Mud Baths: Nine Things to Know & Five Places to Go

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jordan, dead sea, mud baths
Photo: Dead Sea, Jordan, courtesy of www.JuliaDimon.com

by Lisa Truesdale

Just as they were in the days of Cleopatra, therapeutic Mud Baths are still heralded today for their ability to detoxify and draw out impurities, soften skin, improve circulation, and ease aches and pains.

Here are nine things to know before your first mud bath treatment, and keep reading for a list of some of our fave mud bath experiences around the world:

  • Mud baths are heated to 100-102 degrees F, which helps to invigorate circulation. Most mud baths contain a mixture of hot spring water and volcanic ash.
  • Most people choose enter a mud bath completely naked. If you’re feeling modest and want to cover up a few parts, wear an old bathing suit, underwear, or ratty T-shirt and shorts, as everything will likely be permanently mud-stained afterwards.
  • You won’t sink into the mud. Your body will be completely suspended in the mixture, and you’ll almost feel as though you’re floating. This sensation adds to the relaxation effect.
  • Because you’ll be almost completely covered in mud, you might want to pass on a mud bath if you’re claustrophobic.
  • You’ll probably sweat profusely—but that’s a good thing, since the sweating is what helps cleanse your pores.
  • The mud might be a little smelly, since essential minerals often have a high sulphur content (you know, like rotten eggs).
  • Mud baths loosen up the muscles, so if you’re having multiple treatments at a spa, you’ll want to do the mud bath before the massage.
  • Mud baths are not for everyone. They’re NOT recommended for pregnant women or for anyone with high or low blood pressure, a heart condition, an open wound or rash, or heat sensitivity. Ask your doctor if you have any concerns at all.
  • Mud baths feel great—but the effects don’t last as long as other spa treatments, because the minerals in the mud can’t make it past the first layer of skin. You won’t mind, though, since that gives you a good excuse to return!

Here are five of our favorite mud baths around the world:

Calistoga, California, deep in the heart of Napa Valley, is renowned for its healing geothermal waters and invigorating mud baths. The town boasts too many unique mud baths to mention here, but Visit Calistoga maintains a handy directory of all the mud baths and hot springs in the area.

Sulphur Springs, in the historic town of Soufriere on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, is a drive-in volcanic site (as seen on TV’s The Bachelor) with public mud baths and a fresh waterfall for rinsing off afterwards. (Don’t worry, the dormant volcano, which last erupted over 200 years ago, is carefully monitored for volcanic activity.)

Mud bath fans travel from all over the globe to experience Rotorua, New Zealand, home of Hells Gate Geothermal Park and Mud Bath Spa. It features large public baths, a family-size private bath, 3-person private baths, and a “Twilight Spa” for evening mud-bathing under the stars. There’s also a spring-fed waterfall for rinsing (and cooling) off.

Sakura Sakura Hot Springs in Kirishima, Japan, offers multiple options, including indoor or outdoor mud baths: private, group, or family baths, and all-male or all-female baths. Most baths are reserved for overnight guests, but they stay open 24 hours and you can come and go as you please throughout your stay. Accommodation types on the property include quaint cottages for 2-8 guests and log homes for groups of up to 20, each with its own private mud bath.

The thermal pools, sweating caves, and mud baths in mountainous Bormio, Italy, were first discovered more than 2,000 years ago by ancient Romans who lauded the curative powers of the waters. The waters flow from the springs year-round at a comfortable 97-105 degrees F, making them popular with skiers wanting to relax after a day on the slopes.

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Lisa Truesdale is a Colorado-based freelance writer and a new contributor to Travel to Wellness

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