There is an active fire north of Esalen, but currently Highway 1 is open. Drive safely.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the goal of the Campus Renewal Project?
The goal of our Campus Renewal Project is to enhance your Esalen experience through upgraded facilities, greater levels of environmental sustainability, and expanded capacity to deliver groundbreaking educational programs.
What are the key elements of the Campus Renewal Project?
At the center of Esalen’s Campus Renewal Project is the restoration of our iconic Lodge, built in 1939. We have preserved the Lodge’s unique atmosphere while transforming the kitchen, dining area, deck, café, bookstore, and guest reception. A new second floor features an expanded Huxley meeting room and a second meeting room that shares a second-story deck with breath-taking coastline views.
Additionally, the Campus Renewal Project includes construction of a new six-room guest building, general guest room refurbishing, rebuild of our South Coast Center residential staff housing that burned down in 2011, and upgraded infrastructure in the areas of accessibility, roads, and utilities.
How long will it take?
The Campus Renewal Project will conclude in 2017.
Will there be construction noise during the Campus Renewal Project?
Construction work in the Lodge and on the Northside Guest House is complete. We don’t anticipate ongoing work to impact significantly workshops. Construction will take place during business hours: Monday – Friday, 7 am – 4:30 pm, with limited or no construction during weekends.
Will the Campus Renewal Project reduce available parking?
Esalen has always encouraged conserving natural resources through usage of carpooling and our van shuttle service. Availability of on-campus parking will be more limited throughout the Campus Renewal Project.
Is the Campus Renewal Project “green?”
At Esalen, we strive to embody sustainable ways of living on this sacred planet we call home. The Campus Renewal Project will update our facilities, and provide our community and guests with living examples of ecologically sensitive buildings.
Our selected architectural firm, Arkin Tilt Architects, is dedicated to ensuring that our remodeling stays true to the spirit of our historical roots while incorporating advancements in environmental sustainability, designed to endure for future generations. Arkin Tilt Architects is an award-winning firm specializing in energy- and resource-efficient design.
How much will the Campus Renewal Project cost?
Esalen’s Campus Renewal Project will cost approximately $15 million.
How can I support Esalen’s Campus Renewal Project?
Your presence during the Campus Renewal Project is a unique opportunity to participate in our journey of renewal while contributing to the advancement of our mission for many years to come.
As a non-profit educational institute, Esalen relies on donations to support our efforts. Please contact Monique Baron at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more or donate online.
More Questions about the Campus Renewal?
If you have any questions or concerns, please email the Front Office at email@example.com.
Thank you for your interest and support! We deeply appreciate your willingness to partner with us throughout the Campus Renewal Project.
What qualifications are required to teach at Esalen?
Esalen usually works with faculty who have a deep understanding and level of experience in their field.
Usually our faculty have teaching experience, or can demonstrate an ability to design curriculum and hold a group. Often, faculty have an existing student base and/or a wide appeal. Topics can be very general or specific but all need to be aligned with our mission and vision.
How long until I hear from Esalen about my workshop proposal?
We have the blessing of receiving many more proposals than we could possibly schedule. Please do not take it personally if we are unable to schedule yours. Unfortunately, because of the volume of proposals that we receive, we are not able to follow up with each individual to inform them of their status. If we would like to further explore your proposal and possibly schedule it, we will contact you. We schedule a year in advance, so it could take a year or more for us to have room to schedule your workshop if accepted.
How many hours of class time are in a typical Esalen workshop?
A weekend workshop consists of 10 hours of class time; a 5-day workshop consists of 26 hours; a 7-day workshop consists of a total of 36 hours.
What type of technology needs can Esalen accommodate?
Esalen does provide basic audio/visual equipment for our workshops and private conferences. Workshops with elaborate a/v set-ups would need to be discussed in advance on a case-by-case basis. Esalen has very limited internet bandwidth so no live streaming or extensive data downloading is possible. Additionally, most meeting rooms do not have internet accessibility.
What is the Campus Renewal Project? Will it affect my visit?
The Campus Renewal Project is the largest property development project in Esalen's history and has included a complete renovation of our historic Lodge. We are committed to ensuring that your Esalen experience will continue to be as magical and deeply transformative as ever and have taken steps to minimize any impact on your visit. For more information, please see esalen.org/renewal.
Is Esalen Expensive? Can I Afford to Come?
To encourage people of all financial abilities to participate in the magic and mystery of Esalen, we offer a wide array of accommodation options as well as short- and longer-term programs to suit every need and budget. Participation in the 28-day Work Study Program is possible for as little as $41/day, and for those wishing to participate in weekend, 5-day or 7-day catalog workshops we additionally offer work exchange, need-based financial scholarship, and discounts for seniors.
Is there a Shuttle or Van Service to Esalen?
Shuttle van service is available from San Francisco International Airport (SFO), San Jose International Airport (SJC) and Monterey Peninsula Airport (MRY) on Fridays and Sundays. For shuttle schedules and pricing, please click here.
What is the Road Like? Where Do I Check Road Closures?
For the most up-to-date information about Highway 1 toward and through Big Sur from the north and south, please call the Caltrans Highway 1 Big Sur Hotline toll-free at (888) 836-0866.
Alternatively, you can check the Caltrans Website on their District 5 page at: http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist05/road_information.htm
We also recommend checking the Caltrans Facebook page for updates at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Caltrans-Central-Coast-District-5/1658706...
Can I Choose My Roommate?
We use an elaborate bed and room matching service that houses people of the same gender together unless they have identified themselves as a couple.
If you have saved your partner/couple as part of your online registration account, and indicated them during registration, we will make every attempt to house you together. In addition, there is a text field option later during the check-out process to allow you to specify a particular roommate. We can generally accommodate these requests up until the day of the workshop.
Can I Sleep in My Car, RV, or Tent?
To reduce our environmental impact, we do not offer camping (car or tent) on property. There is camping nearby both north and south on Highway 1.
See the Big Sur Camping Guide at http://www.bigsurcalifornia.org/camping.html for details.
Please note that Esalen does not have parking spaces for RV's and large vehicles. Large vehicles need to park on Highway 1 at the Esalen entrance.
Can I Come Take a Tour and Just Look Around?
Unfortunately, we do not offer guided public tours. To preserve the sanctity of the Esalen experience, self-guided tours and walkabouts are also prohibited.
How Do I Tip my Massage Therapist?
Tips may be charged to your credit card if you stop by the Office following your session. We also provide tip envelopes where you can enclose cash or a check, and either leave this in the Office or hand it directly to your practitioner following your session.
What Time Should I Check Out?
Check-out time is 10:30 am on departure days, although you are welcome to stay for lunch and remain at Esalen until 2 pm. If you are participating in a workshop we ask that you have your belognings out of your room before the start of your final session.
What Time Can I Check In?
Feel free to arrive at Esalen any time after 2 pm. Room keys are available from the Gate or the Office after 2:30 pm. Room check-out is 10:30 am on the day of departure.
Can I Bring a Guest or my Spouse?
Unfortunately, no. We are small by design (with only 125 beds on property) and when you make the pilgrimage to Esalen you (and you only) become part of the community. For this reason, and to protect the privacy and experience of our other community members, we request that you not bring visitors or guests.
Can I Bring my Child?
Yes, although children must be supervised at all times and additional fees may apply. Two full-paying adults housed in standard, premium or Point House accommodations may have their children stay with them for a meal charge of $20 per child per day ($10/day for children under 6).
Day care may be available through our Gazebo Park school for an additional fee.
Children may only attend workshops with their care-givers that are specifically designated as family workshops. Through the end of 2014, the fee for children under 14 years of age is $100 for a weekend family workshop, or $200 for a 5-day family workshop when accompanied by 2 adults paying full-price. For all family workshops beginning after January 1, 2015, the fee for children under 10 years of age is $100 for a weekend and $250 for a 5-day workshop.
What Payment Methods/Credit Cards do you Accept?
We accept cash and checks and all credit cards except Discover.
Will My Cell Phone Work at Esalen? Is there Internet Access?
Esalen is located approximately 45 miles from "civilization," and there is currently no cell coverage. This isolation and tranquility, while deepening the experience of your stay at Esalen, can also be a significant change. While there is no cell service, there are three pay phones and calling cards available in the bookstore.
We use a bulletin board for important messages and calls from home and offer a few wired Internet kiosks for limited use. Wireless internet is available in the lodge anytime but during mealtimes.
Is There a Pharmacy or a Doctor on Property?
We carry only basic sundries in our Bookstore. The nearest pharmacy is 40 miles away in Carmel, so you will want to make sure to bring your prescription medications with you.
Esalen does not have an on-call doctor, and there are no other medical services available on site. If you will require medical attention or supplies during your stay, please come prepared to administer to your own needs, or make advance arrangements with the Big Sur Health Center in Big Sur.
Is There an ATM on Property?
Please bring sufficient funds for incidentals, as Esalen does not have an ATM, nor are we able to cash checks. We do accept cash, checks and credit cards as payment, however.
Can I Smoke? Is Smoking Allowed?
Smoking is permitted in designated outdoor areas only. It is not permitted in accommodations or meeting areas or near the lodge and outdoor deck during mealtimes.
What if my Roommate Snores?
All of our accommodations are shared. Please come prepared (nose strips, earplugs, etc.) as you or your roommate may snore.
Can I Bring my Dog? Cat? Other Pet?
Sorry. Other than animals in service, pets are not allowed on the property.
In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability.
Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
Do You Have a Safe or a Place to Keep my Valuables?
Unfortunately, the Esalen office has no facilities to safeguard your valuables. For peace of mind, it is best to leave them in either the locked trunk of your car or at home.
Will I need a flashlight?
Our property is dimly lit at night, allowing guests to fully enjoy and appreciate the night sky. Please bring a flashlight for use while walking on the grounds after dark.
Can I bring my stash?
In accordance with state and federal laws, the possession or use of illegal drugs on Esalen grounds is strictly prohibited.
What if I lose something? Is there a lost and found?
To inquire about items left behind from your Esalen visit, please send an email including your name, the date you checked out, and a description of the missing item/s to firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a message at 831-667-3019.
Must I Get Naked? Is Esalen a Nudist Colony?
The hot springs at Esalen have been in use for over 6,000 years and are clothing-optional. Nudity is common in the baths and the swimming pool but by no means mandatory.
We encourage each individual to find their own edge between comfort and growth, either wearing a swimsuit or not, knowing that the environment we strive for at Esalen is one of personal sanctuary and respect for the human body.
For those who do choose to use the springs, in a bathing suit or without, daily or once in a lifetime — the hot springs experience embodies much of what continues to make Esalen a singular place of adventure, contemplation, and community.
What is your Cancellation Policy?
All cancellations must be made by phone at 888-837-2536 with one of our reservation staff.
Workshops including A Time To Reflect
If you cancel or change any part of your reservation at least seven full days before the start of your workshop(s), your nonrefundable deposit, less a $75-per-workshop processing fee, will be transferred to a credit account to be used at Esalen within one year.
If you cancel with less than seven days' notice, you forfeit your entire deposit. If you have prepaid your entire reservation fee, we will retain the deposit, as above, less the $75 processing fee, and return the balance to you. Donations to the Friends of Esalen are nonrefundable. See this page for full details.
If you cancel your reservation at least 7 full days before your date of arrival, a $75-per-person processing fee will be charged and the remaining balance will be refunded. If you cancel with less than 7 days notice, you will forfeit the price of one night's lodging (per person).
Massage and Alternative Bodywork Sessions
With at least 24 hours notice, we are happy to either reschedule your session or transfer the fees to an Esalen credit account to be used within one year. There are no refunds or credits for massage / bodywork cancellations made with less than 24 hours notice.
Do You Offer Assistance/Accessiblity for Disabled Persons?
We are committed to accommodating guests who have disabilities. If you have a disability and think you might need assistance participating in a workshop or other Esalen activity, please give the office as much advance notice as possible about your needs. We require a minimum of 72 hours' notice to arrange for accessible accommodations. If you will need sign language interpretation at an Esalen workshop, we require at least two weeks' notice to arrange for interpreter services. In all cases, we will do our best to assist you with your needs.
Although we are in the process of increasing our disability access, access to some parts of our property continues to be difficult. While many of our paths are paved, they are still extremely steep due to our cliff-side setting, which is the steepest meeting of land and sea in the continental United States.
Likewise, please inform the office with as much advance notice as possible if you need to bring a service animal. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
How do I get to Esalen? How far is Esalen from the Nearest Airport?
Esalen is approximately three hours from SFO, 2 and a half hours from San Jose Airport (SJC), 2 hours from SLO, and an hour and 15 minutes from Monterey Airport (MRY).
From the north:
- If you are driving from San Francisco or points north, take Route 101 south.
- At Prunedale, take Exit 156 west to the Monterey Peninsula and Highway 1.
- Take Highway 1 south approximately 60 miles, passing Monterey, Carmel, and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Nepenthe, a popular restaurant located on the ocean side of Highway 1, is 11 miles north of Esalen.
From the south:
- Those driving from the south should take Route 101 north to San Luis Obispo and then Highway 1 to Esalen. We are approximately 100 miles north of San Luis Obispo.
- When you reach Lucia, a bend in the road where there is a restaurant, and motel, you are 10 miles south of Esalen.
From either direction, watch for the Esalen Institute sign on the west (ocean) side of the road.