Contiki - Costa Rica Unplugged

A couple of months ago I received an email from Lauren, the PR & partnerships manager for Contiki Holidays. Lauren invited me to join the Costa Rica tour to help document and share their latest conservation projects for the Contiki Cares sustainability program. Firstly I was very stoked to even be contacted directly by Contiki since they were already working with some the largest youtubers/vloggers on other tours (like the Australian tour with Louis, BFvsGF, Troye Sivan etc), secondly I’d never been to Central America so naturally I jumped at the opportunity! 

The timing was good since I was in Florida for Playlist Live (videos here) just before the tour started. I took a couple of flights down to Costa Rica via Miami and found myself in San Jose arrivals waiting for my bag to show up on the next flight. I used this time to stare at Costa Rica on Google Maps trying to plan a 3 day recovery from Playlist before my Contiki tour started. My cursor gravitated south towards a town called Jaco, I zoomed in and saw waves at a nearby beach called Playa Hermosa, googled it, found the Surf Inn & emailed them; ‘You guys seem nice, I’ve got no plan & nowhere to stay, I need a place for 3 nights, can you help? this is my number…’ I then bumped into a girl with a backpack who looked like she had a better plan than me, she persuaded me to share a taxi with her into San Jose where she knew a good hostel. During the taxi ride I received a phone call from the owner of the Surf Inn, Christina; ‘Get a taxi down here, we’ve got a place for you!’ 2 hours + 4 beers later I’m at the Surf Inn Hermosa, happy as a sand bag! 

I’m not going to go into great detail about the trip, you can watch the daily videos on my YouTube channel. It starts with a few days on my own before I meet up with the Contiki group, and ends with a few more days on my own, after the Contiki tour has finished. 

The goal was to document the Contiki ‘Costa Rica Unplugged’ tour through the different online networks of the group, we were the Storytellers. None of the group members had met each other before, which really added an interesting dynamic to the group making for some great content as the different relationships unfolded. It’s safe to say everyone got on extremely well! There’s a special bond that’s built when people share experiences that are fun, scary or challenging and I believe there’s no better way to build friendship than being on the road together, this is my favourite thing about travelling.  

Costa Rica was a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me. Pretty much as soon as I arrived, myself and Nicole decided to take a break from our relationship, long distance wasn’t working, this threw me off balance for the remainder of the trip, I continued to vlog daily and had a lot of much needed support from my viewers, thanks guys. I was then surrounded by amazing people and epic activities to distract me for the 10 day Contiki tour, only to be dropped back at the Surf Inn whilst all my new friends drove off into the distance. Needless to say, I suffered some pretty hectic separation anxiety! Luckily, Christina & Michael (the owners of the Surf Inn) took extremely good care of me, my therapy included surfing at 6am every morning, followed by fresh ice cold coconut water, food, chilling with music, a bit of work, maybe another surf then beers in the evening! I want to thank Michael & Christina for your seemingly limitless kindness & generosity. They are now good friends of mine, and I can honestly say I’ve found a real gem, I’ll be returning to the Surf Inn Hermosa as soon as I can! 

In Costa Rica they have a saying ‘Pura Vida’ which means ‘Pure Life’. From my experiences, Costa Ricans live by this saying with a relentless energy for people, nature and life. It really had a big impact on me, so I got it tattoo’d on my leg, along with a leatherback turtle, which we saw nesting and was one of the most incredible experiences of my life! I don’t often get a tattoo, only when I feel like something has really made an impact on my life, Costa Rica did exactly that. 

I'd like to thanks Contiki for giving me this awesome opportunity, got to their website HERE and check out some of their amazing adventure packages all around the world. I also want to thank all the storytellers on the trip with me, who are all awesome! Go check them out! - Alex, Swopes, Sarah, Mirae, Jamie, Nicky, Mikael, Eline, Seattle, Melissa & Ben.

Check out the official Contiki video from our trip (created by the legend Benjamin Gattegno) - Click here

This is a little selection of photos from the trip. Mostly taken on Canon 5D mk3 with Canon 24-70mm 2.8 II, GoPro & Canon S120. Edited with VSCO film.