We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Avoid it and go elsewhere, so many better spots in the area” 2 of 5 stars
Review of The Esalen Institute

The Esalen Institute
55000 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920-9616
888-837-2536
Website
Improve this listing
Ranked #9 of 14 Attractions in Big Sur
Type: Educational Sites, Spas, Cultural
Activities: Dining, Leisure education
Attraction details
Bay Area
1 review
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
“Avoid it and go elsewhere, so many better spots in the area”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed July 3, 2009

There are some really beautiful things about this place, but you have to get past the obnoxious staff, unbelievable crazy rules, total breakdown of communication, inconstant information. Basically a total lack of service. And if you can jump through the maze of hoops they set up, you have to still surf this weird elitist, "we are so much better than anyone" attitude. And its crazy expensive. Basically...No service, you beg and maybe they will let you pay an arm and a leg to be there. The folks who love this place are mostly tourists who have never seen a retreat centre so they an unfazed by the crazy rules and lack of hospitality...chalking the dysfunction up to "sacred". But check out Mt Madonna, look up Asilomar, lots of really welcoming retreat spas around the area that don't have the crazy attitude of Esalen. Equally great workshops, and gardens and much better prices. And if you still decide to check it out, I have a 100.00 gift certificate to the place, you can have it!

Was this review helpful? Yes 16
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

116 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    83
    17
    6
    5
    5
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Los Angeles, California
Top Contributor
295 reviews 295 reviews
30 attraction reviews
Reviews in 94 cities Reviews in 94 cities
376 helpful votes 376 helpful votes
“Oh, I do not know..”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 2, 2009

The massage was very good and the setting, and sunset, and the sound of crashing waives, all these features were pretty spectacular. The sulphur baths were a good place to relax prior to the massage. And I understand the whole setup of a serene and free-thinking environment, the whole 60's era; however, I do not understand the totally dingy, see-through, small towels, and the sense of lack of basic cleanliness.. That bothered me. I also wish there were lockers so that I would not have to wonder whether my things would still be there following the massage.

Was this review helpful? Yes 11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Diego
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Natural Hot Springs on the Cliffs and Gangaji”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 27, 2009

Awe inspiring drive from So Cal. On the ocean side of Hwy 1. Natural hot springs, world class massages, healthy meals included, various accomodations, some with views. Sit out on the same lawn that Hendrix played on. Pool and hot tubs-nude, never saw an optional suit, took about fifteen minutes to get used to that, saw just about every body type and no one seemed to be judging. The surf, the sun, the stars, the moon, the wild life, the butterflies. Not fancy but what a retreat! I sat for 5 days with Gangaji. Wow! By invitation, only. Sign up for a workshop or join and enjoy. We had otters playing in the surf below us and whale spouts in the distance.

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Diego
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
“esalen hot springs”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 16, 2009

If you can't make it to a retreat at esalen, the night time hot spring hours are the next best thing. Sitting in amazing tubs overlooking the ocean by moonlight, the experience simply has to be experienced to be appreciated! Do be aware that most bathers do not wear swim suits, but towels, etc are provided. Changing rooms and showers are communal as well. The shower is just amazing, overlooking the ocean with huge sliding doors! Make your reservation the day of via phone (don't plan on a cell phone signal in big sur!) and bring a flashlight/headlamp to help with the trek back to your car.

Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NYC
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
“Lifetime Expeirence”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 19, 2009

This is one of the very few things in life that you must do . Although difficult to get a reservation you should try hard .For an hour before and after your massage ( very good ) you can sit and relax in Hot Springs overlooking the Pacific Ocean .With rain and at some point hail coming down hard the warmth was more than adequate .You are close enough to hear the waves below and the springs are supposed to have healing qualities .Do not expect people to be wearing anything .This goes down as one of the most amazing things I have ever done ,I recommend it highly

Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed The Esalen Institute also viewed

 

Been to The Esalen Institute? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

If you own or manage The Esalen Institute, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.