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.






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


Surf Guide: Ollie’s Point

We love a good wave at MI OLA WORLD. One of our favorite places to catch one Ollie’s Point.  Luckily for MI OLA, this baby is just a day trip away from us in Costa Rica.  Ollie’s was made famous by the surf film The Endless Summer II and it is a perfect right point break.

You must take a boat to Ollie’s Point, and most surfers do a combo day trip with some time at Ollie’s and some at the world famous Witch’s Rock, depending on which spot is breaking better. 

So grab your MI OLA BIKINI and RASHGUARD and #GetOutThere with MI OLA Team Rider Kristen – @sambatothesea.


SURF GUIDE: Ollie’s Point, Costa Rica by Kristen Brown – @sambatothesea

Oh, Ollie’s Point, how I love you so.  I adore this wave so much I surfed here four times in one month. Heck! I even celebrated my 30th birthday with this amazing wave.


Photo by MI OLA Team Rider Kristen – @sambatothesea

Where and when to surf:

Ollie’s Point is a point break – so there is only one area where you take off and catch the wave. The takeoff point is right by the rock – you can’t miss it during low tide, which is when Ollie’s is best – and your guide can show you where it is, if that’s not clear.  Ollie’s needs a south swell to break, so check the forecast while you’re planning your trip.  It is not unheard of surfers taking the long trip to Ollie’s, only to find it flat.

However, when it’s breaking, the wave is perfect.  The beauty of Ollie’s is that even if it is big, the wave is not going to pound you. Nor is it hard to paddle back out.


Photo by Team Rider Kristen – @sambatothesea

When to surf:

The best time to surf Ollie’s is around low tide. The wave becomes fast, steep, and if the sandbar is just right, it will peel towards the beach giving you a nice long ride.

Many surfers head to Witch’s Rock (Roca Bruja) for mid-tide. I like to stay. I have surfed Ollie’s several times, all day and the wave is still great fun at different tides.

So let everyone leave and enjoy the wave just for your boat group. Bliss!

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 for offshore winds.  If they are coming in strong, the water temperature may drop a bit, and you’ll want a spring jacket or spring suit.  Nothing like getting to a perfect wave and being too cold to surf.

What to Bring:
Ollie’s Point is very remote and you’re traveling on a boat.  And many of these boats are completely open, and may not even have a sunshade.  So bring everything you need.  Be sure to bring substantial food and water to help keep you fueled for a full day of surfing and activity.  But also remember sunscreen, sunglasses, sun hat, rashguard for sun protection, a long sleeve shirt and a sarong for sun protection.   The trip out is typically calm and not too windy… somehow though the hour boat trip back always seems to be super choppy and incredibly windy.

Even if you’re militant about sun protection, it’s hard to get back from a 12 hour day trip to Ollie’s without a sunburn.

Some boat companies often have water, fruit, and some type of snack for their clients. Always double check with them before you go though.

Other Activities:
Enjoy the boat ride and Costa Rica’s finest wildlife! At Ollie’s there is no development for miles. This is amazing because you get to experience loads of wildlife as you explore a natural, untouched habitat.

You could see a flying manta ray, whales, mating turtles, too many birds to list and schools of fish. You may even get a pod of dolphins racing by your boat.

The only setback are the crocodiles that live in the estuary. Come on guys it’s Costa Rica! So be aware but, like sharks – out of sight… out of mind.

How to #GetOutThere

Photo by MI OLA Team Rider Kristen - @sambatothesea

Photo by MI OLA Team Rider Kristen – @sambatothesea

Ollie’s Point is located within Santa Rosa National Park. The only access to this wave is by boat. Most people catch a boat from Playa del Coco. From here it takes about an hour to get to Ollie’s.  You can also leave from Playa Flamingo or even Playa Tamarindo.

Many tour companies book tours to Ollie’s/Witch’s and the details are different based on where you’re staying.   Many include all transportation (van and boat,) in the price.  Or you can find your own way to the boat, and book directly.  Recommended boat companies are La Bruja Surf Trips out of Playa del Coco and Boos out of Playa Flamingo.

Ollie’s is a magical experience and you will feel every bit of the magic surfing this wave.


Interested in joining the MI OLA Ambassador Program?

Know of anyone who should #GetOutThere with us?

Then shoot us an email at




The “C” word. C-A-N-C-E-R. This past month at MI OLA, we helped promote Breast Cancer Awareness through Keep-a-Breast’s #checkyourselfie campaign. Prevention is the cure and according to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in their lifetime.  That means you or one of your friends could very well be diagnosed.  Early detection is key to surviving this disease!

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 12.43.41 PM


Know your Body. Know your breasts. Knowledge is power. Give your breasts daily massages. And if you need a reminder to check your breasts each month, download Keep-a-Breast’s free app.

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 12.46.00 PM


“Some studies have shown that just 30 minutes of aerobic activity 3-5 times a week could lower your risk by 30-50%! Plus, exercise boosts your T-Cells and helps your immune system battle back against cancer. In addition to exercise and keeping a controlled weight, eating healthy to eliminate toxins from your diet and life has also shown to be very important.”

Here are our favorite #checkyourselfie’s from this year!

And if our ambassadors can check themselves while underwater training, or skating down a big hill, or while they are camping outside of civilization for 6 weeks… you can fit this quick check in each month.  Your life could depend on it.





A high five to our brand ambassadors and team riders for helping spread awareness. Your #checkyourselfie photos rocked!



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.

photo 1

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.


Team Rider Kristen Brown

It is funny how some things bring people together. Both MI OLA founder Helena Fogarty and team rider Kristen Brown lived in New York City, but did not meet one another until their love for bikinis brought them together last year in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. Both traded in their high heels in the Big Apple for bikinis and a surfboard in Tamarindo. Small world, huh?!

Back in June we got some tips and secrets of Kristen’s surf bag, and we finally were able to sit down with this busy chica and talk about bikinis, surfing, and living in Costa Rica. Check out our interview with her below!


Mi Ola: Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from originally? Where do you live now?

Kristen Brown: At first glance, a lot of people think I am from California with my beach blonde hair, my height, and love for surfing. But I was born and raised in Northern New Jersey, a hop, skip and jump away from New York City. Although I did not grow up on the beach, I was always close to a body of water…rivers, lakes or beaches. I grew up sailing the Hudson River and the beach to me was the Long Island Sound. No wonder I did not know that there were surfable waves on the East Coast until I visited Montauk five years ago!  I have lived in Rhode Island, Georgia, Spain, New York City, and I now call Tamarindo, Costa Rica home.


MO: What brought you to Costa Rica? How long have you lived here?

KB: Well…I was suppose to go visit my friend in Spain, but I caught the surfing bug. In the midst of planning to go to visit my friend, I saw an ad for a surf camp here in Tamarindo, Costa Rica and two days later, I bought a plane ticket to Costa Rica. That was exactly three years ago. Right after my trip to Tamarindo, I bought another ticket to go back three months later. It was during that trip that I decided I was going to quit my corporate banking job in New York City and move to Tamarindo. Seven months later I was all packed up and on a plane to Costa Rica to work for surf legend and shaper, Robert August. That was almost two years ago. Crazy how the time has flown by!

photo 2-1

MO: When did you start surfing?

KB: I took my first lesson three years ago in Rockaway, New York. It was love at first wipeout.


MO: What is your favorite wave(s)?

KB: I love waking up in the morning, rolling out of bed and surfing my home break, the Rivermouth in Tamarindo. My other two favorite waves are Avellanas and Ollie’s Point.


MO: We usually see you out surfing on a longboard. Tell us more!

KB: When I first moved to Costa Rica, working for Robert August, I had a quiver of longboards to chose from. I still was learning to go left and right, and since I am pretty tall, using a longboard made more sense than trying to step down in size. I rode a longboard everyday for almost a year and fell in love with the smooth ride of a longboard. Since then, I have gradually been stepping down from a 7’6″ to a 6’2″. But, board selection all depends on the wave conditions and where I am surfing. If the waves say longboard, I longboard!


MO: Any tips for women that are just starting to surf?

KB: Be safe and aware of your surroundings! Make sure you understand surf etiquette and if you are at a new break, be sure to ask a local of any hazards.PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! Use a board that will help you catch as many waves as possible, even if that means using a bigger board. And, don’t be afraid to be a little assertive. It drives me nuts when I see a guy take a wave from a chica!


MO: Besides surfing, what else do you do to stay so fit?

KB: Two words: Jiu Jitsu. I started training in February and besides sweating half of my body weight in class, Jiu Jitsu is great for cross training, not to mention awesome for self defense! I also try to practice yoga at home a couple times of week to keep me limber and to prevent injuries.


MO: What do you do in your free time?

KB: Surf, surf, and surf! Well, that is what my family and friends back in the US think I do all day…BUT in my free time I am working! I do social media for this awesome bikini company called MI OLA, photograph, write on my blog, design and sell a line of postcards and notecards called Samba to the Sea Designs, and in my real free time, chase sunsets on the beach!


MO: What is your favorite thing about your Mi Ola suit? What are your favorite styles?

KB: HA! Helena has to keep me away from the samples because I love all the suits! My favorite pieces are the reversible wrap top, the boy short bottom (so comfortable!!!), the Tira top in cobalt because it is the color of the Brazilian flag, and the Pescado rash guard because I feel like a mermaid when I wear it. Oh, and I don’t have to worry about giving any free shows in the lineup 😉 !


MO: Any cool stories about MI OLA?

KB: I wear MI OLA in all of my adventures….cannonballing 20 feet into a friends pool, cliff jumping, surfing, doing flips off a catamaran. The suits stays on. Period.



MO: As an active chica, what are a couple of things that you can’t live without?

KB: My green Nalgene waterbottle, my yoga mat, Nikon DSLR camera, panalito/sunscreen, sunglasses, deep conditioner, and a hat.


MO: It really sounds like you’re “living the dream!” Any surprises, once you moved to Costa Rica – in dealing with the tropical weather or culture?

KB: It is all about following your heart! Although I live in a Spanish speaking country, Tamarindo is a very diverse community and I find myself speaking English way more than I would like to. I also used to love to go to the beach to hang out, but now I hide from the sun during the day, unless I am out in the water surfing!


MO: What do you appreciate most about living in Costa Rica?

KB: I love being able to live in the present and enjoy life. I used to work on the 24th floor in a cubicle in New York City and now my office is anywhere I have a computer or camera. When I was a little kid I dreamed about living at the beach and now it is right down the street. How lucky am I?! The waves, the ocean, Mother Nature, howler monkeys, iguanas, turtles…are all just so amazing. Gosh, the SUNSETS here are breathtaking.


MO: If I come visit you, any particular foods I’ve gotta try?

KB: For sure! Since the ocean is our backyard, the fish here is so fresh and delicious. You have to try the ceviche! A very local dish here are Patacones, which are smashed plantains served with black beans…que rico!  For desert, the pineapple pie at Nogui’s is heaven on earth. Check out my blog Samba to the Sea for more local tips!



MI OLA Team Rider Ashley Mason

One of the benefits of living in Tamarindo, besides the warm water and beautiful waves, are the awesome women that call this beach town home. Fortunately for us, several of these women are MI OLA team riders. They are in the water every day using and testing our suits. They provide the important feedback to make sure that when you get your MI OLA suit that it stays on! You already have met Kristina and Katia, and this week we sat down with Ashley to pick her brain. Check it out below!

photo 5

MI OLA: When did you start surfing?
Ashley Mason: I started surfing about a year ago.

MO: What brought you to Costa Rica? How long have you lived here?
AM: It was quite random. I was travelling and wanted to spend part of winter by the beach and this is where I ended up. I have been here now 2 1/2 years.

MO: What is your favorite wave?
AM: When the river mouth in tamarindo is working, it is a longboard dream!

MO: Any tips for chicas that are just starting to surf?
AM: Don’t get discouraged and keep trying. I grew up skiing, snowboarding, wake boarding, dirt biking, you name it, but none of those sports are as difficult to learn as surfing. It has been a very humbling experience learning to surf.

MO: Besides surfing, what else do you do to stay so fit?
AM: Paddle boarding, running and a lot of dog walking!!!

MO: What do you do in your free time?
AM: Cook, read, sew, garden and daydream!

Photo May 06, 2 21 48 PM

MO: Your two dogs, Maya and Pinto, made cameo appearances in one of our MI OLA photoshoots. Tell us a little more about them!
AM: Maya and Pinto are both Tico dogs that I adopted in Costa Rica. Maya was living on a beach when I found her so she is happiest when she is wet, covered in sand, and begging coconuts from people while I surf. They are part of the Tamarindo “dog gang” and are great surf dogs that go everywhere with me.

MO: What is your favorite thing about your MI OLA suit? Which design(s)/ color(s) do you like best?
AM: My favourite piece is the wrap around mermaid top. It stands out in the line up, looks fun and is comfortable. When I am riding a longboard in it, I feel like I am channeling a little bit of old school glamour. The blue Tira top is so pretty it looks like you can only use it for suntanning. Then we when you start catching waves in it, heads turn!


MO: As an active chica, what are a couple of things that you can’t live without/ don’t leave home without?
AM: The trifecta: My dogs, my sunscreen and my ray bans!


Thanks Ashley!


What to pack for the beach… even if you’re not a surfer.

One of the benefits of Mi Ola’s home base in Costa Rica is that we pretty much get to surf every day…sometimes twice a day. I know, rub it in, rub it in…

BUT, with all of those early dawn patrol mornings spent surfing and all day, sun filled boat trips to Ollie’s Point, Mi Ola rider Kristen has gotten the gear that she carries in her surf bag down to a science. Kristen was so kind to share some of her secret ingredients that help keep her surfing for hours.


Sun Protection:

Living in Costa Rica, the sun down here is H-O-T.  Since moving to Costa Rica, because I am exposed to the sun everyday, I have become much more cognizant of sun protection. I prefer to surf in the early morning or during sunset when the sun is not as intense, and then I hide inside the rest of the day! My sun protection starts with high SPF sunscreen, my Kaenon polarized sunglasses, a hat to keep the sun off my face, and a pretty rad Mi Ola rash guard (LOVE the Pescado long sleeve rashie!!!). I still am looking for a sunscreen that stays on my lips!


Rashguard, hat, sunglasses: Check!

One of my secret sun care ingredients is Pañalito, the Costa Rican version of diaper-rash creme (American brand is called Desitin). Due its high content of zinc oxide, it is a great, thick sunscreen that stays on…and since it does not have any other chemical fillers, my face does not break out as soon as it touches my skin. I also apply it to my scars and recently started rubbing it in on my ears and hands to make sure I have extra protection on these more exposed and sensitive body parts. Of course, you can use it to treat rashes caused by surfing.

Bikinis that STAY on:

After some research and personal product testing, I have found that the best type of suits that stay on are the cross-back tops and the bottoms that have, well, skimpier coverage. Why the smaller bottoms? My theory is there is less fabric for the white-water to drag down. Talk about some toasty buns!

One of the benefits of being a team rider for Mi Ola is that I get to product test the suits and rashguards. My favorite Mi Ola pieces are:

  • Reversible wrap top: Two bikini tops in one! AND this top stays on…I have surfed in this top, cannonballed 20 feet into a pool, and done flips off a catamaran and no one has yet to get a free show.


  • Boyshort: OK, I know I said the skimpier the bottom coverage the better the suit stays on (like the Casita Boythong)…BUT this bottom ROCKS. It is super comfortable and can go from playing out in the waves to the beach bar to yoga class no problem.




Casita Boythong, Tira top and vintage Brasil shirt

  • Pescado Rashguard: Not only does this rashguard protect me from the sun, but it is a head turner. I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of compliments I have gotten on this piece! The best part is that when I wear this I am one step closer to being a mermaid…

Waterproof everything:

From boat trips to the down pours that can happen during rainy season, it is important to waterproof your belongings. This starts with my dry bag backpack to my Lifeproof case for my iPhone. For the stuff that I can’t waterproof, I put them in zip-lock baggies and then into my dry bag. Things like:

  • My Nikon DSLR (I never leave home without a camera…or two.)
  • First aid kit (Bandaids, superglue, anti-itch cream for those jellyfish stings, Ibuprofen, alcohol cleaning pads)
  • Surf wax
  • Money to buy a pipa (coconut) after a surf session
  • Ding repair kit
  • Extra large beach towel to wrap around my tall-self
  • Leave-in conditioner (The saltwater sucks the life out of my hair so as soon I get out of the water the repair treatment starts! I highly recommend Macadamia Natural Oil.)
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, and extra hat


I wish I could have a whole quiver of boards, but until I get Robert August to shape me my new board, a 6’4″, my two magic sticks are a 9’4″ Robert August “Wingnut Noserider” and 7’6″ Robert August “Waimea” model. Smooth like butter and the ride so sweet!

photo 2-1

And when I am stuck on dry land…

Yoga mat: As I learned the semi-hard way, yoga is essential when you are surfing a lot. Somehow I went almost a month without practicing and coincidentally strained my back and neck. All the paddling, arching your back, and wipeouts require some good stretching. Plus, being bendy has some other advantages as well….like being able to touch my toes! I recommend Jade and Manduka mats.

Goof Board: When I am dry docked visiting my family in the US, I love to hop on my Goof Board balance board. It is an excellent tool for improving your column strength balance and super fun to cross-step on!



Mi Ola Team Rider Katia Brankovic

Bikinis that are made to stay on need to be put to the test. Enter Mi Ola team rider Katia Brankovic. Katia is one of our newest team riders and she already has been dropping into overhead waves while rocking Mi Ola. Verdict?

“Massive waves at Langosta river mouth, just me and five other surfers. Every wave was better than the other…and all in my awesome Mi Ola top. Love that it stays just in place in double overhead waves!!!”

photo 2

Besides loving to surf big waves, Katia is also a mother of two wonderful kids and she recently started adorning the chicas in Tamarindo with her beautiful jewelry, Cat & Leona. We chatted with her this week while waiting for sets at nice reef break not too far away from Tamarindo and a nice Mi Ola beach day at Lola’s in Avellanas yesterday. Check out our interview with her below!

Mi Ola: When did you start surfing?
Katia Brankovic: I started two years ago here in Tamarindo. I had couple of lessons and got hooked…

photo 3

MO: What brought you to Costa Rica? How long have you lived here?
KB: I have always was dreaming of spending time in Central America, learning Spanish, but never though I would  stay here for so long. This is my third year here…

MO: What is your favorite wave(s)?
KB: I love reef breaks… solid overhead double overhead waves…

MO: Any tips for chicas that are just starting to surf?
KB: Be patient and of course get yourself the right bikini! Reliable and pretty… Mi Ola is great choice of course! :)


MO: Besides surfing, what else do you do to stay so fit?
KB: I do all possible water sports when not around waves: kiteboarding, wake skating, water slalom skiing. I recently started with running and I like it a lot!

MO: What do you do in your free time?
KB: I don’t have much left after my two kids, but I love reading!

MO: Tell us a little more about your jewelry business, Cat & Leona? How and when did you start making jewelry?
KB: It used to be my hobby when I was a teenager. But here in Costa Rica, surrounded by all incredibly creative people, my forgotten passion just burst into this little craft work business. It’s easy to became creative here since you have to use what is available because there is not a lot of different materials readily available to buy!  I love to mix different materials, incorporate crochet into my designs, play with colors…

_DSC1575v2 CL

MO: We hear that you speak not two, not three, but SEVEN languages! And you can play the harp! Do you have any other hidden talents?
KB: Oh well, my native is Russian, I moved to Croatia twelve years ago, so Croatian, English off course…then there is this part in Croatia where I used to live that was once part of Italy, so Italian is the second official language there and my kids went to Italian school. When we moved here to Costa Rica the transition from Italian to Spanish was really very easy! Than German I was learning at school and I practiced in Austria where I used to work…and I recently started with French, it is my new year resolution! And I would love to learn Japanese one day…

I played harp last time 20 years ago, was ready to go to conservatory but that change my mind. It is a dream of mine to have a harp and play again but it is a very expensive dream unfortunately…

I love love cooking, was really much into the idea of opening a sushi bar! My friends like my sushi a lot, but my most loyal fan of my sushi is my daughter for sure!

MO: What is your favorite thing about your Mi Ola suit? Which design(s)/ color(s) do you like best?
KB: I’m deeply in love with my pin up top and super cheeky bottom in gold, stay on approved in huge waves! Like my friend said ” you can go through apocalypse in this bikini!!!!” And gold color make it looks hot! So it’s a second name for it “apocalypse bikini” :)


MO: Any cool stories about you wearing Mi Ola?
KB: I wore the reversible wrap top in a beautiful peacock blue and was so happy to try it in action that I did not even notice it was two sizes bigger than I normally wear!!! (There was a nice 4ft swell and I was so excited to try out the top. I was happy that it really stayed on and only when I got back home I saw the tag and realized that the tag said size large!!! I passed it on to my friend Kristen, so the wrap top is my next must have in Mi Ola collection!)

MO: As an active chica, what are a couple of things that you can’t live without/ don’t leave home without?
KB: As an active chica and busy mom I love my Rip Curl surf watch! It helps a lot to be in time!

Thanks Katia!

Photos by Steven J. Eliopoulos, Katia Brankovic, and Kristen Brown



Mi Ola Team Rider Kristina Ullrich

Who is that girl?!

If you follow us on Facebook and Instagram, or have checked out, you definitely have seen Kristina, one of our Mi Ola team riders who also happens to model our suits. Besides having an amazing body and naturally stunning, Kristina is a super awesome chica that rips! Did we also mention that she is a hoot?! I know, don’t you just hate her!

LR mi-ola-shore-shots-320-2829396272-O

We caught up with Kristina a couple of days ago over some good Costa Rican coffee and a freshly baked mango torte. Besides putting Mi Ola to the test in-and-out of the water, Kristina runs her own wedding planning business, Perennial Weddings, down here in Costa Rica and is a soon-to-be saltwater momma (congrats!!!). Check out our interview with her below!

Mi Ola: When did you start surfing?
Kristina Ullrich: I started when I was 18, when I joined the Surf Club at Salisbury University in Maryland.  I lived in Ocean City, Maryland and surfed all the time.  Also traveling to Hatteras, North Carolina regularly!!!!  Who ever thinks East Coast doesn’t have surf, keep thinking that, keep the lineups empty and special.

MO: What brought you to Costa Rica? How long have you lived here?
KU: I was dating someone, who found work here.  I thought it was a great opportunity because I surfed in the States, and Costa Rica was known for its waves, so hey…why not?!  :) Decided and moved in 1 month.

MO: You rip! Give us some secret hints on how to shred like you!!!
KU: Ha!  Thanks.  Um, one, surf with boys who are better than you.  Two, have fun and don’t get too hard on yourself.  Three, be a little competitive, but not too much.  Four, don’t take every wave, be picky, really learn to read a good wave from an “eh” wave. And five, maybe this is generic, but have fun…otherwise, its not even worth it.


MO: What is your favorite wave(s)?
KU: I refuse to give away breaks, so I’ll say a solid right beach break, fast, little barrel, but enough shoulder so you can play.  Uh…I’m dreaming of one now.  :)

MO: Besides surfing, what else do you do to stay so fit?
KU: I love a beach bootcamp I go to 3 times a week, I run a lot, and love mountain biking.


MO: What do you do in your free time?
KU: Surf, collect seaglass, chill with girlie friends, work out, and I really love TV, unfortunately.

MO: What is your favorite thing about your Mi Ola suit? Which design(s)/ color(s) do you like best?
KU: Its how its advertised, but I love that its purely built for the surfer/athletic girl in mind.  From design, cut, color, etc….its meant for water, sand, sun.  Also the booty…who doesn’t like a cute booty.  :)  My favorite cut is the wrap top, pulls everything in and it stays secure, I also dig the new tank top rashguards, so cute!  My favorite color, for me, I love the fushia.  I’m just not a pink girl, but her color fushia, is less girlie and more tropical and fun.


MO: Any cool stories about Mi Ola….not slipping, other girls wanting to know about the suit you are wearing, etc (I know from wearing my suit chicas ask where my suit is from and I never worry about it while out in the water surfing).
KU: I think we all get compliments on each others’ suits, thats fairly common, especially in specific Mi Ola suits, like the wrap top or the lingerie style one, but I love that one time I literally went for a beach run, didn’t change, grabbed my board, and hoped in the water.


MO: As an active chica, what are a couple of things that you can’t live without/ don’t leave home without?
KU: Bikini for sure, whether its surf, wakeboard, or a jacuzzi :) !!!!!  Running clothes, running shoes, leggings (good for a night out or with a hoody), mascara, and flax seed (fiber, hehehe…since we’re being honest).  Other than that, things will vary depending on where I’m going.