“I went through a bad divorce with a lot of heartache,” says Lucie Muns, who went surfing in Costa Rica following a split. She found the ocean healing and the all-female Surf Diva camp filled with supportive surfers—many were also nursing breakup wounds. Her advice: “Disconnect from the immediate place of heartache, whether you go five or 3,000 miles away.”
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Travelers know that a change of environment helps clear your head and rejuvenate your spirit, and for the newly single, there’s the added benefit of putting some physical space between you and your ex. Even notoriously romantic destinations like Italy can be liberating if you’re coming out of a divorce, especially if you embrace a fresh way of traveling, such as joining a singles-only bike tour through Piedmont wine country.
There are some places you’d be wise to avoid—honeymoon hot spots or anywhere that you might have traveled with your former flame. After all, salt is for rubbing onto the margarita glasses, not into the wounds.
You can literally leave your problems on land when you embark on Surf Diva’s five-day Surf School. “When we ride a wave, we conquer our fears,” says founder Izzy Tihanyi of the female-only classes offered. It’s empowering and just plain fun. Located at La Jolla Shores, Surf Diva is within walking distance from the chic Hotel La Jolla, which relaunched in summer 2012, and about a 15-minute drive from downtown San Diego.
De-stress, improve circulation, and increase your energy in the natural restorative hot springs (85–105 degrees) at Dunton Hot Springs, a former mining town in the picturesque Colorado Rockies. Packed with calcium, iron, magnesium, and a “dash” of lithium, the waters are yours to enjoy alfresco or in a 19th-century bathhouse. There are 12 log cabins as well as safari-style tents available down the road at Cresto Ranch, a sister property opening in June 2013.
Whether refining your culinary talents or learning the basics, the Biltmore Hotel’s Culinary Academy is a cathartic way to gain skills, meet new people, and be part of lively group meals. The three-day boot camp, taught by chef Lourdes Castro, starts with kitchen organization; by day three, you’ll be braising short ribs and serving stewed pork with a smoky chipotle sauce. All this with the retro glamour that comes with a stay at the Biltmore (est. 1926), where you can unwind after class by the opulent pool or in a Frette robe back in your room.
Cycle past scenic vineyards and hill towns on Backroads’ new six-day Singles-Solos tour of Piedmont, which delivers Italy’s charms without the risk of honeymooners in your tour group. You’ll stop at a 10th-century castle that now serves as a wine cellar, the hot springs of Acqui Terme, and Monforte d’Alba, known for the nebbiolo grape used to produce Barolo wine. Accommodations include a 16th-century monastery-turned-hotel, and you can swap tips with fellow bikers at facebook.com/backroads4singles before you depart.
Kamalame Cay, Bahamas
While honeymooners have long been courted by resorts, lately singles have suitors, too. And they don’t get much more desirable than Kamalame Cay, a secluded complex of 19 villas on a sandy, three-mile spit off of Andros Island. Its Le Divorce package includes a snorkeling trip or fishing excursion as well as a treatment at the overwater resort spa. Note your cocktail, music, and author preferences on the resort's “vice and virtue” form in advance, then prepare for sneaky surprises throughout your stay.
At Trout Point Lodge, there are no room keys, TVs, or cell-phone service, meaning that the only person finding you is you. Search for black bears, moose, or flying squirrels in the Tobeatic Wilderness, or try your hand at the cooking school to learn how to cure seafood and forage for chanterelles, black trumpets, and lobster mushrooms. After dinner, an on-staff astronomer will point out constellations and, depending on the season, the aurora borealis.
Nola is famous for good times, and many of those involve live music. The annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival brings big-name acts to the city each spring. But you can count on soul-satisfying R&B, Cajun, zydeco, bluegrass, and jazz whatever the season. Bring your friends along and bunk up in a cool Airbnb rental. A modern, airy studio a block from Bourbon Street and bathed in white accommodates two guests; a converted 1918 gas station in Bayou St. John can handle four; and a Greek Revival townhouse in the Lower Garden District has room for you and five best friends.
Helping others is a sure way to gain perspective after a breakup—and the WWOOF network (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) makes it affordable to do so in far-flung destinations. The India program lets you and others from around the globe volunteer at a sustainable farm in a remote region of India, where you learn ayurvedic growing techniques (some sites are in tribal villages or adjacent to a tiger reserve). Harvest crops such as coconuts, sugarcane, and mangoes four to six hours a day in exchange for accommodation and unforgettable stories.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat provides both the structure and support to nudge you in a more positive direction. A typical day begins with a 6 a.m. wake-up for meditation, chanting, and mandatory asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (yogic breathing techniques). Dine on lacto-vegetarian meals (no eggs, onion, or garlic), then it’s more yoga and satsang meditation and, if you choose, sessions like the Yoga of Relationships and Healing Your Heart Through Kirtan. No matter what type of accommodation you prefer—tents, dormitories, beachside suites—lights go out at 10 p.m.
Rock climb, walk a tightrope, or swing on a zipline—all while soaking up the desert’s feel-good sunshine and getting a little life advice at the Miraval Resort & Spa. According to Leigh Weinraub, one of the well-being specialists, these activities "enable people to face fears and, in turn, grow." And you’re not alone: about 25 percent of guests schedule private counseling for relationship advice. Highlights of the spa’s lengthy yoga menu include Forgiveness and Loving Kindness meditations.