In Baños de Cuenca, Ecuador, Piedra de Agua Hot Springs and Spa takes advantage of its natural hot spring and volcanic rocks with views of the green mountains and valleys. The thermal volcanic services offered by the facility reflect the holistic principles and healing traditions of the Ecuadorian Andes people.
For $30, the package includes a steam bath with aromatic leaves, volcanic red mud pool, volcanic blue mud pool, underground thermal pool, cold water pool next to the thermal pool, steam box bath and the use of two thermal outdoor pools.
Piedra de Agua runs weekly specials of Buy one Get One Free offers all day Mondays and before 8 a.m. on Tuesdays.
To start off, first we were given our robes at the reception after payment. We changed into our swimsuits at the unisex locker room. The attendant instructed us to take a hot shower before entering the steam room. If you are not used to these high temperature steam room, you might feel a little dizzy. The maximum time to stay in this room is 15 minutes.
The next treatment is the red mud pool. Here we used red mud and rubbed it all over our bodies including our face and sat in the red pool for about 15 minutes. Then we scrubbed off all the mud from our body and rinsed our faces in one of the outdoor volcanic shower stalls.
Our next treatment was the blue volcanic mud pool where we did the same thing like the red volcanic mud. Attendants are always visible and are willing to give a helping hand if help is needed.
We were taken to the next location in a cave to an underground thermal pool. The area was dimly lit and quiet. Soft music was playing in the background while we sat silently in the candle-lit cave. The instruction was to sit there for 15 minutes and we were to dip our whole body into the cold water pool next to the thermal pool for one to two minutes. Then back to the thermal pool again for another 10 to 15 minutes and back to the cold water pool for one to two minutes.
Truthfully I couldn’t survive the cold water pool for more than 15 seconds. But I felt so good dipping into the thermal pool after the extreme coldness. This was my favorite area of the whole circuit.
If you are claustrophobic, the next step may not be for you. Each of us sat in an individual steam boxes with our heads sticking out. There was a control knob for us to turn the steam higher or lower. After about 12 minutes we were to rinse ourselves at the shower located in the steam room.
The last place to visit was the Japanese hot pool. The Japanese hot pool is a shallow outdoor pool surrounded by beautiful volcanic rock decorations, bamboos and shrubs with lounge chairs and sitting areas. Most visitors purchase drinks and sit there for hours chatting and sunbathing with friends and family.
We were given the option to repeat the whole circuit if we wanted to. Visitors who purchased the $30 package were allowed to stay all day at the property. Or add more money and get a full massage in the massage cave.
Piedra de Agua has three outdoor pools including the Japanese pool, set in a beautifully landscaped area with a fountain and greeneries of all sizes and shapes. Once in a while dragonflies are seen flying near the plants. The Liberlula Restaurant serves snacks, coffee, tea, juice, salads, sandwiches, soup, dessert or more elaborate meals with fish, meat, pasta and more. You can view the menu on their website.
My skin felt smoother after going through the whole treatment. Piedra de Agua is not a high-end spa resort. It has no hotel attached to the site and may not be suitable on extremely cold days or rainy days.
If you are visiting from Cuenca you can take bus number 11 or 12 to Baños de Cuenca. Your ride may exceed 30 minutes depending on traffic. The good thing is bus fare in Cuenca is only 25 cents. If you like, you can take the cab and fees varies from $4 to $5.
Tips to make your trip more comfortable:
1. Bring a lock for the locker room.
2. The red volcanic mud bath may stain your swimsuit. Wear something that won’t stain.
3. For the most part you will be staying in the outdoor areas, if it is too cold or raining, you may not enjoy the place that much.
4. Check out for special deals of the week if you like to save money.
5. There are two entrances to Piedra de Agua. The shorter way would be the entrance close to the taxi stop on Calle de Tierra after the restaurants using the back entrance.
We had a great time at Piedra de Aguas and I know we would never be able to visit a hot spring and spa place for $15 per person anywhere else.