March
10

Living the Dream: How I’m making it – Tamarindo, Costa Rica

8 years ago, I moved to Costa Rica after falling in love with surfing.  And I found that everyone I knew back in NYC either thought I had lost my mind, or found the meaning of life.  And most tourists I met who were visiting Costa Rica were dreaming about living there, and were full of questions on how people make it work.  The answer?  Everyone hustles to figure it out.  And then keeps hustling.

Many of the jobs or skills that people have in the US corporate world are not available or useful when you’re living in Costa Rica in a tourist town.  So you’ve got to be opportunistic, and still find a way to enjoy your new life in paradise.  Here is an account of how one of our favorite surfer girls is making it happen in Costa Rica, from Kristen @sambatothesea.   — Chief Bikini Officer, Helena Fogarty

Kristen M. Brown of Samba to the Sea headed for a surf in Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

Kristen @sambaotothesea headed for a surf in Tamarindo.

 

As the saying goes, time flies when you’re having fun – – and I really can’t believe over four years have passed since leaving NYC:  quitting my corporate job, putting all my belongings in storage (called Mom & Pop storage), and moving to Tamarindo, Costa Rica to surf. When I first moved, I worked for Robert August (AKA Mr. Endless Summer), blogging and running his social media. Working for such an iconic person in surf history was definitely an experience. I loved how most of the time I could make my own work schedule and I was stoked to not be working “in the office” every day.  And I got to surf.  All the time.

Kristen M. Brown of Samba to the Sea photographing a beautiful sunset in Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

Kristen @sambaotothesea chasing sunsets in Costa Rica with her Chihuahua Gidget.

In my free time, I started to follow my other passion, photography. First, photographing and posting images of Tamarindo on my blog + Instagram was a good way to keep my family and friends updated on my Costa Rican adventure. Then, it became a side job.  Why?  Because I saw way too many ugly postcards for sale in Tamarindo.  I decided to take the #uglypostcarddilemma into my own hands. I made my own, featuring my Costa Rican sunset photographs. They were an immediate hit in Tamarindo and I was stoked to have found a niche in market.

What started with nine postcards has evolved into over forty postcard designs with ~15,000 postcards sold in three and a half years. And selling my photographs via the postcards gave me confidence to pursue photography as a career – which happens to also be a good way to make a living here in the tropics.  Today I’m so stoked to launch something I only dreamed of a year ago – – an online store designed to help you have a little bit of paradise in your home, with sunset prints, pillows, baby blankets (and more to come), aptly named The Sunset Shop.

(P.S. you totally want to keep reading for a special offer just for MI OLA mermaids!!)

The Sunset Shop by Samba to the Sea.

Ahhhh, the magic of sunsets in Costa Rica! Prints of breathtaking Costa Rican sunsets available at The Sunset Shop.

I now spend most of my year in Costa Rica, with the remainder spent in magical Savannah, GA – which is gorgeous, amazing and also happens to be where my family lives. I know, you’re probably thinking why would I ever want to leave Costa Rica or split time? The honest truth? Costa Rica may be a little slice of Pura Vida for vacation, but living here (like I believe living anywhere else in the world) has its pluses and minuses. So what should you expect if you’re thinking of moving to Tamarindo, Costa Rica?

Pros & Cons of  Living the Dream in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Pros:

No need for a beach getaway:  I don’t have the crazy urge to go on vacation like I did when I lived in NYC. Sure, I miss the ease of hopping on a plane at JFK to Europe, but I’m at the beach every day!

Sunsets:  The sunsets in Tamarindo are AMAZING!!! Soon after landing in Costa Rica, I started chasing and photographing the sunsets.

Pura Vidadise print by Samba to the Sea at The Sunset Shop. Image of a gorgeous sunset in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. Free mobile background download!

A breathtaking sunset in Costa Rica. Photo by Kristen M. Brown, @sambaotothesea

Surfing:  The waves in Costa Rica are simply magical – – peeling waves, offshore winds, and warm water. Within a 5-10 minute bike ride, I have access to several surf breaks and several others within 30 minutes. Without a doubt, I’ve gotten spoiled here real fast!
(Check out MI OLA’s surf guides to Tamarindo, Avellanas, and Playa Grande)

Surfing Playa Avellanas, Costa Rica.

Wave breaking at Playa Avellanas, Costa Rica. Photo by Kristen M. Brown, @sambaotothesea

 

Nature:  Ahhhh, nature. It’s right outside – –  the Howler monkeys at dawn, iguanas, singing birds. I love my daily walks on beach and through the hills in Tamarindo with my little Chihuahua Gidget.

 

The people: My friends are from all over the world.  Tamarindo is a great example of a diverse, mixed community.

 

Cons:

When your dream becomes everyday life, there are definitely things that can wear on you… until you get back in the waves. Here’s the reality that many don’t consider when they dream of moving to paradise.

Pura Vida:  Ahhhh, the small thing called Tico Time. Meaning “latin time” or tomorrow is another day. Pretty much everything here just operates slower than the US. Long lines at the bank, slow internet, and driving 40 miles down the coast takes over two hours!  Convenience and ease is not a focus, like it often is up north.

Sometimes I don’t surf everyday:  Contrary to what my parents think,I don’t surf everyday. I’d love to surf everyday, but my work takes priority and other times the conditions are just not that great. Sometimes a week or more goes by without surfing – – (gasp!) I know!

Cost of Living is high:  It’s expensive to live here.  Costa Rica is not a cheap country. Most tourists are surprised at the cost of accommodations, tours, and food.  And people who live here make a lot less.  Think US prices, but much lower wages than the US.

It’s tropically hot:  The sun is HOT, HOT, HOT! Tamarindo is located 10 degrees north of the equator, meaning that the sun is very strong here! And in April, the temperatures soar over 100 degrees with high humidity.

People come and go:  Tamarindo is a tourist and very transient town. Just as fast as you make a new friend, another one is moving out of town! Some people only come for high season to escape the northern hemisphere winters and others are like me – – how has it been over four years?!

 

Four years ago, never did I think I would still be living in Costa Rica AND working for myself – – a passion that my pre-Costa Rica self would have said was impossible. In celebration of the launch of my shop, I’m stoked to offer you FREE sunset downloads, oh-so-perfect for your phone or computer background! Click here for your freebie, add the downloads to the shopping cart, and use code “MIOLA” at checkout! AND this weekend only, for MI OLA mermaids only, enjoy 25% off her whole shop – – use code “MIOLA25” at checkout.

 

 

 

 

March
25

The Rad Girl’s Guide to Surfing in Cold Water

INSTA-Susi

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Susi – @insta_susi

It’s wintertime for MI OLA WORLD Ambassadors living in the Northern Hemisphere. But we’re not defeated. MI OLA’s sisterhood do the thrashing. We strive and reinvent our game to make sure we #GetOutThere even in the most arctic of temperatures.

This week we spoke with ambassador Susi @insta_susi, who lives in the icier climates of Norway. Susi shares her knowledge on staying warm, limber and how to enjoy surfing cold water sessions whilst dreaming of your MI OLA BIKINI.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Susi – @insta_susi

 

SURFING IN COLD WATER BY SUSI BRUNVAER – @insta_susi

Before Surf

Invest in a great wetsuit. I wear the Xcel Infiniti with integrated hood in 6/5/4mm. The suit fits like a glove, is light and stretchy, and most importantly it keeps me warm. I am super happy with it.

I’ve seen people hang out 4-hours in 0°Celsius (32° F). I managed 2-hours at 4°Celsius (39° F) and came in because my toes got cold.

Infiniti Gear

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Susi – @Insta_susi.   Infiniti Hooded Wetsuit  &  Drylock Mitten   Both by Xcel Wetsuits

Xcel make 5mm booties I use for me feet. Since my feet get cold the quickest, 8mm ones are on top of my wish list! I also use 7mm mittens from Xcel.

Use cold water wax!

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Susi @insta_susi

During Surfing

Don’t over do it in the water, but keep warm by being active by paddling for waves and catching them!

Avoid messy days.  Having to put your head under water and getting one-too-many ice cream headaches are not fun! Look for nice long period swells.

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Susi @insta_susi

About to wipe out? Take a big breath and don’t worry about it. Cold water is harder upon impact and you can’t hold your breath for as long. The bonus of a thicker wetsuit is that all that rubber with the wetsuit will help you float!

Surf with a friend to help you get your second glove and booties on & off when your fingers are too cold to move

After Surf

Get a long-arm surfing towel to use to put over your body while you are changing in and out of your wetsuit. I also have a changing mat to stand on so my feet don’t get too cold from standing on the frozen ground.

Have a hot water bottle or thermos with warm water in the car to bring your frozen bits back to life. Careful the water is not scorching hot. You don’t want to burn yourself.

A hot drink helps to warm your insides up after a chilly surf. Pack a good post surf snack, especially if you are surfing a more remote location.

Wear some functioning wool clothes to put on after surfing.  Wool socks really help to warm up cold toes.

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Susi – @insta_susi

Interested in joining the MI OLA Ambassador Program?

Know of anyone who should #GetOutThere with us?

Then shoot us an email at info@MI-OLA.com

 

December
18

The All Women’s Surf Retreat

This year MI OLA received some AMAZING holiday gift suggestions for our Christmas Guide 2015. Inspired by our CEO Helenas Big Splurgepick, for this week’s blog, we asked her to divulge all about checking into an All Womens Surf Retreat.  Founder of MI OLA and Chief Bikini Officer Helena takes us through her journey as a lone traveler, reaping the benefits of this self-discovering adventure.

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Helena, in Tamarindo, thinking…”Cute print, but I gotta make better swimwear for active women who rip”.

As the founder of MI OLA, I get questions all the time from friends about learning to surf, such as: Could I learn to surf?,”  Am I fit enough to surf?,” or Am I too old to learn to surf?”  The answers are YES, probably, and noalmost no one is too old to learn to surf if they have an open mind about trying and learning something new!

Learning anything new can be intimidating.  Especially learning to surf.  I spent six months in Australia when I was in collegeand I was too intimidated to learn.  I thought I wasnt cool enough. I was embarrassed that Id look silly.   There was a lot of machismo in the water.  

I waited until I was 32.  I was probably less cool then than when I was 20, and I still looked silly when I was learning!  And yes, there was still a lot of machismo in the water at times.  But today there are many more women ripping alongside them. Can I get a heck yes!!!

I learned to surf at an all womens surf camp, which made learning easier.  We spent a week holed up in a modest hotel in Maui with Swell Women. I surfed twice a day, did yoga and ate good food.  By the time I left I knew how to catch a wave, handle my board, and I was completely hooked on surfing.  It was a great experience and I left confident enough to surf on my own when I got home.  Since then, some of my best friends are women I’ve met surfing.   And there’s nothing like rolling up to your favorite break and seeing your favorite women getting out there!  I definitely recommend a Women’s Surf Retreat. 

Kristina Ulrich

Team Rider Kristina Ulrich

 

What To Expect

A womens surf retreat is a wonderful way to meet other courageous and adventurous women who value traveling, learning new things, a healthy lifestyle and having fun. The friendships that you will make in an environment like this are ones that are sure to last a lifetime. 

The best part about this is you will have a whole new network of women to #GetOutThere with on your future adventures! Beginner or expert, there are endless opportunities to learn to surf or improve your game.  When looking into a retreat:

  1. Find a retreat created by women for women.
  2. Check out what packages are on offer for surf.
  3. Think YES you can!  The worst thing that could happen is that you fall in love with surfing  and change your life – like what happened to me.

The Rewards

  1. You could get in the best shape of your life.
  2. You will get more in tune with the world, and natural rhythms than ever before. 
  3. You will become a bit of a hippie when youre not charging the waves.  Youve gotten all your agro out battling the waves, and you care more about the environment because pollution and run-off directly affect you, as a surfer. 
  4. Your sex life will be better!  Yes, I said it.  You will be more in the moment, more physical and more confident than before learning to surf.
  5. You could change your lifefor the better.  I ditched my life in NYC, working in fashion, and moved to the beach.  Along the way, I fell in love, got married, had a baby, and started a company, and learned a little bit more about living Pura Vida. 

Just remember learning to surf is a commitment and it can be a scary one to make.  Go into it MI OLA Style Feel the fear and do it anyway!

 

Where? 

I have an endless list of awesome surf retreats I could recommend. But for this entry, I am giving it up to my local in Tamarindo Beach.  One of my favorite surf retreats is Witch’s Rock Surf Camp (WRSC). It’s Costa Rica’s most popular surf camp since 2001.

WR RESORT

Photo by Witch’s Rock Surf Camp

WRSC really teach people to surf.  In fact, they guarantee it.  If you don’t learn to ride waves, they actually give you your money back.  I stayed here a ridiculous amount of times, before moving down the beach from it.  You cant imagine how excited I was to hear they are launching a WRSC Womens Surf Retreat.

WR AMIN+GAS

Photo by Witch’s Rock Surf Camp

This is a great place to start. I recommend this program to all women who want to surf or want to surf better.  The safe environment allows you step out of your comfort zone to find the benefits of single travel far outweigh the risks. Check in with the WRSC website for upcoming female only retreat dates, package info and prices.

WR ARRIVAL

Photo by MI OLA

WRSC handle absolutely everything. From the airport transportation and lodging to the activities.  And by being in Tamarindo, you can do the retreat and explore superb beaches and nature – AND great restaurants and entertaining nightlife.   

TAMARINDO BEACH

Photo by MI OLA

October
30

What makes us get up and #getoutthere?

We created MI OLA with 2 goals.

1) To revolutionize swimwear by making dreamy, quality bikinis that look fabulous and stay on, and

2) To make a positive impact on the world.

While working hard, listening to our consumers and sweating bullets to make this happen we’ve achieved something even more exciting.  We’ve energized a movement of radical  women, who get out there every day, who are more comfortable in the water than out, and who want positivity…at  all costs. This is our tribe… and this is our Manifesto.

Some of our Tribe.

A few of our tribe.

We jump, dive, run in. No inching in for us or using the stairs.

100% committed.

NO    P L A N    B.

We create waves in the water, kick up the sand, run up hills, climb mountains, hike across valleys and sparkle in cities around the world alike.

Our mermaids and sirens sing with joy as they Chase more. Do more. Be more. Our goal is for all women to embrace a more confident day and self wearing MI OLA

Always dreaming, thinking, imagining. But WE never sit still. Each day WE rise to ‘Get Out There’.

More Disruption.    More Influence.        More Action.

We design our products using innovative materials that last. No tugging. No yanking. No adjusting. No pulling. Everything we make is appealing and functional.  If you can’t use it WE lose it.

We are revolutionizing, re-inventing the swimwear game, so you can do more of what you love.  Less stress. Less fuss. More FUN!

This isn’t a dress rehearsal.  It’s a MOVEMENT.

A lifestyle for women who seek adventure.

A voice for women that fight for freedom.  A vehicle for women to embrace transparency & honesty.

Think for 1 moment how much power you have, and what you can do with it.

Now go and inspire us.

You think we’re not afraid? You bet we are.

We embrace the fear and jump anyway.

WE ARE

October
2

Surf Guide: Norway (Part 1)

When MI OLA Brand Ambassador Susi (@insta_susi) isn’t dreaming of escaping on a surf trip somewhere tropical, she’s hiking Norway’s beautiful countryside, diving into its pristine waters, or surfing. Yes, surfing in Norway!

Most people don’t think of Norway as a surf destination, but we see all the rad Norway surf photos that Susi posts. So we just had to get the scoop! We caught up with this adventurer (and busy mother of two gorgeous little girls) to give us the local info on surfing in Norway. AND we got so much insider knowledge that we had to split the series in two!

photo 4

 Surf Guide: Norway, Part 1

When most people think of Norway, they think of mountains, snow, dark winters and midnight sun. This is all true. But while Norway isn’t a tropical surfing mecca like Bali or Hawaii, we have a long coastline. If you are willing to search, you will most likely find uncrowded surf! The best part of surfing in Norway is that you can ski/snowboard and surf in the same day! And if the surf is flat, there are beautiful lakes and fjords to explore with a SUP.

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Surf Seasons and Gear: 
In the summer, from June till August, it often is pretty flat, but if you keep your eyes on the surf forecast, you can occasionally score some mint days with waves up to head high. AND if you are brave enough and only go out for a quick paddle, you might be able to do this in your MI OLA bikini in August!

September and October you usually can find plenty of waves, sometimes even double overhead. The water temperature is still bearable, but definitely not MI OLA warm anymore.

From November till April it is best to keep a close eye on the surf forecast in order to score some clean days with nice waves. It can get really big and messy in the winter, with snow and ice on the beach, so good equipment is key. While we don’t have a ton of surf shops around, I usually order all my gear at www.surfshop.no – they help with what you need, are super friendly, and know their stuff!

In those coldest winter months you’ll need a 6/5 with hood and at least 5mm booties and thick gloves. It is a workout in itself getting in and out of all your gear and you will feel a strong resemblance to a penguin! Water temps go down to 4 degrees Celsius, so you really want to avoid messy days. Go to www.surf-forecast.com, choose Norway, your region, and the break you want to surf. Look at the more detailed 48h forecast, to determine when you want to go out. You want a long period swell, not too much wind and wave height between 1.5 & 3.5 meters. Bigger days are only for very experienced surfers, as there are no lifeguards and most surf spots are very isolated, often with limited cell-phone coverage. So a rescue is pretty much out of the question!

photo 2-1


Where to Surf:

South:
The capital of Norway is Oslo. Although it is a long way away from the usual surf-spots on the West coast beaches, some keen surfers explored and found some gnarly slabs in Oslo’s fjord where they get barreled with a big rock right in front of the take-off zone. Only for very experienced surfers and not for the fainthearted!

Photo by @seamusfox  from @surfshopno (Surfer: @wes_schaftenaar)

Photo by @seamusfox from @surfshopno (Surfer: @wes_schaftenaar)

Apart from that, Saltstein is a popular surf-spot and lies about half way between Oslo and Kristiansand. You’ll find a relative big surf-scene (for Norway standards) around Stavanger. They have nice long sandy beaches where you are bound to find an uncrowded peak if the conditions are right.


West:
The main surf spots are in the Jæren region. If you follow up the coast, you can “Live the Search” and score some gold. A famous place for surfing is Stadlandet. On this peninsular you will find a few different surf spots, with Hoddevik being the main place.

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Hoddevik:
Drive down a tiny, narrow zigzag road to an isolated small village with a white sand beach nestled between the mountains. Along the beach there are numerous peaks, but it can get crowded here. At La Point surf camp, located in the village, you’ll find anything from accommodation, surf hire to lessons. Just be aware that Hoodevik does not have supermarket so stock up on supplies before you get there. (The nearest supermarket is about 15 minutes by car.)

Right at the beach you’ll find a white and blue surf-yoga house called Strandro. Here they have a small surf shop, equipment hire, dorm and private rooms. At certain times yoga lessons are offered across the street in an old barn. Strandro has their own restaurant and you can chose if you want to overnight stay with full or half pension. You can check this out at www.stadsurfing.no – the site is in Norwegian, but you will get a lot of info from the pictures and they have an email address for English info.

photo

Photo by @kkbrunvaer

We usually stay in the camp ground that borders the beach, with best view and by far the cheapest option and a great set up if the weather is good! It is super basic though, so make sure you have a gas cooker and pans with you as there are no kitchen facilities.

When the surf is flat or your arms are falling off from too much paddling – there are some great hikes around and the view will make it worth your while. If the sun is out and the waves are on you can’t beat this place – it is truly heaven on Earth!

photo 1-1

Ervika:
Close by is Ervika. The surf is usually 1 ft bigger there, but it breaks over rocks. You also have to be careful as there is a shipwreck in the middle of the bay, a little bit to the left, that is noticeable at low tide.  Make sure to ask a local about it and stay well away from it. Ervika is mainly a right hander, but occasionally you can score the odd left. If it is big, it is recommended to walk around it.

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Photo by @kkbrunvaer

They just opened a small surf shop in Ervika and sometimes there is a pop up cafe at the beach – meaning you can buy a nice cup of takeaway coffee & check the surf.


Check out this beautiful video of surfing in Norway by KLM.

Surfing in Norway Video CLICK!!!

Surfing in Norway Video CLICK!!!

We’ve got a TON more information on Surfing Norway, so stay tuned for Norway Surf Guide: Part 2, coming oh so soon!

We’ve been covering the science of surfing in the past few months, so click here to learn more about swellhow waves are formed, how wind affects waves or what makes a wave a left or a right.  We also have super handy surf guides from all around the world, written by our local ambassadors, so if you are headed on a surf trip be sure to check them out! If you are headed to New Zealand, be sure to read Susi’s Christchurch, New Zealand surf guide!

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August
21

Surf Like A Girl

Surfing was originally a female sport.  According to legend, Pele, the Goddess of Volcanoes, was the first surfer.  There are also very old hawaiian wood cuttings that feature naked native women surfing.

Now, however, surfing is male dominated.  Only 1 in every 10 surfers is female.   In the past fifteen years, there has been a boom in women surfers and that number will keep growing – thanks to rad female pro surfers, movies like Blue Crush, social media, and more women #gettingoutthere and charging!

Paddling out into a lineup that is 95-100% male is common.  At times it can be quite macho out there,  and this vibe affects us, good or bad, while we are out surfing.   So – at the risk of being sexist – we asked our Brand Ambassadors about their experiences surfing with the boys and what take aways they have for us surfer-mermaids.

 

Male line-ups are the norm.

Our mermaids are indifferent to a mostly male lineup.  They’re used to it.   Kate (@chucktownoceangal) commented, “I like to surf with anyone, male or female, as long as they have a good vibe and attitude and show respect for all the surfers in the lineup, beginner or advanced. It’s all about sharing waves and having a good time!” We say AMEN to that!

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@chucktownoceangal

 

What do you do when someone intentionally drops in on you or snakes your wave?

The best thing to do is to just show them you can surf by catching up to them and passing them by.   They probably won’t do it again.

Katherine (@katiezmc) said, “If they drop in, pass them! That’s always embarrassing for a guy.” If there is not room to pass, stick up for yourself or use the utilitarian stink eye.  Ambassador Nena (@nena_belen) has used, “Are you serious dude!?” in front of a crowded lineup. Sometimes the surfer may not know that they are doing something wrong…or that you know that they are doing something wrong!

(Helena our Chief Bikini Officer interjects “Costa Rica can be supremely macho… One time I had a guy drop right in on me.  I passed him.  He never said anything to me about it.  But later he apologized to my husband for disrespecting me… Pura Vida.”)

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@katizmc in Rockaway, NY

 

Surfing with better surfers pushes us to be better.

Does surfing with guys push us to be better surfers and more aggressive?  Our French Polynesia Ambassador Elise (@babeinthewaves) commented, “Surfing with men helps me to go in bigger waves and to be brave in the lineup, even if I am scared by the huge waves.”

We prefer to think that surfing with better surfers pushes us and our ambassadors agree that gender does not matter, surfing with a male or female who surfs better than you always helps to improve your skills.  Katherine wisely said, I think we all push each other, and I hope that I inspire them as much as they inspire me. Surfing with females who surf better than me makes me surf better as well.”

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@babeinthewaves

 

What do you do when it’s really aggressive in the line-up and you’re losing your stoke? 

First and foremost, don’t let other people control your stoke.

Try not to get vibed out and get out of the water.  If the atmosphere is just way too macho, paddle down a bit (on a beach break) or find another spot to surf nearby.

If there’s a ton of hooting and hollering… and a lot of “go go go,” try to ignore it or – crazy thought –  let it invigorate you.  Kate stated, “I actually love being called into waves and you know what, the worst that can happen is you wipe out, and honestly I never feel more alive than after a wipe out, it reminds you that the sea is in charge.”

 

Creepy come-ons in the line-up ?

It’s great to say “hi” to everyone you’re surfing with… or shoot them a big smile.  Not so great to hit on someone, follow them around, or grab them.  And as a female surfer, you may have to deal with that type of behavior.  The great thing about surfing is you’re very mobile.  Use the waves, currents and your arms and legs, and move away from the offending surfer.  If they are really obnoxious or persistent, you might need to say something to get them to back down.

Nena says “Unfortunately, this does happen. Things such as “nice swimsuit” as you are paddling by or creepy looks. I have had dudes grab my legs before too. NOT ok.”

@nena_belen

@nena_belen

 

OK, so let’s do a quick recap of how to surf like a girl: 

  1. You will be surfing with mostly males. Don’t let this psyche you out!  (Enjoy the view!)
  2. If a wave is rightfully yours, go for it.
  3. Stick up for yourself!  If a guy says something inappropriate, let them know. Someone dropping in on you or snaking you over and over? Let them know that it is wrong.
  4. If you feel uncomfortable with the vibe in a lineup, find an emptier spot further down the beach.
  5. Surf with better surfers, regardless of gender. Watch. Learn. Repeat.
  6. However, know your limits.  It is dangerous to be out in waves that are way above your skill level;  for you and your fellow surfers.
  7. Be safe and HAVE FUN!
  8. AND make sure you wear your MI OLA bikini so you don’t give everyone a free show!
July
31

Surf Science: Anatomy of a Surfboard

Whether you’re new to surfing, or considering buying a new board, you’ve got to know the anatomy of your surfboard.  Although surfboards come in all shapes and sizes, the basic parts stay the same. Come hit the books with MI OLA with the Anatomy of a Surfboard 101!

  • What your board is made of:  Foam, Fiberglass, and Resin: Sixty years ago, surfboards were made out of heavy, durable wood.  They weighed over 50 pounds, but were durable and water resistant.  After the invention of fiberglass -which kept the wood from soaking up water,  balsa wood could be used in surfboard construction. It’s very light and strong.  Soon after, polyurethane foam was introduced, which is what the majority of surfboards are made out of today. Although polyurethane foam is lightweight, it also absorbs water. Therefore, fiberglass and resin is used to coat and protect a surfboard. The more resin that is used, the stronger the board will be…but heavier!

woodfoam

  • Stringer: This is the wood piece running down the center of a surfboard.  The stringer serves to increase the board’s overall strength and reduce its flexibility. Some boards have multiple stringers, which increases the strength of the board.stringer
  • Nose and Tail: Surfboards come in all shapes and sizes.  The nose and tail of the board influence how the board maneuvers in the water. The nose can be pointed or rounded, and tails can vary from square, pin, squash, swallow, diamond, and so on. Surfboard nose shapes affect the way a surfboard drops in and maneuvers on a wave; for example a pointed nose helps in dropping into steep waves, and a rounded nose gives the board more surface area and more stability. With tails, a good rule to remember is more angular/ pointy shapes will give you more precise turns and a rounder shaped tail will give you rounder and smoother turns.Tailtypes
  • Deck: This is where you stand on the board. Wax is applied to this surface to help your feet grip to the board.  Wax comes in different degrees of hardness depending on water temperature. The last thing you want is for your wax to melt off of your board!
  • Fin: The fin is a stabilizing rudder fixed to the rear of the surfboard to prevent it from sliding sideways. Fins come in come in different shapes and sizes, and depending on the type of surfboard, you can have one, two, three, four, or five fins!  There is so much to be said for fins, that we could write a few posts on just this subject… but instead, for now, click here if you’ve just gotta know more about finsUnknown
  • Leash: This attaches you to your surfboard. Depending if you are “regular” or “goofy” foot, you either attach the leash to your right or left ankle (whichever is in the back of your board when you surf.)  Leashes keep your board close so you don’t have to swim to the beach to get your board if you wipeout, and protect other surfers in the lineup from your runaway board!
  • Size: Surfboards vary from shortboards to longboards. To find out more about how size matters, read our blog post here.

Those are the basics you have to know about surfboards. Remember, even though a lot of things today are machine made, the majority of surfboards are still shaped by hand. Support your local shaper and buy hand made!

In the past year, we’ve written a lot about Surf Science.  To learn more about Swell, how waves are formed, how wind affects waves or what makes a wave a left or a right, take a look at our blog.  We also have a super handy surf guide to places around the world, written by our local ambassadors, so take a look!

@lp10

@lp10

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Nena MI OLA

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avellanas

January
30

Surf Science: Swell Direction

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Izzy Poulin in the Dominican Republic. Photo by @jake_of_all_trades

In our other Surf Science posts, we’ve covered how waves are made, where and what direction they break, and wind conditions. Now we have to consider where the waves are coming from, swell direction.

Swells come from all different directions (North, South, East, or West), depending on where you are located in the world and where the storm that is generating the swell.  Swell direction is also further forecasted in degrees on a compass. For example, a South West swell is coming from the South West (and heading to the North East) and you can see from the diagram that the angle would be 225 degrees (numbers on the outside edge).

compass

A quick break down on degrees is:

North Swell (0 Degrees) = Heading South

East Swell (90 Degrees)  = Heading West

South Swell (180 Degrees) = Heading North

West Swell (270 Degrees) = Heading East

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Then we need to consider what direction your beach faces (North, South, East, or West). For example, our home break Tamarindo faces North-West.  The best waves usually are generated from a North or West swell.  These swells typically come from Alaska during the Northern Hemisphere winter at 265°- 310°. If you cross the river mouth here in Tamarindo and surf Playa Grande which faces South-West, the best swells come from the South at 170° – 240°. These swells are usually generated during the Southern Hemisphere winter.

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Tamarindo during a North swell. Photo by team rider Kristen Brown.

So what happens if you live in Tamarindo and there is a South swell???  There is potential for the swell to refract and still produce waves in Tamarindo (in general the swell angle needs to be greater than 210°). The waves will be smaller since the swell is not a direct hit to Tamarindo, BUT some waves are better than no waves!  And, at times the swell can be too powerful and direct for Playa Grande, so  more surfable waves happen to be in Tamarindo.

Sound a bit confusing? Don’t worry, just like weather forecasting, surf forecasting can be wrong. Our rule of thumb is to just show up and the beach, paddle out and have some fun!

 

November
8

Surf Guide: Christchurch, New Zealand

If you are not following the adventures of @insta_susi yet, then we highly recommend that you should. We met Susi through our MI OLA Brand Ambassador search and we just can’t get enough of this adventurous chica and mother of two beautiful girls. From surf trips in Bali, hill bombing in her MI OLA suit, to braving the freezing cold weather to take the pledge picture for #checkyourselfie, Susi keeps us on our toes for what she is up to next!

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Suzi

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We recently chatted with Susi about helping us to do a surf guide on one of the amazing places she has surfed. First location up is Sumner and Taylor’s Mistake in the Christchurch area of New Zealand. Check out the details from Susi herself!

 

My greatest passion in life is surfing and travelling and these two seem to go hand in hand nowadays. My surf adventures have taken me to Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Bali, Hawaii, Taiwan, Maldives, France, Spain, Norway and of course I have tried river-surfing on Munich’s famous Eisbach in Germany. My first local beach were the beaches of Christchurch, New Zealand.

Although I have settled down in Norway, surrounded by beautiful mountains and stunning coast lines with the occasional day of great surf, I still miss my New Zealand surf buddies and the fact that it was so easy back then to cross the street and be out in the surf. Growing up in southern Germany – more than 1500km away from decent surf it was like a dream come true to finally live by the sea in New Zealand.

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Location: Christchurch, New Zealand: Sumner and Taylor’s Mistake

New Zealand is blessed with 15,000 kilometers of coastline featuring a variety of breaks, waves, points and reefs. The diversity and consistency of surfing conditions is as remarkable as the stunning coastline itself. Christchurch is the largest  city on New Zealand’s South island and within a 30-50 minute drive are several great breaks.

 

Where to Surf:

Sumner

I lived in a little suburb just outside of Christchurch called Sumner. It is right at the beach and is charming with its palm trees and small cafes. It has a nice vibe going and this is where I learned to surf.

I surfed a lot at Sumner the first few months, however it is a bit of a sluggish wave and best ridden on a map (longboard). The beach break offers both left and rights and it is all over sand bottom. It works best at low or mid tide, as it gets a backwash at high tide. Also it can be tricky getting back in at high tide when the water is up on the rocks. Your easiest access point then is the boat ramp at Scarborough where you can easily get in and out off. On bigger days there can be an extremely strong rip dragging people out along the breakwater. The waves are best with ENE swells and it is offshore with SW winds.

If you happen to travel there and want to try out surfing – surfcoach Aaron and his learn to surf crew hire out equipment along the Esplanade and give great surf lessons. They are super friendly and professional, which I know first hand, as I occasionally worked there as a surf instructor.

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Taylor’s Mistake

My favorite and true local however wave is Taylor’s Mistake, where I surfed most of the time. It is just around the hill from Sumner, a small bay on Banks Peninsular. The waves are of better quality, however this place gets super crowded. You can surf Taylor’s on all tides and it needs a good ENE groundswell and W winds to really fire. But when it’s on it’s on. If it gets bigger, you can use the rip along the rocks on both sides of the bay to help you get out.

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If the waves weren’t good on my doorstep, there were endless options up or down the coast, but most my road trips where to the wild and breathtaking West Coast, where you’ll nearly always find surf.

 

Water temperature:

Water temperatures are fairly cold on the East Coast of the South Island ranging from 6 degrees Celsius in the winter to 21 degrees in the summer. So from end of January till the end of February, you have about 1 month to surf in your MI OLA bikini ; ) The further north you go in NZ, the warmer the water.

 

Crowd Factor:

Watch out for crowds as surfing has definitely gotten super popular at both Sumner and Taylor’s Mistake.

 

Apres Surf:

If you feel like a bite to eat after your surf Sumner has plenty options, but you won’t find anything at Taylor’s. Coffee Culture does great coffees, I used to love getting a takeaway chai latte and a sweet treat and walk along the beach or the Esplanade while looking at waves. Often my hubby and I used to surf till it was pitch black, so we would grab some yummy Indian at Indian Sumner or Little India or Thai from Redcliffs or Ferrymead (both really close). I haven’t lived there in nearly 4 years and after all the Earthquakes things have changed a lot, so I don’t know what’s still there and what’s new.

 

How to get there:

There is only one main route to Sumner from Christchurch and is well sign posted. Sumner is just twenty minutes drive from the centre of town If traveling by bus take the No. 3 Bus to Sumner, get off at the Stoke St stop in Sumner and walk 200 metres to the beach.

For Taylor’s Mistake, drive to the coastal suburb of Sumner, and then continue on to the Port Hills via Evans Pass Road. It is approximately a 50 minute drive from the centre of Christchurch. Public transport stops in Sumner, which is then a 45-60 minute walk over the hill.

 

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October
24

Surf Science: Wind, Rights, and Lefts

It’s (finally!) the weekend!!!  Whoo hooo!

 In the last few months, we’ve been learning the science behind waves and surfing.   We’ve covered how waves are made and where they break.  Now, to surf better you need to understand wind conditions and which direction to ride the wave! 

First, wind:  The wind can either make or break your surf session.  An easy way to know what direction the wind is blowing is to check the direction that a flag is waving in relation to the ocean and land.

Offshore Wind comes from the land and heads in the direction to the ocean. (Think that that the wind is come off the shore onto the water.)  Offshore wind is the best for surfing.  It ensures that the waves rolling in are well formed and break cleanly.  A quick way to know if is blowing offshore is if you see the “plume” spray from a crashing wave, like in the pictures below.

Wack-a-mole Tamarindo style. Kristen showing the boys how it's done.

Wack-a-mole Tamarindo style. Kristen showing the boys how it’s done.

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MI OLA Athlete Bailey Rosen

Onshore Wind comes from the ocean and onto land.  That refreshing breeze from the ocean on a hot summer day?   It’s bad for surf conditions.  There could be a really nice swell, but an onshore wind can make all the waves crumble and have no shape, making the waves un-surfable. No fun!

Cross shore wind is not desirable either, not giving shape to the waves.

Glass is when there is little-to-no wind at all, and the ocean looks like a pane of glass. Glassy conditions usually happen early in the morning. Glassy conditions are pretty awesome for surfers!

 

Next you have to know which way a wave is breaking, because riding straight is not as fun and carving up the face of a wave.

A wave can be either a left or a right, depending on which direction the wave breaks from the point of view of the surfer catching the wave.  When a surfer is paddling to catch a wave and the surfer will have to turn left to ride the wave, then this wave is a left.  The peak of the wave is on the surfer’s right shoulder as she catches the wave. (From the beach the wave will be seen to breaking to the right, but the surfer’s point of view counts here!)  Vice versa for a right.

If you are a regular foot surfer (you surf with your right foot back), going right is your frontside and going left is your backside (because your back is to the wave). For goofy footers it is just the opposite; going left is your frontside and going right is your backside.

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Brand Ambassador Cait, a goofy footer, going left

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Going right for a regular footer.

A beach break wave can either break left and right at the peak or in just one direction. If it’s breaking both directions, you can often have surfers riding the wave on both sides!  Point breaks are either a left or right.  Never both.

Or, depending on the conditions, the wave could be a closeout and break all at once. Surfers don’t like closeouts because they have no face of the wave to ride.

Got it?! Good! Now #getoutthere and go surf!

September
27

Surf Science: These are the Breaks

Paddle, paddle harder! Head up! Pop-up! 

Surfing looks easy.  In reality, it’s a complex sport, because there are many factors to take into account when you’re riding a wave. First, you have to master the balance and the mechanics.  Then you have to adjust to what the ocean is doing.  Ocean conditions are always changing and every wave breaks differently.

How do the pros make it look so easy? Two words: wave knowledge. With all the hours racked up in the water, advanced surfers can read and adjust to the changing conditions.

So let’s learn about waves.  We know, you thought a wave was just a wave… In our last Surf Science post we talked about how waves are made.Now we’re going to cover WHERE they break – different types of surf breaks.  There are 3 main types:  Beach breaks, Point Breaks and Reef Breaks.

Beach: These breaks are waves that break on sand. Wave shape, size, and peak location at beach breaks can vary significantly from day to day as the sand shifts. This type of wave is the best to start surfing on because of the sandy bottom.   If you hit bottom, you won’t get hurt by a reef or a rock!  Some of our favorite beach breaks are Playa Avellanas and Rockaway.

muses_kristina_barrel_1 Point: Point breaks are simply areas where waves break on a section of land that juts out from shore. When swells come from the right direction, they will wrap around these points to create epic waves. Some of the most consistent spots in the world, with the best-shaped waves and the longest rides, are point breaks. Team rider Kristen’s favorite point break is Ollie’s Point. 10341753_667932533255329_6581763324860072694_n

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Malibu: textbook right-hand point break

Reef: Reef breaks are waves that break on shelves of rock or coral. Unlike beach breaks, reef breaks are much more consistent in terms of wave shape and peak location. Most importantly for surfers, reefs can create phenomenal waves. Reef breaks are recommended for advanced surfers since the wave is breaking over rock or coral. One of brand ambassador Jordyn’s favorite reef breaks is Ehukai.

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Pipeline: world famous reef break

 

Got it? Good! Now #getoutthere and go surf!

 

Thanks to this site and this site for some great info!

September
5

Wave Science

What a week of waves! Last week, the East and West coast in the US saw great waves thanks to hurricanes.  Our Facebook and Instagram newsfeed were full of pictures and videos that made us salivate!  It’s rare that both coasts in the US get swell at the same time, so what happened?

Photo by Rick Loomis

Newport. Photo by Rick Loomis

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Malibu. Photo by Rick Loomis

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Malibu

Hurricanes.  That’s what.  Surfers love hurricanes.  (As long as they can benefit from the waves, and not get their houses flooded.)

Southern California lit up, especially Malibu and Newport Beach, with swell generated by Hurricane Marie.  And on the East coast, surfers scored too; Hurricane Cristobal generated major waves.

Photo: Lusk

Photo: Lusk

Photo: Lusk

Photo: Lusk

We hear California is gearing up for even more waves. Here in Costa Rica, we are stoked to see the swell building into the weekend.   When we get waves like this, everyone is out surfing (if they can handle the size.)

With all these waves, we thought we would share a simplified version of how waves are formed.  (Many thanks to this site and Surfline, where we got a refresher.)

How are waves formed?

Waves are made when wind transfers its energy from the air to the water. Three factors influence how big the waves get.

  • Speed of wind: The faster the wind is traveling, the bigger a wave will be.
  • Distance of wind: The farther the wind travels against the wave, the bigger it will be.
  • Time of wind: The longer the length of time the wind is hitting the wave, the bigger it will be.

As waves grow larger, the distance between waves will grows too.

The biggest waves are created by storms out at sea [like Hurricane Marie and Cristobal last week]. They start out as huge, choppy waves and gradually become strong, smooth peaks (swell). The swell drags against the ocean floor as it gets nearer to the beach. That dragging causes friction, which causes the wave to grow taller, slow down and eventually break.

The shape of the ocean floor and the direction of the wind are the two main factors that cause a wave to break (crash). The best surfing waves are usually caused by sand bars, rocky points breaks or reefs.  These underwater features cause the ocean floor to rise steeply, and they create the hollow tubes that surfers love.   For an extreme example, look at this image from Surfline of Teahupo’o.     Thousands of miles of Ocean and energy meet a really abrupt coral reef shelf… and create an amazing tube (and a devastating wipeout!)

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Waves break more gently and farther out if the slope of the ocean floor is gradual.  This is why certain beaches and surf spots are better than others.

Got it? That is the basics of how waves are formed. Then throw in swell direction, wind conditions, and tide, and you have the basics for surf forecasting for your surf break.

Now #getoutthere and go surf!

 

Our weekend plans...

Our weekend plans…