Rota will enchant all visitors with its wealth of natural and cultural beauty.
Nicknamed “The World’s Friendliest Island,” Rota is known for its friendly nature, sweet potatoes, and coconut crabs. If not the local delicacies, Rota’s people will soon charm you with their smiles and warm hospitality. A sense of family will soon overtake you. Dip your toes in the Swimming Hole or book a round of golf. Wedding Cake Mountain and Tweksberry Beach are sights to behold, all accompanied by ceaseless songs of local birds.
Rota (Luta) is the southernmost island of the The Marianas. It lies approximately 40 nautical miles north-northeast of Guam. Sinapalo is the largest and most populated village followed by Songsong village.
Learn about the island’s past! Fill up on history at the many cliffs, caves, peaks, and breathtaking view points that offer you a glimpse into the rich history of Rota.
As Nieves Latte Stone Quarry (Taga Stone Quarry)
The As Nieves Latte Stone Quarry is the most spectacular latte quarry in The Marianas. It consists of nine huge latte shafts and seven capstones in various stages of the quarrying process. It is unknown why this quarry was abandoned; some believe that the bedrock was not hard enough and some of the columns may have cracked. Others believe the quarrying operations were interrupted by Spanish colonization. Some archaeologists suggest that the ancient Chamorro craftsmen used fire to aid in the quarry process. Based on calculations, each latte shaft weighs 26 tons and an individual capstone 18.5 tons.
A large, natural cave adjacent to Songsong Village, it is likely that ancient Chamorros used Tonga Cave for a variety of purposes over thousands of years.
During World War II, the Japanese military used the cave to house a small hospital. Before concrete housing, Rota residents used Tonga Cave as a refuge during typhoons. It is a beautiful natural feature with stalactites and stalagmites in profusion.
Located in a narrow cut in the fringing reef in Sasanhaya Bay, the Japanese originally constructed East Harbor in the early 1930s. Since it sits exposed to southwesterly swells, the harbor has been damaged on many occasions over the years especially by tropical storms and typhoons. It is now used primarily as a small boat launching spot.
Japanese Cannon (140mm Coastal Defense Rifle)
A Japanese 140 mm pedestal mounted naval gun that had a range of about 17,000 meters, the gun was to protect the anchorage in Sasanhaya Bay as part of Japan’s defense of Rota during World War II. A second casemate, without a weapon, is located just to the west of this site.
The gun emplacement was built by the Japanese military in 1941. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
Pona Point Fishing Cliff (Puntan Pona)
Point of land on the eastern tip of Sasanhaya Bay, this is the only area on Rota where volcanic rocks are present. This area is called Talakhaya and due to its underlying volcanic geology, the only area on Rota that possesses freshwater streams. Pona Point is a popular cliff fishing location where the annual Rota Cliff Fishing Derby is held. A lucky angler may hook up a large skipjack or yellowfin tuna while enjoying the panoramic view of the southern coast of the island.
The Chenchun Bird Sanctuary comprises the rugged area between Puntan As Fani and Taksunok on Rota’s southeastern coast. The overlook affords visitors a bird’s eye view of the sanctuary. The pristine limestone forest has never been disturbed and provides important nesting areas for a range of sea birds seen roosting throughout the sanctuary. Archaeological investigations have documented several ancient Chamorro latte villages.
The Chugai Pictograph site is comprised of roughly ninety individual images painted on the walls of a natural cave in the southwestern corner of Rota’s Chugai area. The drawings are in black, dark gray, and light brown pigments in lines and geometric shapes that also include a smaller number of animal-shaped figures, the most obvious of which are sea turtles and a large billfish. Experts suspect these drawings reflect ties with ancient Chamorro ancestor worship. The cave remains one of the most impressive examples of Chamorro rock art in The Marianas.
The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.
Mochong Latte Village
Mochong is the largest latte village in The Marianas. Located on the rocky northern coast of Rota, remnants extend about 1,500 feet along the shore. Rows of stone slabs and another example of fourteen latte stone sets are unusual designs of occupation that started 3,000 years ago. The site has stratified cultural deposits that contain stone, bone, shell, and ceramic tools. Historians believe Mochong was abandoned at the end of the seventeenth century when villagers were forced into two mission villages of Songsong and Agusan.
Dugai Latte Village (Dugi)
The village is of sixteen individual latte structures built within a flat, grassy area atop a plateau. This plateau is roughly 100 meters above sea level and is the highest of three consecutive plateaus that give Rota its distinctive pyramidal profile.
Mt. Tapingot (Wedding Cake Mountain)
Mt. Taipingot is an impressive rock outcropping at the southern end of the Songsong isthmus. Commonly called “Wedding Cake Mountain” for its distinctive terraces, it rises to a height of 143 meters. During seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, fires were burned on top of Taipingot during June to guide Spanish galleons on their way to Manila. Although hiking is permitted, plants or animals should not be disturbed. Fishing in the surrounding waters is strictly prohibited in this conservation zone.
This chapel is the only remaining structure on Rota dating from the German Period. Constructed in 1912, Pa’le Corbinian directed its rectangular shape and momposteria (coral rocks held in place by lime cement) style in honor of Our Lady of Lourdes. The cross is in German style.
Nanyo Kohatsu Kaisha (NKK) Sugar Mill
In early 1930s, the Nanyo Kohatsu Kaisha (NKK) extended the sugar industry to Rota. Cane brought to the Songsong mill via a narrow-gauge railroad system was refined and then shipped to Japan. Bombing raids during World War II heavily damaged the mill. Today only portions of the extensive mill are present.
Real (Old Spanish Government Building)
The Casa Real is the one of two extant Spanish era buildings on Rota. Built at the very end of the Spanish administration (late 1890s) just before the islands were purchased by Germany, the building is built in the momposteria style. This building continued to be used through the early post-war years but most of its walls were knocked over during a typhoon in the 1980s.
Songsong Conbento (Spanish Convent)
Under the direction of the parish priest, the Songsong Conbento was constructed in the early 1890s. It is the sole architectural feature still standing in The Marianas from the Spanish Period. Its original roof was of thatched pandanus but was replaced sometime during the German Period with corrugated iron sheets. The flooring is made of “ifet” wood and several extensions have been added.
In the mid-1930s, the Japanese administration ordered the relocation of Chamorros from their traditional village at Songsong to a new village that was constructed at Tatachog. This was to accommodate the growing Japanese population that desired to reside in Songsong which served as the island’s main settlement and commercial center. The Nanyo Kohatsu Kaisha paid for the construction of a new church and rectory at Tatachog. Rota residents stayed until forced to abandon their homes during World War II when they returned to their lands in Songsong.
The highest point on Rota, Mount Sabana was used in the mid-1600s as a place for fires to be burned in June to serve as a guide for approaching Spanish galleons. These galleons were required to make provisioning stops at either Rota or Guam before proceeding to the Philippines. As the ship approached, hundreds of Chamorro canoes would sail out to meet it. Fresh fruits, fish, and water were traded for bits of iron. In 1973, a peace memorial was erected at Mount Sabana to honor the Chamorros and Japanese who lost their lives on Rota during World War II.