Photos by Patrick Horton
AN unplanned drive to the southern part of the island one afternoon led me and photographer buddy Donna to Ladder Beach where we got a pleasant surprise.
We had not visited the place since her wedding in September last year, when we all had to find our way through the tall brambles and bushes that covered the stairs going down to the beach and blanketing the parking area.
This time, we found the parking area and the concrete stairs clean and free of vines and bushes. But there were more surprises.
We saw a brand new pavilion and perched atop the cliff just above the cave at the beach was a brand new white gazebo overlooking the azure blue waters and the island of Tinian — the perfect venue for early morning or sunset weddings, or for any special occasion.
Donna and I did not stay too long that time but I went back a couple of weeks ago with another photographer, Patrick, who happens to be a friend of the gazebo owner, Jack Atalig.
Atalig said after they constructed the gazebo, a couple of weddings were held there, as well as other events such as family get-togethers, birthdays and Christenings. Atalig wants to make the place an ideal destination not only for tourists but locals too.
Under the noonday sun, Pat and I went to see how Ladder Beach looked from the other side. We picked our way through the tree stumps and parted overhanging branches to get to the rocky part that jutted above the water on the left side of the beach. From where we were, Ladder Beach with the gazebo and the pavilion looked ready for visitors.
Ladder Beach has always attracted locals and tourists because of its pristine waters that are perfect for snorkeling. The caves by the beach also provide a perfect shelter, ideal for picnics.
With his new facilities, Atalig hopes to welcome more visitors to Ladder Beach.
If you’re on Rota, you should check out the Sunrise Hotel which is also owned by Atalig and managed by Jackie. It is located at the foot of Mt. Sabana and some distance away from the sea — a feature that makes it unique.
It’s not your usual commercial hotel where you take elevators and run into other guests in the lobby or hallway. It’s a row of rooms that face the gardens and open straight to the parking lot. You go to sleep listening to the chirping of the birds and wake up to the same sound. While there, I had a moment of panic when I heard a flapping sound at the window while I was in the shower. I did not move for a long time but eventually I discovered that it was just a bird outside. It’s an incident that you can experience only at a Rota hotel.
I stumbled upon the Sunrise Hotel on a recent trip to Rota when I emerged from driving through the deep jungles of Sabana Mountain. The hotel is fenced by a row of gracefully swaying palm trees and a low stone wall that resembles a fortress of some kind, one that makes you want to go in and explore. Behind the hotel are Japanese guns and other World War II relics worth exploring.
Among the other bonuses you get at Sunrise Hotel — in addition to meeting and chatting with host Jackie — is the hot water which is perfect after a day of exploring the island. You can also flop into bed to watch TV or a movie on your laptop, or just drift off to dreamland in the cold blast of the A/C unit. All this at very affordable rates that you can find only on Rota.
First published at the Marianas Variety