I love the Blue Lagoon




Back in April, I had the opportunity to visit one of the most serene and terrestrial places on planet: the Blue Lagoon.  So what exactly is this place?  Well for me, it’s one of those dope places that you see on the Travel or Discovery Channel, but never think you will actually ever visit.  But in reality, it’s geothermal spa and happens to be one of Iceland’s most visited attractions. Simply put, if you visit Iceland without making a stop at the Blue Lagoon, you’re doing it wrong.  The lagoon is man-made and located in a lava field in Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula.  So how did the lagoon come into existence? Well, in 1976 a pool formed at the site from the waste water of the geothermal power plant that had just been built there. A few years later, people started bathing in it after its purported healing powers were popularized. In 1992, the Blue Lagoon company was established and the bathing facility was opened for the public for tourism.

Getting there

The awesome thing about the Blue Lagoon is that shuttles run regularly between Keflavik airport, the spa, and the hotels in Reykjavik. The spa is about a 20-minute drive from the airport and a 50-minute drive from Reykjavík.  This is helpful for those who have an early arrival into Keflavik, but can’t check into their hotel until the late afternoon. For example, my flight arrived at 6am, but check-in for my hotel didn’t start until after 2pm. So, instead of stressing out about how I would spend the next 8 hours consuming my time, I arranged for my shuttle to drop me off at the Blue Lagoon and took a shuttle directly my hotel in Reykjavik when I was done. What a nice way to unwind after a 6 hour flight?


If you’re arriving from the airport (or doing a stopover before heading back to the airport…many tourists do this as well), the spa will check your luggage for a nominal charge. The Blue Lagoon offers four standard base packages: standard, comfort, premium, and luxury.  These packages increase in price and amenities. After selecting your package, you’re given an electronic wristband, which is scanned to add al a carte items such as spa treatments, drinks, lunch, etc. The wristband is also used as an electronic key for your assigned locker. In addition to swimwear, you are allowed to bring your own robe, slippers.  If not, you can choose one the packages that offers these items upon check-in. After check-in, guests are REQUIRED to shower before entering the lagoon. As a nurse, I think one of the best attributes of the spa is its strict code of hygiene.

The Experience

After showering, and putting on your suit, you’re free the go out to the lagoon. Some people stay for a short time and others stay for hours. The lagoon has a swim up bar and I had no reservation about drinking Prosecco at 8 o’clock in the morning. I mean, I’m in Iceland! While the temperature outside was about 35 degrees, the average temperature of the lagoon averages around 99 to 102 °F.

So what are the benefits of the lagoon?  Well, the warm waters are rich in minerals like silica and sulfur.  It’s been reputed that bathing in the lagoon helps some people suffering from skin diseases such as psoriasis.

A few reminders

  • Attire: bring swimwear- nope, it’s not “nude” spa
  • Make you reservations early.  The Blue Lagoon fills up rather quickly.  You can book directly with the spa or through a tour company like Gray Line, Viator, or Reykjavik Excursions
  • Protect your hair: the geothermal waters of the lagoon can REALLY dry out your hair. From what I’ve been told, it literally turns your hair into straw.  I recommend wearing a head wrap and avoid submerging your hair into the water.
  • Pictures: Take advange of the on-site photographers. They will take your photo free of charge and even email it to you.
  • Purchase or bring a cell phone cover- you can use a plastic sleeve to secure your phone when you take pictures in the lagoon (unless your phone or device is waterproof).  The Blue Lagoon sells these for $25.00.
  • Silica mud mask: try it, it’s a must!
  • There is a restaurant, hotel, and skin care shop on site. If you’re traveling on budget, the skin care products are much cheaper at the airport.
  • Children: children under the age of 9 years old are only allowed entry with the use of armbands, which are provided free of charge, also, the lagoon is not suitable for children under the age of 2 years old.

Didn’t take long for me to make friends!


And yes, I look forward to returning back in April 2017.  You should join me!


Day Trips/Excursions: Ten essential items you’ll regret leaving at home


I love day trips and excursions, but I love them even more when I travel prepared. Some excursions don’t require intensive preparation, it depends on the activity. Some can be short (a few hours) and others run ALL DAY (up to 12 hours).  When I visited the Chichen Itza last fall, I had a scheduled pick up time at 7:00am and didn’t return until after 6:00pm. That’s longer than my work day!  Although I felt prepared for the long day, there were a still a couple of items I wish I had brought along. Here’s my personal list of 10 essential items that will make any summer excursion or day trip run more smoothly:


  1. Water bottle: The tour operator may offer water (depends of the tour), but it never hurts to have your own to stay hydrated.
  2. Disposable Camera:  It’s a good idea to bring a disposable camera, just in case. They’re inexpensive, light, and compact. There’s nothing like traveling thousands of miles to see a landmark only to find you can’t take a picture because you’re primary camera failed.
  3. Portable External Battery Pack:  Some excursions can last just a few hours and as long as 12 hours. Bring a backup portable battery for your electronic devices.
  4. Crossbody Bag/Backpack:  These are probably the most comfortable and efficient bags to carry. They’re big enough to hold your essential items and usually have enough room to add items you might purchases along the way. They’re also durable and comfortable to transport.
  5. Sunscreen:  Depending on the climate and destination, the temps can really climb. Protect your skin just as you would if you were lounging at the beach for longer excursions.
  6. Rain Poncho:  If you’re bothered by heavy downpours, bringing a disposable poncho might be of benefit to you.
  7. Snacks/Energy Bar: Again, this depends on the length of your excursion.  Some tour operators offer snacks and others don’t offer anything.
  8. Travel medications:  The registered nurse in me never leaves home without meds like Benadryl, ibuprofen, or anti-diarrheal. History demonstrates that disaster usually strikes when you have no access to relief.
  9. Sunglasses/Sunhat:The sun can be really unforgiving and cruel during long day excursions. You will appreciate the shade.
  10. Hand towels/Moist Towelettes:  To freshen up during long excursions.


This list may seem exhaustive, but don’t stress it. Most tour companies will provide a list of suggested items specific to your activity at the time of booking. Pack light, but pack prepared… and happy travels!


Travel: When you meet others, you meet yourself


I’m going to be transparent. I’m just gonna come out and say it. I HATE this routine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful with the blessings life has afforded me. For example, I have a stable career and my health is decent. I have an awesome family that loves me unconditionally and I look ten years younger than my stated age (okay, maybe about five). And professionally, I’ve accomplished most of things I set out to do. But a significant part of me hates the redundancy of the American rat race: getting up at the crack of dawn, fighting my way through morning rush hour traffic, doing work that does not inspire me or feed my soul, fighting my way through evening rush hour traffic again, only to return home and rinse/repeat and do it all over again. It’s safe and secure, but it’s also slow death. You see, like many before me, I thought the recipe for lifelong happiness was this: 1.) Go to college, 2.) Start a career that pays well, 3.) Get married, 4.) Buy a house, 5.) Buy a luxury car, 6.) Have kids, 7.) Get a dog, 8.) Add water and stir, 9.) Live happily ever after…you know, like the Cosby Show. That’s the blueprint that was ingrained in me since debuting from my mother’s womb in 1985 (yes, so what…I’m lying). The blueprint always sounded promising. But the blueprint never addressed that someday your career might eventually leave you stagnant and unfulfilled. The blueprint never mentioned that the marriage might fail and the children may never come. It never mentioned that in spite of following your life plan to the letter, you might be left confused, without passion, and have to find your purpose and reinvent yourself all over again. The blueprint never provided a disclaimer that sometimes things just change.  I’m sure you’re thinking, what the hell does this have to do with travel? Well, just keep reading….

A few years ago, like most black first timers, I earned my first passport stamp during my travels to the Dominican. I was going through a major life transition at the time and traveling abroad was something I finally decided to make priority for myself, especially after putting it off for so many years. Looking back, I guess one could say this was the moment my travel bug was born. While my first experience traveling abroad offered many high moments, the most memorable aspect of my trip, will always be the excursion I had with Mike Punta Cana Adventures. While planning, I came across his reality tour company on TripAdvisor. The reviews were stellar and his tour allowed you to immerse yourself into Dominican life as a local. Basically you get to be Dominican for a day. The first leg of our tour was a stop at a Dominican elementary school. At the time of booking, tourists were requested bring school supplies (strictly optional). The smiles on those kids faces when they received their protractors, compasses, notebooks, and markers will forever be etched in my memories. They were so grateful…so grateful to have access to the basic conveniences we take for granted here in America. I wanted to pack each and every one of them in my luggage and bring them home. They were too adorable!!! Our next stop was cigar shop where we learned how to roll cigars and played dominoes with the locals. Sadly, I lost. Dominoes have never been my thing, but had we played spades, it would’ve been on. As promised, the tour was very interactive and gave us a raw and unfiltered look at Dominican culture. On the way back to our respective resorts, Mike shared his testimony of how this amazing tour company came to be. Mike was a middle aged guy from Canada and lived a pretty comfortable and stable life. His marriage failed and he never had any children. In spite of having a stable career that compensated him very well, he felt unfulfilled. His life had become redundant and routine. He felt like a hamster on wheel, like he merely existed. Hmmm, But instead of accepting the cards he had been dealt, Mike did what so many of us “walking dead” don’t: He stepped outside of his comfort zone and embraced the unknown. Against the advice of his well-meaning loved ones, he cashed out his savings and quit his job. After running out of money and experiencing several “this was the dumbest decision ever” moments, fate and lead him to the Dominican. Over time, Mike dedicated himself to learning as much about Dominican culture as he possibly could and established strong relationships with many of the locals. Shortly later, Mike’s Punta Cana Adventures was born. Today, Mike’s tour company consistently ranks as the number one excursion in Punta Cana and has done so for years. And what I admire most about him was that it was never about the money. He uses his tour company as a vehicle to give back to the locals, particularly the children. This is what gives him purpose and feeds his soul. He’s living his dream. Upon departure, he stated that his motto was although he was unable to help the entire world, he could help a tiny piece of it. And in addition to birthing his successful tour company, he eventually met his second wife and at the time of my tour, they were expecting their first child.

So back to my original point: You see, travel can be much more than just rest, relaxation, bottomless margaritas, and flossing for Facebook and Instagram. If you’re open to the experience, it can be an opportunity to learn and grow. In addition to meeting other people, travel can allow you the opportunity to meet “yourself” through your interactions with other people. I felt like I met myself through Mike on that tour. Here I was meeting the same crossroads that he overcame. He walked it. He lived it. He overcame it. That encounter was more valuable than any of the Dominican rum, cigars, and other souvenirs I brought home. However, here I am a few years later still kind of clinging to safety. Inspiration is useless if it’s never put into action. How long will many of us continue to not act on inspiration and not move beyond an unfulfilled life? Now I’m not saying one needs to quit their job and move to another country with no plan in sight in order to seek fulfillment. But I believe we were put on this earth to live our best life and not simply exist in it. I also believe there are no coincidences. We draw the teachers and guides in our lives at the time we need them. Mike was one of my teachers and I will always be grateful for that experience.