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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

April
1

#GetOutThere Guide Puerto Rico: Shacks Beach (Isabella)

When you’re looking for MI OLA ambassador Adrienne (@yokeens), you’ll find her in the water in the Outer Banks (OBX), or out traveling the world. In February, Adrienne traveled to Aguadilla, Puerto Rico for a tropical escape. Here’s her take on getting out there in Aguadilla.

 

#GetOutThere Guide Puerto Rico: Shacks Beach (Isabella)

Living in the Outer Banks offers months of beautiful weather, but during the winter it can get a little cold so it’s a perfect time to travel! Puerto Rico is the perfect get away as it offers awesome weather, great surf, and plenty of jungle to explore. Plus, it’s a quick and usually cheap flight! In February, I took off to Aguadilla in Puerto Rico for warm weather and to celebrate my 30th birthday!

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Adrienne- @yokeens

 

What to Do:

SURF!!!

There are multiple spots to surf in this area.  The surf spots here are point breaks, meaning the wave is breaking from a certain point each time, which is most likely over reef or rock.  Each spot, depending on the conditions, will vary in size. They will be listed in small to BIG (but of course this could all change depending on weather/swell).

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Adrienne- @yokeens

Playa Rompe Olas: This is a small break located in downtown Aguadilla.  It breaks from a rock, but is a sandy bottom! Paddle out and sit by the rock for the best ride. There is a line up so be sure to use surfer etiquette and be aware of the locals. Mid to long boards would work here nicely. There is a nice beach with a bar across the street. This beach tends to busy especially on a holiday Monday. Don’t leave anything on the beach unattended as it could get stolen and don’t leave anything important visible in your car.

Wilderness beach: Getting to Wilderness beach is a challenge as the road is dirt and has major pot holes. Use caution! (We did make it to the parking area in a rental Hyundai Elantra.) The first peak right after the old lighthouse building will look really nice and most likely uncrowded. Here the waves can break left or right.  There is sand walk in, but the rest is rock/reef.  Getting out of the water in the right spot is tricky (I got sea urchined).  There was a lot of current when we went, so we were paddling just to stay in the same spot.  The second and most popular peak will be bigger and more crowded.  Again, getting in and out is hard because there will be rock/reef with urchins. The third peak is a walk past the large dirt parking area is the smallest and best choice for fewer people and more manageable waves.

Shacks Beach: At Shacks, there is only a small parking area to access the beach.  There are two main breaks. The one in front of Villa Sessions is better for SUPers as it has less push.  For the other peak, walk down to the sandy point, hop in (watch for urchins), drift to the left of the exposed rock, and there is a point break that rips right.  Careful, the reef here can get shallow and even fully exposed during low tides!

Playa Jobos:  This is a popular spot. It’s located right off a busy road with plenty of bars!  Try to find parking on the road or in one of the lots where you pay $5.  The beach is popping.  There’s a really great rock to the right where the waves hit and spray/explode (awesome picture opportunity!)  To surf, get in near that rock and paddle out to the break – it breaks right.  It’s a bit deeper here, but it does go over a reef.  Beginners should stay on the inside and catch white water.

 

EXPLORE:

There is plenty to do in a short drive like explore downtown Isabella, Aguadilla and Rincon, with great road side food trucks along the way. The driving around here is fast with little rules so be alert!

Gozalandia Hiking Arena:  Pathways to waterfalls and hiking in the jungle.  The water is a little cold but you can jump from the waterfalls and a rope swing! Pay to park/enter.

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Gozalandia. Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Adrienne- @yokeens

Cabo Rojo: Located at the end of a dirt, pot hole filled road, this is a great way to spend the day! Bring water, picnic and set up on the beach after walking the trail that follows along the cliffs. Amazing views and the beach is white sand with beautiful flat warm water!

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Cabo Rojo. Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Adrienne- @yokeens

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Cabo Rojo. Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Adrienne- @yokeens

Snorkeling/diving, SUPing, yoga, jungle hikes, local eats and horseback rides are just a few other activities to enjoy in this area!  US currency is used. Most people speak English or can understand. There are plenty of familiar stores like Walgreens if you forget anything from home.  Be sure to stop at any gas station to try the Gasolina drink (adult juice box)!

How To Get There:

Fly into Aguadilla Airport (BQN).  Aguadilla is a tiny airport that pretty much only has flights that arrive at 1AM, BUT it will be cheap and literally 5 minutes to Shacks Beach.

How to Get Around:

There are rental cars here, but be sure to call and reserve ahead as there is a tendency to run out of cars!  Be prepared with travel plans because flights are often delayed. Otherwise you can fly into San Juan airport, which will have more options, but be a 2 hour drive. Also, bring surf straps to put boards on roof of car!

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f Sunset in Aguadilla. Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Adrienne- @yokeens

Where to Stay:

We stayed at Villa Sessions which is a condo right on Shacks Beach, steps away from a beautiful and fairly secluded beach. The condo is fully furnished, air conditioned, and safe! I took beach walks every morning, surfed, laid out and snorkeled here (crystal clear waters with tons of wildlife steps off shore).  This location offers great SUP, surf and snorkel sessions with a much smaller crowd/line up then other spots.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Adrienne- @yokeens

When to Go:

We went at the end of February and the weather was amazing! We actually got some rain at night which is unusual, but during the day it was sunny and warm with a slight breeze so we were never over heated. Average air temperatures are high 70s to low 80s, basically year round. It does get into the high 80s in summer months (May-Sept). So best time to go will be winter months (Nov-April).

 

March
26

MI OLA: BTS of our Spring Shoot!

 

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At MI OLA, we create the best swimwear with no compromise for fit, style, or function and allow women to do more of what they love (at the beach) with less stress.   We remove the need to adjust your suit, or worry about losing it while you’re surfing, or you jump into a pool, or you reach over to grab your drink.

While we’re making great swimwear, we are also working hard to change the way women are portrayed in the media.   As the wild feminists we are (wink wink)… we make sure that all of our branding and images show women (you!) in a positive, active, inclusive way.   In most fashion photos, women are often objectified and passive.  Some images for other swim brands have women looking passed out on the beach.  Others have women sitting on the beach, watching men surf.  And many others have women writhing in the wet sand on a deserted beach “looking natural” while all greased up, arching their backs with pointed toes to lengthen the legs.

We strive for something different.  We see you (all women) as attractive for who you are and work to capture that natural beauty while you’re being active surfing, doing yoga, playing, walking your dog, etc.   Yes, we are women, and we sometimes arch our backs … but we also do so much more.   You won’t see our women in sitting, watching men have all the fun. We’re getting out there right beside you.

Enjoy a sneak peek of our new collection!

These photos were taken by a talented photographer, Margo Wilson, who modeled for us a few years ago and now is behind the camera.

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Working with MI OLA is an absolute dream – as a photographer who constantly seeks to capture empowered women. Just a few years ago, I modeled for MI OLA. The messages we were asked to convey through the photos were simple: we were simply asked to be the fun, active, and vivacious women that we are.

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Malia, Stephanie, and Luanna. Photo by Margo @margorenate

 

Those characteristics embody what it means to be a MI OLA woman and, are what inspired me while shooting the latest line in Costa Rica. I was born and raised on the beaches of Costa Rica, so shooting there was literally like shooting at home (one of the shoots happened by the pool at my parents house). Working there allowed me to work with models that I have known for years. I admire Malia (@vandewhale), Luanna (@lulumercer) and Stephanie (@stfiny) because of how driven, talented, and unique they are.

Shooting for MI OLA is all about getting real women, in their natural environment, doing what they do in bikinis that stay on. I felt like I was joining the girls on the adventures typically involved in their daily lives. On the first day, all three girls showed up to the beach bright eyed and bushy tailed for a 7AM photo shoot on a boat. We cruised around the bay and even fished while out there. Unfortunately we didn’t hook dinner, but we did catch some great shots.

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Luanna @lulumercer Photo by Margo @margorenate

 

On day two, I met up with Luanna and her husband during sunset on Langosta beach. Their love is effortless and their chemistry came across so clearly in the photos. Day three was a classic Costa Rica morning with Stephanie and Luanna: we walked the beach with our dogs, followed by watching the surf in the early hours of the morning. On days four and five I shot Luanna both on the beach and in my childhood backyard. Day six was a solo adventure with Malia where we loaded up her four-wheeler with MI OLA bikinis, my photo gear and a stand up paddleboard. Malia got a workout in, while I envied her strength and ability to balance.

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Stephanie @stfiny Photo by Margo @margorenate

 

In total, we spent one week shooting over 15 different looks in five different locations. I got to rock my favorite MI OLA suits while taking photos of the new line I already can’t wait to get my hands on! MI OLA is less glamor and more #GetOutThere and these awesome women made it more than easy to capture that. Be on the lookout for all the new photos and bikinis coming soon!

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March
17

#GetOutThere Guide: Jamaica

MI OLA brand ambassador Lauren @rock3roll was born in Houston (the birthplace of Beyoncé…) and spent time living in the Midwest before moving to NYC six years ago.  Now, she professionally wanders every four weeks, and is an incessant adventurer.  We caught up with this sandy mermaid and got the details on her latest #GetOutThere adventure to Jamaica.

 

#GetOutThere Guide: Jamaica

How to get there: I flew from JFK to Miami, and onward to Montego Bay. I would highly recommend flying into MBJ, as your trip from the airport to your hotel in the Montego area will be no more than 20 minutes!

Where to stay: I stayed at the SeaGarden Beach Resort. My intent in Jamaica was to explore (as is always!) The SeaGarden had great views (grab an ocean view room) and authentic Jamaican food. It was perfect for what we were looking for! If you’re looking for more of a “stay-put” type of vibe, I would definitely stay at one of the Sandals locations. Partly because of The Office, but also because they seem to have a lot of properties to choose from, and great reviews!

When to go: I traveled to the island in July and had great weather. It’s always good to be aware of the rainy seasons on any island. Jamaica has two main rainy seasons. May is the first, followed by October- November.  Also, keep Hurricane Season in mind from June through the end of a November. Island rain typically is brief and patchy (in my experience), but if this is your one and only escape for the year, better to not take your chances!!!

Negril:

Jamaica has no shortage of beaches. The most famous, and well worth it, is ‘Seven Mile Beach’ in Negril. Endless white sand, turquoise water, and palms for days makes for one epic beach experience.

If you’re not staying in Negril, travel by cab or by catamaran. The Dreamer is a fun snorkel (booze) cruise that takes you from Montego Bay to Negril. If traveling by car, it’s best practice to rent a driver for the day (prices very from $100-$200, not including tip). Your driver will stay with you, affording you the flexibility to go and stop where you please!

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Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Lauren – @rock3roll

While you’re in Negril, make sure you stop by The Cliffs, more specifically, Rick’s Café! There are multiple spots along the cliff where the brave can jump in from various heights. Not interested? No worries grab a drink at the bar and watch the professionals do what they do best: jump. If bar food isn’t up your alley, head to Ivan’s. Located not far up the road from Rick’s Café, Ivan’s is nestled within the cliff side, offering up stunning ocean views. It’s the perfect place to nom on jerk lobster and drink flaming rumrunners while the sun floats down.

 

 

Montego Bay:

Centrally located between tourist haunts Negril and Ocho Rios, Montego Bay is the perfect spot to find an all-inclusive for your stay. Walk down to Margaretville for a Bob Marley (your new favorite drink for all-of-time) and a bounce on their ocean trampolines and slides.

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Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Lauren – @rock3roll

 

 

Ocho Rios:

Up the road roughly 1.5 hours from Montego Bay is a plethora of unique island experiences. Popular among locals and tourists, the Blue Hole is made up of a combination of waterfalls and swimming holes. Interested in cruising around the watery landscape solo? Take the paths, and wander. Looking to jump and swim? Hire a guide. Water shoes are recommended, and sold at the entrance for you to comfortably cruise around the falls. Have a GoPro? Your guide will happily become your professional photographer (just make sure you’ve got a waterproof case!) You’ll be able to jump off of falls as steep as around 20 feet. Expect to pay around $15 to enter, plus a little extra for a guide!

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Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Lauren – @rock3roll

After the Blue Hole, take a car back down towards Montego Bay for an afternoon stop at Bamboo Blue. Located in Mammee Bay, you’ll get a first class beach seat and bright blue water, all for the cost of a Piña Colada. Rent a cabana, and sip on whatever frozen concoction floats your boat.

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Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Lauren – @rock3roll

Finish up your trip back to Montego Bay, by stopping at the Luminous Lagoon in Falmouth, Jamaica. The brackish water in the Lagoon is home to millions of microorganisms called dinoflagellates, that when disturbed emit a light-blue GLOW.

YES. YOU CAN SWIM IN GLOW-IN-THE-DARK WATER!

Get to the Lagoon around 6-6:30 p.m. (in the Summer months; in the Winter, arrive an hour earlier,) to grab your free rum punch (included in the $25 USD per person tour) before the tour starts. It’s not enough just to go on the boat to look at the glow in the boat’s wake; you will want to swim, so wear your MI OLA suit and bring dry clothes to change into (I made that mistake; I swam in a dress…WORTH IT). There are four other places where this phenomenon exists: Indonesia, the Bahamas, and Puerto Rico. It is said that Jamaica is home to the brightest Lagoon out of the four!

 

Roadside Stops

If you do end up taking a cab to various places (or renting a car), make sure to stop for roadside soup and porridges. Some of the best porridge I’ve ever had was on the road (full disclosure, it was also the first time I’ve ever had porridge).  Jerk Chicken stands, and highway restaurants are frequent sights, so absolutely jerk the wheel to pull into any one you see. On your way out of town headed towards Ocho Rios, you’ll pass a few coconut stands. Stop at the LAST one that is nestled in the woods. The coconuts are known among locals as THE BEST.

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Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Lauren – @rock3roll

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Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Lauren – @rock3roll

 

Jamaica is home to beautiful people and culture. Get out there and have a blast!

 

 

 

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
3

#GetOutThereGuide: Discovering Winter Warmth

Are you ready for summer yet? Yeah, us too. It will start warming up soon, we promise.

While you’re missing the warm temperatures, we’ve got some tips for generating your own heat, along with a great guide on the hot springs of Colorado.  Check out our #GetOutThere Guide to Discovering Winter Warmth by brand ambassador Briana (@openheartadventure).

 

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Briana.- @openheartadventure

Not all mermaids live with their toes in soft sand beside the salty sea. Some of us thrive in mountains that rise to the sky beside cold, clear alpine lakes. From January until the warmer temperatures of spring arrive, mountain mermaids are chilled to the bone from winter. Living in the mountains my entire life often has me dreaming about warm ocean water and tropical sunshine, although it isn’t always practical to escape to the beach. So when my body and mind need winter warmth, I explore, soak, stretch, breathe, and relax. Here is a guide for staying warm when the beach is just out of reach.

 

The Mountain Mermaids Guide to Creating and Discovering Winter Warmth

Do Yoga to Heat Up!

Hot yoga, hatha yoga, salted infrared yoga, restorative yoga, vinyasa inspired yoga – – the preference is up to you! One thing is certain, a yoga class will warm you up. As a yoga teacher, I wake up before the sun to practice a gentle morning flow in a warm space. Moving the body with intentional breathing brings warmth to my entire being and allows me to start my day from a grounded place. Some like it hot, and hot yoga classes are sure to heat you up. For me personally, a gentle flow does the trick, is only as strenuous as I shape it to be, and brings warmth to my body through the breath and movement.

Yoga is the simplest way to create warmth in the winter. It also doesn’t hurt that it supports a healthy physique so in the Spring, you feel fit and well. Whether you are most comfortable practicing yoga in the comfort of your home with an online class or in a studio with the warmth of community, the movement and deep breathing is sure to warm your body.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Briana.- @openheartadventure

My favorite indulgent yoga class is a salted infra-red practice. While it may not be easy to locate this type of healing space, I highly recommend a visit, near or far, to experience this! At my local studio in Colorado, Fahrenheit, there is a floor to ceiling Himalayan salt crystal wall (reference your bedside salt lamp times times 100) with infrared lighting, and a gentle fan that moves the salt throughout the studio space. It is heavenly. The salt is amazing for respiratory wellness and neutralizing negative ions. Whether taking a gentle flow class or a restorative practice, I leave here feeling like I went on a beach vacation, if only for an hour.

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Fahrenheit Yoga. Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Briana.- @openheartadventure

 

Another special studio is, with bias, the one I teach at: Kula Yoga. It is a simple studio with a balance of natural light and mountain warmth, with a rich color palette. The studio holds space for inspiration, expansiveness, and rest. Most classes flow and all are uniquely different- from gentle early morning sun salutes to midday energizing practices to evening restorative. This is the place where locals come to stretch, warm up, flow, and breathe together.

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Shree Yoga. Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Briana.- @openheartadventure

An ode to amazing yoga studios wouldn’t be complete without including Shree Yoga in Taos. This studio is worth a trip in itself, not to mention nearby hot springs listed below. Old wooden floors with authentic wood beam ceilings and a fireplace in the corner create a space that is beaming with grounded energy. Windows on both sides of the studio let in the abundant southwest sunshine. I’ve yet to experience a yoga practice here that didn’t leave me feeling completely inspired and filled with love. This studio even has a feng shui expert visit regularly to clear out stale energy and revitalize the already radiant space.

 

 

 

Hot Springs

For those times when heating up via yoga doesn’t do it for me, I head to the hot springs.

 There is no shortage of hot springs in the Western United States. In fact, globally, I’ve had no problem finding natural pools of warm water to soak my tired muscles in. Wherever I travel, I seek them out. Below are a few of my favorites right here in the Rocky Mountains.

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Hot Springs! Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Briana.- @openheartadventure

 

Penny Hot Springs (Carbondale, CO): These road side pools are easily accessible yet still offer solace from the ski resort crowds nearby. The shapes, sizes, and temperatures of the handful of riverside pools vary greatly from hour to hour, month to month. Some days the pools are shallow and hot while other days they may be bath water temperature and full. The Crystal River naturally fluctuates which influences instability in the pools, but it is always worth the trip! Check out the #GetOutThere Guide to Penny Hot Springs for more information!

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Penny Hot Springs. Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Briana.- @openheartadventure

 

Black Rock Hot Springs (Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico): Two lithium hot springs pools sit beside the Rio Grande River, just a short drive from Shree Yoga. Because of the lithium content, as opposed to sulfur, these pools do not smell. They can be cool in the winter when the river level is high, but my experience has proven that it is worthwhile to explore. A quarter mile hike down an unmarked trail at the bottom of a gorge rewards you with epic views, solitude (at times), and a warm soak in clear water. Volcanic rock nestles these pools on the riverside. Phones will not get service so you can be sure to experience a healthy disconnect with this soak! I recommend a mellow early morning soak to assure a peaceful experience.

 

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Black Rock Hot Springs. Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Briana.- @openheartadventure

Avalanche Ranch Hot Springs and Resort (Redstone, CO): If exploring unmarked trails and searching for steam in valleys of sagebrush isn’t your style of hot springs soaking, there are many developed, resort style pools that are equally relaxing and warming. The benefit to going to a developed pool is that the water temperature is regulated, bath houses are nearby, and some even have lodging on site so you can soak until you fall asleep. Avalanche Ranch is one that I highly recommend. They offer onsite yoga classes and day retreats, have beautiful rustic accommodations, and remain among the least crowded in the area. Each day is capped at a certain number of guests so call ahead. Views of the nearby mountains can be seen from any of the soaking pools. These are perfect for a day or weekend retreat when warming up and relaxing are high priority.

 

Valley View Hot Springs on the Orient Land Trust (Moffat, CO): This place is a little slice of hot springs heaven situated on the hillside of the San Luis Valley, Colorado. Here you get the best of both worlds- natural pools that you may hike to and developed pools that are easily accessible and temperature regulated. There is also a sauna that has a small dipping pool in the center so you can regulate your body temperature without having to step outside of the cedar planked room. This is hands down one of the best hot springs experience I have had and like Avalanche Ranch, reservations are recommended because they have a daily maximum for guests.

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Valley View Hot Springs. Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Briana.- @openheartadventure

Exploring dirt roads, secret trails, and pools in the wild is one of the absolute best ways to discover winter warmth. I highly recommend exploring your region for the best pools, natural or developed, to warm your body any time of day. Morning soaks wake you up gently while evening soaks are ideal after a day of work or winter activity. And if an outside soak isn’t in your cards, a nice Epsom salt bath at home will warm you up.

Lastly, the uncategorized way to get warm is vapor caves. In Colorado, there are caves that have channels of natural geothermal water to create a sauna like experience in underground caves. This is a special way to breathe warm air, revitalize the body, nourish the skin, and relax in a nurturing space. Think ‘sauna’ gone natural.

#GetOutThere and stay warm!