Sound Bathing at La Copa in Careyes, Mexico

We had been bouncing along a dirt road for miles before finally emerging from the Mexican jungle and heading towards the Pacific Ocean. That’s when I saw La Copa (The Cup) for the first time, perched on a cliff near Careyes, roughly 100 miles south of Puerto Vallarata. From a distance, it reminded me of a giant radio telescope pointed into space.

But, La Copa doesn’t scan the sky for gamma-ray bursts, supernova remnants, or communications from other worlds. Instead, it’s a monument to a late night dream Careyes founder Gian Franco Brignone had of a man and woman “united by the cosmos while bathed in the light of the setting sun.”

Sound Bathing at La Copa in Careyes, Mexico

La Copa from a distance. Photo by Teresa Bitler

La Copa represents the woman; the Piramidion, a mini pyramid in a cave a mile away, is the man. The two are designed so that, on the equinoxes of March and September, they appear to unite through an opening in the cave as they did in Brignone’s dream. On most days, at the right angle, the sun appears to set into La Copa.

I was on my way to experience Sound Bathing at La Copa in Careyes, Mexico.

The Origins of La Copa

This was only my second day at Careyes, but already, I had learned plenty about Brignone, the Italian banker who flew over the area in 1968 in a Cessna. At the time, the area was nearly inaccessible. Recognizing its potential, he purchased 20,000 acres without ever having set foot on it. He built an ocean castle, Casa Mi Ojo, and invited his friends to purchase land from him for their own residences.

Sound Bathing at La Copa in Careyes, Mexico

Casa Mi Ojo, the home of founder Gian Franco Brignone, near La Copa in Careyes, Mexico. Photo by Teresa Bitler

Brignone’s exclusive community grew despite—or perhaps because of—his quirks. He introduced 27 conditions for owning a home in Careyes, including being a polyglot and having committed all seven of the deadly sins. And, he instituted both the annual Chinese New Year festivities and sun ceremony celebrated at Careyes. So, it didn’t come as much of a surprise when he gifted himself with La Copa for his 80th birthday.

What is Sound Bathing?

We parked a short distance from La Copa and walked the rest of the way, pausing to take photographs of the waves crashing on the rocks below and, again, to gape at the cement structure itself. La Copa rises 35 feet from its base and is 88 feet in diameter. A three-level wooden staircase leads to its rim.

Sound Bathing at La Copa in Careyes, Mexico

La Copa in Careyes, Mexico. Photo by Teresa Bitler

Luckily, it takes only a few steps to enter at base level from the other side. I followed the other writers to the yoga mats arranged near the center, found one to sit on and, as instructed, took off my shoes and socks. Although the concept of sound bathing has been around for more than 2,000 years, I had never heard of it before this trip, and I didn’t know what to expect.

Sound Bathing at La Copa in Careyes, Mexico

Walking to La Copa's entrance. Photo by Teresa Bitler

It’s not a bath. Sound bathing gets its name because participants often describe feeling like they’ve been immersed in the sound waves created by the Tibetan meditation bowls and other instruments used. Proponents believe it can reduce anxiety, alleviate stress, provide mental clarity, improve energy, and even minimize physical pain.

A Meditative Beginning

Standing, we all turned east and raised our hands above our heads. Our sound therapist acknowledged the sun and other natural elements before turning south, west and north. With every turn, he mentioned more elements—the ocean, the sky, the Earth—but I couldn’t keep track of it.

Next, we laid down, and after we relaxed, our sound therapist told us to imagine a circle at the base of the spine. “Imagine it is turning clockwise,” he said, and I did. Okay, I thought, I’m getting this.

Sound Bathing at La Copa in Careyes, Mexico

Yoga mats and Tibetan bowls used in the ceremony. Photo by Teresa Bitler

Then, we moved to our pelvis. We imagined another circle, imagined it spinning and imagined it connected to the first. This continued through all seven chakras to the top of our head. By the third, I felt overwhelmed trying to visualize all the spinning circles and just focused on my breathing instead.

Bathing in Sound Waves

At this point, our sound therapist began playing the six Tibetan meditation bowls he brought. Each made a pure, melodious sound when struck that he could elongate by running the mallet around the rim. I kept my eyes closed and tried to stay focused.

Sound Bathing at La Copa in Careyes, Mexico

Tibetan bowls and other instruments. Photo by Teresa Bitler

Eventually, he picked up a bowl and walked from person to person, playing a long, deep note over each of us. One of the other writers said she felt the sound waves moving through her and didn’t want it to end. I didn’t experience that.

However, I’ve since learned it helps to be fully hydrated because the sound waves can better move through you. I don’t know if that’s true, but I probably wasn’t properly hydrated. And, I have a hard time quieting my mind, which may have been a factor.

The ancient practice of sound bathing claims to alleviate stress, reduce anxiety, and minimize pain. Discover the experience at La Copa in Careyes, Mexico. #spa #wellness #Mexico #soundbathingThe session ended after he walked over us with an instrument that simulated the sound of rain, sang the Beatles’ “Blackbird,” and had us take a few deep breaths. Some people who have sound bathed claim it is a lifechanging experience for them. I’m not one of them, but I did feel relaxed.

Experiencing La Copa and Careyes

A growing number of spas and yoga studios now offer sound bathing in the United States, but none can replicate the setting of La Copa. To sound bathe in La Copa, you’ll have to book a room at El Careyes Club & Residences. Built in the 1970s, this hotel-like property rents one- to four-bedroom accommodations with full kitchens.

Sound Bathing at La Copa in Careyes, Mexico

El Careyes Club & Residences. Photo by Teresa Bitler

Shortly after booking, a wellness concierge from El Careyes will contact you, asking what activities you might like to enjoy during your stay. In addition to sound bathing at La Copa, you can request spa treatments, rent kayaks, release baby turtles, have a private yoga session, go horseback riding, and take a guided hike, to mention a few.

Rates start at $350 per night for a one-bedroom during the low season, May 1 through October 31. There are additional fees for wellness activities. For more information on wellness destinations see the articles by Wander writers.

The ancient practice of sound bathing claims to alleviate stress, reduce anxiety, and minimize pain. Discover the experience at La Copa in Careyes, Mexico. #spa #wellness #Mexico #soundbathing


As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accommodations, meals, and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.

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Written by Teresa Bitler

Teresa Bitler is an award-winning travel writer whose work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, American Way, Wine Enthusiast, and AAA publications. She’s also the author of two guidebooks (Great Escapes Arizona and Backroads and Byways of Indian Country) and a contributor to Fodors Arizona & The Grand Canyon. While Teresa would never miss a must-see attraction, such as the Statue of Liberty in New York City, her favorite travel experiences are the unexpected ones: KoolAid with a Hopi medicine man, lobster prepared by a local on a Belizean beach, or a ride in a World War II-era bomber. Teresa writes about her travels at www.teresatravelstheworld.com.

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1 Comment

  1. Linda Cateriano

    Loved this! My husband and I were enchanted by Careyes in a 1980 visit and after staying there for 2 weeks enjoying the creativity and energy of the Brioni family bought property there to build our dream villa. Pregnancy issues caused us to return to the US and we never returned eventually selling the land. I’ve often wondered what happened to Careyes – it was a magical, unique place and your article brought back fond memories. Thank you.

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