There have been many times in my life where the stress of life and long working hours had tired me out to the point where I needed a solo recharge. I didn’t want anyone asking me if I wanted to go eat, or go to a show, I just wanted to be alone to rest and rejuvenate.
Through these experiences of solo travel I’ve found my top and bottom picks for female solo travel. Yes, perhaps some will view this as sexist but I do think, based on my experience that females do have to be a bit smarter about protecting themselves when traveling alone.
1. Chica Brava – an all-girls surf retreat in Nicaragua. Great if you want to challenge yourself to something new, if you want a tranquil environment and if you want to be surrounded by like-minded women in a peaceful atmosphere. The retreat offers yoga, massages and lots of quiet space to read a book, write in a journal or meditate. http://www.chicabrava.com
2. RIU Palace, Puerto Vallarta. This was the safest I have felt as a solo female traveller. Yes, I was in the confines of a resort but you have to be very careful when selecting what resort to stay at as you’ll read later in my worst solo travel experiences. Why I like this resort is because it’s one connected tower, so you aren’t walking off to a smaller building by yourself late at night. The security guards line the beach and front entrance to the resort at all hours so you will not get any locals wandering off the beach into your hotel. The staff don’t bother you to join in. If they see you relaxing they will offer you a drink and let you be. The spa and gym are fantastic and you can fully rejuvenate while feeling safe here. The food is amazing, every floor of the hotel has an automatic coffee/cappuccino/latte machine on it and every room has a premium bar with wall mounted dispensers. The staff here are wonderful and cater to your every need. The beach feels safe to wander and the guests and staff are great if you ever get lonely.
3. Sayulita, Mexico. Sayulita has this amazing quality in the air that relaxes me instantly when I am there. It offers surf camps, yoga retreats and retreats with no activities, only time to relax. I lived in Puerto Vallarta for several months and Sayulita was always the magical getaway a short bus-ride away that makes you feel like you could live a simple life there forever. If you want a different Mexican experience check out the many retreats available here and select the one best suited to you.
1. Hotel Playa Coco, Cuba. Avoid this place even if there is more than one female. The buildings are spread across the property and there is no lights on the paths to get back to your room. Once it gets dark watch out for guests, locals and staff following you back to your room. There’s no security keeping locals out of the resort. The harassment from staff was atrocious. The bartender in the main lobby stopped serving us drinks for the entire week because we wouldn’t accept his advances. There was no hand soap or toilet paper ever in public areas, so think about what the chefs use? Likely, nothing. The food was deplorable there was nothing to eat and you had hawk eyes on you constantly as a female at this resort. The chefs would leave their stations to come harass us as we picked at fries for dinner, the only thing we could bring ourselves to eat.
2. Club Amigo Guardalavaca, Cuba. Cuba has appeal for solo travel due to the fact that many of its resorts do not have single supplements for solo travelers. This was the scariest solo travel experience of my life. We landed at 10pm and I arrived at my hotel closer to midnight after dropping everyone else off at their hotels. I had to find my room which was once again in a small building far from the lobby on my own in the dark. As I walked back to my room I heard people behind me, I turned and saw a group of locals walking a distance from me, I was certain they were following me. I ran to get to my room and locked the door. Once locked, the knocking started. Knocking and cat calling went on for what felt like hours. I actually fell asleep with the bible in the drawer of the bedroom in my hand praying that I would be ok. Not too long before this trip, 2 female travelers were shot at in their room after a similar experience so I was thinking the worst. I have no idea how I fell asleep that night. When I woke up, I went to the gym to relieve some of the stress of the night before. The “trainer” sat on a bench and watched me workout. After 15 minutes of his uncomfortable stare, I went and found my rep as I knew I needed to change hotels immediately. I didn’t care what I had to pay, just get me out of there! She said she likely couldn’t change my hotel until the following day so I got a security guard to stand outside of my room that night. He must have left at some point as again the knocking and cat calling started. They were turning my doorknob trying to get in while yelling in Spanish. It may not translate into this small blurb, but being alone in Cuba where you came to relax and literally fearing for your life was horrible beyond words.
3. I was moved down the street after 2 days to Hotel Brisas Guardalavaca. Where do I begin with this resort? I decided to get a massage on my first day to finally relax. I only found a lifeguard so I asked him when the masseuse would be back. He told me in one hour. An hour later he came and found me and said he could give me my massage now. I was confused but assumed he had misunderstood my Spanish and that he was the lifeguard and the masseuse (hotel employees can often have more than one job at the smaller resorts) and that he just wasn’t available earlier. What I experienced made me jump off the table and run to the front desk to report him. He was definitely not the masseuse. The hotel did nothing and I spent the rest of the week being stalked by this man. One day I wandered for an hour up the beach to read a book and have a nap and get as far away from him as I could. I woke up to his face leaning over me as his “hola” startled me awake. He said he had found me and brought me a flower. I told him to go away and he did but it didn’t make it any less disturbing. At this point I gave up on my solo relaxing trip, made friends with everyone at the resort and stayed with other people at all times.
There are more locations I could add to each list but these are the top and bottom 3.
My final advice for solo female travellers is this:
- Avoid Cuba.
- Only stay in hotels that have a single tower, are 5 star and have great reviews. You want the best and safest environment if staying alone.
- Look for retreats. They are built for people, often solo travelers, who are looking to relax and rejuvenate so when you do feel like some interaction you are surrounded by like-minded people and when you don’t a quiet and safe paradise is what you will experience.
- Never choose cost savings over safety. I went for the resorts that didn’t have a single supplement, don’t make my mistake. Pay more and stay safe.