This is Costa Rica during rainy season. The term may be off-putting. I mean, who wants to go anywhere during rainy season? But, in Guanacaste Costa Rica, this meant dramatic mid-afternoon storms that provide the perfect time to relax and watch the storms move across the region. It also means lush forests, flowing waterfalls, and a natural sprinkler system that’ll sap the heat out of the atmosphere. It is NOT an all-day rain. Mornings are gorgeous, sunsets are dramatic, and activities are unfazed.
We cozied in at the Villa Cascada overlooking Ocotal Bay in Guanacaste. This place was nuts - 16 air-conditioned bedrooms, a massive pool, three bars with bar tenders, and an amazing kitchen staff that prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner, and that perfect afternoon snack as you siesta on the massive fan-cooled deck. And not to mention a killer view of Ocotal Beach and Bay. Seriously, this was my view from the bedroom:
Much of our time was spent on Ocotal Beach, and cruising the rocks during low tide. Coming from the east coast of the United States, the two-hour time change meant we didn’t miss a sunrise. Being a black sand beach, Ocotal Beach is great to explore in the morning when the sand and rock is still cool.
Low tide meant the volcanic rock that surrounded the base of the cliffs was exposed giving us a path around the edges and giving us access to what are islands during high tide. Sea life plastered the rock, as hermit crabs, sea urchins and snails worked their way over the rocks and caught in tide pools.
We fish frequently off-shore in North Carolina. But for us, it’s a 25-mile, 3-hour boat ride to find the fish. In Costa Rica, we were mere minutes from fishing. No 4 am departure required. And still surrounded by the beauty of the Costa Rican coast line. Mahi Mahi filled our cooler, fresh pineapple and cold brews served by the crew filled our stomachs, and a great morning on the water gave us lasting memories.
FOR THE FILM NERDS
What cameras and which film, amirite? The two questions we ask ourselves prior to any trip.
For cameras, this is an easy one for me: Always the Pentax 67. There is not a place I go that this thing doesn’t come. Many complain of its size, but honestly with the left-hand grip as a handle, this thing really is a piece of cake to carry. I’ll pack the Pentax SMC 55mm f/4, Pentax SMC 105mm f/2.4 and Pentax SMC 165mm f/2.8 for the trip, then usually only take the camera and one lens when I go out for the day. Choose wisely.
The Hasselblad 500c/m was more of a bonus. Brand new (to me) I couldn’t resist bring it along and seeing what I could do with it.
THE FILM STOCKS
When I think of Costa Rica, I think of beaches, jungles, and a ton of color. Bright greens, gorgeous blues and teals, and whatever sunrise and sunset would throw at me. So no black and white here. Fuji greens don’t do it for me. I’m not a fan of the overexposed muted green look. I didn’t want soft colors with muted tones. I wanted rich, saturated colors. This made my choice fairly easy: Kodak Ektar 100 and Kodak Portra 800. Both very saturated film stocks. Kodak Portra 400 came along for the ride mainly to use in the Hasselblad 500c/m, as I like to stick to one stock in a new camera. Also, the pushability of Portra 400 means I always have a roll on me in case I need to shoot between 800-3200.
All photos developed and scanned by theFINDlab.
Check out more photos of Ocotal Beach, Costa Rica in the gallery!