EXCLUSIVE: ‘We opened our own SURF camp in a little-known town in southern Spain – now business is booming and we’re appearing on A New Life In The Sun next week’

THE latest series of A New Life In The Sun is in full swing, featuring a surf camp run by a British expat and his wife, a Sevilla native.

Sevilla-born Marina enjoying the waves at El Palmar beach.

READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE: Meet the British expats set to appear on A New Life in The Sun from TONIGHT as they launch their glamping business in Portugal 

Marina Nieves has been surfing in El Palmar, a beach hamlet between Cadiz and Tarifa, for her entire life. 

Largely untouched by modern tourism, local residents still pull drinking water from a well, there are no house numbers and the one story cafes and bars are donned with driftwood signage. 

This unique character is not something Marina, 31, and her expat husband, Callum Jelley, 34, wanted to change when they set up their business. 

The Sea Retreat accommodates just 12 guests at a time in their ‘EcoSurfGlamp’ yurts.

The yurts are ‘surprising spacious’, accomodating up to four people.

All visitors are welcome, whether you’re a solo traveller who just needs a bed to crash in after hitting the waves or a family who can easily fill a yurt, made for up to four people. 

Callum said: “You can come here on your own and have a blast. Everyone’s welcome. 

“There’s always a good mix of people and they tend to gel super well and hang out together, we have people from all over the world.” 

The accommodation is surrounded by a 5000 square metre garden, full of trees, hammocks, yoga spaces and porches to relax on after a long day of surfing. 

The yurts have their own private porches to enjoy a beer after a day of surfing.

READ MORE: The must-visit town in Spain’s Cadiz that ‘the Spanish love’ and ‘the Brits don’t know about’ – according to the Sun

The beach is just a ten minute walk away, or visitors can borrow bikes to get to their daily surf classes. 

Perfect for beginners and intermediates, each visitor gets a two hour lesson every day followed by a guided sunset surf. 

“Marina does all the coaching, people really like that because they’re used to having men as teachers,” Callum told the Olive Press

“Most people are beginners, maybe they’ve tried it in England and want to improve, or maybe they’ve never been on a board before.” 

The retreat is a great option for families to learn together.

The warm weather, calm waves and temperate water make the Cadiz coast the perfect place to learn.

“It’s much better to not be in a really thick wetsuit, freezing to death like in the UK, it’s so much easier to move and get the hang of it,” said Callum. 

Originally from a small village near Harrogate, Callum exchanges ‘teaching Marina Yorkshire’ for surf lessons. 

Callum has swapped chilly Yorkshire for winters on the waves.

READ MORE: This is the most visited monument in Spain – and it’s in Andalucia

The mountain biker swapped dirt tracks for beach waves some three years ago after meeting Marina while working in Madrid. 

Enchanted by the southern way of life and year round sun, the now-married couple moved down to Andalucia, where Callum manages the retreat’s kitchen. 

Urging people to ‘escape the dark’, Costa de la Luz retreat attracts many Brits looking to escape the UK’s winter gloom. 

The camp operates from September 18th to June 24th, when the waves are best for learners. 

For €900, budding surfers get a week’s worth of lessons, accommodation and food. 

Callum cooks a variety of cuisines from traditional Spanish snacks to Morrocan dishes.

The retreat also offers options over Spanish bank holidays so visitors can take advantage of the country’s many ‘puentes’. 

“There’s quite a lot of surf camps around here, but there’s not any aimed at British people. We saw that gap in the market.” 

Apart from surfing, the retreat offers visitors the chance to discover the local area beyond the beach. 

Adventurers can ride their bikes to the nearby La Breña National Park or the nearby village to enjoy local seafood at the purse-friendly Peña El Atun, where meals are as little as €20 a head. 

The Sea Retreat also offers horse riding on the beach as well as visits to olive groves, vineyards and picturesque towns like Vejer de la Frontera.

Vejer de la Frontera is a great day trip from the retreat.

An unusual holiday activity, the surf school also does litter picking on the beach, which visitors can enjoy as the sun sets over the Mediterranean. 

Committed to sustainability, the property is also completely run on solar power and recycled water. 

Although the business has been running for some two years, it was originally set up in a house in El Palmar. 

Last January, the couple bought the land and began creating the eco-retreat which officially opened in November this year. 

Their journey was documented by Channel 4 for the latest series of ‘A New Life In The Sun’. 

Due to air from February 12-16, the programme follows the couple from start to finish, from setting up the yurts to taking their first guests out on the waves. 

“I hope people will come to visit as a result of it,” said Callum. 

“Or maybe we’ll become instantly famous, they’ll give us a spin off show and we’ll be household names.” 

Whatever happens, it’s certain viewers will fall in love with the couple’s Spanish water dog, Cometa, who loves roaming the retreat’s gardens or being petted by guests. 

Cometa joining in a daily surf lesson with the retreat guests.

Check out The Sea Retreat on A New Life In The Sun at 4pm (GMT) from February 12 to 16 on Channel 4.


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