Northern Mariana Islands

Main attractions

Blue Grotto, Saipan
Blue Grotto, Saipan / tata_aka_T, / CC BY 2.0

Highlights of Northern Mariana Islands are:

  • Unique submarine volcanoes - research of the submarine volcanoes north from Farallon de Pajaros has revealed several phenomena very rare or unique on Earth.
  • Beautiful, rugged nature of the Northern Islands. These small islands are tops of steep, active volcanos and are covered with pristine tropical vegetation.
  • Latte stone settings - unique megalithic structures, found only in Mariana Islands. The largest megaliths are found in Tinian and Rota islands.
  • Petroglyphs. In several caves in Rota, Saipan and Tinian are found interesting, prehistoric drawings.

Natural landmarks

Eifuku Champagne Vent, Northern Marianas
Eifuku Champagne Vent emitting bubbles of liquid carbon dioxide / U.S. Geological Survey / public domain.

Volcanoes

  • Agrihan fumarole field - Agrihan, volcano crater. Approximately 100 x 100 m large fumarole field in the exotic crater of Agrihan.
  • Asuncion Island - Asuncion. Several volcanoes of Mariana Islands look like almost perfect cones but Asuncion could be the most impressive one. Volcano is rising 857 m tall above the sea and is covered with primeval vegetation. Island has fumaroles.
  • Daikoku Sulfur Cauldron - submarine volcano north from Farallon de Pajaros. A unique pool of liquid sulphur, one of the few in the world.
  • East Diamante Volcano Black Forest - submarine volcano between Anatahan and Saipan. A group of more than 50 sulphide mineral chimneys, emitting a metal rich, hot solution. The tallest chimneys are up to 9 m tall.
  • Farallon de Pajaros volcano - Farallon de Pajaros. Most active volcano in Marianas. This remote island has fumarole fields with the temperature of gases up to 130°C.
  • NW Eifuku Champagne Vent - submarine volcano north from Farallon de Pajaros. A submarine vent which emits almost pure liquid carbon dioxide at 1,600 m depth. Such phenomenon is known in three places on Earth and at Eifuku it is most abundant.
Togari Natural Arch, North Marianas
Togari Natural Arch, Pagan / NOAA Photo Library, / CC BY 2.0

Other natural landmarks

  • Blue Grotto of Saipan – Saipan. A collapsed cave, filled with sea water through three openings to the sea. Sunlight colours the water in eerie blue color. Cave is filled with marine life – sharks, barracudas and even turtles and rays.
  • Lyiang Dangkolo - Tinian. The largest cave on island, which can be entered by descending some 10 m through open pits - sinkholes. Floor area - 1,300 m².
  • NW Eifuku Mussel mounds – submarine NW Eifuku volcano north from Farallon de Pajaro. A unique aggregation of Bathymodiolus mussels. These 18 cm long molluscs cover the rocks densely - no ground is seen behind this unique aggregation of mussels.
  • Railhunter Rockshelter – Tinian. A rock shelter – site of an ancient settlement. Sediments in this shelter contain bones of animals which lived in Tinian 400 – 200 BC. Found remnants of 21 species of birds, 9 of these birds now are extinct on Tinian.
  • Serianthes nelsonii grove on Rota – western Rota. A grove of endemic tree (with only one mature specimen outside Rota – on Guam), which reaches the height of 36 m and trunk diameter of 1.83 m. On Rota are growing 60 – 80 trees.
  • Togari Natural Arch - Pagan. Togari Rock is an island with an enormous natural arch.

Man made landmarks

House of Taga, Tinian
House of Taga, Tinian / CT Snow, / CC BY 2.0

Ancient villages and latte stone sites

  • Alamagan latte stones – southern Alamagan. Prehistoric structure which shows that even on this small island volcano lived people. Here the latte stones - flat plates - were hewn out of the hard basalt. On the island were found eight crescent shaped stones with holes - each 16 cm long.
  • House of Taga latte stones – Tinian. Currently the largest latte stones – megalithic construction (house foundation) of two stones, characteristic for Marianas. The only standing latte stone here is 4.6 m tall and was a part of the house of mythological chief Taga. Other latte stones have fallen.
  • Lau Lau Beach latte stones – Tinian. A group of prehistoric megaliths – standing stones.
  • Laulau Kattan latte stones - Saipan. A site with 10 and 6 latte stones.
  • Mochong latte stones - northern Rota. A well preserved prehistoric Chamorro village with an amazing number of latte stone fundaments - 53 in total! This is the richest megalithic site in Mariana Islands.
  • Pagan latte stones - northern Pagan. Latte stones - flat basalt plates made of the hard basalt.
  • Rota Latte Stone Quarry (As Nieves quarry) – southern Rota. The original quarries for the unique megaliths of Marianas – latte stones. Here are found the largest latte stones – up to 7.6 m long.
  • Tachognya - Saipan. Well preserved site of prehistoric village. Contains latte stone setting.
  • Unai Dangkulu village – northeastern Tinian. Remnants of an ancient village with sixteen sets of latte stones and possible site where latte stones were mined.

Petroglyph sites

  • As Teo Cave - northern part of Saipan. A cave with prehistoric rock art.
  • Chugai Cave – southeastern Rota. 52 m long cave with prehistoric drawings drawn with black color. Drawings show sea turtles, fish and numerous symbols.
  • Kalabera Cave – northeastern Saipan. A cave with some 50 prehistoric petroglyphs and white paintings, a possible site of prehistoric burials. Skulls were found here up to the 1920s. Petroglyphs for most part show people.
  • Pictograph Cave - Rota. Some 60 m long cave, in several places decorated with possible prehistoric prehistoric drawings.
  • Unai Dangkulu – northeastern Tinian. A cliff covered with some 50 petroglyphs, carved 6 – 9 m above the sea level. Most show people, but there are also cupules and lines.
Suicide Cliff, Saipan
Suicide Cliff, Saipan / Stefan Krasowski, / CC BY 2.0

Other man made landmarks

  • Banzai Cliff – northern Saipan. Some 30 m tall seaside cliff. Another site of mass suicide of Japanese soldiers and civilians at the end of the Battle of Saipan in 1944.
  • Marianas Trench Cave Museum - Rota. A museum of Mariana culture and nature, partly located in a large cave.
  • Suicide Cliff – northern Saipan. Approximately 250 m high limestone cliff. A site of mass suicide of Japanese soldiers and civilians at the end of the Battle of Saipan in 1944.
  • Treasure of Roberton - Agrihan. Legends tell that in the beginning of the 19th century a pirate named Roberton hid a treasure of gold in this island. Although much sought, it reportedly has not been found.

List of described attractions

Northern Mariana Islands is a commonwealth in a political union with the United States. It consists of four municipalities:

Northern Islands Municipality
ArrowDaikoku Sulfur CauldronVolcanoes, Lakes, Geothermal fields, Ecosystems, Animal colonies
ArrowNW Eifuku Champagne VentGeothermal fields, Fumaroles, Springs
Rota Municipality
Saipan Municipality
Tinian Municipality
ArrowRota Latte Stones QuarryMegaliths

Map of Northern Mariana Islands

Featured: Rota Latte Stones Quarry

Rota Latte Stones Quarry, Northern Marianas
Rota Latte Stones Quarry / CT Snow, / CC BY 2.0

Once upon a time (no one knows when) somebody planned to make the largest megaliths in Mariana Islands. It was planned to erect up to 7.6 m tall stone columns, capped with 1.5 m high capstones.

Unfortunately this project was not a success. The giant stones were left lying in Rota Latte Stones Quarry.

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