The Grotto is maybe the most famous spot in Saipan. A deep hole in the volcanic rock, with a steep 110 step staircase down to the water level. Here the water surges, with several caves opening to the sea. Everyone has to see this place, crowd onto the rock in the middle of the opening, and take pictures of themselves and their fancy outfits. Divers seem to think exploring the caves underwater is more than exciting, it’s almost a right of passage.
Tanks in the water
Beach Road runs along a lot of the western coast. This is the beach where the Americans landed when taking the island from the Japanese in WWII. On June 15, 1944, hundreds of amphibious vehicles and tanks were launched on the edge of the reef, and then they drove over a relatively shallow reef to the shore. A few didn’t make it, and are still there. We swam out to a couple of tanks, proving their amphibiosity by staying in the water for 27,301 days as of today. (exactly 3 months shy of 75 years)
On the eastern shore of the island is Tank Beach. I’m not sure why it’s called that, because there are no tanks there, like there are on the western shore. The beach is beautiful, the waves severe, and even now you can see the evidence of war.
The Black Ninja
While we were on the path along Beach Road, flying the drone and trying to shoot pictures of terns, a young man, all in black, stopped his northward trek and motioned that he’d like me to take his picture with his phone. I think he was Japanese, but he only communicated by gestures. I said he was all in black, and I mean it… Black clothes, hat, backpack, and face mask! He struck a funny pose, I suppose like a Ninja shooting pistols, had me take a few, then he moved to a spot 20 feet away and started over. So I took a few more… then he moved again and wanted more! All this time I have my drone hovering 40 feet above us just waiting for me, and I’m very nervous not paying attention to it. Very bizarre. So when I landed the drone, we caught up with him and indicated I wanted pictures of him. This is what he gave me:
Imperial Pacific Resort Hotel and Casino
We decided we had to step inside the extravagant unfinished mostly bankrupt casino. Very glitzy, mostly empty. Most folks here call it a joke or an eyesore.
Soaring over Saipan
Here is a little “Overview” of Saipan… From above the tallest mountain in the world, Mt Tapochau… (If you include from the base of the Mariana’s Trench this mountain is over 36,000 feet tall! And we climbed it!! If Mt Everest were placed at the bottom of the trench, it would have over a mile of water covering it!)
The video shows some other sights around the island, like the city of Garapan with its partially finished casino, Bird Island, and a nice shot of what looks like a beautiful yacht. The yacht belongs to the bankrupting casino, and the Mega Typhoon Yutu last fall tore her from her dock and dumped her in the middle of a coral reef. Rumor has it she has a big hole in her hull, and is just sitting on the shallow bottom until someone (with lots of money) can figure out how to get her off the reef.
A New Day
Saipan is “Where America’s Day Begins”, and here is a shot of that beginning this morning…