Meet the Team
AUSun’s staff consists of a variety of amazing local professionals in environmental and outdoor education, travel, and sports. Our trip leaders are young, bilingual adults with CPR, WFR, First Aid and ICT Guide Certifications. Our shared values, philosophies, and passion for the Costa Rican outdoors is reflected in the success of the trips we lead and operate.
Mélida Barbee was born in Guatemala in 1972. In 1973 her family moved to Costa Rica where she became a citizen and permanent resident. Meli attended Country Day School in San José and graduated from UC, Santa Barbara with a BA in Environmental Studies with an emphasis on tropical regions. Mélida worked as an international adventure guide for over 10 years. She lead international students and adults on surf safaris, mountain biking, cycling, sea kayaking, rafting, and trekking adventures, primarily in Costa Rica and the USA. Over the years, Mélida recognized the need for outdoor programs that inspire greater outdoor appreciation, environmental awareness and conservation for Costa Rican young adults. Soon her passion for the outdoors, lust for adventure and work with national conservation efforts inspired the creation of Adventures Under the Sun. With years of experience as a professional athlete, Meli integrated physical activities as a key element to all AUSun programs. She trains and competes heavily in various sporting events including various sporting world championships and races. The training it has taken to accomplish these huge physical challenges have had a big impact on Meli’s personal life, her life values, health and life style. She hopes to influence younger generations to become more physically active in the technologically and media influenced world we live in today.
Andres is a tico with over 20 years of experience in the tourism industry. He worked as a river guide for 12 years with Rios Tropicales, and then as a multisport guide and local rep for 5 years for a Kiwi company before heading back to the offices of Rios Tropicales to help out with sales, reservations and operations. Andres has been with AUSun for two years and contributes with all aspects of the business, primarily logistics and operations. He is a talented, bilingual outdoorsman with a genuine interest and passion for nature, gardening, yoga and is a dedicated family man.
Luis Diego Zuñiga
Sessions Under the Sun Coordinator and Surf Instructor
Luis Diego, otherwise known as Luigi, joined the Adventures Under the Sun staff over eight years ago. Luigi is from Escazú, and graduated from the ULatina in San José with a degree in Business Administration of Hotel and Restaurants. He has extensive experience surfing all over the country like any local would. Luigi is a patient teacher and great communicator. He helps out with much of the research and development for Sessions as well as AUSun trips. When he is not working with us, he can be found teaching surf lessons in Nosara.
Trip Leader and Surf Instructor
Another one of our Escazú staff, Antonio at first appears to be a shy guy, however he is our head game leader and activity counselor. His enthusiasm for nature and the outdoors stems from his family’s tremendous efforts and contributions toward the conservation of the mountains of Escazú. Antonio has traveled Costa Rica and Latin America extensively and is an ISA certified surf instructor, a licensed naturalist guide, and a professional yoga teacher as well. When Antonio is not leading trips or teaching surf lessons, he is a physical education teacher for one of Costa Rica’s largest public elementary schools.
Trip Leader and Surf Instructor
Laura loves to be surrounded by nature, do arts and crafts and be in constant movement. AUSun first hired her for her craft skills – she provided many of our students with some very special bracelets. In 2011 she began as a camp counselor for our Kids Camp, which later led in to becoming a surf instructor for little kids with Sessions Under the Sun in 2013. She studied Marine Biology, is a Dive Master and has done some impressive volunteer work on Isla del Coco. She has traveled extensively around Costa Rica and Latin America learning about the various cultures and surfing some pretty fun waves. Her life essentials are ocean, nature, camping, movement and creativity. Today Laura is a licensed yoga instructor, ISA certified surf instructor, and certified tour guide. She loves to share and learn from life; and her motto is “you never know what you have until it’s gone thus there is nothing like the present to enjoy it!”
Stanley joined our staff as a guide three years ago. He is a geologist by profession and is passionate about sharing this knowledge and so much more as a licensed naturalist guide. Stanley is patient and an excellent listener and contributor to group projects; he has wonderful group management skills and pays excellent attention to detail.
Irene joined Adventures Under the Sun as a freelance guide two years ago and is from the eastern part of San Jose. She has been a licensed tourism guide for five years and leads both our summer camp programs and student group journeys. She has been an outdoor instructor at Outward Bound and loves to get out into the wilderness. Irene is vivacious, energetic and attentive, and she loves working with teenagers. She is also a talented craftswoman, percussionist and loves animals.
Jose Pablo Vargas
Jose Pablo, aka JP or Yipy, is one of our top surf instructors as of three years ago. He is an architect by profession but loves to teach surf lessons so as to keep himself “out of the office”. Yipy has been surfing since he was a young boy and is dedicated, focused and extremely positive.
Erika, or “Eki”, has been a surf instructor for Sessions for two years. She adores working with kids and is loves sharing the stoke out in the ocean. When not working for Sessions, she lives in Nosara teach surf lessons with various surf schools.