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Where the waves splash higher

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IMG_0285(First published at the Marianas Variety)

THE coastal areas of Saipan, Tinian and Rota are blessed with a fair balance of pristine, white sandy stretch of beaches that anyone can picnic and swim around, as well as rugged, dangerous rocky cliffs that are perfect for taking photos of.

On Saipan, the coastal area on the western side with its clear blue waters and calm and gentle waves is perfect to lure locals from the comfort of their homes and tourists from all over the world to enjoy this paradise. The but the coastal areas at the eastern part tells a different, thrilling and dangerous story.

Try driving to the Banzai Cliff in Marpi and follow that little stretch of road to the left just before reaching the Korean monuments and you will be looking at an angle of Banzai Cliff not known to many, except for the fishermen and the adventurous. While majority of the visitors are happy to stand and marvel at the beautiful spread of blue ocean meeting the skies from the viewing deck, some people who prefer to go to the other side are watching the cliff from another perspective. They can see how dangerous the cliffs are and how high and furious the waves smash against the rocky cliffsides.a mainpix

Check out other beaches that display a spectacular show of spray of waves like Cow Town Beach in Marpi, Tank Beach and Marine Beach in Kagman, Hidden Beach and Old Man by the Sea in Talafofo, Forbidden Island. Naftan Bay, and others.

On Tinian, while locals and visitors can enjoy the lovely stretch of white sandy beaches at Tachogna, Long Beach, Taga Beach and others, the thrill of adventure awaits those who are willing to venture beyond the comforts of the more frequented areas and explore the Blow Hole, Chulu Beach or Star Sand Beach, and the coastal views along the cliffs heading to the Suicide Cliff.

On Rota, some of the beach fronts from Sinapalo heading to Songsong are ideal for picnics, but go beyond the paved roads and explore give in to the lure of adventure by driving to the Bird Sanctuary and to the As Matnos Cliff where one wrong step could make you history.IMG_0337

Again, you get the best of both worlds. If you just want to laze it out on a lounger or spread a mat on the sand, or are capturing photos and videos, you have the option of going safe and just sticking it out with the beaches within your reach.

If you go beyond your comfort zone, more adventures await. Be there to see and get wet in the shower as huge splashes of the waves rush in. Experience the adrenaline rush as you stand on tiptoe as near as you can at the edge of a dangerous cliff for that photo or video of a lifetime.

Where the waves splash higher, more thrill awaits you.

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Sunset at the Taga Beach

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DSC_7557 - CopyTINIAN, Northern Mariana Islands—Just a few meters across from the Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino is my favorite beach on the island—Taga Beach.

From the ground level, you won’t see any beach but just the rocky ledge bordered with Taga Stone-shaped rocks leading to the jump off or diving point the end which is the best feature of Taga Beach.

Here you will see kids and adults diving into the crystal clear waters any time of the day, but the best times to watch them is during late afternoons just when the sun is about to set. The beach is great for swimming and snorkeling.

Time and again, I’ve stolen shots of the kids and adults diving. I’d sit at the other end of the cliff line waiting for anyone to dive so I can catch photos with the backdrop of a spectacular sunset.

Go beyond the fence line and go down the crudely built ladder made of rusty shaking steel pieces to see a perfectly secluded cove with a patch of white sandy beach and crystal clear waters. The small beach clearing fills up with water during high tide.

Taga Beach is that one beach where your photos are never the same no matter how much you frequent it. There will always be new angles viewing the same thing.

When on Tinian, don’t miss to stopover at Taga Beach. It’s one spot where you might capture your sunset shot of a lifetime. For more photos of Tinian, check me out on Flickr at this set HERE  (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ontheraks/sets/72157636431048084/)

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Remains of San Jose Church

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You will experience an altogether different feeling when you look at the dark silhouette of the bell tower casting eerie shadows.

TINIAN, Northern Mariana Islands–If there is one structure that would never fail to catch one’s attention on the historic island of Tinian, it is this old bell tower or what has remained of it at the back of the San Jose Catholic church in the village of San Jose.
The ruins of the old bell tower looks out of place in a modern surrounding, but the contrast added to the attraction. I would have wanted to go up the bell tower and explore this ruined building up to the topmost area but the tower is closed to the public.

I’ve been to the island for as many times as I could count in the past six years and have seen and photographed this old bell tower countless of times before, but a couple of weeks back, it was a different visit because I had the chance to stay around until darkness has fallen.

The remains of the bell tower in broad daylight look just like any other remains of old buildings with pieces of steel and metal sticking out of the cracked concrete but seeing the structure with the darkness falling is altogether a different story. You will experience an altogether different feeling when you look at the dark silhouette of the bell tower casting eerie shadows.
The old church was built by Father Pellet and parishioners in 1936. The inscription on the doorway of the bell tower says it is dedicated in memory of Father Marcian Pellet, OFM, and his faithful followers on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee on December 12, 2006. This is one must-not miss destination when you are on Tinian.

Related/earlier posts:

Bell tower at Twilight

Remains of an old church

Destinations My Videos Tinian

Tinian Blow Hole

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TINIAN, Northern Mariana Islands–From a distance, nothing seems extra-ordinary about the long stretch of rocky limestone cliffs and the long wire fence that went all the way near the water’s edge, but if you stay a a bit longer, you will witness one of the spectacular wonders that nature has bestowed on Tinian.

The Blow Hole in Tinian, North Field is one of the most popular must-visit sites in the island. On windy days, the water spurts up to 200 feet in the air.
Video by Raquel C Bagnol

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Islands on Fire

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Text and photos by Raquel C Bagnol
A hot flaming welcome to the Northern Mariana Islands

IF you are planning a trip to Saipan, Tinian or Rota, do so from March to July — that’s when most of the flame trees are in bloom and the islands appear to be in “flames.”

Flying above Tinian during these months gives you a view of vast green jungles sprinkled with a lot of red. Approaching Saipan affords you a spectacular view of an island in full bloom.The best places to drive around is the Airport Road area where fiery red and orange flowers can be seen. Beach Road from Susupe to Garapan is also a sight to behold as the orange blooms provide a contrast to the blue sky and ocean.Flame trees bloom each year, but it’s never the same each time. If you have been taking photos of the flame trees each year at their different stages, you will know this. If you haven’t done it already, try keeping a photo journal of the different stages of the flame trees each year.
The flame tree is the commonwealth tree, and the annual arts festival in spring each year is named after it. The flame trees give the islands a lively and vibrant color. Even Suicide Cliff and the Last Command Post take on a different look when the flame trees are in bloom.They are the CNMI’s “flaming” welcome to visitors from all over the world.

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Firedancer on Tinian

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(Video: Raquel C Bagnol)

TINIAN, Northern Mariana Islands– A boy from Tinian mesmerizes the guests as he dances with fire during one of the annual Pika or hot pepper festival nights.

Firedancing is always the most awaited part in most of the traditional dance presentations at events on Saipan and Tinian. Firedancing is also one of the main dinner attractions  for some of the hotels like Mariana Resort & Spa, Fiesta Resort & Spa, Saipan World Resort, and Pacific Islands Club during the Island Theme nights.

Watch and hold your breath as these dancers show their skill in juggling sticks with fire on both ends.

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