Tag Forbidden Island

Decent Into The Cave

PJ and my trip to Forbidden Island took us down into the green hillside into a beautiful sea cave. A short walk up over a small ridge brought us through a low carpet of mangrove-like plants. The trail abruptly ends inviting sandalled hikers to find their own way over ragged and jagged edged boulders up to a wide gap in the cliff.

There you’ll find a triangular opening sitting like an manhole between you and an orange (ancient reef) wall. It’s easy enough to shimmy about ten feet down into the cool still air of the dim chamber. On the far end of the room the stone is salamander smooth and lit by lively slithering reflections off the small pond in the floor.

In a place like this it’s hard to avoid thinking mythically or at least cinematicly. Dreamy shafts of sunlight brighten the underground pool. Hikers move under the mountain from jungle to seaside grotto then back to the heat and bright of day. The moment I was in I had the feeling of familiarity but not quite deja vu. It reminded me of the Mayan Actun Tunichil Muknal caves in Belize. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one and that others have felt the same way about it.

Forbidden Island, Found!

We never actually set foot on the island (it is forbidden after all) but the expedition was a resounding success. The Forbidden Island resembles a handsome hat tilted playfully to one side. It’s flat top is a perfect lawn of green grass where sea birds are safe to lay their eggs in the open, as if for an elementary Easter hunt. Its surrounded by rough black cliffs on all visible sides.

To get there take the fork in the road at Kagman’s natural edge and follow Forbidden Is. Rd. for a mile or so. Keep an eye out for cars parked at the trail head, the small brown sign has been taken by the jungle and easy to miss.

The trail, a slim, clay track, is patrolled by hundreds of red-helmeted millipedes, each tiny armored body carried afloat by hundreds of rolling legs. Pick your way through the vine choked forestland (be thankful Saipan is snakeless) to an outlook with a perfect view of the rocky coast. A ragged strip of beach, scattered with jagged boulders, tips into the deep blue Pacific water. Reefs have shaped the edge-water landscape into raised plates and sandy channels teeming with the UV blue an neon pink bodies of coral biting fish.

PJ and I brought our masks, so as soon as we got to Forbidden Island’s shallow pools we slipped into the easy water for some fish spotting. My favorite was the orange-spine unicornfish. This beautiful seal-gray animal has lightning blue stripes racing down its back and four dreamcicle thorns way back on its tail. From above the spot before it’s tail looks like a clown-fish swimming the other way. Have a look for yourself, they are amazing.