Insight Retreat Center


General Info
Waiting List
Retreat Practice
What to Bring
Airport & Shuttle Options
Green Policy
Espanol – Spanish FAQ

Location and Directions

Insight Retreat Center:  1906 Glen Canyon Rd., Santa Cruz, CA 95060   –  Google Map  –   E-Mail  –  831-430-9198

Note: If you are not scheduled for a retreat, please do NOT drop by IRC without prior arrangements.

General Retreat Information

  • What time do retreats begin and end? Typically, check-in is from 2 to 4 pm followed by a welcome and orientation at 4:30 pm.  The retreat usually ends by 1 pm on the last day. Times for your specific retreat are listed in your registration materials and on the IRC website.
  • What is a typical retreat day like?  The daily schedule varies from retreat to retreat. However, a typical day is as follows: All retreats are in silence unless specified otherwise.
    • Wake-up bell: 5:30 or 6 am
    • alternating 45-minute periods of sitting and walking meditation
    • meditation instruction and daily dharma talk
    • breakfast, lunch and a light supper are provided.
      • also available through the day are hard boiled eggs, bread, nut butters, fruit and cold cereal
    • A daily work meditation period, typically kitchen, housekeeping or grounds-keeping.
    • Periodic individual or group practice discussion with the teacher(s).
    • Sleep: 9:30 pm. The meditation hall is always open for those who wish to continue their practice.
  • What are the practice discussions with teachers? Sometimes called interviews, these are an opportunity to discuss your meditation practice and retreat experience with a teacher.  They may occur in small groups or one-on-one meeting with a teacher.
  • What is Work Meditation? A daily 40 minute period of work as meditation practice. Jobs include helping with meal preparation, kitchen cleanup, housekeeping and grounds-keeping. These are pre-assigned.  There is also a daily 15-20 minute simple work period that everyone does at the same time to help with taking care of the center, this is called “Sangha Service”.
  • Can I arrive early on the day my retreat begins? Plan to arrive during the check-in period unless special arrangements have been made.
  • What if I need to cancel? Notify the Registrar promptly.  See Cancellation Section for details.
  • Can I stay extra nights before or after a retreat?  On occasion this is possible.  Please check with the registrar.
  • Can I participate in less than the full retreat? You are required to attend the full retreat. Requests for late arrivals or early departures must be approved by the teacher(s) before the retreat.
  • Is there a number I can be reached at during the retreat in case of emergency? Though no one may pick up, the managers check for messages regularly:    831-430-9198
  • Can I practice yoga during the retreat? You can practice yoga but not in the meditation and walking meditation halls. There are a number of areas that can accommodate yoga, including many of the bedrooms. Keep mindful to avoid distracting fellow retreatants.
  • Can I have a package sent to me while I’m on retreat? To receive a package while on retreat, please inform the Retreat Manager. Send to: Insight Retreat Center – 1906 Glen Canyon Rd., Santa Cruz, CA 95060
  • Can I attend a retreat as a commuter? The teachers determine if they will accept commuters for each retreat. Please contact the  Registrar if you are requesting this.
  • Can I camp?  There is no camping available at this time.
  • How does the waiting list work? When a retreat fills, a waiting list is started. If a cancellation occurs, the next applicant on the waiting list is notified. To be taken off the waiting list, please contact the Registrar — their contact information is listed in your information page.
  • How do I get on a waiting list for a retreat that is full? Register online and make a deposit. The Registrar will add you to the waiting list and give you notification of your status.  Your deposit is refundable.
  • Is it okay to lie down during sittings in the hall? Yes, if there is a medical or physical condition that necessitates it. Please discuss this with the retreat teacher.
  • Can I use my CPAP machine? Is there a place to plug it in? Yes.
  • Can I do a self-retreat? IRC does not offer self-retreats.
  • What happens in case of Medical Emergency?  In the event of medical emergency the retreatant will be taken to a LOCAL hospital or Urgent care facility as applicable.  We are not able to accommodate requests to other facilities.
  • Can I bring my Service Animal?  Though we wish we could support those who rely on Service Animals, we are not able to accommodate them.


  • How do I register for a retreat? Register online on our Retreats page. If you are not able to register online, contact the registrar listed for the specific retreat.
  • Cost: Our retreats are offered freely at no cost to anyone who participates. Most of the financial support for IRC comes from donations participants offer at the end of retreats. Their generosity is what allows others to participate in future retreats. A refundable deposit is required to apply for a retreat.  The deposit is refunded when one arrives at the retreat or if one cancels three weeks before the start of the retreat.
    • At the end of the retreat, retreatants have the opportunity to offer a donation to the teachers and to the IRC Retreat Fund.  These generous donations (dana) are what enables IRC to continue to operate and offer retreats in this way.
      • The teachers serve without compensation from IRC.
      • The IRC Retreat Fund is used for IRC’s operating costs, including retreat food and supplies, as well as the general operation costs of running the center.
  • Lottery: All applications that come in during the first 3 weeks of registration are entered into a lottery.  There is no advantage to applying immediately when registration opens — all applications received within the first 3 weeks of registration opening are treated equally. Those not selected in the lottery, or that register after the lottery, are placed on the Waiting List. If an applicant is not selected in the lottery after applying for a retreat, the probability of getting accepted increases with each subsequent retreat they apply forMORE INFO.
  • How do I know if I’m accepted into the retreat? You will receive an email confirmation upon receipt of your registration form and deposit. We will inform you if you have been accepted to the retreat within two weeks after the lottery deadline. If the retreat is full and you registered after the lottery deadline, you will be placed on the waiting list. If you do not have email access, the Registrar will contact you by phone.
  • Can I re-register if I have already cancelled? Yes, if there is room. But, if the retreat is full, you will be placed on the waiting list.
  • Deposits:  A refundable deposit is required to reserve a space. The amount varies with the length of the retreat.
    • Deposits:  Your card will NOT be charged or your check will NOT be deposited, unless you are accepted to the retreat and 1) do not attend and 2) do not cancel before the cancellation date.*  We accept Visa, Mastercard & American Express.
      • *Cancellation date is the last day to cancel and not forfeit your deposit:
        • 3 weeks before a retreat that is less than 14 days.
        • 4 weeks before a retreat that is 14 days or longer.
    • Waiting List:  Your card will not be charged (nor check cashed) if you’re on the Waiting List, unless you accept an open spot but do not attend.
  • Donations:  Donations can be made by cash, check, or credit card. If you use a check, please write only one check with an indication in the”memo” space what portion is to be given to the Teacher(s) and to IRC.

Waiting List

What are my chances of getting into a retreat if I am on the waiting list?

  • It can vary with each retreat, but generally, the first 20 waitlist applicants have a good chance of getting into a retreat, especially if they can be flexible with time, and can accept a spot in the last 2 weeks before the retreat starts.   You have nothing to lose by staying on the waitlist.
  • The longer retreats, (over a week), tend to have a very small attrition rate; so for those, the first 10-12 people have a decent chance.

If I stay on the waiting list, will I be charged a deposit if…

  • I don’t cancel my registration? No
  • I don’t accept an open spot? No – your registration will be cancelled.
  • I accept an open spot, but do not attend.  Yes

How will I know if I’ve moved up on the waiting list? You will receive a waiting list status update 4 weeks prior to the start of a retreat.


  • What if I need to cancel? Notify the Registrar by email or phone as soon as you know that you are unable to attend.  The registrar’s info can be found on the Retreat Schedule page in the announcement/flier for the retreat or your confirmation email.
  • Do I lose my deposit if I have to cancel? If you cancel before the refund date stated in your registration materials, 3 weeks before the start date of a retreat that is less than 14 days, and 4 weeks before 14-day or longer retreats, your deposit is fully refundable.  If you cancel after this stated date, your deposit will be donated to the IRC Retreat Fund.
  • Can I transfer my deposit to another retreat? No.
  • Can I transfer my deposit to my partner or another person? No.

Retreat Practice

  • Phones and Internet:  In registering for a retreat, retreatants agree that during the retreat they will not make phone calls, check email or go on the internet. In case of emergency the retreat manager may be contacted.  They pick up messages   twice a day.
    • If you’d like, your phone can be kept under lock and key for the duration of the retreat.
  • Meditation Hall Etiquette:  We ask that retreatants be on time, and not to leave until the end of a sitting.
    • No electronics in the meditation hall.  If you choose to take notes during a talk or instruction period, please bring paper and pen.
  • Other Activities:  Retreat practice is a valuable time to keep the attention inward.  To take advantage of this special time, we encourage participants not to bring reading material or pursue other activities such as creative writing or photography during the retreat.


  • Rooms: All rooms are private rooms with either communal or shared bathrooms.  Half the rooms are carpeted.
  • Wheelchair Accessible: IRC is wheelchair accessible and is equipped with an elevator.  More information can be found HERE, there is a copy of this document in the drawer next to the bed.
  • Sheets & Towels:  Bring your own clean sheets, pillowcase, and towels. Blankets and pillows are provided. We have some sheets & towels to lend out to those who are not able to bring their own.
  • Smoking:  There is no smoking anywhere in the facility or grounds of IRC. This includes electronic cigarettes.
  • Hair Dryers:  If you feel you have to bring a hair dryer, it should only be used at times it won’t disturb others, typically right after meals for about 45 minutes.


  • What are meals like? Simple nutritious, balanced vegetarian meals primarily using organic ingredients. When dairy, egg, nut, and wheat or gluten products are served, alternatives are provided. Since we cannot accommodate all food preferences, please plan to eat the meals that are offered. Simple standard foods (salad bar, eggs, beans, cheese, peanut butter, fruit, etc.) are always available for those who cannot eat our standard meals. If you need to supplement the food offered, you may bring a small amount of your own food. You will have use of a microwave and limited refrigerator & cupboard space. No food permitted in bedrooms. Click for more info on DIETARY RESTRICTIONS or for typical 7-Day Meal Plan.
  • Tea and hot water are available throughout the day.
  • Coffee is available at breakfast. Single cup filters and ground coffee are available for other times. If you bring your own coffee, bring it pre-ground.
  • I must eat meat for my health. What should I do?  You can bring pre-cooked canned meat or fish or deli style meats. There are cupboards and a refrigerator in the dining room with limited storage.  Cooking of meat/fish is not permitted. If possible, please eat at the outdoor tables so the smell of the meat/fish doesn’t linger in the building.

What to Bring

  • Water bottle:  IRC is on a shared well system and needs to conserve water.  Bring your own water bottle to help prevent having to wash glasses.
  • No Scented Products:  Being mindful of some people’s allergies or sensitivities, please do not bring or wear scented cosmetics, soaps, or other products, including “natural” scents. Do not use fabric softeners or scented detergent in clothing worn on retreats.
  • Clothing for all weather:  Indoor temperature is controlled by heating and cooling.  There can be large temperature swings between day and night so bring appropriate layers.
  • Bring an umbrella and rain gear in the fall and winter months
  • Footwear: Bring shoes that are easy to slip on and off. Many areas are shoes off. Ideally closed-toe shoes in case your work meditation is in the kitchen. For some, it can be helpful to bring indoor shoes or slippers.
  • Poison oak:  Poison oak is common in the area though mostly controlled within the retreat center property.  Long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and Technu Soap can help protect you if you are allergic or sensitive.
  • Ticks: There are ticks in the area.  Please see this page for information on prevention and what to do if you get one.
  • Self-reliance: Bring whatever you need.  We are not able to shop for items you may have forgotten. Please bring:
    • Unscented toiletries: toothbrush/paste, shaving items, sunscreen, etc… (note: Shampoo, conditioner & soap are provided.)
    • Bedding:  twin sheets and pillow case
    • Towels: Bath and hand towels and washcloth
    • Medical and personal supplies:  Tylenol/aspirin, cough drops, eye drops and lip balm…
    • Sunglasses and sunhat for walking outdoors.
    • Shawl or wrap for the mediation hall
    • Indoor “slipper” shoes or extra warm socks. (No shoes in meditation hall.)
    • Flip flops for shower room
    • Flashlight or headlamp (and batteries)
    • Water bottle
  • Meditation Cushions and Mats (Zafus & Zabutons):  Zabutons (mats) and round cushions are provided in the meditation hall. Cushioned chairs are available. The meditation hall floor is uncarpeted.  Bring your own bench or special cushion.
  • Will I be able to do laundry? The center’s laundry facilities are not available to retreatants. To help conserve water, bring enough clothes to not have to do hand laundry if possible.

Location and Directions

LOCATION: Insight Retreat Center:  1906 Glen Canyon Rd., Santa Cruz, CA 95060   831/430-9198

  • Entrance is on Sunny Acres
  • Carpooling is strongly encouraged to conserve both precious resources and limited parking space.  About three weeks before your retreat, you will receive a reminder from the Registrar with instructions, or go to the Carpooling link on our website. Registration is required to use the carpool board.

DRIVING DIRECTIONS  Note: Travel time from Redwood City is one hour, but cannot account for heavy commute periods. From North Bay & Peninsula: Two Options:   MAP: from IMC (Redwood City) 

From San Jose & East Bay:  take 880 South which turns into 17 South.  See From 17 South below. From 17 South

  • Exit on Mt. Hermon Rd in Scotts Valley. Turn RT onto Mt. Hermon Rd. .3 mi
  • Turn Rt at stop light onto Glen Canyon Rd. .5 mile; turn RT to STAY on Glen Canyon Rd. 1.2 mi.
  • Turn RT onto SUNNY ACRES DR. and immediately turn into first driveway on Right.  Go through the black iron gate.

From Santa Cruz:  Map: from Insight Santa Cruz   2 options:

  1. Highway:  Take 17 North, Exit on Mt. Hermon Rd.
    • Turn Rt at stop light onto Glen Canyon Rd. .5 mile; turn RT to STAY on Glen Canyon Rd. 1.2 mi.
    • Turn RT onto Sunny Acres Dr. and immediately turn into first driveway on Right.  Go through the black iron gate.
  2. Streets:  From Ocean St. in downtown Santa Cruz, head East on Water Street; turn left onto Market Street. Drive 0.8 miles to the 4-way stop sign where Market Street turns into Branciforte Drive.
    • Continue on Branciforte for 0.6 miles
    • Turn left onto Glen Canyon Road.  1.8 miles
    • Turn left onto Sunny Acres Drive. Immediately turn into  first driveway on  right.  Go through the black iron gate.

Airport Information & Shuttle Options

Retreatants are encouraged to fly into San Jose International Airport (SJC).
  • San Jose Airport (SJC):  It may be possible to join a carpool for a ride from San Jose by making arrangements with fellow retreatants in advance, or by sharing an airport shuttle service.  Try the Carpool Board.
    • Shuttles:  Contact the individual shuttle service for current pricing and time schedules. Travel time from SJC  is about 45 minutes. Quoted costs are for one-way travel fares. Reservations required.
  • San Francisco Airport (SFO): It’s more costly to get to IRC from San Francisco (SFO).  You can try the Carpool Board or use either the Santa Cruz Airport Shuttle or Santa Cruz Experience below.
  • Metro BUS option
Santa Cruz Airport Shuttles Email: Phone: 831-421-9883 Cost from San Jose Airport: from 7am-11pm: $50/passenger; $10 for additional passenger From San Francisco: $80 Santa Cruz Airport Flyer Website: Email: Phone: 831-423-5937 Cost: $40/passenger
The Santa Cruz Experience Website: Email: Phone:  831-421-9883 Cost: from San Jose:$50;$10 for ea. added passenger From San Francisco: $80 Note: will drop off at IRC on request Early Bird Airport Shuttle Website: Email: Phone: 831-462-3933 Cost: $75/1-3 passengers