I have said it for many years, Lake Tahoe is heaven on earth. So when I refer to Big Sur, California I have to come up with something that surpasses this sentiment because Big Sur is even more majestic and breathtaking. Where the mountains crumble to the sea, Big Sur, California is… yeah, I just can’t even put it into words.
14 years ago I traveled from Los Angeles to San Francisco with a few girlfriends from college. To break up the route 1 coastal drive, we stayed overnight in Big Sur in a little cabin I found online. On our way up from LA, every twist and fenceless curve was a heart-stopping adventure. Once we arrived, we all knew we were someplace special.
Some of our most well known American literary contributions were written in or about this hidden sacred space. Henry Miller wrote, “Big Sur is the California that men dreamed of years ago, this is the Pacific that Balboa looked at from the Peak of Darien, this is the face of the earth as the Creator intended it to look.” It is only until you walk amongst the redwoods and stare over the cliffs into the Pacific that you can comprehend the omnipotence of Big Sur.
It wasn’t until 7 years later that I made it back to Big Sur, to one of the countries most renowned retreat centers, Esalen. Esalen offers continuing education programs, farming and gardening apprenticeships, ongoing residency programs, weekend workshops, personal retreats and so much more. The clothing optional hot springs are built into the side of the mountains, the fresh organic meals are prepared with fruits and vegetables grown on their grounds and you are able to get, what I will go on record as saying, the most amazing massage you will ever get in your entire life.
Not only does Esalen have their own style of massage, the experience itself is truly memorable. Your massage is conducted on the same cliff as the hot springs so you are literally hanging over the Pacific Ocean. My first time at Esalen my masseuse was the angelic Sabrina. Intuitive and nurturing, she lulled me into bliss along with the waves crashing below. My most recent trip, which was in December 2011, I had another spiritual experience with Silvia. In both cases, my visit to Esalen was a personal retreat, so I can’t speak much to the workshops. I can however, point out that some of the accommodations are very rustic – to the point where I only wanted to shower at the newly renovated bathhouse down at the hot spring tubs. The hot springs are open to the public from 2 am – 6 am, and I hear using the bathhouse and tubs during those hours is nutty (think mobs of modern day young hippies). But the didgeridoo meditation and evening music program I attended are enough for me to vouch for the authentic and enriching programs they have available.
You can go to www.esalen.org to read more about the other talented body workers and all the magic that awaits at Esalen.