Living the dream in Costa Rica

Published September 14th, 2015

Costa Rica means “Tasty Coast” in English – and it is indeed.

It’s also really, really expensive compared to nearby countries like Panama and Nicaragua.

I had been warned about $40 hostel beds, $10 drinks and $100 day trips. This just isn’t doable on a backpacker’s budget, right?


Costa Rica locals

I didn’t want to concede and rush through such a beautiful country. So I came across a website called ‘Workaway’ who hook up volunteers with huge variety of hosts all over the world, including dozens of options in Costa Rica.

I searched heaps of listings from organic farms to NGO’s and hospitality jobs. The contracts range quite a bit, most hosts offer room and board for a few hours of work per day. Some are looking for specifically qualified “Workawayers” like website designers or yoga instructors which can offer better conditions depending on your input and experience.

Hippie Surf Camp feels at DreamSea

So I narrowed it down to a few and sent off applications. The next day I was contacted by my top choice, a surf camp called DreamSea in Tamarindo - on the Pacific coast. After a bit of back and forth our jobs were confirmed so we booked a bus leaving from the capital, San Jose the next day.

More adventure stories from Matt:

Blasting through the San Blas Islands

How to find an anaconda in the Amazon

DreamSea Surf Camp is fairly new, opened just over a year ago. I showed up and found that there were actually more volunteers than paying guests. The reason being that the camp needed to be full to provide a fun atmosphere, which made sense.

Welcome to  the 'Tasty Coast'

Our commitment was no more than a few hours per day of work; which consisted of a rotating roster ranging from cleaning bathrooms, washing dishes, food prep or raking leaves and interacting with guests. In return we were provided with free accommodation in “glamping” style safari tents and Wi-Fi. A hearty breakfast and healthy dinner was also included daily for only $100USD per week.

Matt with his chef hat on in the kitchen

The camp was located about ten minutes drive from town and the beach. The property was stunning - filled with exotic insects, monkeys, huge iguanas and Tito the dog that provided security and slobbery cuddles. There was also a bar, sound system and outdoor movie cinema so we were never bored after long days surfing at the beach.

Partying with the DreamSea crew

My favorite part about being part of the DreamSea crew was the friendships made with everyone else working there. After travelling for seven months it was nice being able to form relationships that lasted more than a few days. Everyone was positive and eager to learn from one another, whether it was a yoga session with Peter from Prague under the mango tree before breakfast or surfing lessons from Austin the American in the crocodile infested river mouth.

#tent #lyfe

Workaway can provide some truly unique experiences for travellers. I’m already lining up our next volunteer position, which will probably be on an organic farm so I can learn more about permaculture and sustainable farming. The ability to learn new skills while travelling is a huge bonus and receiving free accommodation in return is the icing on the cake – especially on the Tasty Coast!

Costa Rica sunset magic

Student Flights is all about travel, awesome experiences and 'waking up in strange places'. Talk to one our well-travelled consultants today about your next adventure!  Call 1800 046 462 or drop by one of our stores to chat in person. Check out our Black Market flights and let the savings begin!

Matt Castell

If you could make travel a full-time job would you? I am. I've been called a "jack of all trades" many times over the ten or so years spent wandering the globe. Always looking for new skills to learn, whether it be lion taming or flying helicopters... I'll give it a go! Being a Travel Agent for Student Flights has been the top pick so far though!

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