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RAILS & TALES . . . Costa Rica Evie Johnstone @ Secret Spot

Evie Johnstone

Place of Birth: England | Hometown: Costa Rica Websites: | Sponsorships: Calavera Swimwear, Manual Surfboards “I moved from the UK to Costa Rica when I was 18 years old to follow my dream of being able to surf everyday. I had intentions to go and travel around South America, but the surf in Costa Rica never stopped and I ended up staying and staying, and that was over four years ago now! I have always loved surfing more than anything. It makes me so happy and I love the lifestyle that accompanies it. For this reason, I set up a surf camp and surf tour business out here in Costa Rica, named Rica Surf. With my British business partner, Nancy, we both strive to share our passion and love for surfing (and Costa Rica!) with everyone that we can, and we are continuing to build and grow our company everyday. As well as Rica Surf and teaching surfing to our clients, I am really focused on pursuing my dream to become a professional surfer. I train hard every single day and I am trying to do as many competitions as I can. With the help from my sponsors, I hope to start doing some of the WQS competitions around the world next year to start off my mission to get on the world tour, which is my goal! My favorite surf breaks are Backwash-Matapalo, KaramusIndo, and Playa Hermosa-Costa Rica.” My hobbies include surfing, eating, and road trips…with pizza, sushi, and cookies being my absolute favorites!”

Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica: A Surfing Melting Pot Story & photos by Gabriel Fernandez

I had a feeling something was missing. I needed to go one more time to Playa Hermosa. I felt the need to meditate, relax and shoot some surf. I said goodbye to my photography colleagues after 8 days of climbing the mountains of the Arenal Volcano and Monteverde. I had come to Costa Rica for the fifth time, but It was the first time I would be exploring a different part of this paradisiacal country. This time the idea was to explore and photograph nature with the company of a group of students of the Daytona State College, guided by Professor Steven Benson who lives in Orlando, Fl, but considers Costa Rica his second home. Wednesday morning, August the 10th, 2011, I decided to prolong my stay for 4 more days. I had a feeling something was missing. I needed to go one more time to Playa Hermosa. I had the need to meditate, relax and shoot some surf. I rented a car and started driving, heading to the Jaco Beach direction. Big surprise! They had finished the Interamericana freeway, a new road that saved me an hour of driving through the mountains. I was there in less than 2 hours. My first stop after Jaco was La Pizzeria Bocha to get some Argentinean empanadas. They are the best empanadas I have eaten in my whole life. Afterwards, I went to the Hermosa Beach House. It is a nice small hotel with hot water, ac, cable, and a refrigerator. It is very clean, the staff is super friendly and the rates are great. It is located just steps from the ocean and you can see the waves just by going out of your room.

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That afternoon, the waves were not doing that great, so I decided to go get some cold refreshments and chill out in the pool area. There is a hot tub and a couple of hammocks to just sit and do nothing, but enjoy life. Thursday morning I was energized again and the waves were growing. I walked down the beach heading to Las Olas, where a lot of the locals surf. I was in search of the surfer chicas and they were surfing right there. I started shooting and waited until they came out. I introduced myself as a freelance travel photographer for Women Surf Style Magazine and the reaction was great. I felt welcomed. The first chica I met was Danielle Ciminero and her husband Gary Lynn, surfer and videographer. They are super nice people from California. They offered to take me around to different spots during the next few days. Later I met Evie Johnstone from England, together with Monica Fagella from Italy and local, Roger Chun at Cabinas Las Olas. Through Evie and Danielle, I met the other surfer chicas: Jordan Hundley from the US, Michelle Rodriguez, local Tica, Pia Lopez from the Philippines, Mariel Villaroel from Venezuela and Susi Blumberg from the U.S. All of them know each other; they came from different places, but have something in common: their love for surfing! They moved to Costa Rica to follow their dreams, to be able to surf one of the best surf spots in the world, best of all, located in a super friendly country, with perfect weather and Pura Vida spirit!! Playa Hermosa is a melting pot for surfers and here are their stories of how they ended up living in paradise. 

Jordan & Evie head to Secret Spot Evie, Pia, Michelle, Jordan, Monica, Susi and Mariel

RAILS & TALES . . . Costa Rica

Michelle Rodriguez

“I grew up in Zarcero, a town in the Costa Rica Mountains where I went to high school. I have been in love with the ocean my whole life, since I was a little kid. My mom used to take me to stay for a couple of months at the beach for our vacations. I’ve always been creative and that is the reason why I studied fashion design. Six years ago I moved to the beach to learn how to surf. I thought surfing was something a person could learn for a couple of months, but it changed my life. The city fashions were not that interesting to me anymore and so I found myself designing bikinis for surfing and beachwear. This is how in 2009, I began with a friend of mine to start our own brand called “Dkoko” (, with the idea of creating swimwear that have the “Costa Rica fit” we like; it is not too big or too small and are good for surfing.

Michelle @ Secret Spot

I wouldn’t change my life at the beach for any other life. I love to travel and every time I go somewhere else I realize how great it is to live in Costa Rica and how much I love my country with its perfect waves, warm water, its places and people. My favorite waves are La Curva in Hermosa, Matapalo, in the south and Uvita Island in the Caribbean. Pura vida!”

Jordan Hundley

Hometown: Hudsonville, Michigan, and Costa Rica Sponsors: Calavera, looking for more “An adrenaline junkie from birth, I grew up like most kids in Michigan riding dirt bikes, quads and even tractors. Riding waves wasn’t even a thought until at the age of ten, my parents decided to move me and my family to a small beach town in Costa Rica. It was here that I, as a little girl from Michigan, found my second home amongst the waves. Good bye tractor, hello surfboard! The initial transition to Costa Rica was difficult. I left behind friends, family, and a competitive gymnastics career. It wasn’t until I watched my older brother take out a surfboard that something clicked. Not being one to sit on the sideline, I asked my brother to take me out surfing. It was with that first wave that everything changed. I entered my first contest seven months later, and although I finished dead last, it was the fuel this die-hard competitor needed to motivate me to be the best. I continued to train both in and out of the water and eventually took first place in my next three contests. Since then, I’ve been making a name for myself amongst the top Costa Rican surfers, since becoming the Costa Rican Junior Champ for the last two years.”

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Evie, Gabe & Jordan

Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica:

Hermosa Beach House

A Surfing Melting Pot

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RAILS & TALES . . . Costa Rica

Monica, Jordan, Evie and Susi, heading out Evie @ Caldera

Danielle Ciminero heading to Secret Spot

Evie & Monica @ Playa Hermosa

Caldera leaves it’s mark on Evie

Daniele Ciminero

Hometown: Charlestown, Rhode Island “I started surfing late in life, about halfway through my 18th year. I stood on a wave once at age 14, but was unable to continue surfing without a set of wheels or a license. When a friend mentioned the beautiful warm water waves in Costa Rica, I jumped on a plane to check it out. For the past few years, I’ve been cruising between Rhode Island and Central America- pursuing my lifelong surfing dream one wave at a time… often trading wall murals or paintings for a place to stay. Costa Rica is such an amazing place, I’m grateful to have been able to spend time here over the past couple of years! My favorite places to surf? Uh, that’s classified information. It generally involves really fun, uncrowded, warm water beach breaks.”

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Danielle @ Caldera

Evie Johnstone @ Hermosa

Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica: A Surfing Melting Pot

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RAILS & TALES . . . Costa Rica

SURF BREAKS EXPLAINED by Gary Lynn (Danielle’s husband)

Playa Hermosa The nice thing about Playa Hermosa is that it always has waves. Even when everywhere else is flat, you can go down the beach and find a decent wave. There are also miles of beachbreak to choose from. At any given tide there is a part of the beach that is working. The vastness of the beach also lets you get away from the crowds. It’s also nice that it is conveniently located between Esterillos and Jaco, meaning you are never far from wind protected waves from any wind direction. You can also count on it tubing at the low-mid tides on a daily basis.

Caldera This is one of those rare breaking gems that if you actually get it good, you are one lucky person. It needs a pretty specific swell direction to get in here and the right tide, but when it all comes together, it is magical. The nice thing is that there are an abundance of other waves in the nearby area that have more lenient tide and swell directions that will be working if Caldera is not. Secret Left Point Most people think that you have to make the trek all the way to Pavones or MataPalo during the big southwest swells to score good

waves. The truth is that there are some incredible waves that take these same swells only about an hour drive north of Jaco. This wave is just one of the gems that dot this stretch of coastline. There are a variety of waves in the region that will take different tide windows, so you can surf all day up here. Now it’s your job to come down here and go explore for yourself!

Pia Lopez

Hometown: Quezon City, Philippines, and Savannah, Georgia- USA “I am in Costa Rica, and have been surfing for a year and a half. Everything I need in life... all my passions and things I want to learn, like surfing, natural living, just being a real human being, they are all here in Costa Rica. When I was living in Nicaragua, I met 2 friends from Playa Hermosa that invited me to come to visit and surf. One was a love interest, and although things did not really work out, I fell in love with the waves and the jungle here. I packed my bags for 1 week, two weeks maximum, and I never ended up going back to Nicaragua. My favorite surf spots would be Playa Hermosa, and Pavones, here in Costa Rica. And my non-surfing hobbies include snowboarding, mountain biking, and learning about holistic healing and medicinal plants.”

Susan Blumberg

“I am from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I started coming to Costa Rica with my boyfriend and friends before I knew how to surf and even then just fell in love with the country, the ocean and the beauty of watching all the surfers. I decided to get married in Costa Rica about 2 years ago and shortly after we decided to move here. I was lucky enough to get hired at Costa Rica Luxury Vacation Rentals & Tours in the Los Sueños Resort, and I still work there now. Since then, I bought my own board, and decided I was going to finally learn to surf. I would go out every morning before work and just go for it the best I could. I finally started to stand up and get the hang of it, learning the feeling of getting up in time and riding down the line. A few months ago, Evie helped me find the board I am

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currently riding, and thanks to friends like her and the other awesome CR surf girls, I am continuing to work on my surfing and just enjoying my time in the water! I went to school for both creative writing and then graphic design. My hobbies, besides surfing, include photography, design, the fine arts, writing poetry and playing with my dog on the beach. I also love music. I’m a Deadhead, and I am now trying to learn to play the drums. My goals and dreams are to become a better surfer and to be the best person I can possibly be, to somehow contribute and better society, and to be happy. I have several surf heroes. Not to embarrass her, but definitely Evie is one of them! Watching her surf, she’s so natural and graceful, and she is also so supportive in helping my own confidence in surfing. I really like watching Carissa Moore and Coco Ho. Steph Gilmore was the first woman surfer I ever watched surf. I always loved to watch Andy Irons surf, and fell in love with the Endless Summer movies, especially the first one. I do think, for me, that women surfers are more inspirational. I think… “Okay, I can do this.” And surfing with girls, I definitely get better pointers and advice.”

Monica Faggella From Basilicata, Italy

“I am a painter and designer artist that found Costa Rica to be very inspiring for my art. Though I’m living here now, tomorrow… Who knows? Previously I was a wakeboarder and wakeskater, and was the Italian champ several times. I’m now retired from wakeboarding and have started surfing. My favorite surf spot is Pavones, Costa Rica, and my surf idols are Rita Levi Montalcini and Bethany Hamilton. PURA VIDA!!!!!” 

Jordan placing her Calavera sponsor sticker Danielle Ciminero @ Caldera

Jordan Hundley @ Corralillo

Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica: A Surfing Melting Pot

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