Sunday, September 28, 2008

Reunion with nature at the Tank Beach

CHARTERING unfamiliar grounds by following signs has always been a challenge I find hard to resist and last Sunday’s wanderings rewarded me with one more attractive spot in these islands.

Photos by Raquel C. Bagnol

Driving all the way past Kagman High School toward a dirt road last Sunday brought me and a buddy to a sign standing amidst thick bushes which says “Tank Beach”. As I haven’t heard of the name before, I knew I had to find the place. As there was no other sign on the road, our first turn ended in a private residence and we had to go back to the main road. Our second try brought us to the right place.
The place was deserted, and we found that it was one of the protected areas on Saipan where you can only feast your eyes in the beauty of nature but not disturb anything.

The white sandy beach stretched far on both sides, making us feel small and insignificant in the noonday heat. The rolling waves and the clear waters issued a silent invitation for a refreshing dip.
Tank Beach is a perfect place to bond with nature. This is a spot where it feels like sin to step on the sand and leave footprints in the deserted beach, where you will feel guilty by merely taking pictures of multitudes of butterflies in the flowering patches near the shore.
Tank Beach is one spot where you can delight on the wonders of nature, yet you get a feeling that you shouldn’t be there. You feel like an intruder that unlike other beaches which entices you to shout and run and play on the sand, you would feel guilty just by treading on the pristine shores.
For the beach fanatics, Tank Beach is a haven, great for snorkeling and hanging with friends.
Just be careful not to remove any corals from the waters off the entire reef at Tank beach as it is prohibited. Fishing regulations exist, and disruption of habitat is prohibited.
At this spot, the lines “leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures, and kill nothing but time” applies.
See you on our next adventure!

(This article was originally published here)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Chulu Beach: Tinian’s hidden cove

DRIVING over rock-paved roads about a mile or two away from the famous bomb pits on Tinian will lead you to one of the tropical spectacles the island can boast of — Chulu Beach.
Tourists pose for a souvenir photo at Chulu Beach. Photos by Raquel C. Bagnol
From the main road, you couldn’t see the water as the place is cloaked with thick foliage and green shrubbery but the minute you step out into the clearing, a stretch of pristine beach that is ideal for a movie set in the Pacific awaits you.
Chulu Beach is a beach bum’s dream: white sandy shores, crystal clear waters, and ideally placed palms swaying to the breeze. The sound of the rolling waves breaking a few meters away from the shore and the sense of privacy creates an instant lure to anybody who steps on its shores.
Overlooking the Philippine Sea to the west side of the island, you will know you have come to the right place when you see a Japanese pillbox at the end of the road.
Japanese Pillbox
My guide told me Chulu beach is also known as Star Beach to the locals. Here is a
beach whose history stretches past beyond the footsteps on the sands created by visitors. It carries ghosts of the past and has been a mute witness to the bloody events of the World War 11 more than 60 years ago.
Ah, how tempting to sprawl on the beach and allow yourself to be lulled to sleep by the sound of waves and the gentle slap of the ocean breeze on your skin.
I hated to leave but time was a harsh enemy. I had 12 minutes to grab a quick lunch and catch the 1 p.m. ferry for Saipan.
Come with me next time on yet another trip and let’s scour famous as well as hidden beaches and explore nooks and crannies of this paradise called the CNMI.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A quick shower at the Blow Hole

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 minute longer, you will witness one of the spectacular wonders that nature has bestowed on Tinian.
Photos by Raquel C. Bagnol

I was in the northeast part of the island on the Pacific Ocean side, picking my way among the sharp rocks going down to the famous Blow Hole, a spot which has drawn thousands of visitors from all over the world through all these years.

I stopped a few meters away from the Blow Hole when a real big wave rolled in, unprepared for the sudden spray of water which spewed out like a geyser that gave me an instant shower.
The Blow Hole is just actually a little bigger than a basketball, but my tour guide said the water that squirts from it could go as high as 200 feet when the waves are really huge.
If you visit Tinian, it would be a shame to miss the chance to go as near to the Blow Hole as you can and take a delightful shower. Just be careful or else you might be swept out to the sea when the wave rolls back.
It felt strange yet exhilarating to be alone with the vast stretch of sea, wide expanse of blue skies, rugged limestone and green grasslands all around me, under the sweltering heat of the sun.
The Blow Hole is one of Tinian’s natural tourist spots, and getting there is half the fun. You get to pass by vast stretches of isolated grasslands, with relics and memories of the World War 11 scattered all over the place.

I had wanted to visit the place even before I set foot in the CNMI last February. I grabbed the chance Kiri Jackson, Tinian Dynasty’s casino marketing and promotions manager gave me even though I had but a few minutes left to catch the Ferry back to Saipan. I give much for a quick noonday shower at the Blow Hole!

Click HERE for more photos.
Click HERE for a video

Monday, September 1, 2008

Tinian blow hole

I finally had the chance to visit the famous Blow Hole located at the Northeast part of Tinian, on the Pacific Ocean side last Sunday. This is one place I had always wanted to visit but never got the chance to do so, and i have Kiri Jackson, Tinian Dynasty’s casino marketing and promotions to thank for arranging a quick tour for me.
The noonday heat did not deter me from going down to the limestone cliff that ran the full length of the side of the island (I won’t mention that I was wearing 2-inch heels) just to snap photos and catch an amateur video using my ever-handy Sony point and shoot. From the Blow Hole, you can see Saipan at the back drop. I felt so alone in the vast stretch of sea, limestone and grasslands, a solitary being snapping fotos under the sweltering heat of the sun.
The vertical hole, a little bigger than a basketball is something that mother nature has carved in the rocks, spews out a geyser when waves roll in. I stood at a distance of about 8 meters away and got wet when a particularly huge wave rolled in. If I was only wearing slippers and prepared to get wet, I wouldn’t have missed the chance to really go as near as I can to the hole but alas, I had to think of the ferry trip back to Saipan ( ughhh thinking of it is starting to make me dizzy) and I had to go straight to the office to file my stories. The one hour tour was not enough and I had to really hurry to grab some lunch from One Broadway before boarding the ferry. I had to put something in my stomach just in case the waves decided to get any bigger and I wouldn’t want to vomit my intestines out.
ANyways, luck was with me and the ferry trip back was bearable. More about my solo trip to Tinian later. Enjoy the amateur video!