The Go List

The World’s Best Outdoor Massages

Even if you’re more likely to scoff at a spa than be found in one, you’ll still be in awe of these relaxing retreats.

The World’s Best Outdoor Massages

At One & Only Hayman Island in Australia, you can get a massage on a treatment bed floating atop the Pacific Ocean. Photo: One & Only Hayman Island

It’s a vexing vacation issue. You’re in the middle of paradise—the mountains, the beach, the jungle—but when it comes time for your spa treatment, you’re led into a windowless chamber piped full of recorded crickets. What sense does it make to head inside when you're already in nature's most tranquil environment?

Fortunately, many destination spas are catching on, developing specialized treatment areas that make use of their stunning natural surroundings. At these adventure lodges, ranches, and resorts, you can get a massage in a river, in the ocean, or over a river, just to name a few fun, beautiful places.

That Waterfall You Hear Is Not Recorded

  Photo: Chris McLennan

Rainforest Spa at Koro Sun Resort, Fiji
Check out the snorkeling, rainforest trekking, and kayaking at this 160-acre nature sanctuary surrounded by a private lagoon located on the north of Fiji’s second largest island, Vanua Levu. Then down some kava (Fiji’s national drink, known to induce a relaxed state) at this restorative retreat, where you can get a massage next to a waterfall. And if that’s not enough water to tranquilize you, ask them to move your treatment table directly into the streambed for a more, er, immersive experience.

Let the Ocean Breeze Take You Away

  Photo: Barbara Kraft/One & Only

One & Only Spa at One & Only Hayman Island, Hayman Island, Australia
You already know that diving or snorkeling along the Great Barrier Reef is a once in a lifetime event. But when you surface and head back to this private island resort, another bucket list activity is waiting to be checked off: a massage on a treatment bed set directly in the Pacific. Called the Ocean Dreaming massage and scheduled according to tides, it’s all about the sound of the ocean and feel of the calming breeze.

A Jungle of Joy

  Photo: Courtesy of Anara Spa

Anara Spa at Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa, Koloa, Hawaii
From the Na Pali Costal Hike to Waimea Canyon, Kauai is full of ways to challenge your body. The best way to shake off the pain afterwards? At this healing Hawaiian hideaway, known for its Lokāhi Garden spa, which features five open-air bungalow treatment rooms, each with a private lava rock shower. The rest of the spa, also outdoors, is equally spectacular with its flourishing foliage and cascading waterfalls. Kauai is called the garden island after all.

A Massage Among the Mountains

  Photo: Spring Creek Ranch

The Wilderness Adventure Spa at Spring Creek Ranch, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
From rafting to climbing and fishing to hiking, there’s no shortage of ways to tire your muscles here. But there’s only one way you’ll want to revive them: the relaxing Sacred Space Massage, which takes place in a teepee opened to the surrounding Grand Tetons.

A Soothing Sanctuary

CSE Treatment Pavillion massage
  Photo: Courtesy of COMO Hotels

Como Shambhala Estate, Bali, Indonesia
Although you can get your adrenaline flowing with white-water rafting, mountain biking, and more at this holistic retreat, you’ll eventually want to unwind at the spa, which takes advantage of the island’s lush setting. Kick back in one of the many outdoor relaxation and reflection areas, cool off under an al fresco shower or waterfall, or soak in the outdoor vitality pool, which is fed by The Source, a sacred spring revered by locals for its healing properties.

Backcountry Bliss

  Photo: Chad Chomlack

Scandinave Spa, Whistler, Canada
Overlooking mountain vistas, this eco-spa with its healing hydrotherapy baths provides the perfect excuse to call it a day on the slopes. Just minutes from Whistler Village, it features thermal and iced waterfalls, hot and cold pools, a refreshing cold shower, the relaxing Hammock Haven (like a forest of hammocks), a variety of terraces, and two fireplaces—all in the great outdoors. The cedar and spruce forest that surrounds the enticing baths provides aromatherapy at this backcountry oasis.

Java Rejuvenation

  Photo: The Spa at Nayara Springs

The Spa at Nayara Springs, Fortuna, Costa Rica
Once you’ve paddled down the Rio Frio, zip lined over the jungle canopy, and hiked up Arenal Volcano, let yourself be coated in volcanic mineral-rich mud, or scrubbed with organic Costa Rican coffee in one of the spa’s open-air treatment pavilions. Overlooking the rainforest, they feature outdoor showers and Jacuzzis. And if sun salutations are your thing, be sure to check out the open-air yoga pavilion.

A Real River Soundtrack

  Photo: C Lazy U Ranch

The Lazy You Spa at C Lazy U Ranch, Granby, Colorado
After a day of fly-fishing, horseback riding, or mountain biking (and that’s just in the summer), head to the creek-side tented spa where you’ll find two massage tents suspended over Willow Creek. The massage beds are not entirely outside, but instead are placed on glass floors, which let you gaze down at the flowing water. The sound of the rushing river and the horses splashing through it provide the perfect soundtrack.

Filed To: Travel

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