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


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.



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.






What’s it like to win a trip to Costa Rica?

Have you dreamed of getting away… on a free vacation to Costa Rica?  Sound too good to be true?   It’s not, if you win the MI OLA Grind TV sweepstakes!  Enter here.

Last July we were excited to give away a trip to one lucky winner and her guest to our tropical home base of Tamarindo, Costa Rica. There is nothing like sharing the stoke of our awesome surf town to new people. The lucky winner, Andrea, fell in love with Tamarindo just like we did ten years ago! We caught up with Andrea after her trip to get all the awesome details. This mermaid not only found the best spots in town to not only eat, but also went on some pretty awesome adventures. Check out her Tamarindo adventure below!

AND – if you missed it – we are giving away another trip to Tamarindo, Costa Rica. That’s right, a free trip to Costa Rica.  You’ll stay on the beach in paradise at the gorgeous Tamarindo Beach Diria Resort, travel with an airfare voucher up $750 per person, learn to surf, get $500 in the best swimwear for adventure from MI OLA, and 2 ultra-plush luxury beach towels from TIDE & POOL. Enter now!


Andrea MI OLA Sweepstakes 4

Photo by Andrea @andybabe88

My name is Andrea and I am from Boise, Idaho. I grew up in a small town 30 minutes outside of Boise called Emmett. I am a huge outdoors person; I snowboard, raft, hike, backpack, camp and just love to travel and see new places with my boyfriend Austin. We spend a lot of time seeking new adventures and learning new things. Last year, I won an amazing vacation to Tamarindo, Costa Rica from MI OLA. They flew us to Tamarindo, Costa Rica where we stayed at Cala Luna Boutique Hotel, our home base during the trip for all of our adventures.

Andrea MI OLA Sweepstakes 2

Photo by Andrea @andybabe88

Our adventures were endless; every day was something new and amazing. There was never a dull moment!

Austin and I went on some pretty amazing adventures. We rented a moped scooter and rode it everywhere all around Tamarindo – the back roads, beaches, anywhere we could manage to get the scooter! We even made it to the top of a mountain with an amazing view. We took surf lessons through Cala Luna, and also rented a board from Iguana Surf (they have super cheap rentals and awesome staff). We went on the Tamarindo Estuary Tour and got to see a lot of Howler Monkeys and Crocodiles! MI OLA also hooked us up with a catamaran sunset cruise, which was out of this world. The Marlin del Rey Catamaran was beautiful, the food was awesome, and drinks were never ending. Last, but not least of our adventures, was an ATV tour, where we went to a beautiful beach called Playa Grande.

Andrea MI OLA Sweepstakes 1

Photo by Andrea @andybabe88

Cala Luna Boutique Hotel was absolutely beautiful.

Cala Luna had so many great amenities! Our favorite part was their AMAZING daiquiris which they made with real fruit. Cala Luna also offers cocktails on the beach at sunset- YOU CAN’T BEAT THAT! The hotel had very romantic dinners every night in the restaurant, as well as the option to privately dine on the beach if you want to spice it up. The employees were always there to help us with anything we needed. The next time we go back to Costa Rica, we most definitely will stay there again.

Andrea MI OLA Sweepstakes 3

Photo by Andrea @andybabe88



We loved the food every place we ate at. It was just unbelievable and all so different. On top of that, the hospitality made our experience even better.  Shrimp Hole is a tiny little place that only seats around 12 people, but has such great food. Dragon Fly – holy wow, the best steak I have ever eaten! Witch’s Rock had a cool environment, very laid back, and also has a cool brewery and store. Roof Top Bar & Grill had an amazing view, awesome live bands, and a very low key restaurant. Patagonia was very romantic, with awesome argentine food and great service. Sprout had very healthy, light food and you get a lot of it! Bamboo Sushi Club was a really beautiful and open restaurant; it looks like it is indoors, but it’s completely open and you can look up to see the stars.


Everything about Tamarindo, Costa Rica is perfect – the people, beaches, tours, restaurants, hotels, bars, surfing, and night life. I fell in love with the town and I think about it every day. I truly feel like I left a piece of my heart there – it felt like home. I for sure will be returning very soon!! Thanks MI OLA for such a great trip!


Surf Guide: Playa Guiones, Nosara, Costa Rica

This month, we are back in Costa Rica in Nosara.  Nosara was recently named as one of the 20 best surf towns around the world by National Geographic, and it’s also rated by Trip Advisor as on of the top beach destinations in Costa Rica.  It’s located centrally in the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, on the Pacific.  Playa Guiones, in Nosara, is a long stretch of beach, with good waves all year.  When you add in warm tropical water, and a charming town filled with yoga studios, boutiques and restaurants, it’s a great place to get away from it all.

Team Rider Kristen @sambatothesea loves surfing this beach break and she recently got back from a weekend work-cation in Nosara, photographing a beautiful wedding AND surfing perfect waves in Playa Guiones.

Wave in Playa Guiones

Photo courtesy Wave Tribe Company.

SURF GUIDE: Playa Guiones, Nosara, Costa Rica by Kristen Brown – @sambatothesea

Where and when to surf: 

Playa Guiones is a beach break. There are the waves up and down the long stretch of beach, so you can walk as far as you wish to find a nice, uncrowded wave.  Playa Guiones is exposed to swells coming from all directions, so it is rarely flat.

Best Tide: All tides.
Best Wind: Offshore, from the East.
Best Swell: All swells.
Ability: Beginner to Advanced
Season: For offshore winds all day, January – April. But there is surf year round.
Crowd Factor: Some peaks can get crowded, but there are plenty of waves to be found.

Surfer at Playa Guines, Costa Rica. Photoraphed by Samba to the Sea Photography.

Surfer at sunset in Playa Guiones. Photographed by MI OLA team rider Kristen M. Brown, Samba to the Sea Photography (@sambatothesea).

Water Temperature:

Water temperatures in Costa Rica are almost always tropically warm (MI OLA Bikini temp!), except for when there are strong offshore winds.  So before you head out, check it out.  If there are strong offshore winds, the water temperature can drop, and you’ll want a spring jacket or spring suit.  You don’t want to paddle out to perfect waves and be too cold to surf!

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_) wearing the Pin Up top and Striped Boyshort. Photographed by MI OLA team rider Kristen M. Brown, Samba to the Sea Photography (@sambatothesea).

Where to Stay:

There are many options for all budgets.  If you are looking to surf, surf, surf AND improve, I have several friends that highly recommend Surf Simply Surf Camp.

Check out Harmony Hotel, Olas Verdes, and Casa Romantica for a higher budget. Great lower budget options are Beach Dog Hostel, steps away from the beach and serving up great food, and The Gilded Iguana.

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_) wearing the Pin Up top and Striped Boyshort. Photographed by MI OLA team rider Kristen M. Brown, Samba to the Sea Photography (@sambatothesea).

Apres Surf:

I don’t think you can get a bad meal in Nosara. A couple of my favorite places to eat are Harmony Hotel, El Chivo, Beach Dog Hostel, Gilded Iguana, Go Juice Nosara, and Nosara Pura Vida. Although the food is great, the bill will tend to be a little higher than you are expecting – about $10-$20 per meal without alcohol.

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_) wearing the Ring Halter top and Striped Boyshort. Photographed by MI OLA team rider Kristen M. Brown, Samba to the Sea Photography (@sambatothesea).

Other Activities:

Nosara is also known as a yoga town. From yoga retreats, teacher trainings, to yoga classes, you can spend the whole week surfing and practicing yoga! Check out Nosara Yoga Institute and Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort.

In addition to yoga, there are zip lining tours, ATV tours, horseback riding, and more.

How to #GetOutThere:

From Liberia Airport, Playa Guiones is about a two hour drive. The last half hour of the drive is on dirt road, so depending on the road conditions, it can get quite bumpy. We recommend renting a 4×4 SUV for higher clearance, especially if you plan on visiting and surfing nearby towns and surf breaks, OR if you’re coming during rainy season. You can also arrange a shuttle van from the airport via your accommodations.

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_) wearing the Pin Up top and Striped Boyshort. Photographed by MI OLA team rider Kristen M. Brown, Samba to the Sea Photography (@sambatothesea).

MI OLA has got you covered, literally and figuratively. To learn more about surf science, check out our blog posts on swellhow waves are formed, how wind affects waves or what makes a wave a left or a right.  We also have super handy surf guides from all around the world, written by our local ambassadors, so if you are headed on a surf trip be sure to check them out!

Interested in joining the MI OLA Ambassador Program?

Know of anyone who should #GetOutThere with us?

Then shoot us an email at



We survived the holiday season! With all those festive parties, Christmas cookie tins and savory meals, staying fit and healthy was quite the challenge.

Although our goal is to lead an active, healthy, #GetOutThere lifestyle, sometimes we need a little kickstart. So we turn to our MI OLA Brand Ambassadors for inspiration.

This month we sat down with one of our Ambassadors, Catherine Marquis.

Catherine image

MI OLA Ambassador @kathmarquis

I have always been active and involved in lots of sports. I was a personal trainer and kinesiologist, for 15 years in Montreal. After a surf trip to Costa Rica, I decided to move here.

I now live in Tamarindo and work as a personal trainer and Surfset instructor. Being active is my life!  Every day I wear my MI OLA bikini and I #GetOutThere to either surf, swim, hike, run, bike, do yoga, pilates or functional training.

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MI OLA Ambassador @kathmarquis

It’s Summer all year long here, so it’s no surprise Costa Rica is a popular vacation destination. So, for my first blog contribution, I thought it would be great to share tips for a keep fit holiday.



By Catherine Marquis, B.Sc.kinesiology


Photo by MI OLA

1.  Staying at a resort or all inclusive hotel? Take advantage of all the sports and activities included in your package. Beware of the inviting buffet. Try having 3 small meals and 1-2 healthy snacks during the day. Remember, it takes 3500 extra calories to gain 1 pound.

2.  Most of us will indulge in a ‘Big Night Out’ when on vacation. Prep for this by eating lighter during the day or maybe having a snack before dinner. Try a good ceviche. You will avoid the starving sensation that makes you eat like there is no tomorrow! When mañana comes, cut on calories and try to eat only veggies and protein.


Photo by MI OLA

3.  Drink water! And I mean a lot. You sweat more in a warm weather, so you need to drink more. Dehydration will result in water retention, which can then cause a bloated sensation making you feel heavy and uncomfortable. The last thing you want when wearing your MI OLA bikini!

catheirne 6

MI OLA Ambassador @kathmarquis

4.  Smoothies can be very tempting on hot, sweaty afternoons. I say yes to a smoothie, but pay attention to what it’s made with. They can be very high on calories. Ask for fresh fruits only, mixed with water or coconut water – delicious! Specify no sugar or honey and try adding ginger.

5.  Enjoy happy hour with your friends but stick to low sugar drinks. Sweet drinks can easily contain more than 350 calories. Good options are light beers or Micheladas – lemon juice, ice, spices or fruit mixed with light beer.  It’s delicious and will last you longer. A vodka or tequila with seltzer and a splash of fruit juice is nice too.

Happy Hour

Photo by MI OLA

6.  Get out of your comfort zone and move! Try new sports and enjoy being challenged. Surf, hike, rent a stand-up paddle board, play volleyball, do yoga! It’s a great way to meet new people and to improve your physical skills through other activities you would not normally do at home.

catherine 1

MI OLA Ambassador @kathmarquis

7.  Get up early. Early mornings are the best times to do a workout on the beach or to go for a run. Exercising outside is also a great way to explore the place you are visiting and to see the sights when it’s not too busy.

catherine 3

MI OLA Ambassador @kathmarquis

8.  For an even tan, walk on the beach instead of lying down with a drink.  You’ll be more active and you’ll avoid flipping around on a sandy towel.


MI OLA Ambassador @kathmarquis

9.  Sleep! Enjoy it and don’t feel guilty or lazy about it. You are on vacation, so please your body by getting the rest you need. A good nights of sleep and a little “siesta” (20-30 min.) will decrease your body stress and will help you avoid weight gain. It’s also a great way to cool the body and recharge your batteries to enjoy any other activity you might want to try!


Photo by MI OLA

10.  Short workouts are the best. Try to fit in a 20 min. metabolic circuit workout every day. You will get a boost of energy out of it and you will burn calories all day long! Do this workout outside and get ready to sweat!


Perform each exercise for 60 sec. with no rest between.  Follow the circuit with a 10 sec. sprint and take a 60 sec. rest. Repeat 4 times.  Total time: 25 min












beach sprint @kirstenrinck

Photo by @kirstenrinck

Now repeat 4 times!




The All Women’s Surf Retreat

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

photo 1-4 copy

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

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

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

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

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

Kristina Ulrich

Team Rider Kristina Ulrich


What To Expect

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

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

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

The Rewards

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

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



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


Photo by Witch’s Rock Surf Camp

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


Photo by Witch’s Rock Surf Camp

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


Photo by MI OLA

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


Photo by MI OLA


Surf Guide: Playa Grande, Costa Rica

At MI OLA, the waves are our playground and Tamarindo, Costa Rica is our home break. When the surf is not hitting right in Tamarindo, we #GetOutThere and explore for waves. One of those beaches happens to be Playa Grande, a hop-skip-and jump across the Tamarindo river mouth.

Playa Grande, is quite the contrast to Tamarindo. Once you cross the river mouth, all the beach front development stops. This is because Playa Grande is located in a protected national park called Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas. The long stretch of beach is an ideal nesting ground for the Leatherback turtle, the largest marine reptile.

Playa Grande is a beach break.  There are the waves up and down the long stretch of beach, so you can walk as far as you wish (or not) to find a nice, uncrowded wave. Grande tends to be a bit more, well, grande than Tamarindo. It faces more towards the South and also holds more size than Tamarindo.

Playa, Grande Costa Rica

Main peak at Playa Grande, Costa Rica – Photo by team rider Kristen, Samba to the Sea Photography.

Where to Surf:

The main peak is located in front of the main parking lot in Playa Grande.  It’s a nice fast A-frame wave and there are lots of lefts, rights, and sometimes barreling sections. This peak can get crowded, and aggressive.  If surfing with a crowd is not your thing, there are plenty of waves to be found to the left and right of the main peak. The whole beach is sandy bottom.

Best Tide: In general, the best time to surf is mid-high tide.

Best Wind: Offshore, from the East.

Best Swell: South, Southwest

Ability: Beginner to Advanced

Season: For offshore winds all day, January – April. But pretty much this is surf year round!

Crowd Factor: Crowded and localism on the main peak. Other than that, there are plenty of waves to be found.


How to get there: From Liberia Airport, Playa Grande is an hour drive. From Tamarindo, you can drive to Grande in 30 minutes, or you paddle across the Tamarindo estuary and voilà! you are at the end of Playa Grande.  The main peak is about a one mile walk down the beach. Parking will cost you a 1,000 Colones (about $2).


Where to Stay: Rip Jack Inn is a three minute walk down a path to the beach. They also serve pretty good grub at their restaurant. Other options are Indra Inn, Hotel Las Tortugas, Bula Bula, or VRBO/ Airbnb.

Water temperature: It’s MI OLA bikini weather all year round! But, due to the strong offshore winds from December-March and upwelling, the water temperature can drop overnight and require you to wear some thin neoprene.

Apres Surf: The tipico breakfast at Rip Jack Inn is worth a try. Other favorites are Taco Star – in the main parking lot, Bula Bula and El Huerto Pizzeria. You can always find a pipa (fresh coconut water) guy who greets you as you exit the water.


Tamarindo Estuary Tour. Photo by team rider Kristen, Samba to the Sea Photography.

Other Activities: Since Playa Grande is in a protected park, there is plenty of wildlife to experience. Go to Hotel Bula Bula and take an estuary tour to see crocodiles, monkeys, and an endless array of birds. If you’re really lucky, you might see a Baula turtle laying her eggs on the beach at night.  We suggest you check out the Parque Nacional Las Baulas info center (main road in Playa Grande) for tours – the public aren’t allowed on the beach at night.

Costa Rica has some of the most magical and beautiful sunsets to enjoy. So whatever you do, make sure you catch the sunset at Playa Grande.


Sunset Surf in Costa Rica. Photo by team rider Kristen, Samba to the Sea Photography.


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


Surf Guide: Playa Avellanas, Costa Rica

For the past couple of months we have been circling the globe with our Brand Ambassadors with our Surf Guide series. We have been to Puerto Rico, the North Shore, New Zealand, our home break TamarindoMoorea, California, Australia and even Florida and New York City! We are beyond STOKED that you ladies #GetOutThere and shred! This month we are returning to our tropical home base of Costa Rica and chatting about one of our favorite spots to surf, Playa Avellanas.



First, let’s recap a little about surf conditions in Costa Rica from our Tamarindo Surf Guide Post.

“The surf here is very diverse.  Just about, every two miles there is another beach – and another surf spot. The surf pretty much goes all the way down to Panama.

There are waves for all levels, from beginner to advanced, and there are beach breaks, point breaks, reefs, and river mouths. You can surf various spots all in one day. The tide changes about 7-10ft, so surfing a certain spot depends on the time of day. You could show up to a spot at low tide and find no waves, and then a couple of hours later there’ll be waves breaking up and down the beach.

And, there’s the wind. During the summertime (mid-November to April) here in Guanacaste (North-West Costa Rica), the wind usually blows offshore all day. Once rainy season comes, the wind turns onshore usually in the late morning, and then can shift back to offshore after an afternoon storm.”

Got it? Good!

So now on to a local favorite here in Guanacaste, Playa Avellanas.

Surf Guide: Playa Avellanas, Costa Rica

How do you say it?  PLI – ah  Ah – VEY – ah – nas

Avellanas is a long sandy, crescent shaped beach. In contrast to Tamarindo, there practically is no development located beachfront. Waves break up and down Avellanas, from sandy bottom beach breaks, rivermouth, to the reefs.

Where to Surf:

Lola’s: Right in front of Lola’s Restaurant is a beachbreak that offers rights and lefts. This is a popular spot since it is a quick walk to the parking lock and consequently it can get crowded. Be sure to be careful of the rocks on the inside when coming in from a session. Best time to surf is mid-high tide.


Palo Seco (Dead Tree): A five minute walk north from the Lola’s parking lot, or a quick walk from the Cabinas las Olas pathway, is another beach break called Palo Seco. Look for the big dead tree on the beach and you have found the spot. Or, since waves break pretty much in between Lola’s and Palo Seco, just paddle out where you see the best waves. As you walk further away from the parking lot, the crowd usually disperses. Definitely worth walking a little further! Best time to surf is mid-high tide.

Go With the Waves

Rivermouth: A little further north of Palo Seco is the Rivermouth. The waves here are usually a little bit bigger than the beach breaks as the waves peak over a small reef. The Rivermouth offers some quality rights and lefts. Best time to surf is low tide.


Crowd factor: Weekends tend to get busy, but during the week you can be out surfing with a handful of your friends and some locals. There usually are plenty of peaks up and down the beach to find a wave all to yourself.


Water temperature: MI OLA bikini weather all year round! BUT, due to the strong offshore winds from December-March and upwelling, the water temperature can drop overnight and, on some days, you might choose to wear some thin neoprene.  (Many people go without, with no problem.)


Apres Surf:

Lola’s: Lola’s is a beach-front restaurant that’s a little slice of paradise. The owners Don and Christi are super nice, the wait staff amazing (and cute!), and the food is super fresh. The best part is Lolita, the restaurant’s pet pig, who strolls out of her pen to take a dip in the Pacific Ocean!

The food here is delicious, and the beer is bien fria (nice and cold!)  This is an excellent place to chill and watch the sunset.

Lola’s is open from mid morning to sunset, but their kitchen closes mid-afternoon, so if you’re hungry, be sure to get your order in before they start cleaning up the kitchen.

Our favorite things:  Just about anything on the menu, but the Tuna Ciabatta is pretty amazing.  Watermelon juice (Sandia con agua) is incredibly refreshing after a surf session.


Cabinas las Olas: More secluded and not beach front, Cabinas las Olas also offers up some great post-surf food!   Their breakfasts are particular yummy and filling.

In addition to good food, a highlight of Cabinas las Olas is the walk down the beautiful mangrove pathway to the beach.

Pathway to Surf

The Beach Box: A newbie to Playa Avellanas, The Beach Box offers super fresh food and fast service. Gotta love their burritos and freshly made juices!


How to get there and where to stay:

Most people stay in Tamarindo and go to Avellanas for day trips.  There’s even a new surf shuttle that runs every other hour from Tamarindo for $5/person!

If you drive, there are two main parking areas and entrances to Playa Avellanas:  Lola’s or Cabinas las Olas. As you are driving from Tamarindo, the Cabinas las Olas entrance is a couple hundred meters on the right hand side before the turn off to Lola’s. Look for well marked signs.

The best part? Cabinas las Olas is also a small hotel, so you can stay within a couple hundred yards of the beach!  (As Avellanas can get rather quiet during the night, if you are looking for more hustle and bustle, stay in Tamarindo. Pretty much everywhere in town is within walking distance to the beach and there is plenty of nightlife.)



Surf Science: Swell Direction


Izzy Poulin in the Dominican Republic. Photo by @jake_of_all_trades

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

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


A quick break down on degrees is:

North Swell (0 Degrees) = Heading South

East Swell (90 Degrees)  = Heading West

South Swell (180 Degrees) = Heading North

West Swell (270 Degrees) = Heading East

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

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

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

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



Pack Your Bags

What to do when the first thing you see on is “Caution: Snow, Wintry Mix Ahead”? We say fire up the search engines, book a plane ticket to a tropical paradise, and START. PACKING. YOUR. BAGS.

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Helena, our Chief Bikini Officer, recently spent the past three months in New York City, but fortunately enough she and her family hopped on a plane last week and returned to Pura Vida-dise here in Costa Rica. So what was on the MI OLA getaway packing list?

 MI OLA Getaway Packing List:

Sunscreen: The sun in Costa Rica is HOT HOT HOT. Both Sanitas Solar Block and Shade Sunscreen are great face sunscreens that won’t make your face break out. If Steph Gilmore is wearing Shade, then it has to work!



Circle Towel by The Beach People: How cool is this towel? Stylish and functional!



Polaroid Instagram Camera: Yes, we very good last year and Santa did happen to pre-order this camera for us. Sweet! Plus, we are packing everything else that we had on our Dear Santa list…score!


MI OLA bikinis, MI OLA bikinis, and more MI OLA bikinis:


Shaka Earrings: Shaka brah!



Swan Pool Toy: Great for those afternoon cocktails in the pool.



Recycled Surfboard Bag: Reduse, reuse, and recycle. Sagebrush Boardbags are all made out of recycled and vintage fabrics. Plus, they are pretty awesome looking too!



Mara Hoffman Rainbow Bird Bag: Your carry on bag never looked so good.

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Sofia by Vix Swimwear Cecily Dress: Perfect for those hot nights.

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Now that you’re packed, get to the airport and GET OUT THERE!

Warm water is waiting!


Brand Ambassadors x3!

We are in awe.  When started our brand ambassador program last year, we never imagined the response we’d get!  We knew there were amazing, active women out there, but we had no idea how many of you would be interested!  Over the past few months we have added even more amazing ambassadors;  these ladies are rad and inspire us everyday.   We are stoked to introduce our newest ambassadors!

(BTW Our current brand ambassadors are rocking it; they inspire us by getting out there and being active.  We love seeing their amazing photos. Be sure to check them out on Instagram. AND if you are interested in helping to represent MI OLA and #getoutthere, shoot us an email at


Elise @babeinthewaves

Meet Elise. She is  a mountain girl as grew up in the French Alps and learned  to ski and snowboard at a very young age. A couple of years ago she followed her heart and now lives in Moorea, French Polynesia. Her daily activities include surfing beautiful reef breaks with crystal clear water and under water training with sharks. How about that for #gettingoutthere?!

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Jessie @jbdittmer

Jessie takes full advantage of living in warm and sunny Tampa, Florida. She can be found SUPing with her husband, playing on the beach with her two dogs, jet skiing, or just tossing a frisbee around. On top of that, this lady wanders! In the past two years she has been all over Italy, Croatia, Greece, Ireland, Scotland, and Turkey!

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Gracie @gracie_murdoch

In grade 12, Gracie lives a five minute walk to the beach on the Coffs Coast of Australia, so she pretty much is always at the beach. Her family lives a very active lifestyle; they all surf or play sports such as tennis, running, soccer, etc. Gracie also competes in surf events regularly!

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Jasmine @jazzywazzy898

Jasmine lives 10 minutes away from Deerfield Beach, one of the best beaches in Florida. She says, ” How could I not spend every weekend I have doing what I love there!” She has been surfing ever since she moved to Florida six years ago.  One of her favorite things to do is just free dive and enjoy everything the ocean has to offer.  Jasmine attends a dual enrollment program which allows her to enroll full time in a state university!

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Gracias chicas! We love seeing all of your adventures from pictures!




From New York City to Costa Rica to all around the world, we’ve had a a crazy, but awesome year.  Awesome as in…

Our Team Athlete Bailey Rosen kicked some behind in Oahu and then went off to California to start her freshman year at UCLA,


Our Brand Ambassadors have been #gettingoutthere all around the world,

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We learned some pretty cool things about the science of waves and surfing,




Photo Thomas Green

Photo Thomas Green

Got some pretty great local surf knowledge for Rockaway, Tamarindo, Rincon, the North Shore, Christchurch, and Moorea,

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January 2014 2

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We took the pledge to check our boobies once a month for the #checkyourselfie campaign,










AND not to mention we had a bitchin’ photo shoot right here in Costa Rica for our 2015 look book.


So what is on tap for next year???

How about some new prints AND a super sexy one piece…. more women discovering MI OLA and #gettingoutthere, Oh, and hopefully a pretty rad surf trip…to Pavones so we can work on our backside. That is, our backside surfing!


So shiny, so new!!!!





Team Rider Christina Essabba

Meet Christina. Or as we affectionately call her, Babba. Fellow team rider Kristen first met Babba via Instagram (such social media nerds) and they instantly connected with surfing and their love for what else…bikinis! When Christina moved full time to Costa Rica back in January to fulfill her dream of living in paradise and surfing every day we just had to go out and surf with this blonde bombshell! Since then, Christina has become one of our MI OLA team riders and even appeared in one of our photo shoots. Check out our interview with Babba below!




Mi Ola: When did you start surfing?

Christina: I started surfing a little over 2 years ago. I had tried surfing much earlier on (on my very first trip to Costa Rica), but when I got back home and realized the waves in NY delivered a colder and more frustrating experience, I gave up pretty quickly.  My second attempt at it was years later and realized I gave up too soon!  It just hadn’t clicked for me yet…and when it did-it was worth the wait, all the hard work and practice!


Mi Ola What brought you to Costa Rica? How long have you lived here?

Long ago, I decided to learn how to surf and made my first surf trip to CR .  I had planned on going solo until 3 friends decided to come with.  We had an amazing time and that visit here left an impression on me.  On that trip I told myself that one day I would surf, I would try and do it well and that I would live here.  I fell in love with this country and the surf/beach lifestyle.  That goal stayed with me, although I lived in New York (proudly born and raised!) for many years after that trip.  I fulfilled other dreams during that time; opening 2 clothing boutiques and diving head first into small business ownership.  I think I had some more livin’ to do in NY before I was able to find myself here.  So I spent the last 2 years traveling and surfing back and forth, and finally made the move official in January 2014.

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Mi Ola What is your favorite wave(s)?

I love surfing Avellanas! It’s close to home but it feels a mini adventure going there.  I love the waves, but the color of the water and the beach are equally as beautiful.


Mi Ola Any tips for chicas that are just starting to surf?

Do not give up, never feel intimidated and always have fun and laugh!  And buy yourself a couple cute bikinis.  It doesn’t hurt to feel good about what your are wearing in the water 😉 [Editor’s note: hint hint MI OLA!]


Mi Ola Besides surfing, what else do you do to stay so fit?

It seems since moving here, I’ve traded my Insanity DVD’s and all other beloved workout regimens for solely surfing and biking.  I bike to the surf, to work and everywhere in between.  I would love to rekindle my love/hate relationship with running and I’m patiently waiting for someone to offer Capoeira in here in town so I could get back into that!  Other then that, I have always had a pretty active lifestyle. 


Mi Ola What do you do in your free time?

Surf. hahaha. And eat cookies.  Stay in touch with family and friends back in NY, surf, continue my quest for good smoothies, surf.


Mi Ola What is your favorite thing about your Mi Ola suit? Which design(s)/ color(s) do you like best?

The fact that these suits fit well and look gooood.  An impossible thing to find in a surf bikini.  I have 2 favorites: The Casita Boythong in the blue colorway (I love the cheeky fit and the color combo is my favorite…how did MO know?? And the Pin-Up Top which I have in silver, gold and green.  I guess I dig this top just a little.


Mi Ola Any cool stories about Mi Ola….not slipping, other girls wanting to know about the suit you are wearing, etc.

I have struck up so many conversations while wearing my silver mermaid Reversible Wrap Top.  Girls compliment this one every time I wear it.  Then the next thing you know we are having a little pow wow about where we’re from and what we are doing here in CR.  MO, making friends, 1 bikini at a time haha!


Mi Ola As an active chica, what are a couple of things that you can’t live without/ don’t leave home without?

Hmm…My bikini. My Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids sunscreen stick (this beats any other surfy sunscreen that’s out there), and my Argan Oil hair treatment to help battle the lovely effects the salt, road dust and sun are having on my locks.