Our Founder’s Story: “Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway!”

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Our Founder’s Story: “Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway!”

Surf camp founder surfing in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

How could we do a blog about the life-changing magic of Costa Rica without talking about Tierza Davis Eichner, our fearless leader and Pura Vida Adventures CEO?


This wave ripper, female business owner, and bad-ass mom is so inspiring that Outside Magazine, The Los Angeles Times , MORE and even The Wall Street Journal have profiled the transformational surf and yoga retreat she created. Most recently, Tierza was honored in a Leader Spotlight on World Wide Women, a business website that highlights the amazing accomplishments of female entrepreneurs! 


The short version of the story? After the dot-com bubble burst, Tierza came to Mal Pais as a surf-obsessed 30-something looking to get away from the daily grind that had left her dejected and drained. What she found in Costa Rica was more than she ever expected.

Sunset in mal pais, Costa Rica

What started as travel turned into a soul exploration, and while Tierza came to Costa Rica for a vacation, she left with the certainty that she had just found her calling: to empower other women with the incredible sport of surfing and the natural beauty of Costa Rica. 


Yet when Tierza started Pura Vida Adventures in 2002, she had no idea that this weeklong surf retreat in Costa Rica would literally change her life, her employees’ lives, and the lives of her guests.


“I thought it would be a fun week where everyone would surf, have a good time, and leave happy,” Tierza says. “But clients would tell us how they returned from camp and found a better job, moved to a new city, picked up an old dream. They told us how their time in Costa Rica helped them want to find a better life for themselves. I realized that what we had here was something REALLY special.”


But before any of that could happen, Tierza had to step WAY out of her comfort zone and boldly conquer a few of her own fears. When she arrived in Mal Pais nearly two decades ago, the town was barely on the map, with few foreign business on the ground–let alone businesses owned and operated by women. At that time, male-oriented Latino culture and a small but hardcore surfing community dominated the vibe of the town. Quite an intimidating environment for a single, foreign woman wanting to put down roots! But there was a pull to Costa Rica that she simply couldn’t deny.

Beautiful beach in Mal Pais, Costa Rica

“I was of course terrified to start a business in a foreign country,” Tierza says. “But I knew that there is something worse than fear–REGRET. And I couldn’t ignore the part of me that was calling me to start this adventure! Once I decided to start the business there was literally no turning back because I felt a force pulling forward when I got scared, applied for other jobs, or wanted to give up. I just had to keep going. My bit of advice is anyone is to ‘feel the fear…and do it anyway.’”


And that perseverance paid off. Tierza has been able to grow her “surf school baby” into a vibrant, life-changing community that continues to impact lives. At our surf and yoga retreats, we are lucky to witness the transformational magic of the sea on a weekly basis.

Surfer girls in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

“I can see that this business was meant to be,” Tierza says.  “I absolutely had no idea the positive effect it would have on others’ dreams and work and lives, and how profound it would be for so many people.”


Now, 15 years later, Pura Vida Adventures continues to change lives. And Tierza? She’s still ripping and laughing alongside the clients who become her friends, now with husband Scott and daughters Makayla and Zayda joining in the water!

Mother and daughter surfing in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

“It has been a wild ride for the past 15 years! I was single when I started the business and now I am married with twin 4-year-old girls,” Tierza says. “I want to be an inspiration to my twins that women are powerful and strong–that it’s not just a ‘man’s world’ and they can do anything they put their minds to. That drive is all you need to make something happen. And the biggest part is to believe in yourself.”

Surfing family at surf retreat in Bali

Truly, surfing is not just a sport–it’s so much more. Surfing challenges our notions of what we’re capable of. Surfing awakens old passions and joys in our spirits. Surfing empowers people to embrace the deepest dreams of their souls.


Transformation is for EVERYONE. Not just hippies, not just spiritual seekers, EVERYONE.


“We are all amazing people who have beautiful gifts to give to the world,” Tierza says. “Sometimes it is hard to figure out what we truly want, but our intuition knows and we are the only ones getting in our own way.”

Add in our tropical paradise town of Santa Teresa (people call it “magical”–and we believe it is!) and the support of an incredible community, and you honestly can’t come to one of our surf and yoga retreats and NOT leave changed for the better.


These weeks have the perfect combination of empowerment, wonder, and soul-opening. And the amazing transformations that can happen after just one week at our surf and yoga retreat make total sense to us. How can you be afraid of a new career, or moving to a new city, or taking that big life step, or facing that scary challenge, when you’ve ridden on the power of the ocean?


What kind of life-changing magic do you want to bring into YOUR life? Why not come to Costa Rica and experience a vacation that will make you laugh harder, love deeper, and dream bigger than you have in years?

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