Highway 1 south of Esalen is now open. Join us for A Time to Reflect in September.



What Can You Do at Esalen?

Hot Springs

Esalen’s cliff-side hot springs have been in ritual and healing use by the Esselen Indians and others for more than 6,000 years.

In 1869, Thomas Slate, suffering from severe arthritis and hearing of unique healing properties to be found in the waters there, visited the hot springs. By the early 1880s, he would homestead the property, and a settlement began, known as Slates Hot Springs. This site became the first tourist-oriented business in Big Sur, frequented by others who sought relief from similar afflictions.

In 1910, the land was purchased by Henry Murphy, a prominent physician from nearby Salinas (who had attended the births of many of the children of the Salinas Valley including John Steinbeck) and his wife Bunny. The Murphys bought the property with the intention of opening a European-style health spa, when the yet-to-be-built Highway 1 was completed. Construction of the road, once started, was an 18-year project. The official business name was “Big Sur Hot Springs,” although it was more generally referred to as "Slate's Hot Springs." Henry Miller was a frequent visitor. Joan Baez was a resident and an aspiring novelist named Hunter S. Thompson a dedicated employee.

The Baths

Coming down the hill you will see the upper level with its outdoor massage deck and “living” roof planted in native coastal grasses. This upper level has its own hot tub equipped with a special lift for handicapped access in addition to a wheelchair-accessible changing room, shower, and bathroom.

The lower level of the baths is entered by descending steps toward a perpetual fountain. The lower level contains restrooms and two sides, a "quiet" and a “silent” side. Each side has a changing room and there is a shower room with a glass wall perched over the ocean. There are several tubs, both indoor and outdoor in the lower level, as well as private, clawfoot tubs. There are massage rooms on both the upper and lower levels. Towels are supplied.

The Ritual

We understand that the springs, and in particular a tradition there of going “clothing optional” can still elicit strong reactions. So some context is in order. Visiting the springs (also known as "the baths" or "the tubs") sans clothing is not mandatory (after all, we wear our dogmas lightly).

But neither are our springs a mere amenity. For those who do choose to soak in the springs–whether in a bathing suit or without, daily or once in a lifetime–the experience embodies much of what continues to make Esalen a singular place of adventure. As a place of stunning beauty, an awe-inspiring respite for mind and body, and a great equalizer, the Baths nourish conversation, contemplation, and community. Their warmth and familiar strangeness prompt us to rethink and reaffirm.

The hot springs serve as a constant reminder that Esalen is not just another retreat; literally and figuratively, the hot springs enable us to savor life on the edge. For more information on the hot springs water and its healing properties, see the hot springs analysis.

Public Night Bathing (1AM-3AM) - By Reservation Only

For information and to reserve a place for night bathing from 1AM-3AM, please click here.

Personal Retreat

Personal retreats are not currently available. Please visit A Time To Reflect for more options.

Personal retreats consisting of one or more nights at Esalen may be available on a last-minute basis only (3-5 days in advance, except when announced in our eNews or on our website). We do not keep a wait list for personal retreat.

Please note that while personal retreat is rarely available, it is possible to make advance reservations and be on a wait list for A Time To Reflect.

Personal Retreat rates are per day and per person unless otherwise noted. Rates include accommodations, three meals per day (dinner on the day of arrival, breakfast and lunch on the day of departure) and access to all Esalen amenities. Prices listed do not include accommodation tax, which is added at the time of reservation.

Cancellation Policy: If you cancel more than seven days before your Personal Retreat, a $75 processing fee will be charged for each cancellation (per person) 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).

Click here for directions to Esalen.

All-Inclusive Esalen Personal Retreat Fees (per person, per night unless otherwise noted)

Room Type Fri-Sat Sun-Thurs
Bunk Bed Shared (4 - 6 persons per room) $145 $135
Standard Shared (2-3 people per room) $235 $175
Premium Single (1 person, guaranteed private accommodation) $510 $480
Premium Double (2 persons; priced per room) $670 $640
Point House Single (1 person, guaranteed private accommodation) $775 $690
Point House Double (2 persons; priced per room) $885 $805
Personal Retreats at Esalen--Description and Prices

Directions to Esalen



If you have a reservation at Esalen and are interested in sharing a ride with someone else driving here from your area, let us know where you're coming from and whether you need a ride or are offering a ride. Then check back with the office from time to time to see who else has signed up to participate. Upon request, we'll provide you with the contact information of other people that you can potentially carpool with who are heading to Esalen on the same day you are.

To be added to the ride share list or to inquire about possible carpool matches, please contact Esalen Reservations at 888-837-2536 between the hours of 9AM and 6PM Pacific Time every day, or email

Kindly note that participation in the ride share program is variable. We cannot guarantee a match will be available on the day you intend to travel, and encourage you to plan accordingly.

Van Service

Currently we only offer shuttle service to Esalen from the Monterey Regional Airport (MRY). For more information, please click here.

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