'I went to Fiji with 60 women I'd never met. Here's exactly what happened.'

I am the quintessential solo gal.

I'm single, an only child, an introvert

I live alone (well, unless you count my dog. Which I do, so I guess I don’t live alone). 

My point is, if ever there was a person whose life was geared towards riding solo, it's me.

As such, I do and have done a heck of a lot of solo travel. And look, it’s great. It is! But I have to admit, it can get a little lonely.


Sometimes I don’t want to simply snap a selfie, you know? Sometimes I want to say, ‘Will you take a picture of me with this statue?’ with absolutely no fear they’ll kick me in the shins and run away with my camera. 

Sometimes I want to say, ‘Wow, wouldja look at THAT!’ to someone who will say, ‘Yes, wow!’ and not ‘Stop talking to me, person I don’t know.’

Le sigh. (Good problems to have, I know.)

So when the opportunity came up to book myself a spot at women’s retreat-slash-summit-slash-conference She Evolves in sunny Fiji, I thought, why the heck not give it a crack? Hosted at the lush Shangri-La Yanuca Island – the most blissful backdrop upon which to evolve, connect and be inspired – I was ready for some up-levelling with a side of tropical holiday.

Watch: She Evolves founder Sarah Pirie-Nally. Post continues after video.

Video via She Evolves.

Now, as someone who's generally wildly uncomfortable in big groups of new people, the challenge was definitely set – and while I admit, I did know one other person who was going, there'd be a lot of talking to humans I didn't know (and potentially getting vulnerable with them, too, eek).


So I booked, making the promise to myself that if it all got too overwhelming, I’d ditch the workshops, I'd pass on the keynote speakers, and I’d float away the four days in the pool, cocktail in hand. 

And honestly, I could’ve done that. But I didn’t want to. Not even a smidge.

When I walked into that first gathering of the group for cocktails the night before kickoff (not a bad way to get things rolling, right?) I knew no-one. By the time we were walking back to our rooms after dinner, I was making plans to meet with them for pre-brekkie swims and hangs by the egg station the next morning.

And that was all before the program even kicked off.

Shangri-La Yanunca Island, Fiji. Image: Supplied/She Evolves.

Global thought leaders ran insightful and powerful workshops and keynote talks, and genuine connections were formed, all to the tune of palm trees rustling, waves gently breaking on shore, delicious chef-cooked gourmet meals... And yes, cocktails at sunset were definitely an opt-in part of the experience! (Your typical wellness retreat this was not...)


And in case you're wondering, no – this wasn't purely an All The Single Ladies event. Yeah, I had some fellow single pringles to bond with, but ladies of all ages and persuasions came together, and attendees were encouraged to bring their partners and families along too, if they were keen, which only heightened the whole community vibe.

Image: Supplied.

The end goal of the four-day retreat? A renewed sense of purpose, a new lease on life and a new suite of tools to take action on both fronts – and I can tell you, all the attendees (myself included) walked away with all of this and more.


The list of keynote speakers was a who's-who of Aussie and global #girlcrushes. Australian of the Year Taryn Brumfitt. Style Runner and Her Black Book founders Sali Sasi and Julie Stevanja. Intu Wellness creator Christie Whitehill. Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion and ESG expert Wema Hoover. (Honestly, I could go on but we'd be here all day.)

There were endless 'aha' moments, a few tears (yes, including some shed by moi) – and sure, there was a bit of sitting in circles talking about our feelings (which, can confirm, was NOT as cringe as you might assume). But there was also a hefty serving of drinking Pina coladas by the pool, doing yoga on the beach, swimming at secret beaches... you get the idea.


By the final day, a genuinely supportive community had sprung to life. The trip smashed every expectation I had, and I'm still in touch almost daily with some of the incredible women I met. 

And you can bet your sweet sausage I've already grabbed my ticket for round two of She Evolves (May 31– June 4) to catch more phenomenal speakers (former Miss Universe Australia Tegan Martin, Cooking The Books host Frances Cook, and activist Wendy McCarthy AO are just three of the inspirational women headlining this year) – and make even more delicious new connections.

She Evolves (May 31-June 4, 2023) retreat cost includes four nights’ accommodation at Shangri-La Yanuca Island, transfers from Nadi Airport to the hotel and back, all meals and entertainment once on-site for the event, welcome cocktail function, retreat activities, workshops, keynote talks, surprise pampering and treats.

Alix is Mamamia's Managing Editor. Want to catch more of her adventures in travel, beauty and lifestyle? Head on over to her Instagram.

Feature image: Supplied.

Are you someone who values beauty, health, and self-care? Take our short survey to go in the running to win a $50 gift voucher!