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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 Sulphur Cauldron - submarine volcano north from Farallon de Pajaros. A unique pool of liquid sulphur, possibly the only one in 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
ArrowNW Eifuku Champagne VentGeothermal fields, Fumaroles, Springs
Rota Municipality
Saipan Municipality
Tinian Municipality
ArrowRota Latte Stones QuarryMegaliths

Map of Northern Mariana Islands

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