Saipan Smiling Cove Marina

One more reason to love this island…


The glory that was the Palms beachfront

  RECENTLY, I had the chance to spend a blissful hour taking photos of the sunset at the once-bustling beachside of the now closed Palms Resort in San Roque.
I and my photographer buddy Donna walked on the sand from Paupau Beach as we made our way to the lonely beachfront one late afternoon.Except for a couple of men in beach chairs casting their fishing lines in the water, the hotel beach was deserted.

I had a great time capturing the silhouettes of the row of coconut trees aIMG_7785gainst a splendid sunset, I was lost in what I was doing and forgot I had a companion.

When I looked behind me I realized that the once magnificent, well-lit, lively hotel was now a sad, lonely abandoned building. Thick grass had grown on the beachfront, somehow fencing the structure in and creating an image so forlorn that it would have moved to tears those who had seen the hotel, which once hosted Japan’s imperial couple, in its heyday.

In the gathering dusk, the hotel looked like a scene from a horror movie. It stood there, dark and menacing and my imagination started to play tricks on me. I trained my zoom lens on the rooms and almost expected a face to peer from one of the windows. I was getting scared and actually jumped when my companion tapped me on the shoulder.

We made our way slowly to one of my favorite wedding venues on island, St. Angelo Chapel, which was a few yards away.IMG_7806

Despite the fact the Palms Resort closed down three years ago, the chapel is still used for weddings. The lawn was still manicured, and the chapel did not show any signs of the desolation and abandonment that Palms Resort now exuded. The chapel was a separate world by itself.

We went around it, careful not to touch anything while taking photos. A few minutes later, I was startled again and this time by the silhouette of a man approaching us from across the bridge. He asked what we were doing. We learned that the men fishing on the shore were security guards who alerted another guard about our presence.


We explained that we were just taking photos and were leaving, which we were only too glad to do. We made our way back to our car at Paopao Beach and left for home.

I was hesitant to download my photos from my memory cards, sad to see such a big hotel transformed into yet another abandoned structure.DSC_7812

But I saw no faces peeking out of the hotel windows in any of my photos. If you get the chance, visit the Palms Resort beachfront at twilight, you will see what I mean.DSC_7900

First published at the Marianas Variety here:

Sun and Surf on Saipan

WHEN the weather is bleak, or when strong winds start to blow and the sea water begins to roll in giant waves toward the shores, it is time to take out your surf board and head toward one of the most popular destinations for surf boarding on Saipan — the beach behind the Aquarius Beach Tower in Chalan Kanoa.

Photo by Raquel C. BagnolSaipan is home to numerous pristine beaches with long stretches of fine, sandy shores but this is one of the most favorite hangouts of many during weekends and even during weekdays.

The humid weather drove a lot of residents to the seaside last Saturday so that finding a shaded parking place near the beach was a challenge. It was refreshing to see the usually deserted beach dotted with beachgoers for a change but what attracted the attention of many were the surfers who were having a grand time riding on the high waves and children shouting in glee.

Saipan may not exactly be a surfer’s dream destination but the rolling and crashing waves were enough to bring joy to the swimmers and surfers, and entertain the onlookers who preferred to stay in the shade.

A word of warning to surfers and swimmers — be careful when you swim or surf beyond the reef because the waves could get so rough and the current too strong for you to swim your way back to the shore.

Last weekend, the arrival of police and boating safety officers to rescue a swimmer who was stranded beyond the reef scared the kids and adults who were surfing, but with extra precaution, anyone can beat the summer heat and enjoy riding the high waves free. This is what island life is all about.

Sun and Surf on Saipan | around-the-island.