February 16, 2010

The Banzai Trail, Tide Pools, and Pillboxes

President's Day 2010, what to do, what to do?

I suggested a hike to the family.  We haven't been on a hike for over a year and so it was a welcome change and everyone was excited.

We decided on hiking the trail that starts at Banzai Cliff and ends up at a rocky beach behind what was formerly Cowtown, in the Marpi (northern) area of Saipan.  This is an easy hike for young kids as it is relatively flat.  It's about a 30 minute walk one way, but with the kiddos it took us a little over an hour as we took our time stopping to see birds, insects, plants, and trees that piqued our interest.  Going there we ran into a group of Japanese tourists that were riding mountain bikes on the trail.  We said "Ohayo Gozaimasu!" as they passed us on the trail, and they replied back, "Ohayo," or "Good morning," or "Sumimasen/Gomen Nasai," or "Thank you."  They were on the Marianas Trekking tour that is based out of the Mariana Resort & Spa.

When we reached the end of the trail we were met by a beautiful, rocky beach, but the waves were pretty big and rough and the tide was high.  I had gotten the kids excited about swimming at the little beach at the end of the trail, but it wasn't safe, so we just investigated the tide pools that were there.  They had fun in the tide pools as they saw little rock skipping fish, crabs, and shells.  They even caught a couple of the fish in our water containers (we let them go to the kids' disappointment).

The area has some WWII remnants from the Battle of Saipan, with two pillboxes that the Japanese had built in preparation of the American invasion.  I sat in the pillbox that is just over the water and it was a little eerie.  I imagined how it may have been like prior to the invasion.  I could sense the anxiety and claustrophobia in there.

After spending a couple of hours at the beach, we headed back on the trail.  The kids were a little tired, but we were trying to keep them in good spirits.  There's a huge cave just off the trail, and as we stopped to rest, I ventured off the trail to see it.  The cave is dark and ominous.  I could see some old bottles below, probably Japanese.  It looks like this was a cave the Japanese may have hid in during the invasion.  I felt a bit of sadness staring into the cave.  Those were tragic times, especially in the Banzai area where many Japanese killed themselves to avoid capture.  May their spirits be in peace.

Done with looking into the cave, I headed back to my family and we headed out to the trail head.  We finally made it back to where we started, and looking at my watch, it was a total of 4 hours since we started the hike.  It didn't seem that long.

We hopped up onto the back of the truck bed and we munched on some snacks and drank water that we had waiting for us in the truck.  We then got packed up, buckled in, and headed for home.  The kids fell asleep 15 minutes into the drive.  My wife an I were a little tired, but we both agreed that it was an awesome time, and an awesome way to spend the holiday.  We then both said to one another as we reflected on the day, "Yup, I Luv Saipan!"

2010-02-15 Photos from
Banzai trail hike


  1. I used to fish that beach with my relatives.

  2. Same here... it's also a great spot for aliling. We used to gather those here too.


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