Home of the annual “Pika Festival”, Tinian, a neighboring island just three miles south of Saipan, is easily accessible through a short hop on a plane.
The crystal water, colorful marine life, and pristine coral reef surrounding the island offer excellent snorkeling, scuba diving, and fishing. Abandoned Shinto shrines, canons in caves, and ruins in the jungle are ready to tell their stories.
Tinian is about 5 nautical miles southwest of Saipan, separated by the Saipan Channel. It has a land area of 39 square miles, with its highest elevation at Mount Lasso (561 ft).
The island has a variety of flora and fauna and limestone cliffs and caves. The Tinian monarch is the island’s only endemic bird species and it is threatened by habitat loss. There is a variety of marine life and coral reefs surrounding the island.
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 Tinian.
House of Taga (As Taga)
A large twelve-stone latte house, As Taga is part of an extensive Latte Period Village site built roughly around 1000 A.D. Legends tell us Chief Taga had superhuman strength and buried the remains of his daughter in the hollowed-out cavity of one of the capstones. The latte shafts of the House of Taga measure four meters in height, making it the largest latte house ever erected in The Marianas. The existing Taga Latte Stone is only one of eighteen that used to stand erect before the arrival of Europeans. Cultural deposits and human burials underlay the site but by World War II, only two shafts and capstones remained standing. Sadly, naval shellfire destroyed one of these last two.
According to legend, this well was dug by Chief Taga and served as a fresh water source for his family. An English naval officer, Commodore George Anson, mentioned this well in a written account of his visit to Tinian in 1742. Anson tells of how one of his men fell into the well during a fight and drowned. The sides of the well are stone lined and, similar to other wells, dug into the coastal lowlands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota to reach a layer of fresh water that floats atop the denser seawater.
Atomic Bomb Pits (North Field)
The atomic bomb pits were constructed at North Field in anticipation of the atomic bomb attacks to be launched against Japan by the 509th Composite Group. In 1945, the uranium bombs nicknamed “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” were loaded onto the Enola Gay and Bockscar, respectively, from Pit One to fly the atomic missions against the cities of Hiroshima on August 6th and Nagasaki on August 9th.
Suicide Cliff (Tinian)
Heavy fighting raged from July 30 to August 1, 1945, and as American forces closed in, dozens of Japanese combatants and civilians jumped from sea cliffs that fringe southern Tinian rather than surrender to American forces. Memorials have been erected to remember those who lost their lives during the war, and this area provides a scenic view of the ocean and serves as a popular cliff fishing spot.
The name means “deep” in Chamorro and the area is also known as Kiluus, or “Cross,” due to the presence of a concrete cross erected in the early 1970s in memory of several Tinian residents who were lost at sea in a boating accident. The waters off Puntan Taddong are often rough and the currents extremely dangerous. Combined with a healthy shark population, spear fishing in this area is extremely dangerous. Tide tables should not be explored by visitors as they are often washed by large waves.
The southernmost point of Tinian is called Puntan Carolinas that affords a panoramic view of the Tinian Channel and Aguiguan Island. Small boat operators use this point as a navigational landmark when approaching Tinian Harbor.
The U.S. military began immediate construction of North Field after the island was captured from the Japanese in July 1944. Built atop Ushi Point Airfield that had been built by the Japanese, North Field can accommodate the B-29 Super fortress, an advanced bomber that combined a large bomb load with an extremely long range.
Four runways each 8,500 feet long made North Field the largest operational airfield in the world at the height of combat operations in the summer of 1945. On August 6, 1945, a B-29 nicknamed Enola Gray, piloted by Colonel Paul Tibbets, flew the first atomic mission to Hiroshima followed by the B-29, named Bockscar, to Nagasaki on August 9th. Today, North Field is used as a military training area.