On my trip to Santa Barbara, I discovered a little-known gem in the heart of the city’s downtown. Salt Cave Santa Barbara is a day spa on State Street that even few locals are aware of. Billed as one of the largest Himalayan salt caves in North America, it comprises two caves made with 60 tons of 200 million-year-old stacked pink Himalayan salt blocks; crushed pink salt crystals cover the floor.
Having found the discreet entrance, I descended a staircase to a small store stocked with all things salt, including candleholders, linen sprays, lotions, soap bars and balms. Though most visitors opt solely for the yoga and sound-healing classes, I had booked one of the unique therapeutic massage treatments. I was taken to a lounge where I removed my shoes. My bare feet sunk into soft salt particles. Sipping hot lavender tea, I snuggled into a thick, fluffy robe and wiggled my toes. After a short while, a masseuse led me back for a treatment with long gliding strokes, using heated salt stones, scented oils and salt scrubs. It was one of the best massages I have ever enjoyed.
Each treatment comes with a meditation session in the main cave. This began with an explanation of the elements that salt contains, including magnesium, calcium, sodium and potassium. The emphasis at Salt is on the benefits of halotherapy, which involves the controlled breathing in and out of salty air. It is believed that this can help improve respiratory health, cleanse lymphatic systems and reduce stress and headaches. I settled into my zero-gravity recliner, took deep breaths and listened to the soothing music. Forty-five minutes later, I left feeling thoroughly rejuvenated. Thanks to a combination of the spa treatment and the meditation session, the nagging tension that had accumulated in my neck and upper back over the past few months seemed to have vanished.