Volunteering At Dreamsea Surf Camp Costa Rica - Blog - Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Dreamsea Costa Rica - Week In Review - Volume One

In this video, we begin a four part series called “Dreamsea Week in Review“, where we highlight life at Dreamsea Costa Rica! In the first installment, we take an aerial look at the Dreamsea crew getting into some soccer competition on the beach, dressing up in costume and playing a camp favorite “Flunky Ball”, the atmosphere within the camp, some morning yoga, and hanging on the beach at night. Of course, the Dreamsea anthem  “Slr” provides the soundtrack to the visuals. One hand over your heart, and the other in the air! Pura Vida!

Video by: James Magazzino

Song: “Slr” by Gyptian

Dreamsea Costa Rica - Playa Conchal Excursion

One of many weekly excursions the Dreamsea Costa Rica team takes our guests on, this video gives a look into our excursion to Playa Conchal, which is rated one of the most beautiful beaches in the world! Located just 20 km from Tamarindo, Dreamsea takes the crew on a boat ride out into the middle of the Pacific Ocean to do some cliff jumping, and then to a hidden remote beach to have a family picnic, do some snorkeling, and sight seeing from what seems like the top of the world. Truly one of our favorite trips!

Video by Matty Dawkins

Song: “Salad Days” by Mac Demarco 

Dreamsea Surf Camp Costa Rica - Contact - Surfing, Glamping, Yoga - Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Arriving At Dreamsea Costa Rica - The First Impressions

So you're thinking about coming to Dreamsea...

and you’re wondering what it’s actually like to live as a big family in the jungle surrounded by nothing but diverse Costa Rican nature? Luckily, you came to the right place – I just arrived at Dreamsea and I’m excited to tell you all about what to expect when you first come here! Firstly, I need to make the distinction between arriving in Tamarindo and arriving at Dreamsea.

The two worlds are so far apart but complement each other so very well.

As you may already know, Tamarindo is a small town on the northern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. It’s a tourist friendly hub of fun and holiday excitement with people coming from all over the world to surf, chill, party and almost everything else you can imagine (except winter snow sports admittedly). It is sometimes viewed as quite an American party town, and to a certain degree that might be fair. It’s safe, and more modernly accessible than many other areas of Costa Rica. You can get by with moderate Spanish speaking skills, and buy most things you need within the city.

However, as with many things in life, it is what you make it. Living at Dreamsea definitely makes use of the best elements of Tamarindo, and expanding on it by adding its own authentic experience. It creates something new and exciting. Arriving from the buzz of Tamarindo to the tranquility of Dreamsea is an amazing contrast I will never forget. Driving up into the jungle, seeing the scenery change from the vast beautiful beaches to untouched jungle in less than five minutes is truly special. Within this jungle, you will find a collection of white glamping tents, dotted around old mango trees and various small covered huts housing every amenity you need. This is Dreamsea, this is my new home.

The Dreamsea camp itself is absolutely amazing to arrive at.

It’s beautiful and well kept, there is a big team of trustworthy staff and volunteers happily making sure this never changes (I think my favorite job I’ve heard of so far is the person who is here to pick up the mangoes that the resident howler monkeys throw down!). From the doodles on the Mango tree, the little paths weaving throughout and the big airy white tents, there’s certainly something special about this place from the moment you get here.

However, I was distracted from the beauty of the camp by the beauty of the people.

I hardly had both feet on the ground before people were surrounding me, welcoming me and taking my bags! The chefs were about to go and buy their fresh daily supplies, stopping excitedly at the sound of my English accent. A place like this seems to bring together a unique mix of people, from all over the world, with different journeys leading us here and different things to learn from each other. I came here because I’ve been travelling for four months through Central America and I was ready to ‘belong’ somewhere, have a purpose and to take some time to improve my surfing and Spanish. I think there isn’t a more perfect place in the world for me right now! I’m really excited that Anton, the amazing surf instructor has now made it his mission to make me practically fluent by the end of my stay! On top of this, I have already got started on learning yoga, hula hooping, ukulele and slack lining, there is so much to do beyond relaxing!

Many people here have a passion for surfing or yoga, but everyone has an open-mind, a love for adventure, and an enthusiasm to learn..

Firstly, I was taken to my bedroom, one of the bright and spacious white glamping tents! With wooden floors, two beds, shelves and a fan, it is camping like I’ve never seen before! I share my tent with Ashley the yoga teacher who is quickly becoming the older sister I never had! Within 20 minutes of arriving, I was jumping on a beach shuttle heading to Playa Tamarindo. The beach shuttles are always a memorable part of the day, loaded with surf boards and people on our way to surf or chill at the beach! It takes 10 minutes of bumping along an old dusty road to arrive at a vast beach of white sand and beautiful waves

The Dreamsea team all make camp together at the quiet end of the beach, escaping from the hot sun under the shade of Tamarind trees. My introduction to most of the camp members was entering into a discussion on one of the most difficult decisions of the day: which flavor smoothie to buy (for future reference, watermelon, mint and lime is the best in my humble opinion!). At first I thought this was hysterical, but two days in, tomorrow’s post surfing smoothie is already a key question on my mind. Once this was decided, we all had a yoga lesson with Artem as the sun set over the glistening sea. There are three amazing yoga teachers at Dreamsea at the moment, all with their different styles. Artem practices very meditative and spiritual yoga, embracing the sun’s energy as it sets.

By supper time, as we all sat together eating a delicious meal (which I will cover in another blog post), in the big communal outdoor eating area, I couldn’t believe I’d only arrived that afternoon. At these big family suppers, new members are welcomed and old members say goodbye. That night, one guest named Brian left and summarized some of the most special parts of the Dreamsea experience perfectly:

“Everybody here, I will remember for the rest of my life”.

I already firmly believe this will be true for me too.

After an evening of chilling on the beach, lying under the mango tree, eating under the canopy and dancing below the stars, I have already become so much more relaxed. When I first arrived I found it hard to unwind, I was used to planning my next day of travel, where I was going to stay and what I was going to see. I’ve now realized how rarely we get the opportunity to take some time out of life and its worries like this. I feel very lucky to be here and I look forward to finding out more about Dreamsea as the month progresses! Pura Vida!

-Hannah Blower

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Dreamsea Costa Rica - The Moments

As I was paddling out
for my next wave..

in the distance I heard IZ’s rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” begin to play. Up until that moment I felt everything had been perfect, but hearing that song at that exact time, put me on another level. There I was surfing the sunset session off the gold coast of Costa Rica, with a gorgeous Norwegian girl on a board next to me, and IZ in the background providing the soundtrack to what felt like a dream.

Two thoughts were going through my head:

  1. How is this real life?
  2. How did I get here?

To fully appreciate the moment, let’s rewind the story two months.

Back to a frigid December in Minnesota. A typical day entailed arriving at my job in the factory around 7:30 a.m., grinding the day away for a struggling company, and clocking out around ten hours later. Had it not been for the boxing gym down the street, self-implosion would’ve been a genuine concern.

You get the picture, I wasn’t happy. The problem was, internally I knew that tons of people would feel blessed to have my lifestyle. I felt guilty for wanting more. Why couldn’t I just be grateful with my current situation?

Nights were often spent lying awake thinking about the past year and a half since graduating college. Time had flown, yet what had I accomplished? Besides work, what was I living for? Music, girls, parties? None of that truly satisfied my soul.

When it comes to depression there is a wide spectrum of severity. But in a broad sense, I think it can be categorized into two groups: You’re either excited about life or you’re not. Most days I wasn’t excited. I was sick of going through the motions. I needed some fucking adventure! A radical change had to happen.

On one of those December nights, I decided to take a leap of faith into the unknown. I bought a one-way ticket to Costa Rica. In January I informed my boss of the impending decision, and the next thing I knew it was February and I was boarding my flight. The excitement for life was back and stronger than ever.

After landing in San Jose, it was on! Determined to learn how to surf, I soon found out about a place called Dreamsea Surf Camp.

It sounded too good to be true.

An international surf camp where people from all walks of life come together to create a community? I was prepared to do anything to get there. Turns out all it took were a couple emails back and forth and everything was set. Stoked would be an understatement!

Upon arrival I was greeted by a friendly staff, outgoing guests and volunteers, and a family of howler monkeys. The place was surreal. After a short tour around camp it was obvious why “Dream” was in the camp’s name.

After only a day I already felt part of the family. Campers are constantly coming and going which made forming friendships quick and easy.

Over the next month I
became close with people
from all over the world.

One of my goals for my backpacking trip was to have at least one meaningful conversation every couple of days. The type of conversation where people let their guard down and speak from the heart. To my delight, these conversations were happening multiple times a day.

I discovered it didn’t matter whether English was your first language or your third language, there were people from all over the world who thought and felt just like me. Although many of our core beliefs about life were the same, the perspectives I was introduced to were brand new. Connecting with people and hearing their unique stories became addictive.

What I eventually realized was that surfing served as the pretext for going to this camp. In reality, it was the heartfelt connections formed between people that made the experience life changing.

Dreamsea attracts a certain type of person because their message is clear:

 “Collect moments not things”.

As a backpacker, I had already prepared to give up the comfort of all of my possessions. What I didn’t yet know was how to immerse myself in each moment and truly live it to the fullest. I’m talking mind, body, and spirit. It’s not something most of us are naturally good at, let alone are taught how to do.

At Dreamsea Costa Rica living in the moment is the default lifestyle.

As a result of the aligned philosophy, I’m convinced it’s the closest I’ll ever get to living in a utopia. Leaving Dreamsea was tough. How do you say goodbye to a lifestyle of surfing twice a day, living with 40 of your closest friends, eating family style meals morning & night, and continually meeting & learning from new people?

As Bob (my soul brother from Holland) and I boarded the bus for our next adventure, we both agreed that we would consciously bring the Dreamsea spirit with us wherever we went. As a result, the six ensuing hostels all got to experience a sliver of the Dreamsea magic.

After five months of backpacking, I came back to the States a different man. On the plane ride home, I noted in my moleskin a sentiment that was first learned at Dreamsea, and will remain a guiding principle for life going forward:

“Slow down and appreciate the beauty in each moment.”


-Danny Greene

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The Dreamsea Surf Camp Costa Rica Surf Culture - Dreamsea Surf Camp Costa Rica - Tamarindo Costa Rica

The Dreamsea Surf Camp Costa Rica Surf Culture

If you're looking at coming

to a Costa Rican surf camp

The chances are you either love surfing or you’re really excited to learn about it! Either way, it’s time to focus on one of the most essential elements of Dreamsea Costa Rica: The comprehensive surf program ingrained within it

First, lets talk a bit about surfing in Costa Rica

As one of the most famous surf spots in the world, you are absolutely spoiled with so many different options of beaches and waves to choose from. Boasting two Coast lines, you can find decent waves throughout the entire calendar year. Tamarindo is located on the Pacific coast, making use of some of the most consistent surf and offshore winds generated by the low pressure systems of New Zealand.

Tamarindo has a huge selection of surfing opportunities. The town is located on a beach perfect for beginners to learn, while areas such as the river mouth and pico pequeno within Playa Tamarindo, appeal to the more advanced surfers. With multiple daily shuttles to the beach, you are able to take advantage of the awesome surf at Tamarindo, and also Playa Grande and Playa Langosta, which cater to the more skilled surfer! Also with famous surf spots such as Playa Avellanas and Playa Negra being just down the road, the camp also arranges weekly surf excursions to really track down the best of the best. These weekly surf excursions are one element of a surf program designed to satisfy even the most addicted surfer, which includes:

– Morning surf sessions
– Surf lessons
– Surf tutorials and videos
– Specialized weekly surf trips
– Evening surf tips

This huge array of options allows Dreamsea to effortlessly cater to every level of surfer. Let me talk a little bit about each phase of the daily surf schedule.

Morning Surf Session

The morning surf session leaves at around 6am every day for Langosta or Tamarindo. For those who set their alarms and hop on the shuttle, this is never a disappointing adventure. The sun is less hot and the beach is practically empty. You wake up only to the sound of perfect waves breaking on to the beach, which is without a doubt the most peaceful and fulfilling way to start your morning. Alongside the staff and volunteers, you can surf for two hours before returning to refuel on a huge breakfast! Surfing with these more experienced surfers is incredibly useful for gaining tips and advice from them. As the only group in the water, you don’t get lost in the crowd so they have a chance to really analyze your technique and help you improve. What better way to start the day than that!

Surf Lessons

The surf lessons have been by far one of my favorite parts of staying at Dreamsea. As soon as breakfast is over, the surf instructors begin organizing lessons, checking who wants to come and letting us know the time and location. Each group is split into levels based on ability so that the lessons can be more focused and useful.

Currently, we have two very experienced and highly trained surf instructors from some of the best surf camps in the world. Antonio’s surfing background is the total opposite of the perfect Hawaiian picture of surfing; He comes from cold, rainy, cloudy Galicia, in north west Spain. His style is old school and he is incredibly patient as he teaches it. His joy in your success is completely genuine and my style has improved more than I ever expected thanks to his hard work. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, Fran is a sea surfer from the Mediterranean coast of Spain. His main goal is all about having fun! He strongly believes there is no right or wrong way to surf and that you will achieve your goals naturally as long as you are enjoying yourself. This for me is a refreshing way to be taught. Fran really relaxed the whole group bringing the focus back to enjoyment, effortlessly avoiding the easy trap of frustration. Both of these guys, as well as all of the other surf instructors that Dreamsea has on staff, work incredibly hard to make sure that everyone achieves their personal goals and more during their time at camp. The motivation and support provided by the surf instructors has truly given everyone at camp so much hope and energy throughout our stay!

Most surf lessons are based around three key facets: Safety, Having Fun, and Progress. The lessons generally begin with a theory class, followed by a warm up, then a game or special exercise, and of course ultimately the surfing. The classes are very small in size, generally with a maximum of around three people. This allows the instructors to pay really close attention, providing constant feedback and support.

Surf Trips

The weekly surf trips are an amazing chance to discover the Costa Rican coastline and keep the excitement of exploring new places and discovering new waves alive! This week we went to Playa Negra, which is still in the Guanacaste region. It’s a dark sand beach, and world renowned for its right-hand barrels. It was an amazing day together with beautiful waves and a really good crowd. Playa Negra has two areas for surfing next to each other; the perfect reef break for advanced surfers and a gentler beach break for beginners and intermediates.

There was a constant array of people surfing, doing yoga, playing volleyball or simply just chilling. It was an especially perfect day as even a few people who had left the camp rented a car just to find us! (Once people leave Dreamsea, they always seem to find their way back!) We finished off the day with a first aid, lifeguarding and safety lesson from the staff. We learned about rip tides, how to spot them and what to do if you or someone else is caught in one. Once CPR training was under our belts too, we went back in the sea more conscious and prepared than ever.

Nightly Surf Tips

One thing you’ll hear said a lot at Dreamsea is that – “This is a school, and a place of learning.”. After a family style dinner, the surf instructors take the opportunity of everyone being together to give a detailed surf tip for the day. They share a little piece of knowledge that you can take with you to your next day of surfing. These tips mainly center around safety, technique, style, and equipment.

Surf Tutorials

One night every week, the staff prepares a surf tutorial and video analysis which provides the opportunity to learn the theory of surfing. For many surfers, this is an invaluable addition to understanding surfing technique and an undervalued method of quickly progressing. For me personally, it was a beginner’s lesson focusing on paddling. It genuinely allowed me to improve my efficiency and ultimately catch more waves. This in turn has vastly multiplied with each time I spend surfing, working on my posture and maneuverability. The focus isn’t just on technique and style though. It has been really interesting to learn more about surfing in its wider context, including its history and the way it has evolved. With this wealth of knowledge amongst the staff and instructors at the camp, it is the perfect chance to absorb knowledge from those who live and breathe the sport.

In conclusion

This packed schedule runs throughout the week and you can stop and ask the staff or surf instructors about it at any moment around the camp. For me, that has been one of the most important parts of surfing at Dreamsea Costa Rica. The surf instructors stay at the camp, becoming close friends and building trust so that no question seems too insignificant or silly to ask them! When two guests, Michael and Todd left yesterday, Anton spent hours writing them a ‘surf bible’ of everything they need to continue working on long in to the future – Just an example of how much Dreamsea’s surf instructor’s guys really care (Thank you so much for all your hard work!!!).

Whether you’re a beginner in the water, an advanced surfer, or somewhere in between, Dreamsea Costa Rica genuinely provides you an opportunity to maximize your potential on a surfboard. With an experienced and supportive surf instruction team leading the way, there is no doubt that you will leave Dreamsea a much more passionate, knowledgeable, and skilled surfer, than when you first arrived!

– Hannah Blower

*This blog is part of a five-part series written by a former Dreamsea Costa Rica Volunteer, Hannah Blower. This mini-series focuses on five separate dynamics of the Dreamsea Surf Camp Costa Rica Volunteer program which are intended to provide prospective Volunteers additional insight into what it means to be a part of the Dreamsea Costa Rica volunteer team.*

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Volunteering At Dreamsea Surf Camp Costa Rica

The Dreamsea Surf Camp Costa Rica
Volunteer Atmosphere

Future volunteers of Dreamsea Costa Rica, if I had to give just a single piece of advice for those considering volunteering at Dreamsea it would be.. DO IT!

Dreamsea Costa Rica

Has a large volunteering community, who are all vital to the overall progress and upkeep of the camp. Without this volunteer program, the camp simply wouldn’t be the same.

Bringing a group together for a longer period of time creates deeper friendships and an amazing atmosphere that can’t be achieved when people are just passing through. This is really evident from the moment you arrive. As a result of the friendships I’ve made here, I have now added a few more countries to the list of places to visit, and am even extending my trip to fly half way across the world for a South African road trip. Although, you make friends everywhere when you are traveling, I think ones as real and long lasting as those at Dreamsea are special and rare.

There are three kinds of volunteers at Dreamsea, for more information check out the volunteering page of the website. But the most common volunteering position at Dreamsea is a general volunteer. These volunteers share the responsibility for much of the camps upkeep including the common areas, bathrooms, maintenance and kitchen. They work for a very short period of each day to receive accommodation and make a weekly contribution to food costs.

Qualified volunteers on the other hand are specialized in more specific roles requiring certain skill sets, such as surf instructors, yoga instructors, photographers and social media experts. These volunteers make an initial contribution for food costs, and then subsequently receive all guest benefits in exchange for their work.

The Dreamsea Volunteer Experience

Is a very unique one. Any volunteering opportunity following this one is going to have a very tough act to follow, as I’ve acclimated to an atmosphere here like no other because:

1) Dreamsea is a very relaxed place to work. You have a huge amount of independence as the staff trusts that you will do what you need to. You don’t have someone telling you when you need to work or micro-managing you. Your hours aren’t counted or questioned, as we are all adults working together for a common goal.

2) The work is simple but meaningful. This is not volunteering for the sake of volunteering. We are the vital foundation of the camp, every job is important for the day to day production of Dreamsea. We have a lot of fun, but everyone’s contribution ultimately assists in running an efficient business. Dreamsea is admittedly, one of the most amazing, relaxed businesses, centred on fun and shared interests.

3) There is such a focus on having a good time. The majority of volunteers are travelling, but they are also here to have fun and enjoy themselves. The atmosphere created by like-minded people coming together is part of the essence of Dreamsea. It allows guests to slip into a family dynamic that is already so strong and positive. Therefore, you never find yourself being held back from having fun or good times with your friends because that is something the camp needs! I have had an awesome amount of fun here!

It may seem like a daunting concept

To sign up to staying in one place for a month or more. Particularly, when almost all of us want to be able to travel longer than we have! I remember as I was driven to the camp, the strange feeling that I was coming to a new place for such a long time. I remember looking at the tree lined dusty road of the jungle on the way, reflecting on how familiar it would soon be and how strange that concept is after four months of constant travelling.

However, although that tree lined dusty road has become wonderfully familiar, my worries that one month in one place is too long were unfounded. The weeks pass so quickly here, I can hardly believe that I’m almost at the end of my time volunteering! We have all been totally shocked and confused that time has sped away, it’s easy to see how many people end up volunteering here a lot longer than they intended!

For Example

Two of camps biggest characters (the Sanchez brothers) are finally about to leave after 4 months having originally arrived for just a 3 week volunteering stint. A surprisingly common story here! Luckily for me, I am leaving camp to travel Nicaragua with some other Dreamsea volunteers who have become life long friends!

My stay has been an incredible experience and I can’t imagine finding another place where you’re given so much independence, freedom and the opportunity for so much fun and friendship (not to mention, the chance to eat more food than any backpacker ever could – operation fit back into my denim shorts will be commencing upon leaving Dreamsea…).

If you are considering

Whether to volunteer at Dreamsea, my honest opinion is still to just DO IT!! However, if you’re reading this because you’ve already signed up and are doing some last minute research (we’ve all been there!) then well done, and good luck!!! You’ll have an awesome time, trust me!

Hannah Blower

*This blog is part of a five-part series written by a former Dreamsea Costa Rica Volunteer, Hannah Blower. This mini-series focuses on five separate dynamics of the Dreamsea Surf Camp Costa Rica Volunteer program which are intended to provide prospective Volunteers additional insight into what it means to be a part of the Dreamsea Costa Rica volunteer team.*

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