Big Sur has two hot springs which are open to the public; Sykes Hot Springs and the hot springs located at the Esalen Institute. A third hot springs is located at the Tassajara Zen Center which is accessible by way of Big Sur and an 18 mile hike over the rugged Ventana Wilderness. You can reach Tassajara by automobile through Carmel Valley.
Sykes Hot Springs (right) is a popular hiking destination in the Ventana Wilderness. The springs are farther down the creek than one is led to believe in a few of the guidebooks. Sykes Hot Springs has a stone lined natural tub that sometimes gets washed out in winter storms. Its about 8 feet across and knee deep. It averages about 102 degrees Faihrenheit and can hold about four adults.
Ventana and Silver Peak
wilderness maps can be found at http://bigsurtrailmap.net/ with very useful illustrations of camps, water sources and points of interest.
Ventana Wilderness Alliance maintains an online trail guide offering current trail conditions to Sykes Hot Springs as well as many other trails in the Ventana Wilderness, Silver Peak Wilderness, and Los Padres National Forest. It is a very valuable asset in educating yourself about the Big Sur backcountry.
Before hiking into the Ventana Wilderness area you'll need to pick up a free campfire permit or you can get it online, fill it out and keep it with you. Wilderness permits are not needed. You can park your car at the Big Sur Station for $5.00/night, self pay/registration.