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).

 

September
23

#GetOutThereGuide: Sanibel Island

When brand ambassador Amanda (@mermanda_) isn’t teaching yoga, running her very own yoga studio, or getting out there in her town town of Marathon, Florida, she is exploring sandy beaches. Recently she took a trip with her boyfriend to 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. We just had to catch up with Amanda to get all the insider details on how to #GetOutThere in Sanibel Island!

#GetOutThereGuide: Sanibel Island

Sanibel Island is 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! I really felt drawn to this sea shell covered island and I guess most MI OLA mermaids would be too. Every store on the island sells tools for building sand castles – I liked that about it! You could still hear the ocean over everything else and there wasn’t anything in the way of connecting with nature and my sweet sweet boyfriend, Andy.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda- @mermanda_

How to get there:

Sanibel Island is located off the coast of southwest Florida, just west of Fort Myers, Florida (between Naples and Tampa). The island is roughly 12 miles long and three miles across at its widest. The only road in and out of Sanibel is the Sanibel Causeway Road, which connects the island to the mainland.

What to do:

Every inch of beaches are covered in sea shells of all shapes and sizes, and species. We bought sifter shovels and buckets and spent hours between the beach and the ocean floor collecting and sorting the most precious pieces. Did you know the best time to shell is an hour before or after low tide?

I have always found my self deeply inspired by sand and the vast amounts of grains and speck that lie in a single square inch, but this was different. The creative inspiration flowed through my finger tips to my soul with ever shell I touched.

Ideas of shell art and shell inspired mandalas that I could hang in my home and my yoga studio to continue to be in awe of this place and this feeling.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda- @mermanda_

Where to stay:

We stayed at a sweet little inn called the Parrots Nest, covered in shell decor and more romantic than a Ritz. The place was a sanctuary tucked away from the road, consumed in the most elegant way by moss, trees, and a deep connection to nature; and with in walking distance to the best breakfast and coffee shop on the island called Easy Over cafe.

We took our coffee to the Sanibel Island Lighthouse for a morning stroll along the trails and coast line of the south end of the Island.

What else to do:
Besides collect shells and build sandcastles, my boyfriend and I didn’t do much else! But, there is a plethora of other outdoor activities, like riding bikes all around the island, playing tennis, kayaking/canoeing, fishing, playing golf, practicing yoga, SUPin, and much more!

Go. Let yourself Relax. Be inspired.

For more information, check out Sanibel Captiva’s tourism website.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda- @mermanda_

September
16

#GetOutThere Guide: Columbia River Gorge

We’ve all seen photos of lush green foliage with a rushing waterfall cascading down the center. Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge is subject of many of these photographs with incredible views, hiking, and an extra special emphasis on the waterfalls!  MI OLA ambassador Becca is currently on an 8 month road trip with her husband traveling in a 38 year old Toyota Chinook. They take the time to explore diverse landscapes in every area they visit. Here Becca give us her insight into an epic day of chasing waterfalls in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge!

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls 

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. I could go on and on about how many days you could spend here, however, I’ve shortened the list to my favorites that YOU CAN SEE IN ONE DAY.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

Multnomah Falls

Where to start/ How to get there:

From I-84, take exit 28 and follow the Historic Columbia River highway 3 miles to the Multnomah Falls parking area. You will want to arrive early as parking is limited and may be full by 9AM.

Multnomah Falls:

Begin your day early at Multnomah Falls to beat the crowd.  This is one of the most photographed waterfalls.  It’s a must see, but you don’t want to be jocking for space as you focus. Multnomah Falls, at 620 feet, is the 2nd tallest waterfall in the United States with over 2 million people visiting far and wide stopping to see her beauty.

Weisendanger Falls:

After viewing Multnomah Falls, hike along trail #441 (Larch Mountain Trail) up the switchbacks to the brink of the falls. Follow the trail up the creek to Weisendanger Falls. You can either continue on to complete a loop trail to view more waterfalls or continue back to the Multnomah Falls parking area.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

Weisendanger Falls

Upon returning to the Multnomah Falls Parking Area, drive 2.2 miles east along the Historic Columbia River highway to Oneonta Creek. Park here along the side of the road in one of the pullouts, grab your MI OLA bikini and get ready to cool off from your hike in Oneonta Gorge!

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

Oneonta Gorge

Oneonta Gorge and Oneonta Falls:

From the parking area, head towards the obvious creek and start walking upstream. After a short ways, you will be met with a giant log jam. Carefully scramble over the logs. Pay close attention as they will most likely be wet. After scrambling over the log jam, continue walking upstream. You will shortly come to a narrow portion where you will be required to wade chest high in the creek. After wading through the water, you will be rewarded with Oneonta Falls!

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

Exploring Oneonta Gorge just after the log jam.

From the pullout next to Oneonta Creek, continue heading east along Historic Columbia River highway 0.5 miles to Horsetail Falls Trailhead.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

Ponytail Falls

Horsetail Falls and Ponytail Falls:

From the Horsetail Falls trailhead, walk along trail #438 viewing Horsetail Falls and Ponytail Falls. Walk behind Ponytail falls and continue walking along the short trail to a gorgeous lookout of the Columbia River Gorge. Retrace your steps to the Horsetail Falls Trailhead.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

Overlooking the Columbia River Gorge from the lookout just past Ponytail Falls

Upon returning to your vehicle at Horsetail Falls Trailhead, drive back west along the Historic Columbia River HWY to I-84. You’ve completed some of our favorite hikes in this beautiful landscape!

A few things to keep in mind:

  • These hikes are not considered strenuous, but be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks.
  • The Columbia River Gorge is a very popular destination for locals and travelers alike. Respect the land, pick up trash and be courteous to other hikers.
  • The Columbia River Gorge can be accessed year round. Spring boasts the “most impressive” waterfalls with increased water volume. The waterfalls in Summer will offer relief for hot hikers. Autumn will reward hikers with beautiful leaves. Hikers in Winter can be awestruck with frozen waterfalls. Pick your season, it won’t disappoint!

 

LODGING & EATS

  • The Columbia River Gorge does not have much to offer in the lodging department. It would be best to stay near or in Portland.
  • The only food options in our waterfall guide are located at Multnomah Lodge. Reservations are recommended for a table at Multnomah Lodge. However, they do have a small snack bar with coffee. Packing a lunch with lots of hiking snacks is a great option to keep yourself going!

Happy Travels Mermaids!

 

Be sure to check out Becca’s guides to Southern Utah and Northern California Highway 1!

 

Interested in joining the MI OLA Ambassador Program?

Know of anyone who should #GetOutThere with us?

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

September
2

#GetOutThere Guide: Northern California Highway 1

 

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

MI OLA ambassador Becca just spent over 3 weeks traveling up the coast of Northern California along Highway 1. She is in the middle of an 8 month journey around the American and Canadian West discovering the most incredible landscapes along the way. Read on to plan your own NorCal Highway 1 journey!

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Highway 1 twists and turns through massive Old Growth Redwood Forests, traverses across rocky shorelines and takes the traveler through vistas one can only imagine. Exploring Northern California along Highway 1 is not a quick 70mph drive. Although Google Maps says the 324 mile trip from Bodega Bay to Crescent City takes just over 7 hours, you’ll want at least 4 days! My husband and I spent over 3 weeks exploring the coastline by backpacking the Lost Coast Trail, hiking among the Redwoods and finding private beaches along the way. We narrowed down our favorite spots just for you!

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Backpacking along The Lost Coast. Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

 

The Best Backpacking Trip

The Lost Coast Trail is located in the King Range National Conservation Area – which encompasses over 68,000 acres of wilderness along 35 miles of untouched shoreline. Enthusiastic backpackers enjoy a one-way, 25 mile trip along the shoreline with awe-inspiring views for the entire way. This backpacking trek does require a shuttle unless you would like to double the mileage. We backpacked a small portion of The Lost Coast Trail departing from Black Sands Beach. Don’t forget to register for a permit and rent a bear canister! If you want to spend more time on the Lost Coast Trail, check out our more in depth Lost Coast Trail #GetOutThere Guide by Ashley B.!

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Mountain biking in Jackson Demo State Forest. Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

 

The Best Mountain Biking

A mountain biking paradise lies right outside one of the larger towns along HWY 1, Fort Bragg. The biking is in the Jackson Demo State Forest, just a few miles outside of town. There is enough singletrack that any biker will have fun for days and chances are you won’t see a soul! This area boasts soft trails through a towering Redwood Forest. What’s not to love?! Stop in Fort Bragg at Fort Bragg Cyclery for more info and directions.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

 

The Best Beaches

EVERYWHERE! Literally everywhere. While we were traveling along the coast, we drove an average of about 30 miles/day stopping at every beach we saw along the road that looked promising. Our rule of thumb – If there’s a beach, stop and soak up the sun! Some of our favorites were in Salt Point State Park, Sonoma Coast State Park and MacKerricher State Park.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

 

The Best Day Hikes

The Humboldt Redwoods in Northern California boasts the largest remaining old-growth forest of coast redwoods. It’s impossible not to be humbled and inspired all at the same time as you’re meandering through the forest. These trees live up to 2,000 years and can be over 200 ft tall. Stop at a visitor center to learn more about these impressive trees and find the right trail for you!

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Hiking in Sinkyone Wilderness State Park. Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

The Best Place to Get Off The Grid

If you’re looking for a place to get off the beaten path, Usal Beach at Sinkyone Wilderness State Park is your paradise! To get to this deserted beach and hiking paradise, visitors need to travel along a very steep, narrow and rough dirt road for 6 miles. From the trailhead, hike along the beautiful coast and through a Redwood grove for sweeping, 360-degree views. Don’t forget ample food and water as there aren’t any modern facilities. Usal Beach is camping only.

California is known for being sunny and 75 almost every day of the year. Lucky you, this means you can plan your road trip anytime you feel the need to get away! Be aware that this area can become quite crowded during the summer months because of families on vacations.

 

 

What to Bring and Where to Sleep

Your journey along HWY 1 will consist of a whole lot of gorgeous scenery and not a whole lot of amenities. The sleepy coastal towns that you’ll pass through will provide gas, one or two B&Bs, a local restaurant and the obligatory bar. First, decide if you’d like to camp (many people choose this option as there are a plethora of campgrounds along the route) or stay in a plush bed! You can’t go wrong with either! I’d recommend bringing the following whether camping or not.

• Reusable Water Bottles or a Water Jug – There aren’t too many public drinking sources along the way. Make sure you don’t get dehydrated and fill up along the way!

• Snacks, and lots of them! – As you’re traveling along HWY 1, you won’t see many options for quick eats. Pack a cooler with lunch food and snacks to avoid hanger!

• Athletic clothes to enjoy the outdoors, hiking boots or good walking shoes and plenty of SPF.

• Your favorite MI OLA bikini!

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

 

August
5

#GetOutThere Guide: Rio de Janeiro

Sun, Samba, surf, Caipirinhas, Carnival, Copacabana, bikinis, beach, football, Havaianas, sophisticated beach city, amazing landscapes, and a massive urban forest are just a few of the wonderful things that come to mind when you think about Rio de Janiero.  This city is amazing to visit anytime.  And now- starting today – it’s hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics.

MI OLA Brand Ambassador Ashley Averill(@theviewfrom6ft), visited Brazil for Carnival earlier this year.  Here is her scoop on Rio and its outdoor adventures  just in time for the opening ceremony of the 2016 summer games. If you are in Rio for the Olympics, or just planning a trip anytime, check out our #GetOutThere Guide to Rio de Janeiro.

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Ashley A.- @theviewfrom6ft

#GetOutThere Guide: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Ashley grew up in the beach town of Clearwater, Florida with a love of all things water-related and shopping. She now lives in Texas working as an engineer and takes every opportunity she gets to travel, with her most recent adventure to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Rio de Janeiro sits on the Atlantic coast of Brazil and is the country’s second-largest city. The city is home to over 6 million locals, known as “Cariocas”. The year-round temperature averages  70-80 Fahrenheit, which means you can grab an Uber (equipped with a surfboard rack) and head the beach, hike from the city streets up to rain forest covered mountains, or if you dare, get a running start and jump off these same mountains to hang glide.

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Ashley A.- @theviewfrom6ft

Hike:

While New York has Central Park, Rio has Tijuca National Park. Framing the city opposite of the Atlantic Ocean, this urban rain forest is home to miles of trails, waterfalls, monkeys, and most famously, the Christ the Redeemer statue. Most visitors get to Christ the Redeemer by train or bus, but MI OLA girls believe hiking beats hours spent waiting on transportation.

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Ashley A.- @theviewfrom6ft

To find the trail head, enter the forest behind the old mansion at Parque Lage, a property owned by the city’s botanical gardens, and follow signs to Corcovado, the name of the mountain the famous statue sits on (translates to “Hunchback”). Most of the 6km uphill hike is a natural staircase formed from tree roots. There is one scramble up a rock face, and the final stretch of hike is along the road. There are many online blog posts and guides for the hike, but it definitely is worth a Google search and a read to ensure you know where you are going.

As always, please go with friends, and let others know of your planned hike.

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Ashley A.- @theviewfrom6ft

Paraglide and Hang Glide:

Farther south in the park, the lush peak of Pedro Bonita (literally “beatific rock”) offers year round paragliding and hang gliding! Both involve trustfully running off a cliff strapped to a tandem master.  Paragliding uses a soft parasail with the flyers in a seated position, while hang gliding uses a triangle-shaped wing supported by a rigid frame with the flyers in a horizontal position. Paragliding can offer longer flight times for heavier passengers, but doesn’t get as close to the “I’m a bird” feeling as hang gliding.

To take part in either, head to Voo Livre in the Sao Conrado neighborhood. At the end of the road on the right-hand side there is a small hut that’s crowded with people early in the day. You’ll know it’s the right place if the sky above is speckled with the small multicolored silhouettes of the other flyers. In the small hut a demo video plays on loop to get future flyer’s adrenaline going and their hands reaching for their Brazilian Reals (currency in Brazil) – cash payments will get a better deal.

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Ashley A.- @theviewfrom6ft

Before each flight there’s some quick paperwork to fill out. It helps to have your passport number and an introduction to your tandem master. Before ever getting to the beach hut in Sao Conrado, most tourists are offered a hang gliding or paragliding excursion from hotels or friendly Cariocas on the street. It is advised to avoid these offers, booking through these middle-men takes more time, costs more money, and most aren’t official tourist bookers, but rather locals who leverage speaking English and Portuguese to earn a profit.

Go early in the day. Each tandem master has a limited number of flights they are permitted to do a day. After lunch many of the guides will have already exhausted their flights.

Hop in the car with your tandem master behind the wheel and the wings or parasail in the back.  You’ll get a quick briefing during the drive into the forest. Once on top of Pedro Bonita, you’ll meet the other flyers and tandem masters. Each flyer/tandem master pair practices running in sync for take-off a few times, making sure to maintain speed and not look down. Once confident with your running off a cliff skills it’s time to get strapped into the paraglider/hang glider and wait for the right wind.

While you might be nervous, rest assured.  The tandem masters do this a few times a day, every day.  Many of them compete or hold records in the sport.  So trust them. For instance, my tandem master held the South American record for longest flight time- 8.5 hrs! Our flight was breathtaking, but much shorter at around 5 minutes.  (Flight time can vary a lot depending on weight and wind conditions.) The flight offered bird’s-eye views of Christ the Redeemer in the distance, the clear teal ocean, and Rio’s many neighborhoods below. The flights land at Pepino Beach, not far from the hut where flyers fill out paperwork.

The key to landing is the same as take-off: run as fast possible and look straight ahead. Try to avoid tripping and face planting into to the sand as I did!

Beach:

Once you’re back at the beach, swim or paddle out to cool off and then dry off on the sand! To blend in don’t bring a towel to the beach as Cariocas either sit on sarongs, rent chairs along the beach, or just enjoy sandy cheeks. In Rio, the less bikini the better – pack your MI OLA Casita Boythong or Thong Tha Thong and you will fit right in!

Drink:

As you sit on the beach, a wandering Caipirinha salesman will pass. Buy one! The Caipirinha is made out of Cachaça (similar to rum), limes and sugar. It is the national cocktail of Brazil and a perfect anytime drink, but is especially good freshly muddled under the hot sun. All sorts of flavors of Cachaça and Caipirinhas can be found all around Rio, with the most memorable flavor being Cachaça de Jambu. Jambu is a Brazilian leafy green herb that causes the tongue and throat to tingle and go numb. Taking a shot Cachaça de Jambu had my life flashing before my eyes way more than hang-gliding did.

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Ashley A.- @theviewfrom6ft

Eat:

Most mornings in Brazil begin with an acai smoothie from a local juice shop. (Acai is a small red-purple berry from a palm which is high in antioxidants and is said to boost energy- beyond being flat out delicious.) Almost every street has a small open aired juice shop, with a few stools along the counter and pile of fresh fruit behind the counter. Common tropical fruits such as mango, papaya, guava are offered, as well as amazonian fruits such as cashew fruit, guarana, pitanga and the most famous, acai. Grab and go pasteis (fried meat and cheese-filled pockets) and Pao de Queijo (cheese bread) will also tempt you from the glass display boxes at the juice shops. For more sustainable food to fuel adventures, look for flavorful stews, hearty rice and beans (black beans and rice, or Feijao, is a Brazilian staple), and authentic sushi (Brazil has more Japanese immigrants than any other country).

Where to Stay:

The best places to stay in town are along the beach. In particular, Ipanema blends tourists, trendy locals, and the LGTB party crowd. It offers options from hostels to luxury hotels. Bonus points to any lodging in the east side of Ipanema that is positioned walking distance to the General Osório subway station.

Copacabana is a good plan B, although it has become more commercially touristy. While in town check out the slightly inland neighborhoods of Botafogo for brunch, Santa Teresa for an art gallery walk, and Lapa for nightlife.

The business focused Centero, the true downtown of Rio, doesn’t offer much for tourists. It is best to avoid on weekends and nights when it is empty and possibly seedy.

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Ashley A.- @theviewfrom6ft

Transportation:

The best tip for getting around Rio de Janerio is Uber. Uber is great because the same app that works at home in the US will work in Rio. The digital interface allows users to enter the destination and have confidence that the driver is going to the right place without putting their Portuguese skills to a test.

Rio even has UberEnglish and UberSurf for those willing to pay a few extra Reals for an English speaking driver or a surfboard rack. When out of Wi-fi range, the city also offers taxis (though not too many taxi drivers speak English so be prepared with a written address), two subway lines and buses (the most cost effective option).

For transportation to Rio the city has two airports: Santos Dumont for domestic connections and Galeao-Antonio Carlos (GRU) for international flights.

Tchau and enjoy your travels MI OLA babes!

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Ashley A.- @theviewfrom6ft

July
15

#GetOutThere Guide: Northern California Lost Coast Trail – Kings Range

Can you keep up with MI OLA Brand Ambassador Ashley B. (@ayeboulet)? From downhill skiing at her home base in Lake Tahoe, CA, mermaiding with fellow ambassador Elise in Moorea, hiking up a 14,000 footer White Mountain, beach hiking the coast in the Kalalau Valley on Kauaʻi, Hawaii, or relaxing on a beach in St. Maarten, we love Ashley’s sense of adventure. We caught up with this awesome mermaid and got the details on her latest #getoutthere adventure: hiking the Lost Coast Trail at Kings Range in Northern California.

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Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Ashley B @ayeboulet

#GetOutThere Guide: Northern California Lost Coast Trail- Kings Range

Seeking solitude? Adventure? Sleeping on the ocean beneath the stars? Look no further than the Lost Coast Trail. This hike/backpacking trail is among my top rated, and perhaps one of California’s best kept secrets. This hike is divided between two national parks. The northern segment is in the Kings Range while the southern segment is in the Sinkyone Wilderness. Each segment is approximately 25 miles in distance, totaling 50 miles altogether. For this #getoutthere guide we will focus on the northern segment of this backpacking adventure.

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Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Ashley B @ayeboulet

How to get there:

For this hike you will hike from north to south, however you can go from south to north as well. If you plan on hiking only one way (25 miles), you will need to contact a shuttle service. I arranged a shuttle with Sheri Lualin (Phone: (707)986-9895, sherriluallin@gmail.com). Be prepared that the shuttle service is expensive, approximately $150-200 and it takes about 2.5 hours one way. Sherri will meet you in Shelter Cove at Black Sands Beach. You will leave your car there in the designated parking area. From there Sherri will drive you north to Mattole Beach. She will provide you with a map, tide chart, and permits for your hike.

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What to know:

You need a tide table and you must plan on hiking at low tide. The tide table is easy to read and follow, just be sure you have one before starting your hike, as sections of this trail involve walking on the beach. You will also need a bear canister for this hike to store all your food. You can purchase one at most outdoor department stores, or rent one for your journey at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Project Office in Whitehorn.

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Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Ashley B @ayeboulet

 

Permits:

Permits can be obtained from the visitor center, your shuttle driver, or at the trailhead in self-serve stations. The permit is free, however you want to be sure you have one with you. A permit is required if you plan to use a camp stove or have a campfire. Campfires are permitted only during the fall, winter, and spring.

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Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Ashley B @ayeboulet

 

What to pack:

Bear canister (required)

Durable/ water resistant hiking shoes- you will need to cross water and will be hiking on the beach.

Lightweight jacket- rain is likely and expect cooler temperatures at night.

Headlamp/batteries- necessity for light

Pack foods with minimal packaging-what you pack in, you must pack out.

Mole skin- in case of blisters.

Rain poncho- to protect pack and yourself from potential rain, which is likely on the coast.

Extra tent stakes-Expect high winds on the coast and beach when camping.

Water resistant/water proof tent- rain is likely and you’ll want to stay dry when inside your tent.

Water purifier- You will not be able to pack enough water for this hike if you plan to hike for multiple days. There are plenty of water sources that are easily accessible and can be found on a map. I would recommend initially packing a gallon of water per person, and then purify water for the duration of your hike.

To check trail conditions and water sources, go to the BLM website.

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Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Ashley B @ayeboulet

 

When to hike:

Do your research. The best times to hike the Lost Coast Trail are between the months of May-September. I hiked the trail in mid-June. We had fair weather until the last day of our hike. I would recommend hiking in July-August, although there may be more foot traffic during these months. When I hiked this northern segment, I stayed 3 nights and 4 days on the trail. With this pace, I averaged 6 miles a day. I paced my trip according to the tides and allocated enough time to enjoy the coast and unparalleled beauty. Some hike each segment in a few days, but take your time if possible!

To check current weather conditions, click here for the National Weather Service forecast.

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Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Ashley B @ayeboulet

 

After your hike:

After days spent backpacking on the coast the best reward will be eating some fish and chips at the Shelter Cove RV campground and Deli. This market/eatery is quaint and perfect for decompressing with a few brews and a hot meal. After hiking be sure to stretch and continue to drink lots of water.

 

Helpful links/websites:

https://lostcoasttrails.wordpress.com/

 

Interested in joining the MI OLA Ambassador Program?

Know of anyone who should #GetOutThere with us?

Shoot us an email at info@MI-OLA.com

July
8

#GetOutThere Guide: Southern Utah

Our MI OLA brand ambassadors know how to #GetOutThere and ambassador Becca (@roamwildandfree) raises the bar with her outdoor adventures. Becca and her husband are on an eight-month road trip across the United States. They recently spent a couple of weeks exploring Southern Utah. We were so inspired by her photos of picturesque landscapes, so we caught up with Becca to get the insider tips on how to #GetOutThere in Southern Utah.

#GetOutThere Guide: Southern Utah

Greetings from our 4-wheeled adventure mobile! My husband, beloved pup and I are on an 8 month road trip all around the American and Canadian West hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking and summiting peaks. We fill our days with the activities that we love the most and I’m here sharing one of my favorite areas of our journey – Southern Utah.

Rappelling from Looking Glass Arch outside Moab, UT. Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

Imagine you’re wading through a crystal clear emerald river with massive, red canyon walls on either side. 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 find yourself mountain biking across some of the best slick rock in the world. Where is this paradise? None other but Southern Utah. Southern Utah is home to some of the best hiking, mountain biking, backpacking, rock climbing and canyoneering in the world. Read on to plan your own epic road trip.

Your treasure road trip map to paradise! Map courtesy MoabAdventureCenter.com

Your treasure road trip map to paradise! Map courtesy MoabAdventureCenter.com

Starting your Journey – How to Get There:

Geographically, it makes the most sense to start your adventure either in Springdale, UT and head east, or begin in Moab, UT and work your way west. In the effort to streamline your road trip planning, this guide will be broken up into three geographical areas – Moab, UT (Arches and Canyonlands National Parks), Capital Reef National Park, and Springdale, UT (Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks). Since most of your journey will be in a desert climate, plan your road trip for Autumn- Spring. Avoid the summer unless you enjoy roasting away in the sweltering heat. 

 

What to Bring:

For the outdoor lover, bring your camping gear because I’m about to tell you about some of my all-time favorite camping spots! Pack clothing accordingly. You’ll be in the desert and it may be hot during the day and chilly at night. Don’t forget a trusty pair of hiking shoes and a reusable water bottle!

Overlooking Island in the Sky portion of Canyonlands National Park.

Overlooking Island in the Sky portion of Canyonlands National Park. Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

Moab, UT (Arches and Canyonlands National Parks)

Moab is the home for all things adventure. Hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, sky diving… It’s all there! Moab is your “one stop shop” for a wide variety of landscapes and awe-inspiring views around every bend.

Where to Hike
– Devils Garden Loop in Arches National Park – 7.2 miles round trip offering a variety of views including eight arches, a relatively flat trail, steep ledges and rock scrambling.
– Gooseberry Canyon in Canyonlands National Park – 5.4 miles round trip descending (and ascending) into the Island in the Sky portion of Canyonlands providing hikers with Grade A panorama views.
– Negro Bill Canyon off Scenic Byway 128 – 4 miles round trip along an easy going stream winding through steep canyon walls to an underground spring and Morning Glory Natural Bridge.

Where to Mountain Bike
– For beginner riders, check out the Bar M Loops. It’s a great spot to test out your skills and jump on more intermediate trails as you progress.
– For intermediate to advanced riders, look into THE Slickrock trail in Sand Flats Rec Area.

Where to Rock Climb
– Wall Street off Potash Road – Belay from the comfort of the top of your car! Famous for the “park and climb” day, Wall Street offers top rope routes for beginners to advanced.  Be aware, you will have road noise and the area is quite popular.
– Indian Creek – The mecca for crack climbing, any rock climbing enthusiast will be happy here for days and weeks on end!

Where to Camp

– Goose Island – A BLM managed campground right on the river just minutes outside Moab.
– Jaycee Park Campground – Another great BLM managed campground less than 10 minutes outside Moab with great access to rock climbing.
– Sand Flats Recreation Area – Boasting over 120 private campsites, Sand Flats is the place to camp for those interested in mountain biking the infamous Slick Rock Trail.

Where to Eat
– Moab Coffee Roasters for your morning brew.
– Eklecticafe to load up on fuel for the day.
– Milt’s has the best burgers and milkshakes in town.
– Zak’s pizza has an impressive all you can eat buffet to reward yourself after that grueling hike.

Plan for at least 3-4 days in the Moab area, there will be so much you’ll want to do without near enough time! We spent a full 3 weeks in Moab and still have a list of things to do when we return.

Exploring the never ending canyons around Capital Reef & Grand Staircase-Escalante.

Exploring the never ending canyons around Capital Reef & Grand Staircase-Escalante. Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

 

Capital Reef National Park

Capital Reef National Park, as well as Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, will leave you inspired for years to come with giant sandstone formations, impressive arches and an ever-changing horizon for the wander-lusting soul.

Where to Hike
– Chimney Rock Loop in Capital Reef National Park – 3.6 miles round trip best suited for sunset views.
– Coyote Gulch in Grand Staircase-Escalante – 11.5 miles round trip winding through a slot canyon as well as passing numerous arches.
– Calf Creek Falls in Grand Staircase-Escalante – 5.8 miles round trip rewarding hikers with a 130 foot waterfall with a swimming hole underneath!

Where to Camp
– Fruita Campground is the only developed campground inside Capital Reef National Park. Fill up on water here for your hikes.
– Calf Creek Campground is inside Grand Staircase-Escalante National Park with sites filling up on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Where to Eat
– Kiva Koffeehouse in Escalante for your morning coffee and bodily fuel.
– Escalante Outfitters Café in Escalante will feed your hungry belly after an arduous hike.

Capital Reef National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument are a bit off the grid and the “beaten trail”. Many folks plan 1-2 days but the opportunities for the outdoor lover are endless in this vast area.

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

 

Springdale, UT (Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks)

Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks are some of the most picturesque landscapes in the entire world. Springdale, a cute little trendy town located just outside Zion National Park, offers visitors a plethora of restaurants and local art.

Where to Hike
– Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park – 4.8 miles roundtrip of strenuous, exposed hiking leading up to one of the best views in Zion. Be aware, this hike is extremely popular (with good reason). To avoid crowds, plan for a sunrise or sunset hike.
– The Narrows in Zion National Park – The Narrows are not necessarily a hike, but rather a thrilling experience wading through the Virgin River with steep walls on either side.
– Fairyland Loop in Bryce Canyon National Park – 8 miles roundtrip offering hikers impeccable views of Bryce Canyon.

Where to Camp
– North Campground in Bryce Canyon National Park.
– Watchman Campground in Zion National Park.
– South Campground in Zion National Park.

Where to Eat
– Cafe Soleil provides a great breakfast and friendly baristas ready to prepare you for your day.
– Oscar’s Café is a perfect spot for a lunch complete with outdoor seating at with canyon views all around.
– Bit and Spur can’t be missed for dinner, the prices and experience are well worth it.

Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks provide excellent opportunities for the outdoor lover. Plan for at least 3-4 days here to enjoy the minimum that this pristine area has to offer!

Happy Trails! Stay tuned for more #GetOutThere guides coming your way from our 8-month journey around the American and Canadian West!

Happy Travels!

Happy Trails! Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

June
3

#GetOutThere Guide: El Yunque Rainforest Hike, Puerto Rico

For this month’s #GetOutThereGuide, we’re catching up with MI OLA Ambassador Andrea – @vitiviti . Her favorite activities include free-diving (40 feet), surfing, fishing, lobstering and playing in the waves. On the turf, she is doing yoga and exploring the outdoors.

One of her favorite hikes is to La Roca in El Yunque rainforest in Puerto Rico.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Andrea – @vitiviti in our Pin Up Top and Striped  Boyshort

#GetOutThere Guide: El Yunque Rainforest Hike

I love the ocean. I can spend an entire day lounging on the warm sand, snorkeling a reef, or surfing the day away. Unfortunately, spring time in Puerto Rico usually means it rains a lot. Almost every single day.

One of my favorite rainy day activities, is hiking up the “El Yunque Rainforest” in search of La Roca, known to have the most amazing views. You feel as if you are literally on top of the world.

View from La Roca El Yunque

Photo by Marfeus Murf

The Hike:
From the parking lot, the trail takes you to Mt. Britton, which you should definitely check out if you have the energy and time. It is a very steep, slippery trail so it’s important non-slip hiking shoes are worn.

Hiking El Yunque

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Andrea – @vitiviti

The first part of this trail will end on Forest Service Road 10. Once you get to this road you can follow the signs to Mt. Britton, which will lead you to “El Yunque Trail”. From here you can then find your way to La Roca.

El Yunque Hike Map

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Andrea – @mermaid.drea

Look out for signs for “Los Picachos” and “El Yunque Peak,”. If you have time, check out these spots too.

The overall hike is a bit challenging since as it’s a steep uphill climb, but many have done it. The goal of this hike is to reach the clouds.

Roundtrip the hike will take about four hours. When you finally reach the top you’ll enjoy the cold air from the mountains to cool you off! And on the way down, you get another refreshing reward:  ice cold waterfalls to cool off in.

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Andrea - @mermaid.drea

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Andrea – @vitiviti

Waterfalls:
After you’ve finished your hike, be sure to check out La Mina waterfall. It is very easy to get to as there are marked signs. There is a stairway that takes you down and the walk is about 30 minutes.

Waterfalls El Yunque

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Andrea – @vitiviti in our Casita Boythong and Pin Up Top

What to bring:
Good non-slip hiking shoes, and athletic gear.  Pack your MI OLA BIKINI – you’re gonna need it. Also pack a bag with drinks, snacks, a towel, and a light jacket. Bring water and more water. But if you don’t want to lug about heavy bottles, El Yunque has mini waterfalls everywhere, where you can get a refill.
Bring something dry and comfortable you can change into after your play day in El Yunque.

Hike El Yunque

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador – @vitiviti

Where to stay:
Although you are able to camp in the rainforest itself, I don’t recommend staying there. Tourists are better off going back to their hotel.

Apres Hike:
Eat at “La Parilla” located in the Luquillo Kiosks (it is kiosk #2). Relax in front of the beach with an ice-cold Medalla (our local beer) and and hot plate of deliciousness. A parade of food and drink kiosks, you have tons of options to sample local delicacies. You will not be disappointed.

How to #GetOutThere:
El Yunque is about a 45 min drive from San Juan. Take PR-26 until you see the exit for PR-66. Follow signs to get on road #3 South. Keep right to continue on #3 S and then on the third cross street you will make a right onto PR-191.

Once you get into the Rainforest the drive up the mountain becomes very windy with blind bends, so drive with extreme caution.

It is customary to honk your horn when driving up a bend to let other drivers know you are there. After driving for about 20 minutes you will come to a one-way roundabout. Bear to the right (road 930), where you will find a parking lot.

There is only one trail into the forest from here.

 

Interested in joining the MI OLA Ambassador Program?

Know of anyone who should #GetOutThere with us?

Shoot us an email at info@MI-OLA.com

 

 

April
1

#GetOutThere Guide: Fiji


Anyone who’s been to Fiji raves about it.   So when MI OLA WORLD ambassador Ellen visited recently, we had to get the inside scoop on how to #GETOUTTHERE.

Originally from the tiny island of Jersey, UK, Ellen now lives in one of the most beautiful parts of Australia, the Northern Rivers, home to the world famous Byron Bay.  Ellen’s passion is being in or under the water. Fins, mask and underwater camera in hand, exploring the reefs and wrecks around Byron Bay is this adventurer’s game.

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Photo by Leigh Toovey

Hi bikini fans, I’m Ellen- a MI OLA Brand ambassador currently living in sunny Australia. I’m a Brit by birth, so growing up in a place that’s often cold, wet and windy ignited a passion for travel. There’s nothing I love more than a tropical adventure!

I was lucky enough to spend a week in Fiji recently. I’m loving I can share my insights to this beautiful place with you all.

 

#GetOutThere Guide: Fiji

Fiji is actually a collection of over 300 islands, ranging in size from a few square metres to 10,000 square kilometres. Pretty much all of these islands boast palm-fringed beaches of white sand, surrounded by turquoise waters teeming with corals and fish.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Ellen – @artemis_eleven

The larger islands boast dramatic mountain ranges and lush valleys, complete with rainforests and waterfalls. Anaconda, Castaway and Blue Lagoon were filmed here.

Gavin Mills

Photo by Gavin Mills

My #GetOutThere Guide’s focus is on two groups of islands to the west of the mainland, the Mamanucas and the Yasawas.

Activities
Let’s face it, you don’t go to Fiji unless you like the ocean! Most of the activities available centre around the turquoise waters.

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Photo by Leigh Toovey

Snorkeling
Explore beautiful, healthy coral reefs close to shore. Swim right off the beach and see an array of soft and hard corals. There’s no missing the huge variety of small, colorful fish.

Prepared to venture out a little deeper? At 3-5 m (10 – 15 feet) deep, you’ll be rewarded with huge coral bombies every colour of the rainbow. Come across Fijian groupers up to 1.5 m (5 feet) long. If you’re there at the right time of the year, you might even see some Manta Rays!

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Photo by Leigh Toovey of @artemis_eleven in her Pin Up Top

Diving
SCUBA schools (PADI accredited) can be found on most of the islands. If you choose to dive I’d recommend the Yasawa Islands. The dramatic volcanic landscapes means the underwater rock formations are equally interesting with tunnels and caves to see.

Experienced guides will take you on excursions to see sharks and turtles.

Matt hall

Photo by Matt Hall

Surfing
The island of Tavarua is at the southern end of the Mamanucas. It’s home to the famous Cloudbreak and Restaurants reef breaks. These breaks get very crowded. A better bet is the ‘Coral Coast’ which covers the southwest coast of Viti Levu, the main island. The hundreds of kilometers of reef breaks here mean you’re bound to find a wave to yourself!

Above-water
Most island resorts have paddle boards and kayaks for hire, as well as organizing typical beach activities such as volleyball.

A great thing to do is to take part in the local craft lessons and learn how to make hats, crowns and baskets from palm fronds.

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Photo by MI OLA

 

Where to Stay
The islands are pretty small. In the case of the Yasawas, if not small, then remote. Often there are only one or two resorts per island. I’d recommend you do your research.

Some islands cater to the party crowd, others to families or couples. Some resorts are luxury and others are budget. A good number of islands cater to everybody. They have three or four different accommodation options to suit every price range. Some offer more secluded accommodation or something nearer the bar.

Our favorite was Bounty Island in the Mamanucas. It was fairly basic, but we liked that! We had a beach hut to ourselves a stone throw away from the ocean. Every day we were able to find our own stretch of sand and often wouldn’t see another person all day! Perfect for that castaway, desert island experience.

 

Where and What to Eat
Here’s the (slight) catch to these beautiful islands: you’re a captive audience when it comes to food. All islands run a compulsory ‘all inclusive’ policy when it comes to food. This cost is often charged on top of your accommodation fee. When booking be sure to ask whether your price includes the ‘Resort Tax’ (a.k.a. your food charge) or not. It’s great value for money at around $30 per day for 3 beautiful meals, but it can be a bit of a shock to the system if you hadn’t budgeted to pay that on arrival.

Bear in mind that for each meal, you’ll probably only be presented with two or three options. If you’re a really fussy eater, an island hopping adventure may not be for you. However, if you love to try new things, and you’re a fan of fish, curries, and fruit (though not all together!) then you’ll be fine.

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Photo by Cloud 9

One place that has to be mentioned is a trip to ‘Cloud 9’ – it’s heaven! Cloud 9 is a floating 2-storey platform bar/restaurant/relaxation-station moored close to the Malolo Barrier Reef. There’s no better way to enjoy a cocktail (or two!) than under a cloudless sky with a 360° view of turquoise waters.

 

The Locals
What makes Fiji such a great place? The People! Fijians are such a warm, welcoming and friendly people. They go out their way to make sure your visit to their country is special and memorable. From the very first cry of ‘Bula’ (welcome) you feel like one of the family. Trust me, you’ll be sad to say ‘Moce’ (goodbye) to these beautiful islands, but you’ll definitely say ‘Vinaka’ (thank you) for one of the best trips of your life!

 

How to #GetOutThere

View from seaplane - Ellen Moon

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Ellen – @artemis_eleven

First stop is to get to Viti Levu, the largest island. The international airport is located in Nadi on the west coast. From here take a 15-minute taxi or bus ride to Port Denarau, where you can pick up a boat out to the islands.

Depending on your budget (and any time constraints like flight arrival times) you have a few options:

The Yasawa Flyer

This bright yellow catamaran offers the best value for money if you intend to island hop your way through the Mamanucas and Yasawas. The downside is the restricted schedule – one outward/northwest-bound and one inward/southeast-bound voyage per day.

Water Taxi
Your hotel should be able to arrange a 10-20 seater boat to cater for passengers arriving on similarly timed flights heading to nearby islands. You may have to wait for an hour or two at the marina, but this gives you a great chance to try the local beer (I recommend ‘Vonu’, which means ‘turtle’ in the local dialect).

Sea-plane
Arrive in style by booking a flight with Turtle Airways (sensing a theme yet?!). This way you dictate the schedule, and you get some amazing views of the coral reefs on your way to your chosen island. Landing on water is quite a thrill, but unsurprisingly, this is the most expensive travel option.

 

Interested in joining the MI OLA Ambassador Program?

Know of anyone who should #GetOutThere with us?

Shoot us an email at info@MI-OLA.com

 

February
26

#GetOutThereGuide: Penny Hot Springs, CO

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Caroline C – @carolinegcarlson

You surf, SUP, ski, dive, mountain bike, rock climb, cannonball, and hike. Now MI OLA WORLD Ambassador Caroline Carson shows how to relax after you #GetOutThere. After a sunrise hike or a Bluebird day on the slopes, why not soak in a natural, outdoor hot spring?

#GetOutThere Guide: Penny Hot Springs, Colorado

The Penny Hot Springs are just outside of Carbondale, Colorado. Nestled in a narrow granite section of the canyon, cut away by the Crystal River.

In the 1960’s people started soaking in the hot springs sans bathing suit, and the term “hippy dip” originated. Offended by the nudity, locals bulldozed  the bathroom and hotel, covering the hot springs. In the ’90s  the pools were rebuilt and opened to the public and yes, MI OLA BIKINI required.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Caroline C – @carolinegcarlson

On both sides of the Crystal River,  you’ll see large granite cliffs sometimes called “Hell’s Gate”. Take a short hike down to the river to find the hot springs. There will be several different pools to sit in. They are fed by natural hot mineral water, sit about 2 feet deep and span about 50 feet.

Carefully test the water  with your toe before you head in. The water can get really hot. Temperatures will vary and some are hotter than others. You can regulate the temperature by adjusting the rock wall, letting either more or less cold river water flow in.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Caroline C – @carolinegcarlson

When to go:

It’s best to go during the summer, fall and winter.  The hot springs can  flood out during spring from the snow melt.

What to bring:

MI OLA BIKINI!

MI OLA surf bikini in our new Under the Sea print.

MI  OLA  Selva  Full  X  Back  Top  and  CYA  Double  String  Bottom  in  Under The Sea

Towel

Water

Music – Please be respectful if there are other people enjoying the hot springs.

Where to Stay:

Avalanche Ranch, just a short drive upstream from the Penny Hot Springs.

Crystal River KOA

Bogan Flats Campground in Carbondale, CO.

Beaver Lake Lodge Cabin in Marble, CO.

Where to eat:

There is a Whole Foods a couple of miles away in Basalt. I love to go there and grab healthy snacks to enjoy at the hot springs. If you take anything to eat or drink in the hot springs, make sure that you pack out all of your trash.

Nearby Hikes:

Mushroom Rock Hike– an easy but beautiful 2-mile hike with views that overlook Mt. Sopris and the Crystal River.

Mt. Sopris– If you have a full day to spend hiking, this 13-mile trek is as challenging as a 14er.

Other Activites:

My favorite activity to do before relaxing in the Penny Hot Springs is ski touring in Marble.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Caroline C – @carolinegcarlson

From Carbondale continue south on Highway 133 to get Marble. Tour the old marble quarry, enjoy a quiet picnic beside Beaver Lake  or visit the Crystal Mill – one of Colorado’s most photographed sites.

Ski, shop or eat in Aspen! Drive north back up to Carbondale, then take CO-82 E for about 25 miles to Aspen.

Getting There:

From I-70/Glenwood Springs: Take CO-82 E towards Aspen. After 10.2 miles turn right onto CO-133 S for Carbondale. Take Highway 133 for 14 miles and the Penny Hot Springs will be located on the east side (left side) of the highway, a few hundred feet north of mile marker 55.

There will be a small parking area on the left.

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Interested in joining the MI OLA Ambassador Program?

Know of anyone who should #GetOutThere with us?

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

November
27

#GetOutThere Guide: Shawangunks

Even when MI OLA women live in big cities, we’re always looking for ways to #getoutthere.

Drive two hours north of New York City and you’re well out of the concrete jungle and in a different type of wilderness: the Shawangunk Mountains, a ridge of bedrock spanning across Ulster, Sullivan and Orange Counties in NY. The “Gunks” are an all-year-round, outdoor enthusiasts’ playground.

Shawangunk Ridge

Photo by Jonathan Keller

 

What to Do:

NY SEASONS

Photo by MG Production

Rock Climbing: 

Claimed as the East Coast’s greatest climbing area, the Shawangunks has more rock climbing routes than any single location East of the Mississippi River. The majority of the routes fall in the easy to moderate range and are a great place for beginners to get addicted to rock climbing. To escape the skyscrapers of New York City, Team Rider Kristen used to head to the Shawangunks, where she had her very first climbing lesson. Alpine Endeavours  offers full-day private guides from $130 per person, as well as group courses from $100 per person. You can rent gear and get lessons at Rock & Snow in nearby New Paltz. The staff is very knowledgeable and all around awesome.

Rock Climbing - free use

Photo by Spencer Stewart

Hiking:

The Shawangunk Ridge Trail (SRT) starts at the Appalachian Trail in High Point State Park in New Jersey and heads north along the southern Shawangunks, then northeast through Sam’s Point Preserve, Minnewaska State Park and the Mohonk Preserve in New York. There are 71 miles of trail, with incredible views and waterfalls. Once in New Paltz, head to Minnewaska State Park or the Mohonk Preserve, which border each other.

– Minnewaska State Park offers a wide range of hikes. The park opens at 9 am, has a $12 fee, and there is a carry in-carry out policy.

– Mohonk Preserve offers over 30 miles of carriage road and trails. Park opens at 9 am and the fee is $12 for hikers. There are 4 trailheads. Click here for more information.

Hiking-Meridith Drangin

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Meredith Drangin

Ice Climbing:

There are a few good ice climbing guide services offering staff who are highly experienced and state-licensed in ice mountaineering. They are also certified by the American Mountain Guides Association. You can find guides through Alpine Endeavors or High Xposure in New Paltz.

ICE CLIMBING-Free use

Photo by Simon Steinberger

Biking: 

From road to mountain biking, there are hundreds of miles of tarmac and trails in the Shawangunks. There are over 30 miles of carriage roads in the Mohonk Preserve, with varied scenery ranging from cliff-top views to open meadows. Because of the sudden elevations in the “Gunks”, many of the bike routes will test your endurance and strength. As a result, it has become known as a great place to train. Remember to always wear a helmet and pay the park entrance fee of $17 for bikers.

Not ready to slide down this slippery slope? No worries! The topography is great for both novice and experienced bikers. To find the perfect bicycle for you and your family in the “Gunks” visit Lightsey Cycles in the Hamlet of Gardiner, 6 miles outside New Paltz.

Biking-Meridith Drangin

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Meredith Drangin

Water:

The Shawangunk Kill is the largest tributary of the Wallkill River. A 47.2-mile-long stream that flows from the town of Greenville to Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties. Canoe, fish, raft, tube or dip in after a long hike. This is the perfect playground for the MI OLA girl.

MO GILRS OUT

Photos by @miolasurf Ambassadors

A popular spot is the 87-foot high Stony Kill Falls in Minnewaska State Park Preserve. Bring a towel and wear your favorite MI OLA suit. This fantastic swimming hole is not one to miss.

 

Getting There:

Drive: From New York City, take the George Washington Bridge to the Palisades Interstate Parkway. Then head West on the New York State Thruway (287) to 87 North. Get off at the exit for New Paltz. The “Gunks” are six miles West of New Paltz, on Route 44/55.

Train: The closest train station to the Gunks is in Poughkeepsie. Metro North runs regularly from Grand Central Station, NY to Poughkeepsie and back. Amtrak leaves from Penn Station in NYC and also stops in Poughkeepsie. From Poughkeepsie by car, it’s about 20 minutes to New Paltz or 30 minutes to the Gunks.

Bus: Adirondack Trailways buses stop in downtown New Paltz. It’s a pretty comfy ride from New York City.  Ulster County Area Transit  or UCAT bus service  also stops in downtown New Paltz from Poughkeepsie and other towns in Ulster County. Buses don’t get any closer to the cliffs than this.  It’s another 15-20 minutes from the bus station in New Paltz to the Mohonk Preserve’s Visitor’s Center.

Entry:  You’ll need to get day passes from the Mohonk Preserve or park ranger.

Map-Shawangunks

 

Where to Stay:

The Mohonk Mountain House is a grand 19th-century lakeside retreat surrounded by endless trails to hike, bike and climb.   Cozy accommodation, a great lake for watersport, a nifty communal dining hall and activities to suit all ages await at this New Paltz resort.

Mohonk ML

Photo by MG Production

The Minnewaska Lodge is a uniquely designed 26-room property in the quaint town of Gardiner, New York. Surrounded by 25,000 acres of State park preserve, nestled upon 17 acres at the base of the Shawangunk Mountains, this Hudson Valley hotel offers a tranquil boutique experience.

If you have camping gear, the Shawangunks offers several camping grounds. Camping fee is $38 per night.

 

Where to Eat:

New Paltz has no shortage of restaurants and different cuisines. The Main Street Bistro has good food  and a mellow vibe.  Bacchus Restaurant has a massive beer menu, great grub and cool billiards. At the quaint, dog-friendly Mudd Puddle Coffee Roasters and Cafe you’ll stretch your tummy not your pocket.  Other great options are Plaza Diner and A Tavola. During summer and early fall be sure to check out the roadside farm stands for fresh fruits and vegetables.