It’s 30 degrees and dreary — not exactly the most ideal time to book an outdoor, in-water massage — unless you’re in Grindavik, Iceland, at the Blue Lagoon. This man-made body of seawater and fresh water sourced from 6,500 feet below is said to be the ultimate stress reliever, attracting people the world over for its healing effects. It also has its own line of skin-care products, and the water’s mineral content is used to treat the skin of psoriasis patients.
Driven by freezing wind, the rain pelts my face, but I’m completely content, my body cloaked in a cozy blue blanket of 100-degree water. My toes sink into the smooth white silica mud as I wade over to a rock ledge and stare across miles of lava fields — a fascinating juxtaposition in the land of ice — surrounding me as I anticipate my massage.
My therapist, a strong and silent Icelandic man named Oskar, greets me for my long-awaited Silica Salt Glow & Massage, an 80-minute session that begins with a scrub of salt and silica mud. Oskar scrubs vigorously as I lie on a partially submerged metal platform, periodically splashing me with lagoon water so I won’t start to shiver. After the scrubbing, I’m submerged even deeper in the warm water on a thin raft that keeps me afloat during my massage.
For an hour I lie there listening to the whistling wind, fluttering my eyes open every few minutes or so to witness the sky gradually shifting from gray to black. Sadly, my time here is drawing to a close. I’m left to bob silently by myself, and in those few moments, I’m convinced that true paradise is gray skies, freezing wind and a blue lagoon.
After body-surfing on Upolu in Samoa, I needed to relax. The resort arranged a massage. An hour later a 300-pound Samoan woman knocked on my bure. No therapy table. No towels. Just a jam jar filled with raw coconut oil. She sat down, spread her large legs and told me to sit between them. So I did. I’m bony, and this gal had at least 170 pounds on me. She pummeled, hammered, dug and slapped. For days, every bone felt out of place, every inch of my skin like I’d been in a fight. I had. — Amanda Jones