Rota trip report
So just got back to Japan from my trip to Rota shooting for Outdoor Japan magazine. Brought back about 2000 shots some sun burn and great memories.
Rota island is part of the Mariana islands and is part of the USA located between Guam and Saipan. A direct flight from Narita will get you there in about 3 and a half hours.
I traveled to Rota with Aya, a writer for OJM and a lovely girl who lived in Australia for 12 years so her English is perfect.
Rota is a very small and very laid back little island with very few tourists. Most people tend to visit Guam to the south or Saipan to the north so Rota is very undeveloped in terms of tourism. There are no large buildings, hotels, theme parks etc.. There isn't even any public transport or traffic lights for that matter. What Rota does have is lots of beautiful nature, beaches, diving and wonderful people.
I got to try scuba diving for the first time and wow what an experience! So many beautiful fish and crystal clear waters. I was happy I brought along a waterproof housing for my Canon G9 so I was able to get some shots of this amazing underwater world. The waterproof case is made by a company called Dicapac and I was more than just a little worried at first putting my nice G9 into this vinyl case and taking into the ocean. But after a few practice runs snorkeling with it I had the confidence to take it down a little deeper. Our dive took us down to 8m and the Dicapac still didn't let any water in. The only problem was however the pressure on the camera from the vinyl case was very strong and it was pressing all the buttons, so the shutter would trip automatically. I eventually worked out a way of shooting by which I turn the camera on, get one shot and turn off again and repeat. This technique seemed to work pretty good between 6~8m. Above that and the camera worked just fine as it should have.
Aya, myself and the rest of the press from various magazines stayed at the Rota resort country club, a quite nice but apparently expensive resort by the ocean on the north half of the island.
We had tours organised for us to show us around the island and all of its major site seeing spots which can all be seen in a day if you don't plan on spending much time at each spot. But of course being a photographer we always want to shoot in the best light available which means getting to these places in the wee hours of the morning or late afternoon. Unfortunately it is currently the rainy season there so it could be lovely and sunny one minute and thunder and lightning the next.
Didn't get a lot of sleep during the trip as I was up by 5:30 every morning to shoot the sunrises and in bed around 1 or 2ish, sometimes later if a party broke out back at my room.
Not much else in the way of night life on the island, there are a couple of restaurants and little bars in the main town of Songsong but I had fun taking photos of the amazing night sky full of stars and taking midnight dips in the famous swimming hole. There really is nothing quite like it!
We were planing to rent a car to get around the island and visit the places we had not yet seen or shoot the places again we visited in bad weather conditions earlier. But the locals being as friendly as they are offered to pick us up and be our tour guides for where ever we wanted to go.
Two particularly great/interesting people who we met on the island and became our tour guides were Tom who is the advisor to the Mayor of Rota. A very interesting guy who would tell us stories of the local witch doctor and Ike who is the video guy for the small Rota TV channel, he also shared many interesting stories with us and was more than happy to come pick us up at 5:30 in the morning to take us around the place.
As usual my trip to Rota went all too fast and I really hope I can get back there again to visit friends and do some more diving. You can see/read more about the trip in the upcoming November issue of Outdoor Japan magazine.