Slates Hot Springs (Esalen Institute) – Big Sur, CA

In the heart of Big Sur, California, lies a natural wonder that has been cherished for centuries by the Esselen people – Slate’s Hot Springs. This renowned retreat center, now managed by the Esalen Institute, provides a haven of relaxation, rejuvenation, and healing for those seeking respite from the stress of everyday life.

With its mineral-rich waters and breathtaking ocean views, Slate’s Hot Springs is the perfect destination for anyone looking to unwind and reconnect with nature. Whether you’re seeking a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a solo retreat, this hot springs retreat center has everything you need to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable.

Located in one of the most picturesque regions of California, Slate’s Hot Springs boasts a variety of excellent amenities that cater to your every need. From its cozy cabins to its luxurious spa treatments, this retreat center is designed to help you unwind and relax. And with its proximity to other natural wonders in the area, such as the Big Sur coastline and the nearby redwood forests, Slate’s Hot Springs is the perfect place to explore and connect with the natural world.


Slates Hot Springs, aerial view
Slates Hot Springs, aerial view

Slate’s Hot Springs, a retreat center located in California, has a rich history that dates back to the early 1900s. The property was purchased by Thomas Slate, a San Francisco businessman, who built a retreat center that quickly became a hub for intellectuals, artists, and scholars. Among the notable figures who visited were Joseph Campbell, Joan Baez, Gregory Bateson, and Abraham Maslow. It was also the birthplace of the Esalen Institute, which became famous for its holistic approach to healing.

The Esalen Hot Springs, as it was called back then, was a place where people could participate in workshops and explore new ideas. Many of the workshops were led by Michael Murphy, the co-founder of the Esalen Institute, who believed that the hot springs were a place where people could connect with their inner selves. The institute attracted a wide range of people, from workshop participants to celebrities, and its reputation grew rapidly. Visitors can learn more about its history through a history film available on the property.

The retreat center has a fascinating family history as well. Henry Murphy, Michael’s father, had a vision of creating a resort that would offer people a chance to relax and rejuvenate. He built a hotel on the property where people could stay and enjoy the hot springs. Unfortunately, he died in a hiking accident before the hotel was completed. Despite this setback, the family’s commitment to the property and its vision remained strong.

Today, Slate’s Hot Springs continues to attract visitors who want to experience the healing powers of the hot springs. The retreat center offers a variety of activities, including hiking, swimming, and Esalen massage. Visitors can also learn more about the property’s history, including the tests of artifacts found that hint at a Native American presence in the area. Despite its evolution over the years, Slate’s Hot Springs remains committed to providing a space for people to relax and connect with nature.

Soak and Relax in the Natural Hot Springs

Slates Hot Springs (Esalen) – Big Sur, California
Slates (Esalen) Hot Springs – Big Sur, California

Slate’s Hot Springs is a prime destination for those seeking natural hot springs that provide rejuvenation and relaxation. The mineral-rich water that flows from the earth is the source of the hot springs, making it a perfect spot for visitors to unwind. The retreat center has several larger pools, a hot tub, and a swimming pool for those looking for a more traditional water experience. Visitors can soak in the hot springs in their bathing suits and enjoy the stunning ocean views.

The hot springs at Slate’s Hot Springs are open year-round, offering the opportunity to soak both during the day and under the stars at night. The retreat center is the perfect place to unwind after exploring the surrounding area. Visitors can take a dip in the swimming pool or relax by the side of the pool. The changing rooms and other conveniences on-site make it a comfortable experience for everyone.

For those interested in the Esalen Hot Springs experience, Slate’s Hot Springs is the place to be. The hot springs offer the perfect opportunity to indulge in the Esalen Massage experience while enjoying the stunning views. The hot springs experience at Slate’s Hot Springs is unparalleled, making it the perfect spot for those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation.

Amenities and accommodation

Slates Hot Springs Vacation Rentals & Homes
Slates Hot Springs Vacation Rentals & Homes

Experience a private and comfortable stay at Slates Hot Springs with their cozy cabin rentals. These cabins are available on both the upper and lower levels of the property, providing guests with much space and privacy. The retreat center also offers an open studio perfect for a romantic getaway or solo retreat. Plus, it’s conveniently located near the California State Highway, making it an ideal destination for those in the coastal regions of the United States.

Apart from the natural beauty of the hot springs and the surrounding area, Slates Hot Springs also offers guests a range of amenities to make their stay more enjoyable. The retreat center features an art barn, a search bar to find local activities and attractions, an alarm clock to wake up to the sounds of nature, and a DVD player for a cozy movie night in. They also have a price range that suits different budgets, making it a great base for both day trips and longer stays in the Big Sur region.

Located just a few hours’ drive from San Jose and Los Angeles, Slates Hot Springs is easily accessible for those in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. It’s situated north-northwest of Lopez Point, near the Ventana Wilderness and the Santa Lucia Mountains. While the retreat center is located on private land, the surrounding area is home to various public lands and natural attractions such as the Point Lobos State Reserve, McWay Falls, and the Pine Ridge Trail.

Slates Hot Springs also offers various workshops and self-help programs for those looking for an educational and enriching experience. The retreat center hosts five-day workshops throughout the year, covering topics such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. They also partner with an educational institute in Monterey County to provide guests with a unique and transformative experience. You can read more about Slates Hot Springs in the Monterey County Weekly, which recently featured the retreat center in an article highlighting its natural beauty and unique offerings.

Activities for Health and Wellness

Yoga session by Esalen Institute
Yoga session by Esalen Institute

Slate’s Hot Springs is more than just a natural oasis for relaxation and rejuvenation. Along with the inherent healing properties of the hot springs, visitors can also partake in a variety of health and wellness services offered through the resort’s partnership with the renowned Esalen Institute. This retreat center, founded by physicians Dr. Michael Murphy and Dr. Henry Cloyd Murphy, is dedicated to providing holistic practices such as yoga workshops, meditation, massage, and more.

Guests at Slate’s Hot Springs can indulge in these services at the outdoor massage deck, meditation hut, or even in the privacy of their own vacation home. The Esalen Institute has a long-standing reputation for providing exceptional wellness programs, drawing in world-renowned workshop leaders such as Joseph Campbell, Joan Baez, and Gregory Bateson. These experts have contributed to the development of the Gestalt Practice, a holistic approach to personal growth and self-awareness.

The Esalen Center for Theory and Research (Esalen CTR) is also a hub for innovative ideas and practices in the field of wellness. Developed by Gerald Heard, a philosopher and spiritual teacher, the Esalen CTR has become a center for exploring the intersection of science, spirituality, and human potential. The center has been instrumental in fostering the growth of Buddhist practices in the West, as well as promoting the study of humanistic psychology.

For those seeking a transformative experience, Slate’s Hot Springs and its partnership with the Esalen Institute offer a unique opportunity to delve deep into personal growth and wellness. Whether it’s through yoga, meditation, massage, or any other holistic practice, guests can tap into the transformative power of the hot springs and the expertise of the Esalen Institute. With a dedication to fostering human potential and personal growth, this partnership represents the ultimate wellness experience. So why settle for a simple vacation when you can embark on a journey towards a better version of yourself?

Nearby Attractions

The Pfeiffer Falls Trail in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
The Pfeiffer Falls Trail in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

Experience the unparalleled beauty and tranquility of a hot springs retreat nestled in the heart of California. From the picturesque landscapes of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park to the bustling cities of San Francisco and San Jose, the region offers a diverse range of experiences for every type of traveler.

Discover the Esalen Institute, where you can immerse yourself in the teachings of luminaries such as Ravi Shankar, Robert Bly, and Gary Snyder. Engage in educational projects and exchanges between citizens, or simply unwind with a digital detox in the midst of nature. The Institute has been a beloved destination for over 52 years and has recently reopened, offering endless possibilities for exploration and growth.

Explore the rich history of the area, from the Agnews State Hospital to the American tribe that once inhabited the land. Take a guided tour of the iconic Ansel Adams Gallery, or set sail on a boating tour with expert guides like Brian Lyke and Andy Nusbaum. You can also learn about the edge of history at the Indiana University Press or marvel at the works of Arnold Toynbee and Glenn W. in the Salt Lake City archives.

Promote ecological sustainability by supporting local businesses and cultural institutions, such as the Gestalt Journal Press and the Esalen Leadership program. The region is also home to Silicon Valley, where David L. and other tech giants have revolutionized the world. Enjoy a hike on the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge or indulge in a food item from Carmel Valley’s food budget.

Whether you’re seeking a spiritual retreat, an adventure in nature, or simply a moment of relaxation, the Esalen Institute and its surrounding areas offer something for everyone. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to discover the beauty and tranquility of this Esalen-like coastline retreat. Join the American Exchange Program or take part in the educational projects and exchanges between citizens. You can also follow in the footsteps of John F. and John Lilly and discover the magic of this hidden gem in California.

Bottom Line

Easily accessible from the California State Highway, Slates Hot Springs is the perfect base for exploring all that the Big Sur region has to offer. With it’s stunning ocean views, comfortable accommodations, and top-notch health and wellness services, it’s the perfect spot for a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a solo retreat.

We editors at have nominated a list of the best hot springs in California. Our list has taken into account factors such as quality of the water, accessibility, and surrounding scenery. Each of these hot springs has something unique to offer and is sure to be an enjoyable experience that you won’t soon forget. From the mineral-rich waters of the therapeutic Borax Hot Spring in Death Valley to the stunning beauty of the Merced River at Yosemite Hot Springs, the choices are endless.

Whether you are looking for a relaxing soak or a scenic view, you can find it in one of the many hot springs in California. These hot springs offer a great escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and provide a chance to unwind and reconnect with nature. So, make sure to check out our list of the best hot springs in California and enjoy a rejuvenating soak in the warmth of the sun.

Weather forecast for next 5 days

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Local information

Address: 55000 CA-1, Big Sur, California 93920
GPS: 36.122829,-121.636389
Phone: 888-837-2536
Season: Year-round


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Anne loves to explore the world and share her experiences through her blog. She loves to travel to places that are off the beaten path and find unique experiences to share with her readers. She also loves to share tips on how to make the most of a trip, from budgeting to activities. She hopes that her blog will inspire others to explore the world and enjoy the beauty of nature.