Thursday, November 29, 2007

A walk along the Beaches of Tinian

Today was a beautiful sunny day, so I thought it was time to take a walk together down the south beaches of Tinian. This is the same walk my wife and I have taken many times in the past. We take a small circle: walking to the beach, down the beach towards the Dynasty Casino, then complete the circle by walking up Broadway and back home.

Each morning I walk my wife Terri to work. She spends long hours at the clinic, making sure the people on the island get the best medical care possible. This means that every moment I can spend with Terri is important--so I walk with her to work, and then give her a long kiss before leaving for my daily walk (yes, it is usually a PDA). So, after taking leave of my wife, I headed down to the beach.

The first thing one comes to by following the main road in town towards the beach is a beautiful park called the House of Taga. This is where remnants of ancient 'latte stones' are still located. Latte stones are large peices of stone that have been carved and placed in a ceremonial fashion. The stones are so ancient that little is known about them or how or why they were used.

Next to the park is the dock area where the ships come in. There are a couple of businesses located right at the dock.

Turning south-east towards the first large beach on Tinian, one will pass another park known as Taga Well. This is the location of an ancient water well used by the Chamorro people. This park has lots of covered areas, a central gazebo, and a small building where cock-fighting is held on Sundays (you will notice that the cage where the roosters fight is closed-in by wire mesh, and surrounded by seating. Terri and I have yet to see one of these events ourselves. I have been told that a number of 'haole' organizations, such as PETA, are trying to end this cultural tradition.

After passing this park we encounter the first of three major beaches that could be one large beach had there not been a few rocky areas that separate them. This first beach is called Kammer Beach. It begins right at the dock and runs about a block. There is a small ampitheater here, as well as several covered picknick and barbeque areas. In fact, from this point all the way down the length of these beaches they have built many covered picknick areas and barbeque pits. They have also built a nice concrete walkway that runs the length of the beaches. It is grass covered, lots of palm trees, etc.

I have discovered that the local islanders have discovered every possible beach area around the island. Some of these beaches are only 10' wide, but they are all used. If one is walking along the coast and suddenly see a dirt road or path heading towards the shoreline, you can bet there will be a small beach there! This is true along this strech of beach also. Even though there are long streches of shore that are rocky, every so often a small beach will appear. Some of these have had concrete steps built in order for people to be able to easily access them.

Along the rocky area that separates Kammer Beach with Taga Beach is a shipwreck. Large peices of a WWII ship rest apon the rocks in this area, a reminder of the war, and of the dangerous waters that surround these islands.

The next major beach we come to is Taga Beach. This is a small beach surrounded by tall cliffs. Concrete walkways and steps have been built, along with a steel railing, to provide access to this beach, and provide a great overlook. The water off the end of these cliffs is deep enough that children often come here to jump into the ocean! Most afternoons young men and women can be found here having fun and 'jumping to their deaths' as they plunge into the clear waters. There is also a large stone in the water, just above water level, that the boys can play 'king of the hill' and see who can use their strength to toss everyone else off the stone and into the surrounding water. During high tides this area can be quite dangerous, as the normally small waves come crashing into the cliffs with great force.

This beach is right in front of the Dynasty Casino, and it is here that the beach walkway and Broadway meet. There are two scooter rentals located here. Smaller yellow scooters, and larger red scooters that can hold two people. The rental costs are about $25 for four hours and $40 for 8 hours, or $100 for 24 hours. They are kept in good running condition and the rental includes helmets (helmets are required on the island and very strictly enforced).

Next to Taga Beach are two graves placed right on the cliff edge. I don't know who they are, or why they are buried in this location.

Once again we run into a rocky area that separates Taga Beach from the largest and most popular beach Tachogna Beach. This beach starts in an area covered by large beautiful trees. From this point and for several blocks along the coast towards the south point of the island is one long beach. There are a couple of businesses located here on the beach: Big Boys Marine provides snorkling, scuba diving, jet skiing, and other water sport activities to tourists. There are also beach chairs and umbrellas for rent. The sand in this area is perhaps the best on the island, and goes out into the ocean for quite a ways also (many of the beaches have sand that ends quite quickly once you get into the water--it turns to rock or coral).

The further down the beach you walk the more secluded the beach becomes. The jungle closes-in and access to the beach becomes more difficult--although, as mentioned, there will always be a road or path of some kind to get to the beach areas.

As the beach and the main road on the island--Broadway--have met at this point, we simply turn north and begin walking up Broadway towards home. We pass the Dynasty Casino and several businesses along the way. For example, there is the Island restaurant, which serves just about any kind of food you want. It has a beautiful outdoor eating area, all lit up with colorful lights at night. The prices are very reasonable. Then a few small stores and strip-malls. We also pass the Broadway Estates, the one subdivision on the island.

It is about a three mile walk, most of it quite level--no hills--and is just the thing for walking at night, as there are sidewalks the whole way and beautiful ocean views that seem to change every day.


Howard said...

The ship wreck between Kammer and Taga Beach is not from World War II. It is a tuna boat that got washed up on the reef during a typhoon in either the late 1970's or early 1980's.

As for the latte stones (House of Taga), these were support stones for ancient Chamorro houses. They are between 1300 to 400 years old. I can show you a lot more latte sites on Tinian. There is a very nice one at the south end of Tachonga beach. I will be going there on Saturday. If you are interested in seeing it, meet me at the pala pala at Tachonga this Saturday at 1 PM. I will be taking a lot of tour agents to this site and you are welcome to come along.

Terri said...

Thanks for keeping us honest. We attended a birthday party at Monster Pizza last night and they were telling us it was a tuna boat as well. How UNROMANTIC!