youthful years back!

What inspires you?

Young people who don’t realize the gift of youth,older people who live like they are decades younger. 

Like many of us today, You’re a wearer of many hats - entrepreneur, mother, wellness advocate. What keeps you balanced and gets you through your many tasks in the day?

While I love my husband and daughters dearly, and I love my home, I always have a trip planned. I have had the good fortune to travel my whole life and whether it is a new location or a return to an old location, the excitement of travel keeps me in balance. 

You created Dryft Watersports, which makes beautiful, handcrafted surfboards. What is like working as a woman in the surf industry?

It is a very competitive business.There are not a great deal of women who are making boards, but there are many shapers out there. I just have to keep getting the boards into more hands and into more locations and hope the word spreads! We are in America and Central America and soon North Africa

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You were a former professional skier and now you are an avid surfer. What have outdoor sports taught you that has translated into something bigger in life?

Outdoor sports teach you that nothing goes as plans, and that we must be flexible and able to change plans on a dime. One day we are skiing in packed powder in sunny weather and great visibility, and within 40 minutes its cloudy and there is no visiblity where you cannot see your hand in front of you! Or you are surfing nice shoulder high waves, the sky turns grey, the wind crosses, and the waves are sloppy, overhead, and there is a strong rip. We have to adapt. Life changes too. We can be healthy one day, and be diagnosed with cancer the next.  Some people are so much in tunnel vision, that the slightest change throws them into depression.

Liz surf beach.jpg

What are your favourite places in the world? Do you have any bucket list places you want to check off?

Nicaragua is one of my favorite places. Paris is my favorite City. I cannot wait to visit Africa!

Liz at her Nicaraguan home having a blast

Liz at her Nicaraguan home having a blast

If there's one piece of advice you would give yourself when you were in your teens or twenties, what would it be?

I would have spent more years traveling and not have settled into a serious job until I was over 30. I don’t regrets, but there is no reason to hurry to settle down!

You can come meet us, that’s me (Liv), Mama Liz, and retreat leader Carly at our upcoming event in New York!

Side 2 Yoga & Oil Pop up Postcard.jpg

We are hosting a COMPLIMENTARY Pop-Up Yoga & Essential Oil event at the LeRose Dance Company. Take some time out for yourself next Saturday afternoon and enjoy a restorative yoga session led by Carly. Stay for a social over some light snacks and kombucha afterwards as we take questions on yoga, surfing, essential oils, wellness and anything in between! Details below:


WHERE: LEROSE DANCE COMPANY, 202 Montauk Hwy, Westhampton Beach, NY


RSVP: Email me hello@noorishtofino.com, or check out our Facebook Page at Noorish Tofino Retreats under Events. Or just show up early with your mat and you’re good to go! Limited spots available so come early.

The Importance of Design and Living Well

Walk past the giant cedar beams and a custom crafted, oversized door greets you as you step inside Noorish House in Tofino

Walk past the giant cedar beams and a custom crafted, oversized door greets you as you step inside Noorish House in Tofino

Have you ever stepped into a space and felt an immediate sense of well-being? You may have even taken a deep breath, let out a sigh and immersed all of your senses to take in your physical surrounding. Your eyes widen, your jaw relaxed, and you feel happy. The link between aesthetically pleasing spaces and healthy living is well documented, and this philosophy drove a fundamental part in the design and construction of Noorish House.

Exterior and landscaping is a work in progress. We love how our timber frame home fits in with its natural environment and can't wait to get the grounds really lush again.

Exterior and landscaping is a work in progress. We love how our timber frame home fits in with its natural environment and can't wait to get the grounds really lush again.

This idea of design and wellness correlates with ancient principles of feng shui as well as Scandinavian design theories on our mood and health. Feng Shui is all about creating a flow of Chi, or your life force, so that it can freely move about the home. A home free of clutter and with smartly designed pathways encourages this movement. Minimalistic but not barren. It’s as if the Chi moves as freely as the ocean tides, pouring in and out in a rhythmic and cleansing manner.

Crisp dark blue and rugged textured wood cabinets are topped with a white quartz countertop. Brass details such as the hexagon cabinet door pulls and the hanging pendants, both by  CB2 , add a luxe touch. A matte black faucet by Delta plays off the black accented theme that runs through the home.

Crisp dark blue and rugged textured wood cabinets are topped with a white quartz countertop. Brass details such as the hexagon cabinet door pulls and the hanging pendants, both by CB2, add a luxe touch. A matte black faucet by Delta plays off the black accented theme that runs through the home.

High ceilings give us a sense of freedom. Cool colours such as soft blues and greens evoke feelings of calm and serenity while warmer tones can create feelings of excitement, mystery or intimacy. Natural textures such as wood, leather, granite and wool encourages the human touch. And elements such as gold and brass accents, concrete, and glass add sophistication and balance the warm materials with the cool.

When I designed Noorish House, I wanted to create a place that could evoke certain moods and feelings but also be highly functional. My vision was to create a space of great comfort and relaxation with special touches that made the house feel like a home. I employed minimalist lines inspired by Scandinavian design for the structure, but also incorporated different textures and materials throughout for a variety in sensory experience. The exterior aimed to fit in harmony with its surroundings of tall cedar trees. We worked with a terrific pre-fab architectural and design firm named Purcell Timberframe Homes to create our dream, single-story cottage by the sea. We fell in love with the timber frame look which is quintessentially Westcoast, and we kept the shape as a simple rectangle as an ode to the traditional First Nations Longhouse. The dark stain on the exterior siding is a nod to the old style Japanese method of Shou Sugi Ban which preserves wood through fire and creates a dramatic blackened and textured wood. The result is Scandinavian Hygge meets Westcoast Chill meets Asian Zen. 

A leather headboard bed by  CB2  welcomes guests to relax. Area rug is hand crafted in Mexico purchased from local Tofino retailer  Merge , and a hand made tassel blanket from Morocco from  Artizanry  acts as the coverlet. Side tables are cast in concrete from  Sun Pan .

A leather headboard bed by CB2 welcomes guests to relax. Area rug is hand crafted in Mexico purchased from local Tofino retailer Merge, and a hand made tassel blanket from Morocco from Artizanry acts as the coverlet. Side tables are cast in concrete from Sun Pan.

I’m a lover of natural light so large windows and sliding doors were a must to brighten up the home and to invite the feeling of being outside in. The cathedral clapboard ceilings were washed with a diluted white paint to maximize their impact and to reflect the most light possible. The walls are mostly painted in a classic soft white, Benjamin Moore’s Cotton Balls, a shade that is neither too blue or too yellow, to create the seaside cottage mood.

My twins light up seeing the fire stove in use for the first time

My twins light up seeing the fire stove in use for the first time

The centrepiece of the home is a grounding element that reaches up high into the ceiling: a matte black and four sided glass surround fire stove which not only warms the cottage on those damp Tofino nights but provides an essential life force, fire, in the heart of the home. The fire stove sits in the intersection between Noorish House's main living space of media area, kitchen, dining space and a conversation and reading area.

I wanted to display objects that carried special meaning to me so when a guest puts her eyes on it, she too, could wonder about the story behind the item and perhaps bring about a conversation. Being a big fan of local surf and wedding photographer Bryanna Bradley, I couldn’t resist bringing in her fantastic prints which really highlight the strength of the female surfing sisterhood in Tofino.

Part time Noorish House resident finds a beam of sun to doze off in. Leather chairs by  Article.  

Part time Noorish House resident finds a beam of sun to doze off in. Leather chairs by Article. 

It’s no wonder that we often feel more relaxed and happy when we are staying in a spacious and well organized home. 

A big thank you to my wonderful builder Donny in Tofino who has been incredibly patient and understands my vision. 

Come play and relax at one of our Tofino Getaways or Contact Us for private retreat options.




5 Reasons Why Should You Go On A Women’s Retreat

Before starting Noorish Tofino Retreats, I embarked on many women’s only retreats in my quest for adventure, soul replenishment, and fun. Each trip I took brought me a new perspective on myself and the world around me. Every experience I had, without the comfort of family and my home surroundings, has shaped and driven me to who I am today. I am immensely thankful for these opportunities.

I have girlfriends who never go on women’s retreats, or have never traveled solo without their husbands or kids. I have girlfriends who make it a priority to travel, whether it is yearly or every few years, on a women’s retreat, with their friends or by themselves. Many of those who have never been on a women’s only trip will tell me they have either never thought about it, or didn’t think they would enjoy it, or are afraid things will go sideways at home or at work if they are away. Well my friends, I am here to tell you, if you are on the fence or even if you think it’s not your thing, you might be surprised by the incredible experience a women’s retreat can provide you with.

There are all kinds of womens retreats available out there. Those featuring yoga and meditation, those for artists and photographers, and those for adventurers and nature lovers. Almost always they provide an opportunity to self-reflect through independent travel, to see the world through a new lense via the exploration of a new place, and to build a feeling of support and community through new friendships. Below are the top five reasons I believe, why you should go on a women’s retreat.

Reason #1: Deepen Your Connection

When you take the time to slow down, to listen to your inner thoughts and feelings, you are able to deepen your connection to your inner self. Away from the hustle of everyday life and the noise of everyone else’s needs, you can find that time and space to tune into the heart’s desires. Women’s retreats are the perfect getaways to achieve that deepening connection. At Noorish Tofino Retreats, we provide 1-2 yoga classes each day that provide us that space to deep breathe, recharge and to allow our minds to float and wander. We provide dream making workshops so you can have fun using your creativity to find your vision. As a personal experience, I find the word ‘nourish’, was a theme that kept coming to my mind as I meditated during a retreat to Nicarugua nearly 5 years ago. Although I did not know it at the time, this work kept resonating with me and has led me to the creation of Noorish Tofino Retreats. If you take the time and provide yourself the space to tune in, you too can find clarity in your inner voice.

Reason #2: Push Your Personal Boundaries

Traveling alone and meeting up with a group of strangers can seem daunting. Trying to surf for the first time, or going away from your children for an extended period to a new place can be terrifying. Even being out of your routine means you need to adjust and be flexible. But I truly believe in doing things to scare you once in a while is good for the soul. A challenge that you can overcome, be it through mental toughness o physical strength or deep soul searching, can be a real confidence booster. And you might even find it fun and exhilarating. 

Reason #3: Make Friends With the Most Interesting Women

Why is it that some of the most interesting women travel on women’s only retreats? I don’t have the answer but I do find the real soul sistas I’ve met on retreats, whether they are other traveling guests or retreat hosts or coaches, are some of the most interesting and strong women I’ve never met. A retreat brings together women of many different backgrounds, experiences and cultures, and the playing field is level as everyone is starting on the same page. Doing adventurous things together and providing emotional support for one another is a sure-fire way to create lasting friendships which often span continents and cultures. I met two of my favourite ladies, Liz and Carly, now partners with Noorish Tofino Retreats, through a surf retreat.

Reason #4 Focus On Your Own Needs

Photo by  Mayur Gala

Photo by Mayur Gala

Breaking out of your routine means you are now available to focus in on your needs, FIRST. As women who may have busy careers, or managing households with children and pets, we often put those around us first and we only get to ourselves at the end of the day, when everything is done. By then, we are exhausted. Going on a womens retreat means not just taking an hour here or there for yourself, but actually investing in extended time to nourish your soul. You will come back feeling refreshed and calm; ready to take on the world. 

Reason #5: Revel in the power of Feminine Energy

Photo by  Seth Doyle

Photo by Seth Doyle

Being in a group of all women brings out a soft yet strong female energy. It’s as if being in our own pack, out exploring new places and doing new things together, creates a energetic force field that elevates us all. We believe in the positive energy that this exudes, giving each and every woman confidence and a sense of community.

Here at Noorish Tofino Retreats we provide intimate small-group retreats for a high level of service and customization. So whether it’s your first women's retreat or your 50th, we want to help you feel as relaxed and comfortable as possible. We believe in nourishing the mind, body and soul. Start your retreat planning today with our signature Noorish Your Connection Retreat in Tofino, BC, Canada or check out our Moroccan Moon Surf & Yoga Retreat. Don't see a retreat that fits in with your schedule? Contact us about private groups and retreats.