This morning we stood at the highest point on the island of Saipan, the top of Mount Tapochau (pronounced top-a-chow). Rising 1554 feet (474 m) above the coastline just a few miles away, the lookout point at the top offers stunning views of the entire island and the azure ocean beyond. This amazing vantage point made it a strategic location during World War II. Several informative plaques at the summit describe the views below and explain what occurred in June of 1944 when the Americans captured the island from the Japanese.
Unlike our climb up Mt. Fuji almost exactly 3 years ago, we were able to drive most of the way up Tapochau. Sixty-five cement stairs took us from the small parking area to the top. I’m glad we waited until we’d been here awhile and had explored the island quite extensively before venturing up Mount Tapochau as we were able to identify many of the sights spread out below us.
The western side of the island is lined with sandy beaches and an offshore coral reef which creates a large lagoon. Beyond the lagoon, you can see US Navy ships on stand by. A concrete statue of Jesus overlooks the western shore.
There are a number of beautiful homes along the dirt road that climbs Tapochau. The road is in very rough shape but I’m sure that the spectacular views make up for the difficult access. One would hardly know it but approximately 55 loads of coral were hauled up the mountainside this spring to fill potholes and prepare the road for the annual Good Friday procession to the peak. Deep gouges are the obvious results of recent heavy rainfalls but I reminded myself that at least they never have to deal with snow! Once again, though, we were happy to have the use of a 4-wheel drive vehicle!