I hope your weekend was a good one. My birthday was yesterday. To celebrate, I got a massage on the beach. Unfortunately, neither of the massage therapists I usually visit was working, so I had my massage with a new guy. It was a bit of a disappointment – although, as with sex, there’s really never a bad massage.
If you visit Rio, definitely treat yourself to a massage under the palms. To help you get the optimal experience, here are a few tips:
You’ll pay more on Ipanema and Leblon beaches, probably 70 reais (currently US$1 = about 1.88 reais) or more for one hour. You can find better prices in Copacabana, usually around 60 reais for an hour.
There is a husband and wife team near post 3 (on side toward post 2) who charge 55 reais for an hour. I can’t recall their names, but they are almost always there. Their technique is unusual, consisting of acupressure, pulling, stretching, etc., rather than the Swedish massage you are probably used to. It is more invigorating than relaxing to me. It’s Ok, though not my favorite. (“Não é minha praia,” we say here: “It’s not my beach.”) They don’t use oil or lotion, which means you aren’t greasy after the massage, so this can be a good option if you are going someplace afterwards.
Most other therapists are located between posts 4 and 5, in vicinity of the Othon Palace hotel.
Cassie (pictured above) is pretty good. She gives a Swedish-type massage. Her touch is a bit light for my taste, but I like a pretty deep massage, so she may be just right for you. She charges 1 real per minute.
Ernandez is the guy who gave me a massage today. He wanted 90 reais for an hour massage, which is way above market. I got him down to 70. I was quite disappointed. He technique was poor. He was either too light or gouging, instead of applying a firm but moderate touch. He also didn’t listen to what I requested but just continued with his usual routine. Since he also charges more than anybody else along the strip, this is an easy decision: Pass!
Renato, also located in this same stretch of Copcabana, is to me the best. However, he only works there in the mornings. In the afternoons he works with Flumanense, one of the local soccer teams. He gives a good sports therapy massage, and will apply strong pressure if you ask for it – without gouging. He charges 60 for an hour, prorated for shorter times.
Some folks are a bit hesitant to get a massage on the beach. Admittedly, it’s a bit odd at first when someone walks up and asks your therapist questions during the middle of your massage. But then you hear the rustle of the palm fronds, the calls of vendors hawking their wares, and the faint crashing of the surf, and you slip back into your reverie.
If you’d like to learn more about Copacabana Beach, check out the downloadable tour I photographed and wrote over at www.VisualTravelTours.com. There’s a free preview.