During the dark days of this winter, as we were coming down off the highs of the The Standard, Miami Beach’s 10-year anniversary, we went searching for cures. We learned about the wonders of Reiki; we practiced the meditative ritual of slurping soba noodles; we explored some of the stranger corners of wellness culture in Los Angeles and New York. As lovers of global bathing cultures, we wondered what other curative bathing experiences were out there, and our buddies at Bunkhouse, the brilliant Texas hotels, were kind enough to provide this primer on the rejuvenating joys of getting wet, Texas-style.
In Texas, getting wet is a ritual. It’s also a practical necessity. In a place this hot, seasonal affect disorder is a summertime phenomenon, and life gathers around the areas where fresh water bubbles to the surface. The Lone Star state has close to 3,000 natural springs—the result of hundreds of miles of ancient underground aquifers that reveal themselves in a wild variety of oasis-like scenarios. These are sources of vital drinking water, but they also offer the simple gift of reprieve from the unrelenting heat.
In some secular way, the swimming hole is our church. These waters have restorative powers, but explanations are elusive. Some say it’s the negative ions discharged by the water that trigger the body to produce more serotonin. Believers in the metaphysical power of rocks say it’s the limestone, which is thought to have the ability to heal, restore innocence, and entice the power of positive thinking. It’s hard to say what specific alchemy is at play, but the answer may lie more in the human connections that have taken place on these sites over the centuries than in the places themselves. People have been converging at these epicenters to live, practice sacred and social rituals, and relax for thousands of years.
We’ve selected three such exquisite spots—swimming holes where you can cool off and immerse yourself in the ritual that is Texas bathing. Bring your swimsuit.