Pura Vida’s Origin

Surf, Love, and a Lifelong Passion

Tierza Eichner, the founder and owner of Pura Vida Adventures, started the business in 2003 after a life-changing surf trip to Costa Rica. As a confident female entrepreneur in a male-dominated sport in a Latin American country, you might think that Tierza grew up in the surf industry. But believe it or not, this bad-ass surfer was once MAJORLY freaked out by the sport. No joke! Tierza first attempted to surf in Southern California at age 20, but got so pummeled by the waves that she swore off the sport entirely.

Obviously, this story has a happy ending. At age 32 Tierza tried surfing again with her first lesson in Santa Cruz, California, and instantly was hooked. And when the dot-com bubble burst in 2001, Tierza left her high-pressure job in Northern California to travel the world, looking for peace of mind and a piece of heaven…and, of course, endless waves! She found all of these things in Costa Rica, where she fell in love with the warm people, the vibrant culture, the beautiful surf, and especially the ocean-side village of Santa Teresa.

tierza headshot

Combining her passion for adventure with her business dreams, Tierza decided to start Pura Vida Adventures—an all-women’s surf camp and yoga retreat that allows her to share the special paradise of Santa Teresa and her love of surfing with the world.

Now more than a decade later, she has personally gone through many evolutions, and so has the business! She is now married with twin girls, Makayla and Zayda, and her passion for Pura Vida Adventures has only grown stronger.

The Inspiration of Pura Vida Adventures 

by Tierza Eichner

When I was 32, I took my first lesson in Santa Cruz, California and it changed my life. I was hooked the moment I stood up on my first wave. I was completely addicted to surfing and loved the buzz, presence and the freedom it gave me when I rode the waves.

That same year, 2001, I was laid off from my dot.com job and was left to ponder my next move in San Francisco’s very dismal job market. I decided that until the economy turned around I was going to really focus on surfing and began to formulate a plan to go on a surf trip. After glowing recommendations from fellow surfers who told me that Costa Rica had fun, gentle waves and is a great place to travel solo, I decided that this is where I needed to go.

My quest in Costa Rica was finding a beach town with endless waves. When I arrived in the Malpais/Santa Teresa area, I thought that I found a little piece of heaven and realized I had never felt so alive and present in my entire life.  My type “A” personality stood no chance in these beach towns. The tropical vibe taught me to slow down and enjoy every moment of life. I also learned so much from the local Costa Rican people, who taught me to appreciate exactly who I am, and focus on the positive aspects of my life instead of the negative.

After two months in Malpais I decided to explore more of Costa Rica, visiting dozens of other beach towns. In my heart I knew that Malpais was where I really found myself. When I left, I cried because I felt like I was leaving part of myself behind. I knew I wanted to return to this idyllic location and it was at this moment that I started formulating the idea for Pura Vida Adventures.

After traveling for months in Central America, I returned to San Francisco a completely changed person. I was so determined to start a surf camp in Malpais and adopt the Costa Rican lifestyle, that I began working on Pura Vida Adventures the day I arrived back.

At this point I was quickly becoming broke. Thankfully I have great family and friends, like my cousin Randy that let me stay in his San Francisco apartment for only $250 a month (a complete steal) and my friend Suzanne that employed me part-time at her Casting Agency. I had no desire to return to corporate America and every move I made towards establishing Pura Vida Adventures brought me one step closer to realizing my newfound dream.

I had no prior skills, just my passion. Building this business has been magical and frightening at the same time. I was a single woman, opening up a business in a Latin American country, and figuring things out as I went along. It was pretty scary at some moments, like making contracts with hotels, buying a surf van (being a woman buying a van in foreign country is not fun!), learning the laws, etc. The main reason I kept going was the thought of being able to surf every day and the excitement of introducing surfing and the amazing Costa Rican beauty and culture to others.

I chose the name Pura Vida Adventures, because it really encapsulates surfing and the Costa Rican vibe. “Pura Vida” is a common phrase in Costa Rica. When you ask someone, “como estas?” They answer “pura vida” which means, ‘life is good’ and translated means, ‘pure life.’ I thought this was a perfect name for my surf camp.

After working on the business for a year and a half, I held my first camp in January 2004. Well, our first camp took off like a rocket. I could relive this week over and over again. I couldn’t believe our success. People were crying when they left saying Pura Vida Adventures was the best vacation they ever had. I knew at this moment that this was my calling. I had finally found my path. I’m so darn thankful for my staff, my husband Scott, and my mom Kathy. They are the reason the business is so amazing and successful. They bring just as much as I do to each camp – their passion, personalities, insight and love. This has been an amazing road and I have SURFING and COSTA RICA to THANK for it.

Meet Our Team


Surf Camp Manager

Priscila (Pri) is a fun and adventurous soul who has been working in Pura Vida for over 8 years. She knows Pura Vida Adventures like the back of her hand. First working as a surf instructor and now as our manager and host, Pri loves to organize and personalize your experience while keeping it fun and special. Born and raised in San José, Costa Rica, pure tica, she moved to Santa Teresa in her early 20s chasing her passion for waves and nature. Pri is a true entrepreneur. From owning a restaurant in Pavones, to having a gluten-free shop, to working as a surf instructor and tour guide all throughout Costa Rica to having her own apothecary. Pri grew up in a town known for las “brujitas” or witches called Escazú and she sure lives up to the standard. When not surfing the waves, she will be preparing concoctions and studying astrology and the alchemy of plants for her amazing skin care brand called Salvia Apothecary.


Lead Surf Instructor

A true ocean baby, Lucie was raised on the Channel Islands, started surfing at age 10 and fell deeply in love with the peace, strength, and other-wordly magic of the sea. She started competing in her teens, began teaching at 16, and has spent the past 18 years instructing students all over the world! From her very first trip to Costa Rica with five surfer amigas, Lucie was touched by the perfect warm waves and sunny days, and knew she had to make this magical paradise her home. She is thrilled to bring her joy for surfing, years of experience, love of adventure, and infectious spirit to Pura Vida Adventures. When not surfing at Playa Carmen Lucie loves hatha yoga (she completed a hridaya teacher training in Mexico and a hatha training Nepal!), meditation, dancing around and being in nature.


Surf Instructor

With endless kindness, rock-hard abdominals, and not an ounce of hair (seriously, he’s like a marble sculpture), Davide brings a great combination of skills and suave to the Pura Vida team. After relocating to Santa Teresa from Italy over 10 years ago, this self-professed “surf dork” knew he had found the perfect ocean classroom to advance his surf studies…and now he’s sharing his coaching abilities with us! Davide is encouraging, insightful, and really cares about giving students their best lessons ever. A spiritual seeker at heart, Davide believes our town is “the best place in the world to connect with nature and our true selves.” In his spare time, he loves cooking delicious meals, shredding on all sizes of surfboards, and hanging out with his beautiful wife and fellow instructor, Michelle.


Surf Instructor

Born just outside of San Jose, Costa Rica, Michelle is a rica tica chica (a beautiful Costa Rican woman) through and through. She’s a surfer who always has a smile on her face, a massive cheerleader to everyone in the waves, and a dedicated volunteer for the local Asociacion de Surf, which organizes the town’s surf contests and provides lessons for local kids. Michelle also runs her own ocean-inspired clothing company for women who like the sea and like to be seen. Michelle loves EVERYTHING surf related, dancing like the goddess she is, making gluten-free cakes, and tooling around the town on her ATV with her two dogs, Blackie and Sparky, riding in the front basket.


Surf Instructor

This surf mama is a rockstar! With her quiet confidence she will be inspiring you to level up in no time. Originally from Argentina, Nikki fell in love with surfing when she moved to Costa Rica a decade ago. Her favorite moments in life are when her two loves collide and she is able to surf with her young daughter, Fauna; what could be better? In the time in between catching waves, she will teach you ways to be adaptive in the water and take each opportunity presented to you as it comes!


Surf Instructor

This ocean lover is such a ray of sunshine, from her salty blond waves to her fun spirit! She is originally from the Outer Banks of North Carolina and has been living an endless summer for years now. She has been a surfer for 11 years and this has given her the experience needed to help you catch your first wave or understand the dance that happens between a surfer and the ocean. Maya’s other passion in life is horses. She’s been riding her whole life and thrives on sharing her love of horses with kids and others who want to explore this wild paradise on horseback.


Surf Instructor

Lalo is one of the kindest people you will ever meet, and every surfer who spends time in the ocean with him ends their session with a smile on their face. This native Costa Rican started surfing when he was a teenager, but began surfing consistently 12 years ago when he moved to Santa Teresa. He loves and respects the ocean because it keeps him grounded and is in awe of the amazing biodiversity inside of it. As an instructor, he has a very special talent of noticing people’s needs, and teaching to those needs with patience and clarity. When not surfing, Lalo enjoys spending time with his family, including surfing with fellow instructors (and his sister and brother-in-law!) Michelle and Davide.


Yoga Instructor

Karen is an Aussie who infuses her yoga classes with fun energy and a lot of soul. She has this amazing ability to know what is going to be most beneficial for her students at any particular time, in part because she is also a surfer herself! Karen loves surfing because it gives you the feeling of complete peace and brings an adrenaline rush all within the same ride. Her advice to you is to remember that every day you get to paddle out to be on a wave is a blessing! When not doing yoga or surfing, you can find this multi-talented woman in her art studio, perhaps even painting on surfboards.


Surf Instructor

Russell caught the bug for the beach life at age 13, when he first started surfing in the frigid waters of England. By 16 he was an instructor and lifeguard at his home break, and at 21 completed a university degree in Surf Science and Technology (It’s a real thing!) Armed with his education and ready to hunt for warm water and perfect waves, Russell headed to Costa Rica and was drawn in by the beautiful beaches and relaxed tropical living. Since 2006 Russell has called Santa Teresa home, pursuing his love of teaching surfing and becoming a private chef. When he’s not whipping up delicious vegan tiramisu or cheering on surfers in the lineup, Russell loves studying ancient history and esoteric philosophy, keeping up his yoga practice, and sweating it out on the dance floor.

Kathy Aka Mama Kitty

Reservations Specialist

“Wind Beneath My Wings” is about Mama Kitty. No joke! When the camp staff is enjoying themselves with the clients, Kathy is behind the scenes coordinating all of the booking, administration, and customer service care for PVA. Mama Kitty is Tierza’s mom, and loves working closely with her daughter. After owning a successful horse show business, she decided to help her daughter with her business. Occasionally she can be spotted lazing around the pool, or kicking up her heels to a favorite tune. Mama Kitty loves helping people fulfill their dreams and enjoys hearing the reasons why they want to go on a surf and yoga retreat.


Surf Instruction/Copywriter

A PVA veteran, guest-instructor, and social media maven, Annie came to Santa Teresa ten years ago after a Google search for “Surf Schools, Costa Rica” brought up the Pura Vida Adventures website…and the rest is history. After falling in love with the warm tropical waves, the mid-May mangoes, and the awesome PVA community, Annie decided to split her time between Santa Teresa and the States, where she pursued her career as a singer/songwriter. This surfing songstress loves to share her tunes with PVA students and has played with Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Nickel Creek, and members of Wilco. When she’s not teaching at PVA, Annie can be found writing sassy-slash-emotional stories and living a weird digital nomad life as a copywriter and editor.


Jack of all Trades

A contractor by trade and a mixologist by night, Scott is Tierza’s husband and the jack-of-all-trades who helps out with the ongoings of the business. He has been camp host, marketing guru, mechanic, tour guide, etc. Everyone needs a jack of all trades and a right hand man, and that is Scott. Thankfully Tierza found herself a husband who would follow her to Costa Rica (who wouldn’t) and help her run PVA. You’ll find yourself surfing next to Scott while he cheers you on, chatting with you at sunset with a Pina Colada in hand, or giving you advice on your next kitchen remodel.

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