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The Esalen Institute

55000 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920-9616
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Ranked #5 of 15 Attractions in Big Sur
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Type: Spas, Educational Sites
Activities: Dining, Leisure education
Traveler Description: Located off of a winding stretch of Highway 1 in beautiful Big Sur, California, this grandmother of all human potential centers offers workshops and... more »
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108 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
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English first
1 review
1 of 5 stars Reviewed September 25, 2014 NEW

I visited Esalen in June of this year - on the strength of its reputation and the experiences of colleagues who had visited there over the years.I am a trainer, coach and author based in Ireland and working mainly in Europe. While the setting is stunning, the baths met expectations, and the workshop was satisfactory the rest of my Esalen... More

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Brookline, Massachusetts
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
7 attraction reviews
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 19, 2014

My wife and I spent a weekend at Esalen doing a workshop (our 5th such visit) in late August. We both really enjoy going there, as the place seems to have this wonderful kind of medicinal effect on us both. It usually begins right after we pass thru the check in gate at the entrance. We're both high energy accomplished... More

Was this review helpful? Yes 4
Key West
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 17, 2014

These are truly amazing hot springs! You can also do workshops that allow for unfettered access to the baths, or camp in the area (Julia Pfeiffer Burns or Nacimento area) and volunteer in the organic farm in the mornings for access to the property for the day.

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Saint Louis, Missouri
12 reviews 12 reviews
5 attraction reviews
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 13, 2014

We did the 1-3 a.m. nighttime bathing session in the hot springs. As other reviewers have mentioned, a little more than half the party (25 bathers are allowed each night) went nude, but it's no big deal either way. Besides, once you get in the pools (shower quickly and claim a spot in one of the two larger pools overlooking... More

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Toledo, Ohio
Senior Contributor
46 reviews 46 reviews
17 attraction reviews
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 8, 2014

This was a fun experience, I would go back. If you're reading the other reviews and worried about being naked, don't. Only about 1/2 of the group when we went were naked and you'd hardly notice anyhow. I was semi-concerned about taking a 12yr old there but there were no problems with it. The worst part is trying to get... More

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Santa Barbara
14 reviews 14 reviews
5 attraction reviews
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 19, 2014

My wife and I have visited Esalen frequently for massage appointments and to use the incredible mineral baths. We haven't yet signed up for one of their retreats, which is really their main purpose, but we hope to soon. The baths are absolutely incredible and unique. Try to picture a modern architectural masterpiece perched directly over the cliffs above the... More

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
Azusa, California
Senior Contributor
47 reviews 47 reviews
13 attraction reviews
36 helpful votes 36 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 12, 2014

Yes, I was naked and afraid! Ok, ok, the afraid part is because I'm very modest, and being naked around a bunch of strangers made me very nervous, but listen carefully: it's not as bad as you think! First of all, getting the reservation for a 1-3 am hot tub soak was pretty hard, but keep calling multiple times a... More

Was this review helpful? Yes 2
Santa Fe, New Mexico
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 attraction reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 7, 2014

I have taken 3 week long workshops here for massage continuing education. The atmosphere supports your personal journey. The bath house and massages are very relaxing. And the food is simply amazing.

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Los Angeles, California
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 6, 2014

Esalen is not for everyone, but if it is for you... it might just be your favorite place on Earth. Whether you come alone, with your significant other, or even with a friend, this beautiful destination is one of a kind. Overlooking the ocean with breathtaking views, you're surrounded by nature in a quiet relaxing setting. This experience offered healthy... More

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
Morgantown, West Virginia
3 reviews 3 reviews
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 5, 2014

I went here for a massage while on vacation in Big Sur. I had some trepidation about the clothing optional aspect, I opted to wear my bathing suit but everyone else was naked and I did not feel one bit uncomfortable, as all of the other folks seemed to be minding their own business, there was definitely no gawking or... More

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