Dominican Republic Beach Vacation – Day Two

I disappeared for a while. Technical difficulties are real!

But I’m back to tell you more about my adventures in the Caribbean.
The second day at the resort, we decided to take it slow. No outside adventures; all we did was stay by the pool and relax at the beach. We were still adjusting to the time change and were preparing to venture out the next day.

The view was spectacular.

The view from my beach lounger


The pool with the beach in the background

The only downside was the vendors who walk the beach with their wares, and there’s no way around them. As soon as you walk beyond the barrier from the resort, you’re bombarded by 3 or 4 different vendors asking you to buy something. But they’re very nice and just by telling them you’re not interested once, they’ll remember you and not bother you again.

The ocean was surprisingly warm. Coming from Southern California, I’m not used to warm sea water but it was very refeshing.

A word of warning: DO NOT wear sunglasses into the ocean and expect to come out still wearing them!! Cole and I both were victims of the Ocean Monster, whose specialty is stealing your sunglasses right off your face. Don’t let the brightness of the sun trick you into thinking you’ll keep them…. You will never win that battle.

The waves were not very violent (except for the 2 or 3 that came by and swept me away) and the water was pleasantly warm so we ended up spending hours in the ocean. The Caribbean seems a little saltier than the Pacific — as soon as we got out, we needed to rinse off, we felt so sticky.

I was proud of Cole; he didn’t burn at all the whole trip and I was nervous for him, he’s so pale.


Cole enjoying the sun (wearing his emergency pair of sunglasses)

Day Three will be a tour of Puerto Plata with a Dominican tour guide (my mom!).

Until tomorrow….hopefully.

Dominican Republic Beach Vacation – Day One

Paradise. That’s what I found as we landed in the homeland of my mother. From the plane, we could see how clear and blue the Caribbean Sea was as the we slowly descended towards the runway. I took great pleasure in seeing Cole look down in amazement at the views from the plane window. It’s his first time experiencing the Caribbean and his reaction didn’t disappoint. But, could you blame him?

We were supposed to meet my aunt and uncle in the terminal since they had arrived 2 hours ahead of us, but there was no way to enter the airport from the arrival gate. It isn’t like most airports at Gregorio Luperón International Airport in Puerto Plata. In most airports, you get off the plane and walk through the airport among the other gates to get to customs and baggage claim. At this airport, it’s everyone’s final destination, so they herd you from the plane, straight down an escalator and to customs. Nowhere to sit down, nowhere to wait. So my parents, Cole and I hardly noticed the Dominican band set up at the bottom of the escalator, playing island music and welcoming us to their country. We were more worried about the two Idahoans who didn’t speak Spanish and were supposed to be waiting for us in the airport and couldn’t be found. My mom is known to be somewhat of a worry-wart. I think I take after her a little….

As soon as we made our way through customs and got our bags (the airport is very small and there’s only one way to go), we found them waiting for us outside. Once we said our hellos, we let my mom negotiate a taxi ride for all 6 of us to the Viva Wyndham Tangerine. The taxi ride was interesting. We were put into a newer Chevy Suburban — which surprised me since I thought most of the population in Dominican Republic was poor — and began our 40 minute journey to Cabarete. On the way, we drove through hoards of 2 cylinder motorcycles, some with 3 people on one bike and carrying bags of groceries. My mother-in-law would have a heart attack if she saw the little babies that were sitting in front of someone who also was carrying two other people on a tiny motorcycle.

In Dominican Republic, most of the taxis are motorcycles and people can be seen standing on the side of the road waiting for one of these taxis to ride by to pick them up. I will try to post video of these guys in a later post. They zip around everywhere. And there’s apparently no rules of the road here. Cars, motorcycles and even huge Mack trucks will drive on any surface they’re able, no matter if it’s the right side of the road or not. Very different than the States, for sure…

Once we got to the resort, it was almost 4pm so there wasn’t much for us to do other than get situated and have dinner. I wasn’t much impressed with the resort at first glance. It’s very small, maybe a total of 5 buildings, with two average sized pools and one bar, and the food the first night was horrible. The only thing they served was seafood. Don’t take me wrong, I like seafood, but usually a buffet means there are several different options. My dad said it’s because Sunday is a transition day and there’s not that many people around.

The resort reminds me of Dirty Dancing… they really do have waitstaff and the entertainment crew. Only this entertainment crew speaks mostly Spanish and they not only dance during their show, they also lip sync. But they were lip syncing English songs and it seemed like they didn’t really know the words. I’m still trying to understand why they insisted on lip syncing instead of just dancing. It would’ve been a much better show….

After the show, we went to bed and that was our first day on vacation. Tomorrow I will post Day Two, which was a lot of sunbathing and playing in the ocean, but I’ll leave the details for tomorrow.


The Ultimate Packing List for an International Beach Destination

Viva Wyndham Tangerine

In one week I will be soaking up the sun in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic! Being half-Dominican and having visited before, I know what to expect but I still have to prepare myself mentally and organizationally before we leave.

We are taking a red eye out of LAX to Miami before hopping over to the island to spend 7 wonderful days in the sun. With that in mind, I looked through many sites online and on Pintrest trying to find the right packing list for my trip. I have special circumstances with the red eye (which I HATE!! I can never sleep on planes…) and I couldn’t find a single list that I could use in its entirety, so I am out to create my own and share it with the interwebs.

The first thing to think about when you’re booking an international trip is to make sure your passport is current. Remember that it could take up to 6 weeks to get a passport once you fill out the paperwork and turn it in. Since I procrastinated was slow to change my last name on everything once Cole and I got married (2 years ago….), I had to make sure I booked our trip under my maiden name since I haven’t updated my passport yet. I have to remember to go through the security checkpoints at the airport with my passport instead of my ID, since my ID is in my married name and my passport is still in my maiden name, as is my ticket. As long as your name matches on ticket & passport, you’re good to go. Also, make sure your passport will be current for the full length of your trip. You don’t want to get stuck in customs on your way back home!!

Once you have your passport in hand, you can relax until the week before your trip (which is where I’m at right now!!). Now’s the fun part…planning what to pack for your vacation!

First thing’s first…. the carry-on for the red-eye. Since we’re going to a beach destination, I will be packing my beach tote with a few red eye essentials. I will be wearing comfy clothes (leggings and a loose shirt) and flip-flops for overnight, but I don’t want to get to the resort all frumpy!

Red Eye Carry-on Packing List

  1. beach tote (to pack essentials into)
  2. iPad w/ pre-downloaded Netflix movies & TV shows
  3. headphones
  4. reading material (I’m reading The Handmaid’s Tale)
  5. change of clothes for the next day
  6. socks (for security checkpoints. I hate walking around the airport in my bare feet… EEK!!)
  7. eye mask
  8. hair brush
  9. soft blanket & neck pillow
  10. facial wipes
  11. glasses
  12. snacks
  13. anti-bacterial wipes & hand sanitizer
  14. quart-size ziplock baggie with the following:
    • 3 oz. toothpaste and toothbrush
    • Advil
    • contact case & 3 oz. eye solution
    • ZzzQuil (if you’re like me and have trouble sleeping on planes)

I also bought an awesome satchel-style camera case on Amazon. It’s big enough to throw my wallet and passport into so I don’t have to worry about the 2 bag policy and I can still have my DSLR with me.

Satchel Camera BagThis way I’ll always have my camera with me when I’m out and about! You can find it here.

And now for the pièce de résistance…

The Ultimate Beach Destination Packing List


  1. underwear (7 – 9 pairs)
  2. socks (3 – 4 pairs)
  3. bras (2 regular & 1 strapless)
  4. tank tops (4 – 5)
  5. t-shirts (2 – 3)
  6. shorts (4 – 5)
  7. workout clothes for hiking (3 sets)
  8. leggings (2)
  9. pants (2)
  10. pair of jeans
  11. sundresses (1 – 2)
  12. maxi dresses (2 – 3)
  13. cardigan
  14. sleep shirt & shorts


  1. flip flops (2)
  2. casual wedges
  3. tennis shoes

Toiletry Kit

  1. contacts and glasses w/ cases
  2. facial wash
  3. facial moisturizer w/ SPF
  4. perfume
  5. shaving supplies
  6. toothbrush/toothpaste
  7. shampoo & conditioner
  8. dry shampoo
  9. deodorant ( a MUST-HAVE for humid climates!!)
  10. hair brush
  11. blow dryer
  12. hair ties & bobby pins
  13. feminine products

Beach Essentials

  1. sun hat
  2. sunglasses
  3. bikinis (2)
  4. one-piece swimsuit
  5. sunscreen
  6. beach tote


  1. wristlet purse
  2. fanny pack (for hiking and/or exploring)
  3. umbrella
  4. phone & iWatch chargers
  5. iPad & charger
  6. DSLR camera & charger
  7. extra memory card

Don’t forget to notify your bank that you’ll be leaving the country. You don’t want them to unexpectedly put a hold on your card! It’s a HUGE pain to try and call them when you’re not in the U.S. and not in the same time-zone!! Also throw cash in small bills in your wallet. Upon entering Dominican Republic, you have to pay $10 per traveler for a tourist card before they can release you at customs.

Small bills are also good to have to tip your housekeeper and the bar staff at the resort. If you take care of them, they’ll take REALLY good care of you!