Depending on your age, you probably first heard about this subject via Sting, or Finch from American Pie 2 — and due to these somewhat questionable sources, are none the wiser as to what tantric sex actually is. Are we talking spiritual? Sexual? Will you have a 14-hour orgasm just by looking at someone? Allow us to explain and, perhaps, introduce you to a tantric retreat.

The word “tantra” refers to a type of instructional text that is usually written as a conversation between a god and a goddess. Many of these texts, which were written around 1,500 years ago, included socially transgressive rituals that promoted engagement with the taboo, including sex rites, destruction, intoxicating substances, and…human remains. The goal? Shift people’s thoughts from pure/impure to everything is sacred and intertwined.

Today, when we talk about tantra in the West, we’re usually talking about neo-tantra, which often uses sexuality as a route to self-exploration. Followers talk of a greater connection with their partner, emotional healing, longer-lasting orgasms, and relaxation. It’s based on more modern philosophical practices rather than the traditional tantric scriptures (the human remains bit didn’t make the cut, soz), and sexuality features more prominently.

To help you navigate these complex waters, we’ve rounded up nine of the best tantric retreats in North America. Sadly none of these are Sting-endorsed (we did look), but who wants to pay megabucks for some celebrity-backed getaway anyway. These nine are the real deal and run by highly rated experts. Some are sex retreats, some are not.

Tantra classes at the Esalen Institute, California

Set high above the crashing waves of Big Sur, the Esalen Institute makes a seriously scenic spot to get in touch with your spiritual side. This favorite of the yogic crowd has been the go-to for new-age healing in California for over 60 years — so rest assured they know their stuff. As well as a full program of yoga, meditation, and tantric classes on offer, there’s also dance, lectures, and massage — plus the opportunity to grow your own organic food (and tuck into said homegrown goodies in-between classes).

Education underpins everything this organization does: from one-off lessons to scholarships and MBAs — there’s something on offer for all levels of commitments. The institute currently runs a tantric retreat (which they stress do not cover tantric sex), as well as a range of other courses and workshops. Check their calander for details.

Intimacy Retreats, various locations, US and worldwide

Certified sex and intimacy pros Richard and Diana Daffner are on-hand to guide you through tantra tai chi — a practice pioneered by the couple and taught at all their retreats, both in-person and online. Spirituality plays a core focus here, with students being taught to connect the body with the mind to better live in the moment. Once you’re in this space, they’ll show you how to channel this energy into forging a deeper connection with your partner. There’s no nudity in the classes (or any of these on the list for that matter), but you’ll work on tightening the sexual muscles (called pubococcygeal, or PC) to focus your attention on this core part of your body.

You’ll need to source your own accommodation and food if you head off their in-person tantric retreat — but the good news is that keeps the cost down. For ultra-low-budget mode, sign up for one of their video programs and save on travel.

Laura Carrotti’s six-day tantra retreat, New York

Laura’s courses merge tantra with traditional yoga and breathwork to help guests get back in touch with their sexual selves. She believes sexual energy is the core of our being — and when it’s blocked, we’re not reaching our full potential.

The accommodation itself is hidden away in a leafy forest (which will look dreamy in fall colors come October) and comes equipped with soft bamboo floors for yoga (and sleeping), plus the option to choose from futons in shared spaces to super-luxurious double beds in private rooms. All meals are included, and are homecooked and sattvic (that’s made using seasonal ingredients). Laura’s retreats come highly rated — five-star across the board, so book fast to secure a spot.

Jacqueline Hellyer, worldwide and online

As one of the world’s leading sexperts with thousands of hours teaching, training and talking about intimacy to her name, Jacqueline Hellyer is a safe pair of hands. She runs various courses around the world, but being Australia-based, most happen there and in Bali. That doesn’t mean Americans need to miss out, though — her Men’s Sexual Mastery and Women’s Sexual Empowerment courses are all available online.

Combining tantric and taoist wisdom with a dash of science, her online sex courses are designed to push attendees up and away from society’s limited societal understanding of what sex is and should be.

Five-day sacred tantra retreat in Sedona, Arizona

Sedona National Park valley and the mountains at a sunset a perfect spot for a tantric retreat

Photo: LeStudio/Shutterstock

Join tantra teachers Andrea and Jose, plus nine other students in the heart of the Sedona National Park desert. On this retreat, you’ll learn how to become a reiki healer, participate in ancient rituals, and dive into an array of workshops focused on breathwork, conscious touch, and tantric philosophy. You’ll also participate in a cacao ceremony (that’s drinking a brew made of native cacao with the rest of the group) followed by an ecstatic dance session to help you relax and connect with your fellow students. Thanks to its location right in the heart of Sedona, you’ll have ample opportunity to hike and connect with nature in-between classes.

Tantra Festival Mexico, Tulum, and worldwide

Delivered in both Spanish and English, Tantra Festival Mexico (TFM) offers a full program of workshops, meditation, dance, and rituals to feed your soul and speed you towards deeper self-love. Held in Tulum, Morelos, this five-day four-night event includes a packed schedule of guided Tantric workshops (with different levels of intimacy to choose from), sensory rituals, and tribal gatherings — plus three delicious homecooked Mexican meals a day. Prices for the shared double room start from $884 and for that, you get an ensuite bathroom and direct access to a white sandy beach lapped by Caribbean waters.

Seven-day Bliss in Relationship Tantra Couples Retreat, California

Ideal for beginners and intermediate-level yoga folk, this retreat combines a blend of disciplines (including tantra) to help couples reconnect, recharge, and take their sexual pleasure to the next level. Under the expert guidance of course leader Nayano, a senior teacher of ipsalu tantra, guests will learn how to use cobra breath, unlock their sexual energy, heal stored emotions, and more.

The tantric retreat itself takes place in an eco-village nestled slap bang in the heart of Sequoia National Forest, a mile away from the California Hot Springs, and 18 miles away from the Trail of 100 Giants. So if you fancy unwinding among some of America’s premier natural sights, you’re in the right place. Offering excellent back for your buck, all study materials, accommodation, classes, and meals are included in the price — plus cooking classes, guide-led nature hikes, and pre-and post-retreat support. Another five-star-rated retreat, book soon to secure your spot.

Ashley Encantada Tantra Couples Retreat, California, Mexico, and worldwide

Certified tantra and hatha yoga instruction, relationship coach, EFT practitioner, and more — Ashley Encantada can walk the walk. With a focus on emotional, psychological, and spiritual teachings, she’ll guide you through past trauma, pain, and fear toward the fulfilling sex life you’ve always wanted.

She runs various workshops around the US and Americas, plus online classes — so your options are flexible. This year’s tantra retreat is taking place in a secluded villa in San Miguel de Allende. All meals are covered, including a veggie brunch and homecooked dinner. Guests are also treated to horseback riding in a vineyard, salsa classes — and of course, plenty of tantra-led yoga and intimacy exercises to rekindle the romance. Guests get pre-and post- calls with Ashley, but for a little extra expert guidance, add one-on-one lessons onto your package.

The Fire That Pierces The Heart Love and Intimacy Couples Retreat, California

One for all levels of experience, this tantric retreat is aimed at couples who want to deepen their connection. What does that mean, you ask? Well allow Dawn Cartwright to guide you: on this four-day retreat, you’ll learn to harness ecstatic energy, heighten your sensitivity, and nurture greater intimacy with your partner via neo-tantra methods. Dawn also has a degree in psychology (so relax if your woo-woo sensors are on high alert) and has been featured in the likes of Cosmo, Marie Claire, and GQ.

Accommodation-wise, you’ll be staying in the Vedanta Spiritual and Holistic Retreat, an Eco Village and International Center for Holistic Learning right in the heart of Sequoia National Forest — putting great hikes, California Hot Springs, and the Trail of 100 Giants within reach. The retreat is all-inclusive for the price, too — that’s rooms, all lessons, and three square organic vegan meals prepared freshly each day.