August
29

How to Help Donate to those Affected by Hurricane Harvey

Last week, a major hurricane slammed into Texas. Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a powerful category 4 hurricane last Friday. Almost a week later, even though Harvey now is a tropical storm, the storm is still wreaking havoc on Texas with an unprecedented amount of rainfall. Unprecedented as in some areas of Texas could see 50 inches of rain in a span of a couple of days, in comparison to the annual rainfall being 50 inches. Read on below to learn more about how you can best donate to those affected by Hurricane Harvey by MI OLA Chief Bikini Officer Helena.

28storm3-master768

George Huntoon helped Monica Aizpurua and her daughter Tristan Aizpurua, 18, to a boat in the Meyerland area of Houston. Credit Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times

Graphic courtesy NY Times

Houston is underwater. The water is still rising. 450,000 could seek disaster assistance. 11 trillion gallons of rain has already come down on Texas. 56,000 calls to Houston 911 in 15 hours. Around 13 million people are under flood watches and warnings stretching from Corpus Christi to New Orleans as the remnants of Hurricane Harvey menace the already drenched Texas and Louisiana. And the hurricane is expected to pass over Houston again in a few days.

Graphic courtesy NY Times

This is an insane, mind-boggling disaster. People are suffering… and recovery is going to take years. We all need to help. But how?

DON’T DONATE TO THE RED CROSS. Donate to organizations that will be on the ground helping people get back on their feet.

My favorite organization that is helpful to disasters around the world? Team Rubicon. They are an amazing organization that deploys veterans to disaster zones. These people are on the ground, salvaging belongings and helping people.

Other great options are donating to local organizations and churches that can help people immediately in the areas affected, with very low overhead.

Why am I anti Red Cross? Experience. And Data.

1-zv5JnzUnS-eHJLp0jdz2Iw

As a resident of the Rockaways, we were made homeless by Hurricane Sandy. It was the first time of my life that I didn’t know where I would sleep, and we also had my 18 month old girl with us. Every day, we went back to Rockaway to salvage our belongings and do what we could to save the house — without electricity, running water, or heat — and it was below freezing some days. We saw a LOT of media. And we saw a lot of amazing volunteers and organizations from around the world that helped the people on the Rockaway Peninsula. (Thank you!)

We did not see the Red Cross. Oh wait, except for on TV — you know that big concert with Bon Jovi that raised over $300Million for Hurricane Sandy victims. That money that was very slow to be distributed and some of which was moved to other areas of the country after the Red Cross determined that no more help was needed in the Rockaways.

(BTW — Our neighborhood is still rebuilding and still has abandoned, crumbling houses — almost 5 years after the Hurricane. Many people I know did not receive any aid. The ones that are back in their houses? Many paid to rebuild without any payout from insurance, or funds from FEMA.)

People walk through floodwaters on Telephone Road in Houston on Sunday after 2 feet of rain from Hurricane Harvey pummeled the Gulf Coast. Thomas B. Shea/AFP/Getty Images

People walk through floodwaters on Telephone Road in Houston on Sunday after 2 feet of rain from Hurricane Harvey pummeled the Gulf Coast.
Thomas B. Shea/AFP/Getty Images

Others concur about the lack of Red Cross efforts in the wake of natural disasters. A friend who was displaced by Hurricane Irene says “They (Red Cross) gave us a mop with 1 mini snickers and Tylenol. Which inspired much laughter in my neighborhood. A mop? There was LITERALLY 5 feet of water in my house.”

Another affected by Hurricane Sandy says “The mop they gave me was broken.”

Additionally, the media has covered how BAD the Red Cross is at natural disaster relief.

During Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, 40% of the Red Cross Relief Trucks were diverted for public relations (ie, providing a clean truck to appear in the background while officials speak)

25% of the funds raised to help Hurricane Victims in Haiti was used for internal expenses

So where should you donate?

Team Rubicon was excellent after Hurricane Sandy and is on the ground in Texas now.

Here are a couple of articles with lists with other great options.

How to Help Hurricane Harvey Victims (Slate)

Hurricane Harvey Charities That Work (VOX. please skip over the Red Cross plug and choose from the other organizations.)

Here’s How You Can Help People Affected By Harvey

Let’s get started helping the Hurricane Harvey Victims rebuild their lives. They are suffering. Let’s make sure that our donations reach them and make a difference.

June
16

Last Minute Father’s Day Gift Guide

If you’ve been a tad bit too busy getting out there enjoying the warmer weather and forgot that Father’s Day is this Sunday (gasp!), we’ve got you covered (literally and with our surf bikinis that stay on!). Check out our top five last minute Father’s Day gift recommendations for the active dads in your life to help him keep up with you!

Screen-Shot-2017-06-16-at-8.24.52-AM

MI OLA brand ambassador Jen P. @flentil with her family

Last Minute Father’s Day Gift Guide

  1. Grab a gift card to the ultimate online outdoor shop for men – Huckberry. Send the gift card directly to the dad in your life, or send it to yourself and print at home to deliver by hand (we recommend presenting with a bottle of his favorite drink).
  2. Meal subscription service to Thrive Foods Direct.  Perfect for your dad on the go! Focused on high-net-gain nutrition (aka the biggest nutritional bang after digestion), you may want a subscription too!
  3. Spotify Premium subscription, because there is nothing like being in the groove and staying in the groove (no pesky ad interruptions!)
  4. Cool outdoor gear that’s tried, tested, and delivered to his front door every month? Yes please! Enhance his outdoor experience with a subscription to Nomadik.
  5. For when he’s kicking up his feet and relaxing after a long day outside, how about a subscription to his favorite magazine like Outside Mag or an Amazon gift card for his favorite e-books?

 

Screen-Shot-2017-06-16-at-8.32.18-AM

MI OLA brand ambassador Susi @insta_susi with her husband

June
9

#GetOutThere Guide: Cuba

Cuba is on everyone’s radar, especially since travel for Americans has become more lenient in the past year. Traveling to Cuba is like stepping back in time, to a time when the internet didn’t rule over our attention and days went by slowly. Friendly smiles greet you as you stroll lazily around town. For American travelers, travel is still restricted to a dozen broad categories in order to obtain a visa.  Once you get this detail sorted, check out this biking guide by MI OLA brand ambassador Briana (@wanderlovebri) to #GetOutThere in Cuba!

Caribbean-sea

Photo by MI OLA ambassador Briana (@wanderlovebri)

#GetOutThere Guide: Cuba

We arrived in to Havana mid-week, in the afternoon. The sun was blazing. After a Rocky Mountain winter, there is nothing like Caribbean humidity! Long distance biking was at the top of our list so we headed directly to a small bike shop to set ourselves up for a week in Cuba. The best part about this trip was the minimal planning, which set us up for many moments of adventure and spontaneity. The only plan we had upon arrival was to rent bikes, aim toward Trinidad and take each day as it was.

vibrant-Cuba

Photo by MI OLA ambassador Briana (@wanderlovebri)

Day 1: Bike ~20 km from Havana to Guanabo.

biking-around-havana

Photo by MI OLA ambassador Briana (@wanderlovebri)

Havana is bustling, full of locals and tourists, cars older than my grandparents, beautiful architecture and crumbling buildings. All together in one city, beside the sea. The energy of the city will bring you to life! Our bike path wandered along residential streets and along busy streets. We eventually met the ocean and followed along the shoreline until we arrived at the ferry dock. A ferry is one of two options to cross from Havana to Casa Blanca: cars and buses commute through a tunnel and cyclists and pedestrians travel by ferry. The adventure in Cuba began!

Biking out of the city and into the country felt invigorating and inspiring. We biked through small towns, heading west. The hills are sustained and the descents are refreshing. At times the ocean was in our view, watching the sun move effortlessly through the humid air. As the sun approached the horizon, it was clearly time to discover accommodations for the first night. “Casa Particulares” are home stay lodging options that range from hostel style rooms to private apartments. Government authorized Casas display a blue and white symbol on the entry way. Rooms can be reserved in advance but since internet usage is so limited here, we decided to find a room by biking around each evening in the local town.

cuba-flag

Photo by MI OLA ambassador Briana (@wanderlovebri)

Day 2: Bike ~80 km from Guanabo to Matanzas.

We woke up to a view of the ocean from our Casa. On the second day, the bikes felt heavy. We loaded up our things, strapped everything on, and trudged up the first hill of the day. It seemed that our initial optimism drowned out the reality of many hill climbs. I highly recommend a topography map or a slower pace if you have intentions to bike around Cuba!

Lush-tropical-forest

Photo by MI OLA ambassador Briana (@wanderlovebri)

Day 3: Beach Day!

Its hard to believe that we spent a week on a Caribbean Island and only got a single beach day! I packed four MI OLA bikinis, hopeful that I would find myself living in them, beachside everyday. But the long mileage objectives the first couple of days meant that we had limited beach access. This morning, I made clear that we weren’t doing anything important- I needed to feel the sand between my toes, the exfoliation on my tired body, and the warm salt water to revive me!

fullsizeoutput_bc

Photo by MI OLA ambassador Briana (@wanderlovebri)

With some pieced-together Spanish dialogue, we found the local bus, which is really just some benches in the back of a big truck, and headed to Varadero. This peninsula is a resort filled area with a stunning 18km long beach. Initially we were concerned it was too developed and wouldn’t be peaceful. But, to our surprise, it was sleepy enough, and we found a slice of heaven on a nearly deserted beach. The water was so blue, with some of the most beautiful shades of aquamarine I’ve never seen before. The fine sand is like magical fairy dust. I strapped on my goggles and walked into the great ocean. Floating in the water was perfection; letting the gentle movement of the waves carry me into shore and out to sea, back and forth.

IMG_0619

Photo by MI OLA ambassador Briana (@wanderlovebri)

Later, we found all the resorts we had worried about, but they are clumped into an area on the end of peninsula. Don’t let this change your plans to enjoy this beautiful area. You can walk along the long stretch of white sand, wander the streets of Varadero, or hike around the Reserva Ecologica Varahicacos (a nature preserve with a simple trail system). While resorts often seem ubiquitous with tourists, it should be noted that this area is also enjoyed by locals. It isn’t far from Havana (a couple hours by bus) so even a single day or night venture is possible.

fullsizeoutput_113

Photo by MI OLA ambassador Briana (@wanderlovebri)

Day 4-6: Havana City Exploration.

We headed back to Havana by bus after the reality of distance, humidity, and a short length of time shifted our biking objectives. When in Cuba, plan to move leisurely and without too much planning! Here, plans evolve, buses don’t rush, and people are just living a relaxed island lifestyle.

classic-car

Photo by MI OLA ambassador Briana (@wanderlovebri)

I’m not much a city explorer; I prefer wide open spaces along the sea and in the mountains. But, here are some must sees in Havana:

Mercado Tulipa: The markets are the heart of the people. Everywhere I travel, I seek the markets to enjoy local fruits and vegetables, to find spices to bring home, and to enjoy the local foods. This market is just outside the city center. You can get here by bus, taxi, or a nice walk through some of the historics sites along the way.

Mercado-Tulipa

Photo by MI OLA ambassador Briana (@wanderlovebri)

Eat street food: In many places around the world, street food gets a bad reputation for making people sick. But, this is where the local flavors are and for cheap! For less than a dollar you can enjoy fresh breads piled with smoked meat, arroz con griz (rice and beans), and fresh juices. La Riviera in the heart of downtown offered the absolute best Pan con Lechon! Think fresh rolls with freshly sliced pork roast, a pinch of salt and some pepper infused vinegar. So delicious! And don’t forget to get an orange soda to wash it all down. Enjoy the bustling city street as you sit on the sidewalk and basque in the energy of Havana.

Pan-(fresh-bread)

Photo by MI OLA ambassador Briana (@wanderlovebri)

Callejon de Hamel: On Sunday at 12pm every week, locals and tourists gather in an alleyway that has been covered in art. It is a cultural hub for Afrocubana art and music. There is live music, dancing, good food, galleries to explore and art hanging from ornately created pillars of what most would consider junk. It is beautiful and vibrant. If you visit any other day, it is likely to be much quieter than Sundays- this is the gathering day! At every turn, your imagination will come to life.

Callejon-de-hamel

Photo by MI OLA ambassador Briana (@wanderlovebri)

Coppelia: Cubans love their ice cream. There are little spots to get a cone of delicious ice cream all over the place. But here at Coppelia, it’s a scene worth seeing. Stand in line for a while then get guided into the largest ice cream parlor you’ve probably ever seen. Its a gathering place for the local people and well worth a visit. They only serve ice cream in a variety of ways- scoops, sundaes, shakes. But only ice cream!

Walk around: Make time to walk around the city. The architecture, corridors of culture, colors and energy are best enjoyed by foot. There is so much to see and feel that this experience should not be rushed. If you want to cover a little more ground, consider a bike rental. Ruta Bikes offers an inexpensive bike rental with lock, helmet, and everything you need to stroll around the city. At some point, jump in an old classic car to feel the energy of the 50s, but trust me on the walking part- move slow.

architecture

Photo by MI OLA ambassador Briana (@wanderlovebri)

Other Cuba Tips:

Get out of the city! Beautiful beaches, lush green forest, sleepy fishing villages, and a truly connected experience exist away from the bustling city. Bike, train, bus, taxi, and car are all great options for exploring. Many locals bike so drivers are very respectful and give plenty of space (except in the tight city streets). Trains are few and slow. Buses are relatively frequent yet they are not cheap. There are a few types of public transportation, but many are segregated between locals and tourists. If you are well spoken in Spanish and can talk your way on to a co-operativo bus, you are guaranteed friendly interaction with local people. The tourist buses are more comfortable, with air conditioning and wi-fi, but the local modes of transport are vibrant and give beautiful insight to how the people move. Taxis are a great way to get around the city or across short distances, but they will get quite expensive if you intend to use them for long distances. Be sure to agree on a taxi price before getting in. Lastly, cars are an option for exploration although without personal experience with renting, insurance, etc, I don’t have much to offer for tips.

Callejon-de-hamel

Photo by MI OLA ambassador Briana (@wanderlovebri)

Don’t expect to find much wi-fi connection. For the moments when a connection is absolutely necessary, locate a wi-fi park on a map. Yes, its an outdoor plaza where there is a random internet connection. Look for someone selling wi-fi cards at about $3 cuc for an hour. Where the people are congregating is likely the best connection. Then log on and enjoy your brief connection into modern time…then log off and enjoy the simplicity of life without constant connection.

Download Cuba maps on Maps.me . These maps are great for seeing wi-fi zones (parks with wi-fi), casa particulares, playas (beaches), and more.

When: We visited in early May. The weather was hot, & humid: island perfection!

fullsizeoutput_bf

Photo by MI OLA ambassador Briana (@wanderlovebri)

How to get there: Flying in and out of Havana from the states is simple and direct. While Havana has a lot of character and historic sites to see, I highly recommend wandering outside the city to truly experience the Cuban culture.

Cuba-from-the-sky

Photo by MI OLA ambassador Briana (@wanderlovebri)

June
2

Hang With MI OLA Girls

All around the world, from Tahiti to the Florida Keys, our MI OLA ambassadors #getoutthere. They surf, salute the sun, SUP, hike mountains, cycle cross country, to so much more and we love keeping up and supporting them with their adventures. Not surprisingly, several lead retreats and are instructors, from yoga to kite surfing. If you have a trip planned or need some inspiration for your next outdoor vacation, why not hang with the MI OLA girls? Check it out below!

keri-in-langosta

Do you love traveling to yoga vocations around the world? Then yogi and ambassador Jessica Bellofatto is your go-to mermaid! Jessica leads retreats all around the world, from Greece to Panama. Past retreats have been surfing in Costa Rica, Stand Up Paddleboarding in Mexico, hiking in Macchu Picchu or cycling through Tuscany. Her ultimate priority with her yoga retreat vacations is FUN. Get ready for your dream adventure: energizing yoga, cultural immersions, and delicious organic food are on the agenda. Jessica has upcoming retreats in York, Maine, Bocas del Toro, Panama, Rincon, Puerto Rico, Tulum, Mexico, Ithaca, Greece, and Umbria, Italy.

img_3008

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Jessica- @jessicabellofatto

 

Planning on exploring and road tripping through the Florida Keys? Be sure to stop in Marathon at ambassador Amanda’s yoga studio, Sol Shine Yoga. After a transformative trip and yoga teach training in India, Amanda founded Sol Shine Yoga Studio in Marathon. The studio is a community staple in Marathon where conchs, snowbirds, and spring breakers alike come to practice. And be sure to check out the studio’s great workshops, from full moon yoga to a Zen Sound session. Sign us up!

miola_mermandbowpose

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda – @mermanda_

 

 

Dreaming of escaping to a tropical island? Us too! Why not learn to kite board in Tahiti with ambassador Elise and her husband Mat? For all levels, from beginners to advanced, Wind Chasers Tahiti personalizes your lessons, making sure it’s safe and fun. Their school does lessons on the different spots of the main island of Tahiti so you can discover the most beautiful places for kitesurfing. Follow the wind with Wind Chasers Tahiti !

Elise 1

 

Headed to the Hamptons this summer? Drop on in to ambassador Leslie Pearlman’s yoga studio, Good Ground Yoga in Hampton Bays.  The studio is a vibrant, creative center where people gather to embrace the spirit of yoga and holistic healing. Good Ground Yoga welcomes students from all walks of life– from first time students to seasoned practitioners. Throughout the year the studio offers teacher trainings and workshops. And don’t worry, you don’t have to plan to teach yoga to take yoga teacher training – – check out Leslie’s great insight!

1u8a0602

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie- @goodgroundyoga

 

 

Are you dreaming of a relaxing beach vacation? Then head out to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, a 200 mile long barrier island that sits off the coast of North Carolina in the Atlantic Ocean. With ocean on one side and the Pamlico Sound on the other, it’s one of the only places where the sun rises and sets on the water! The Outer Banks (OBX) also just so happens to be where ambassador Adrienne Kina lives and plays. From pristine beaches, fishing, museum hopping, shopping, hang gliding, world class surfing, kite boarding, windsurfing, SUP boarding, jet skiing, boating, kayaking and biking, the OBX is an outdoor enthusiasts dream. If you’re itching to learn to surf or kite board (or are in the market for a new surfboard!), head on over to REAL Watersports where Adrienne works.

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 10.34.39 AM

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Adrienne- @yokeens

May
26

#GetOutThere Guide: Florida Keys Roadtrip

Road trips are a great American classic. There’s just something about having the radio on and volume up, windows down, and pedal to the metal that invokes an element of mystery and excitement unlike any other way to travel. Follow our ambassador Amanda (@Mermanda_) on a mermaid style road trip down the Florida keys where she uncovers and discovers sunken treasures in her own backyard.

FullSizeRender-6

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda- @Mermanda_

The MI OLA girls guide to a Florida Keys Road Trip 

The Florida Keys are an archipelagic collection of 43 islands connected by a 113 mile, 42 bridge leap frog roadway known as the Overseas Highway.

florida_keys_map

On this journey we’re starting at the top, mile marker (MM) 102.5 Key Largo, John Pennecamp Coral Reef State Park. The first underwater park in the United States and home to Christ of the Abyss, the underwater Jesus statue. While most of the park is underwater, the coral rock beaches are a truly keysie spot for ocean side meditations, a yoga class inspired by the sea, and pirate style exploring through the mangroves. If you stay long enough you’ll probably catch a glimpse of a few marine mammals, if not, cruise on down to our next stop.

IMG_1398

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda- @Mermanda_

 

Theater of the Sea in Islamorada, MM 84.5, is home to rescued sea turtles, sea sions, and dolphins turned educators. The trainers and residents of Theater of the Sea are eager to tell you all about proper use, disposal of and alternatives to plastics, as well as what fish to and not to eat right now. There are always new, innovative ways we can keep our oceans healthy, especially the Marine Sanctuary that is the Florida Keys.

FullSizeRender-4

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda- @Mermanda_

Also in Islamorada is an eclectic little must see known simply as “Robbie’s.” At MM 77.5 bayside  you can grab lunch, check out some local art, and you can …wait for it… HAND FEED wild, 200 pound, 6 foot long, giant scale-y Megalops sea monster’s, commonly known as Tarpon. Yep, adrenaline is a go and you’re gonna need a MI OLA suit for this one!

G0273889

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda- @Mermanda_

While we’re on the subject of “Hand Feeding Things Your Mother Doesn’t Want You Anywhere Near,” head south 25 miles and you will find Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters. A fully interactive aquarium where you can feed, by hand, everything from sharks and stingrays to turtles and rainbow fish.

For more adrenaline adventures and action sports check out Keys Cable. They have a full menu of board sports for which you’re gonna want your MI OLA. Most of their offerings can be done on site in their 5 acre lagoon; read: wake boarding, paddle boarding, SUP yoga. If the winds are right they can take you and teach you to kite board.

Also located in Marathon, Florida, affectionately known as “the Heart of the Keys” is Sol Shine Yoga at MM 50.5. This your yoga studio for hot, private, aerial, yin, and even full moon beach yoga.

Check out Amanda’s #GetOutThere Guide to Marathon, FL.

IMG_2258

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda- @Mermanda_

 

Keep heading south over the Seven Mile Bridge, through Keys with crazy names like Cudjoe, Sugarloaf, and Shark, another 50 miles or so and you will reach MM 0; Key West – the southern most point in the United States where you’re closer to Cuba than to a Wal-Mart, we like it like that.

Key West is a world of it’s own. There is so much to see and do; a stroll though the butterfly sanctuary, wreck and reef diving until your heart’s content, parasailing, or bar crawling in the footsteps of some of the great paradise dreamers like Jimmy Buffet, Kenny Chesney, and Ernest Hemingway. Of course, you could also spend days, or years, relaxing on the beach sipping rum runners, margaritas, and Miami vices.

The only downside to this MI OLA girls dream is the limitation on where to stay. Camping is hard to come by, hotels can be pricy, and Air BnB’s aren’t always allowed. Check out the hostel in Key West or Gulf View Resort on Grassy Key as your home base for this once in a lifetime, passport not required, road trip.

Go, #getoutside!

IMG_2018

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda- @Mermanda_

May
19

Last Minute Memorial Day Weekend Ideas

Mermaids, we have made it to the start of another summer! With Memorial Day Weekend and the unofficial start to summer next weekend, if you’re like us and can’t believe how fast this year is going, then you may have forgotten to make Memorial Day plans. But, we have your covered – – with surf bikinis AND some awesome last minute Memorial Day Weekend trip ideas! Check it out below:

screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-10-21-03-am

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Andrea V- @vitiviti

 

Last Minute Memorial Day Weekend Ideas

Day Trip to Rockaway or Long Beach
Calling all New York City + surrounding area mermaids! Escape the concrete jungle, hop on the ferry, the subway or LIRR, and head to the beach. Two of our favorites are within an hour train ride from Manhattan. And the best part? You don’t even have to worry about finding a hotel or AirBnB – – Rockaway and Long Beach are perfect day trip destinations.

Check out our Surf Guides to Rockaway and Long Beach

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 1.20.38 PM

 


Sanibel Island, FL

Sanibel Island on the southwest coast of Florida to explore one of Florida’s most pristine beaches. Known for its wide variety of beautiful shells, Sanibel Island is a beachcomber’s paradise and nothing short of magical. According to the Sanibel tourist board, there are 250 different type of shells, 230 types of birds, 15 miles of beaches, and zero traffic lights!

Check out our Guide to Sanibel Island

IMG_4982

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda- @mermanda_

 

 

Have Fun in the Mountains in Lake Tahoe
The Lake Tahoe Basin has the glistening gem of a lake at its heart; ideal for summer swims, reading on the beach, paddle boarding, and kayaking. The lake is approximately 72 miles around, by road, and makes for a beautiful, scenic drive; Emerald Bay is a highlight of the drive; a natural bay surrounded by steep mountainous terrain jutting from its edges. The Tahoe Rim Trail is an amazing long distance hike that circumferences the lake, in and out of state park land, wilderness, and forest.

Check out our guide to Lake Tahoe

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 11.18.38 AM

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Briana- @openheartadventure

 

Road Trip(!) to the Outer Banks
Hop in the car, and head to the Outer Banks, a 200 mile long barrier island that sits off the coast of North Carolina in the Atlantic Ocean. With ocean on one side and the Pamlico Sound on the other, the sun rises and sets on the water. Be sure to pack all of your outdoor gear, as the Outer Banks offers something for every outdoor enthusiast, fishing, hang gliding, world class surfing, kite boarding, windsurfing, SUP boarding, jet skiing, boating, kayaking, biking, or just relaxing on the beach!

Check out our #GetOutThereGuide to the Outer Banks and our Surf Guide to OBX.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.11.36 PM

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Adrienne- @yokeens

 

Costa Rica
Itching to hop on a plane and travel outside of the USA for the long weekend? Costa Rica has many direct flights from all over the continental US, perfect for a quick getaway. Our tropical home base, Costa Rica is paradise for surfers and outdoor enthusiasts. Some of our favorite beaches to surf and explore included Tamarindo, Playa Avellanas, Playa Grande, and Playa Guiones.

muses_kristina_barrel_1

Lifestyle photo shoot for Kim (@_thesunnyside_) at The Harmony Hotel in Nosara, Costa Rica. Kim is wearing a MI OLA surf bikini. Photographed by Kristen M. Brown, Samba to the Sea Photography.

Kim (@_thesunnyside_) photographed by MI OLA team rider Kristen M. Brown, Samba to the Sea (@sambatothesea).

 

 

 

May
12

How To Cope With An Injury

It’s true. If you do any physical activity long enough, there’s a good chance you’ll get injured, either from overuse, over-zealousness or just bad luck. Accidents do happen, and some of our favorite activities have inherent risks of injury.  Usually, the injuries are minor, and after a few days off, you’re back in the game.  But sometimes, the injury is significant, requiring a long layoff or possibly retiring from that sport completely.  It can be hard to get on with things when something you love to do isn’t an option any longer… So how do you cope when you’re an injured mermaid? Check out brand ambassador Jen P. (@flentil) tips for coping with injury below!

Screen_Shot_2016-09-13_at_12.17.17_PM_large

Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Jen P. @flentil

Dry Docked: Even Mermaids Get Injured Sometimes. How to Cope!

From Mermaid to Medusa

When you can’t get out there, Depression, Crankiness and all-around Crazy can result…but they don’t have to!!!

I have many sports and activities that I enjoy, but first and foremost, I’ve been a lifelong runner.  I didn’t just love it…I was good at it. Really good.  I was competitive right up until…I had major knee surgery this past March.  It was unexpected, and when the surgeon went in to fix me up, it was worse than they thought.  When I had my post-op visit with the surgeon, one of my first questions was “Can I run again? And when?”  I got a reluctant “Maybe” and a sobering discussion about the condition of the cartilage in my knee and my long-term prognosis for running and other high-impact activities.  It became rapidly apparent that if I did run again, it would very different from before.  No more hills. No more high mileage.  No more competitive training.  No more racing.

I used to be fast.  I was a good runner.  Even now, at age 47 (gulp! Am I really admitting my age in a public blog?) I could hold my own with runners half my age.  I loved the training.  I loved the racing.  I loved being outside.  I loved running with my running buds.

Just like that…gone. Over. No mas.

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 11.27.08 AM

Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Jen P. @flentil

Don’t Just Drift With the Current…Start Swimming. Take Control!

The Universe had sent me a forceful message that it was time to start a new Chapter.  I could write it myself or let it be written for me.

OK, so I may or may not have cried most of the way home from that appointment with my surgeon.  But once I got that out of the way, it was time to think about the fact that I wasn’t going to spend the rest of my days sitting on my duff feeling sorry for myself, thinking about how I used to be a runner. Who was I going to be now?  Well, pretty much the same person as before, DUH! And that wasn’t a person that sat around sulking, that’s for sure! Let’s GO!

It was time to figure out what I COULD do, and get on with it!  Because any person who loves physical activity, starts to get a wee bit dodgy when they are cooped up and sitting around for too long.  It isn’t healthy, mentally OR physically.   I wasn’t going to be doing myself any good, and I certainly wasn’t going to be any good for my husband and son, either.

Screen-Shot-2017-04-21-at-4.10.12-PM

Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Jen P. @flentil

 

Don’t be a One-Trick Pony

Diversify Your Interests: Get Excited for the Next Big Thing!

Sometimes, it is easy to get all wrapped up in your fave activity to the exclusion of other sports and interests.  That was me for a long time.  I’m so thankful that I started paddling 4 years ago…it’s been a real gift since my injury.  It gives me that same long, steady, rhythmic outdoor experience that I loved with running and it’s an equally intense workout.  I’m so thankful that when I turned 40, I let my friend talk me into learning to surf, it’s given me a whole new way to have fun in the water.  When we were on spring break right after my surgery, I traded out my pre-dawn run for sunrise swims along Seven Mile Beach.  An hour of swimming goes by pretty fast when you are looking for sting rays and puffer fish!

Screen-Shot-2017-04-21-at-4.09.22-PM

Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Jen P. @flentil

 

Move On and Get Moving!

We all know the saying: Whoever is having the most fun, wins!  Truth be told, I’m having a great time getting better at a few things that I didn’t make as much time for previously.  And that has been awesome!  Instead of a marathon or a few 5Ks on the schedule, I have a couple of SUP races to look forward to this year!

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-8-57-25-am

Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Jen P. @flentil

The one sport that remains untested since my surgery is surfing…and the jury is still out on that one. I won’t know until summer. If it works out, I’ll be thrilled.  If not…I have my boogie board and fins ready to go!  And of course, my fave MI OLA bikinis!!

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 11.28.59 AM

Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Jen P. @flentil

I wish you all good health and fitness! But if an injury does happen to set you back, don’t let it stop you! GET OUT THERE!

Do you have any tips for coping with a long-term or permanent injury that you’d like to share? Leave them in the comments!

May
5

#GetOutThere Guide Turks and Caicos

If you’re seeking amazing tropical turquoise waters, relaxation and quiet, head to Turks and Caicos.  These islands are visually stunning and any beach dwellers dream. The islands do not draw the large crowds of other more developed Caribbean islands, but don’t let that fool you. This place is a jewel. We caught up with world traveller and MI OLA ambassador Ashley B. to get the inside info on these islands. Check out her #GetOutThere Guide to Turks and Caicos below.

FullSizeRender-2

MI OLA Ambassador Ashley B.

 

The Islands:
Providenciales is the most popular and populated of the Turks and Caicos islands.  While the other islands are equally beautiful, you need to take a ferry, private chartered boat, or inter island flight to travel between them.  Some of the islands are uninhabited. Nearby the island shores are “cays”.  These smaller bodies of land are accessible only by boat. The cays are white sand beaches only a few inches above the ocean reef. Some cays are private property, so be mindful of possible trespassing when arriving ashore.

Best Beaches:
Sapodilla Bay
Malcolm’s Beach
Pirates Cove-west harbor

FullSizeRender

MI OLA Ambassador Ashley B.

What to Do:
Fishing: Most areas inside the reef are protected, so no fishing unless you’re outside the reef. There is ample fishing to be had, however a charter can be expensive. So if possible, bring your own gear and rent a boat for a morning or day. This will save you money and make the experience more personal.

IMG_3475

MI OLA Ambassador Ashley B.

Boating: When renting a boat for the day, be sure to get a navigation GPS system and a map. While Providenciales is fairly easy to navigate, the waters are more challenging. There are shallow reefs and rocks which can be a problem if you don’t know your way around the waters. Visit the other nearby “cays” and enjoy a secluded beach to yourself. You may also want to dock your boat in the Blue Haven marina or Turtle Cove marina for a bite to eat or a drink.

IMG_3476

MI OLA Ambassador Ashley B.


Snorkeling: Snorkeling in the shallow waters or coral gardens is beautiful. You can expect to see starfish, sea turtles, various types of fish, lobsters, sharks, and sting rays. Having your own gear is easiest as you will likely want to snorkel at most beaches and reef sites.

FullSizeRender-1

MI OLA Ambassador Ashley B.

Diving: Best if you are certified before your trip. Beginner dives (resort dives) include pool simulation and the depth for diving is only 40ft. This is a very expensive experience. Anticipate $300 for resort dive and $150-$200 for a 2 tank dive if certified.
Other activities include kayaking, paddle boarding, walking/running on the mile long beaches
Where to Dine:
Bella Luna is an Italian restaurant with very cool ambiance and delicious food. Order a homemade pasta dish or any of their fish entrees.
Shark Bite is a casual island food eatery located on the marina in Turtle Cove. This is a great place for a cocktail or simple bite to eat. The conch fish and chips are best.
Da Conch Shack is located right on the beach. Put your feet in the sand as you sip on the rum punch and snack on the conch fritters.
Coco Bistro is an upscale restaurant serving delicious eclectic dishes that are unlike anything else on the island. This restaurant has a reputation as one of the best restaurants on the island. Make a reservation in advance!
Las Brisas is the best place by far on the island. The food and the view are unparalleled. Everything on the menu is amazing and cooked to perfection. This is a small restaurant located right on Chalk Sound. Be sure to make a reservation before sunset.

FullSizeRender-3

MI OLA Ambassador Ashley B.

Getting Around:
A car is a necessity. We were able to rent one through our Airbnb. You don’t need anything fancy or a 4 wheel drive, just something to get you around the island. I wouldn’t recommend a scooter as the weather is variable and the roads are not always accessible via scooter. The best desolate and secluded beaches are only accessed by dirt roads and some rocky terrain. There is one main road on the island-leeward highway. Navigating around the island is very easy, but ask for a map if possible. Remember to drive on the opposite side of the road than the US!

IMG_3378

MI OLA Ambassador Ashley B.

 

Where to Stay:
Airbnb or VRBO is the best bet. The hotels and resorts in the Grace Bay area are nice but are overrated. The resorts cater to an “all inclusive” type vacation and this area of the island is not only popular, but also pricey. We stayed at the “Sweet Escape” in Turtle Cove. We were even able to rent their Jeep vehicle as well as their Triton boat for two days! This was a more affordable and convenient way to go for us.

 

What to Anticipate:
The islands use USD as the currency. This makes purchasing most items very easy. Credit cards are accepted in most places. Everything is imported,  and thus has a fairly expensive price tag. Don’t be surprised by the high price of grocery items. Anticipate $50 for a 24 pack of beer. It’s worth it to bring whatever items possible in your luggage as you will be shocked by the cost of the simple necessity items. A cooler and picnic is the more thrifty route compared to eating at the eateries on the island.

What to Bring:
Bug spray- mosquitos and no-see-ums are common on the island depending on the time of year
Sunscreen- non greasy is best due to humidity
Snorkel gear- cheaper than renting, although some Airbnb and VRBO rentals may provide this
Light clothing- evenings are warm so no need to bring heavy clothing
MI OLA bikini!
Getting there:
While getting there may be long and a little pricey, be sure to check flights connecting through other nearby cities. Providenciales is a smaller airport and the island itself is not as commonly traveled as the other nearby islands. Anticipate the airfare to be $600-$700 average roundtrip.
IMG_3376

MI OLA Ambassador Ashley B.

April
28

#GetOutThere Guide: Grand Cayman

We have amazing brand ambassadors. They inspire us to #getoutthere every day and are always on the move, especially Jen P. (@flentil). From the Galapagos, Costa Rica, running marathons, sunrise SUP sessions, to the Grand Caymans, this mermaid certainly keeps us on our toes! Jen just got back from a recent trip to the Grand Caymans and here’s her guide. Check it out!

 

Caribbean Paradise: Grand Cayman

For the last 5 years, my family has made Grand Cayman an annual destination. Every year, we think we’re going to change it up and go somewhere new, but we love it too much!  The crystal clear, turquoise water, the sultry warm air and the amazing sea life keep bringing us back.

Screen-Shot-2017-04-21-at-4.10.12-PM

Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Jen P. @flentil

What to Do:

Snorkeling

The main activities on Grand Cayman are water-based, naturally!  Vibrant reefs and the famous Cayman Wall offer incredible opportunities for diving and snorkeling. There are wonderful spots to check out pretty much everywhere.  Even right in downtown George Town, there is an amazing marine park, Devil’s Grotto and Eden Rock.  Enter from South Church Street – you can park right at Paradise Seaside Grill and the entrance to the water is just to one side of the restaurant.  And Paradise is a great place to enjoy a post snorkel or dive meal with pleasant, shaded outdoor seating right on the water.  You can also go one building up the road to the Eden Rock Diving Center for another entry point to the marine park – plus, they have rental snorkel and dive gear if you don’t have your own.

You can swim out from the beach pretty much all up and down Seven Mile Beach to enjoy fun snorkel adventures, but further north on Seven Mile Beach is Cemetery Beach, where there is a really nice snorkeling spot.  You do have to swim out about 100 yards to get there.  The beach is just behind – you guessed it – a local cemetery.  As you pass by the cemetery from the road to the beach, please be respectful!

Another well-known snorkel spot is Rum Point. Located on the East Side of the Island, it’s about a 45 minute drive from Seven Mile Beach.  It’s a great spot for young kids – the water is quite shallow. There is a pretty fun, short stretch of rocks with many little reef fish in about 5 feet or water that is accessible just to the right of the dock out past the swimming areas.  For the adults and bigger kids, there is more snorkeling further out with amazing corals and larger fish. Be mindful of currents and boats. And if the wind is out of the east, it will be choppy with poor visibility.

 

If you plan to visit Rum Point, GO EARLY.  Rum Point is a popular destination for both on-island visitors as well as cruise ship guests so by lunch time it can get really busy!

Screen-Shot-2017-04-21-at-4.09.22-PM

Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Jen P. @flentil

Diving

Because Grand Cayman is essentially the very top of a huge underwater mountain, the famous Cayman Wall runs around the island, dropping off in some places to 3000ft!  Because the wall faces all directions, there will almost always be at least one area suitable for diving regardless of conditions.  Dive shops abound on the island, along with reputable tour operators.  Do your homework and find one that is right for you!

 

Sting Ray City

You can’t really talk about Grand Cayman without mentioning Sting Ray City – it’s the largest tourist draw for the entire island. Each year, millions of people trek out to the shallow sandbars in North Sound. Southern Stingrays are literally everywhere!  They have become quite used to people, so even though they are still wild (which means they do still have the barb at the base of their tail) they are comfortable swimming around you.  Generally, someone from your boat’s crew will hold one for you to say hello to if you wish, or, if you’re like me, you can kind of go to the edge of things, away from the everyone else, and just enjoy swimming alone with these beautiful, enormous creatures.  This spot can become a bit of a spectacle, so if you plan to check it out, I definitely recommend going first thing in the morning or at the very end of the day, when the majority of other tours are gone.  Check out the “Breakfast with the Rays” tour offered by Red Sail, or there are lots of private charter options that will get you out there when fewer people are present.

Screen-Shot-2017-04-21-at-4.09.33-PM

Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Jen P. @flentil

Fishing

My son’s passion is fishing, so every year we try to include a fishing charter of some kind.  Good fishing is as close as a quarter mile offshore, where the ocean floor drops off sharply, plummeting thousands of feet to create a natural thoroughfare for the big migratory pelagic species prized by anglers.

One of the Cayman Islands’ biggest attractions for anglers is that big fish run close to the coastlines of Grand Cayman. Popular gamefish such as blue marlin, yellowfin tuna, wahoo, dorado and barracuda are caught year-round. Water temperature varies annually only about 8 -10 degrees and the baitfish are here year-round – which means the bigger fish are too.

If you’re keen to fish, you can charter a boat for deep sea fishing, bottom reef fishing (sometimes more fun for young kids) and light tackle/fly fishing in the flats.  Pretty much every type of fishing option is present on Grand Cayman and there are countless outfits to show you the ropes!

You can fish from shore, and no license is required, as long as you practice catch and release…just be sure you are not in any protected marine park areas – and there are many of these, so check carefully before casting out.

Catch and release is strongly encouraged for all fishing in these waters – unless you know it will be your dinner, please release your catch!  Your guide will know seasons, limits and keeper sizes for the fish, or you can easily find this information online.

Sailing

There’s often a good breeze blowing around this island, so if you enjoy sailing, you can either rent a sailboat for yourself, or catch a ride to enjoy a trip to Stingray City, secret snorkel spots, or just to take in the sunset.

SUP

If you love SUP, this place is for you!  Beautiful clear water, there’s always something to see.  If you own a board, especially an inflatable, pack it up and bring it along.  Rentals are available on-island, but check into rates, because it can get expensive.  I strongly recommend getting out at daybreak or just before sunset, when the wind tends to be lightest and the sun won’t scorch you.  If you head out later, be sure to mind your sunscreen and pay attention to wind.  It can pick up quickly and I’ve seen a number of people, especially beginners, who needed help getting back to shore.

Screen-Shot-2017-04-22-at-8.39.38-AM

Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Jen P. @flentil

George Town

George Town is the big city on the island, with many shops and restaurants if you feel like wandering around.  Keep an eye on the cruise ships that are docked because if there are several of them, downtown will be SUPER crowded until the mid-afternoon when their passengers head back to the ships for departure.  Other things located downtown include the Atlantis Submarine and they also have a glass bottom boat option.  These are cool ways to see all the underwater beauty if you are traveling with others who don’t snorkel or dive, or just if you need an adventure out of the sun in the middle of the day!

Queen Elizabeth II Royal Botanic Garden

Looking for an inland activity?  These botanic gardens are a great change of pace, especially on a cloudy day.  Enjoy the manicured paths, ponds and beautiful local flora. These gardens are one of the few places where you can see the now-endangered native blue iguana. The blue iguanas have been overrun by the non-native green iguanas, but they are keeping them safe within the boundaries of these gardens and you’ll see them in a few places as you walk around.

 

Screen-Shot-2017-04-22-at-8.39.48-AM

Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Jen P. @flentil

 

Getting around on Grand Cayman:

Depending on where you want to go, there are some easy shuttles you can take to get around, especially if you are going to some of the better known tourist destinations.  The island isn’t very big, only 22 miles long and 8 miles wide at its widest point.  Nothing is too far away, but the driving is a bit slow, so allow time.  Renting a car is a convenient way to get around and offers a lot of freedom to explore, but remember, they are a British Territory, so they drive on the left side of the road – be sure you are comfortable giving that a go!

Screen-Shot-2017-04-21-at-4.10.29-PM

Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Jen P. @flentil

Where to Stay:

There are lots of choices to suit your budget and interests.  The most popular area is Seven Mile Beach because of its beautiful, white sandy beach and tranquil swimming.  The accommodations on Seven Mile Beach include hotels and condos.  House rentals can be found in other areas of the island, especially on the east side towards Rum Point.  There are numerous boutique hotels around the island as well.  Getting away from Seven Mile Beach will give you less hustle and bustle, but you may find that the beaches are rocky or not suitable for swimming so make sure you do your homework to make sure you find a place that suits your needs and interests.

What to Eat:

No surprise that you should order the fish any chance you get, it’s the freshest option.  And if you see lionfish on the menu, GET IT!  This species is highly invasive and causing all sorts of damage to the reefs.  By creating demand for this fish in restaurants, you are helping to control the local lionfish population.  Other local menu choices includes Caribbean jerk, escovitch and conch chowder.  In and around George Town there are loads of restaurant options.  We’ve enjoyed Paradise Grill (as I mentioned) as well as the Lobster Pot, which has a nice sunset view if you ask to sit outside and the kids always enjoy looking down at the tarpon swimming right around the docks.  You can get fantastic BBQ from Pepper’s Bar & Grill (they also do take-out and delivery).  Eats Cafe is a less expensive but super reliable place to grab a bite, it’s right on Seven Mile Beach across the road from the Westin.

If you head out of town towards the more residential areas such as Bodden Town, you may see some roadside jerk stands.  If you spot one and you’re hungry, definitely stop in!  The food is usually less expensive and REALLY good!

If you stay in a place that has a kitchen, there are several grocery stores in and around George Town…Kirk’s Market has a good selection.  If you see local avocados for sale, pick up a few, they are AWESOME!  A lot of food is imported, so you may have to pay more than you are used to for certain things.

Screen-Shot-2017-04-21-at-4.08.49-PM

Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Jen P. @flentil

What to Bring:

It’s ALWAYS tropical – temperatures hover between 80s and 90s Fahrenheit, so you don’t need much!  Unless you are planning on a fancy dinner, you will be just fine with casual beachwear, tons of SPF, and an array of MI OLA bikinis…and DON’T forget your MI OLA rashie, because the rays are super strong!  My family tries to take a break from the sun daily between 11 and 2 or 3pm to ensure we don’t fry! If you have your own snorkel gear or SUP, of course, bring it along!  But it can all be rented if you want to travel light.

 

 

How to Get There:

If you live near a major city in the Central or Eastern parts of the US, there’s a decent chance you can fly direct and be on Grand Cayman in a matter of just a few hours.  Not gonna lie, the first time we went, my son was 5, so a direct flight had HUGE appeal. If you have kids, you get this!  But if finding the best airfare is your goal and you have more flexibility, definitely start looking well ahead of time and you’ll likely find some great deals.  The airport is small, so if you are visiting during peak season (Dec – April) you may run into really long lines getting through customs.  Totally worth it in the end, though!  Meanwhile, they are also upgrading the airport so perhaps this aspect of getting there will improve.

 

What are you waiting for???  Get out there and enjoy Grand Cayman!!

April
21

How Whitewater Rafting Changed My Life

We love to support awesome mermaids that push the limits and #getoutthere. Like MI OLA brand ambassador Andrea (@andybabe88) who spends her weekends paddling some serious whitewater in her home state of Idaho. We caught up with Andrea recently and chatted about her passion for paddling – – what resulted was a beautiful dedication to the sport she loves. Check it out below!

“No man ever steps in the same river twice for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” – Heraclitus

IMG_5557

Photo courtesy Andrea @andybabe88

I frequently hear the same question again and again, “Why?”

Co-workers, family, old-friends and new non can’t seem to grasp my “why”.

Why do I spend every weekend, countless days and hours doing the same thing over and over? Why am I never in town? Why don’t I ever see my friends and family? Why do I put myself in harm’s way? Why do I paddle every chance I get?

I guess my response at this point is, “Why not?”

Why not utilize this life doing what I love and now?! Right now!  The future is something not guaranteed.  Spending these countless days and weekends adventuring and paddling as much as I do seems all but obvious.  Why not spend my time letting the river challenge me in new ways.  She is ever changing, can humble and bring elation all in the same trip. She’ll bring you closer to people than you have ever been.  So to answer their question of, “why”  – – the faces and places are my why.

Paddling has changed my life. 

IMG_3440

Photo courtesy Andrea @andybabe88

 

For better or worse, I’ve learned more about myself in one summer on the river than in all my time spent at home. Who you are currently and who you want to be… you can find it out there.  The river lives and breathes, and will get deep into your veins.  She teaches many lessons, most of all you that you cannot control everything in life.  Love the hole you’re in. In order to make it to the takeout unscathed, the river requires teamwork, respect, love, courage, patience, and self-worth.  There’s a saying you hear a lot from true dirt bag’s –  “The river doesn’t care about you”.  This may be true but the river also offers you a beautiful thing – the time to care, care about the moment, the people, and the places.

IMG_2121

Photo courtesy Andrea @andybabe88

A lot of activities bring people together, like the river.  The only difference I have seen is EVERY single person I have met on the river has been the most caring, loving, and genuine soul. I have met and made friends with some of the most remarkable people. I have gained lifelong friends I call FRAMILY, people who have absolutely made a difference in my life. I have had some of the best laughs, deepest conversations, wildest adventures and scariest moments of my life in the short time I have been paddling.  I love listening to people’s stories of adventure as well as am motivated by those stories.  I want to strive for more adventures, more days on the river.

IMG_3289

Photo courtesy Andrea @andybabe88

My heart grows more and more with each run, every stoke,  every boat flip, every booty beer!.  All while screaming at the top of my lungs because we just conquered what you thought was going to be the impossible.

So again, you may ask me – WHY?

Because I love the life we have been given. The people in it, the relationships with rad humans.  The places and the stunning canyons. I have never felt so at peace and so in control of the moment, past and present than when I am on the river. So, next time instead of asking why maybe come and find out. Who knows maybe it will change your life like it has mine.

IMG_3283

Photo courtesy Andrea @andybabe88

 

If you ever happen to be in Idaho and want to experience this all for yourself here are some great companies and guides to get in touch with.

PRC – Payette River Company
(208) 259-3702
Boise National Forest, 14 Memory Ln, Lowman, ID 83637
Guide – Jesse Delamotte  – Jesse will show you a great time and also help you stay cool on your trip down the river.

Cascade Raft & Kayak    
(208) 793-2221
7050 ID-55, Horseshoe Bend, ID 83629
Guide – Shane Ramasco (Head Guide for Cascade)

Bear Valley Rafting       
(208) 793-2272
Boise National Forest, 7864 ID-55, Banks, ID 83602
Kaylie Hoffman – Guide

Canyons River Company  
 (208) 634-4303  
160 Commerce St, McCall, ID 83638

Hells Canyon Raft
(208) 634-6366
1308 Roosevelt Ave, McCall, ID 83638

IMG_3441

Photo courtesy Andrea @andybabe88

If you’re looking to get hooked up with some sweet gear, PFD, drysuit, helmet anything you can think of that is need to be on the river to have a fun and safe time check out these local outfitters in Idaho.

Cascade River Gear – Ask for Renee Zettle

Aire –Ask for Sarah Ostberg

IMG_5810

Photo courtesy Andrea @andybabe88

 

April
14

Start Making Your Summer Plans! || Summer 2017 Outdoor Adventures

Are you ready for summer? Here at MI OLA, we can’t wait.  With the sun setting later, Summer means more time to #getoutthere! Summer will be here before you know it, which means it’s time to start planning your epic trips now – before the campgrounds and park passes sell out.  Read on  for inspiration… we know you’ll be adding these spots to your bucket list. Check out our top places to #getoutthere this summer!

IMG_9294

MI OLA Ambassador Ashley B. camping.

Hike, SUP, Kayak, and Whitewater Raft through Glacier National Park

Imagine jagged peaks reaching towards the Heavens, turquoise water inviting you to take an dip and hiking trails leading every way you could want to explore. If this sounds amazing, head to Glacier National Park. The park is quite literally changing before our eyes. The glaciers have been melting at an unprecedented rate so much so that they could be entirely gone by the next generation – – which means you need to go now! Check out Becca’s #GetOutThere Guide to Glacier National Park for more!

Taking an alpine dip in Grinnell Lake

Taking an alpine dip in Grinnell Lake. Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

Hike a 14er!

If you love hiking, get these spots on your calendar – White MountainLost Coast Trail, and the epic coastline of Kalalau Valley on Kauaʻi, Hawaii. White Mountain is a 14er (peak over 14,000 feet) –  the highest peak outside of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The Lost Coast trail is one of California’s best kept secrets. Divided between two national parks, this hike is perfect for the adventure seeker wanting to sleep under the stars next to the ocean.  Kalalau Hike offers pristine views of the Na Pali Coast that are unlike any other coastal hike; the trail leads to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Kalalau Valley.  

And, if you’re a less advanced hiker, we have you covered. Hike Like a Girl offers some great advice on how to start out and work your way up to doing a 14er by doing shorter, less ambitious hikes.

FullSizeRender-2

Lost Coast Trail. Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Ashley B @ayeboulet

Roadtrip in Southern Utah through the Grand Staircase of the Southwest!

Picture yourself wading through a crystal clear emerald river with massive, red canyon walls on either side. Just a few days ago, you were camping out under the stars surrounded by nothing but desert and a few cacti scattered about. In another few days, you’ll mountain bike across some of the best slickrock in the world. Where are you?  Southern Utah is home to some of the best hiking, mountain biking, backpacking, rock climbing and canyoneering in the world. Check out our #GetOutThere Guide to Southern Utah to plan your own epic road trip.

Enjoying the view on Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park.

Enjoying the view on Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park. Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

Explore the waterfalls at Columbia River Gorge!

The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area boasts 292,500 acres of beautiful landscapes, incredible hiking, and the infamous waterfalls. The Gorge is just a short drive out of Portland making it a perfect after-work jaunt or a weekend getaway. There are a plethora of waterfalls, so you can spend as little as one day exploring multiple waterfalls OR plan a longer trip exploring all the Gorge has to offer. Check out our #GetOutThere Guide to Columbia River Gorge and start dreaming.

Columbia-River-Gorge- Waterfall-Guide-MI-OLA-4

Weisendanger Falls. Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

Do you have other awesome summer travel plans?  We’d love to hear about them – – leave a comment below! Now go on and #GetOutThere!!

April
7

#GetOutThere Guide: Galapagos

When MI OLA brand ambassador Jen P. (@flentil)  isn’t running marathons, SUPing her local lake, running her son to and from his activities, or working, she is getting out there exploring our beautiful world. Last year, Jen ventured to the Galapagos Islands with her family. How awesome is that? We were fortunate to catch up with this super busy, active mom to get the insider info on traveling to the Galapagos. Check it out!

Screen_Shot_2016-09-13_at_12.17.17_PM_large

Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Jen P. @flentil

 

Let’s Go, Galapagos!

Last summer, I had the rare opportunity to travel to the Galapagos Islands. If you love nature, exploring and travel, start saving now, because this trip is for you! The Galapagos Islands are home to many unique species that can only be found on these islands – in many cases, a species is only found on a single island even with the Galapagos. The wildlife is truly amazing, and even more incredible is that they don’t fear humans, which means you can view the animals in a much more intimate way than is normally possible. And if you are a photographer, you’ll be in heaven – photo ops abound!

Screen_Shot_2016-09-13_at_12.17.06_PM_large

Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Jen P. @flentil

What to do: 

Explore!

Cruise or land-based? To see as much of the Galapagos as possible, it is highly recommended that you choose the live-aboard cruise option. Mind you, these are not huge Carribbean-Cruise ships with hotel-like amenities, amusements and hordes of people…the largest ship carries 90 passengers and most are smaller. However, due to how vast the area is between the islands, you will only be able to visit certain islands if you do a cruise, as they can take advantage of the overnight hours to travel to a new location for the next day. To do a land-based visit, there are 3 islands (San Cristobal, Isabela and Santa Cruz) that offer hotel and overnight accommodations. Visitors can then book day trips to nearby uninhabited islands, but the range of islands you will be able to visit will be limited by distance.

Screen_Shot_2016-09-13_at_12.18.27_PM_large

Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Jen P. @flentil

 

Experiencing wildlife – up close and personal!

One of the wonderful aspects of the Galapagos is the opportunity to experience the animals up close. Most wildlife has no fear, and often little interest, in humans. This means you can take as long as you want to admire and photograph the island residents. Bring your cameras! In order to preserve this unique level of comfort with humans, interaction is carefully managed to ensure it remains respectful and minimally intrusive. All visits to the islands are accompanied by naturalists, who also serve as park rangers, and the areas that visitors are allowed to explore are restricted to a relatively small portion of the overall park lands. The naturalists who accompany you are a wonderful wealth of information about the wildlife, geology and plant life on the islands, so having them with you is super helpful. Most of the guides have grown up in the Galapagos, giving them a unique insight and appreciation for this special place.

Screen_Shot_2016-09-13_at_12.18.55_PM_large

Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Jen P. @flentil

 

The underwater world of the Galapagos is not to be missed. If you are an experienced diver, the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD) has granted tour permits to a select number of operators. Contrary to many people’s expectations, the water in the Galapagos is NOT tropical in temperature. When I went in late June, the water was consistently in the low-to-mid 60s, and a wetsuit was needed for any snorkeling excursion (even then, after an hour in the water I was blue and shivering – all worth it, though!). However, it is this cold-water upwelling that brings in the many nutrients that the marine wildlife rely upon, so it made for wonderful snorkeling. Turtles, sharks, penguins, sea lions, countless fish were all in abundance, along with the unique marine iguanas and numerous bird species.

Screen_Shot_2016-09-13_at_12.17.33_PM_large

Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Jen P. @flentil

 

Surfing

Yes, there are waves in the Galapagos! Bring your own board if surfing is your plan, you won’t be able to rent one. Surfing was not part of my visit, as I was on a cruise with my family, but I do have a friend who is an accomplished surfer who visited this past December and described the waves as world class. More on surfing in the Galapagos can be found here: http://surfgalapagos.com/index.html

Not Your Average Tropical Getaway

The air is warm, the water is blue…but this is not your typical island vacation by any means. Come to the Galapagos to learn, explore and appreciate one of the few remaining areas that haven’t completely been overrun by humans!

Screen_Shot_2016-09-13_at_12.18.41_PM_large

Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Jen P. @flentil

 

How to get there: 

The Galapagos Islands are quite isolated, so travel is lengthy. Generally, you’ll need to allow 2 days each way. One day to travel to Ecuador, and a second day to travel from mainland Ecuador to the Galapagos. Flights depart daily from the cities of Guayaquil or Quito to one of the two airports in the Galapagos – located on Baltra and San Cristobal.

I can take little credit for the planning of my excursion: my parents had organized this trip over a year ago to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, and they wanted to ensure that all of their kids and grandkids would be in attendance. For smaller groups, that amount of lead time isn’t needed, but you should still plan this trip about 6 months ahead because access to the islands is limited, so advance planning is highly recommended.

(Jen traveled to the Galapagos with Linblad Expeditions. A little pricier than other options, Linblad offers an all-inclusive experience, meaning that you don’t need to worry about many extra expenses once on your trip. Trips start around $6,500 for ten days.