Saipan is an inexpensive slice of exotica, known for its indigenous charm, affordable accommodations and intensely beautiful beaches. The 14-mile long island is just 5 miles wide, making it easy to explore in a short amount of time, but most visitors want to stay longer because of its laid-back atmosphere and many opportunities for adventure.
Scuba diving and snorkeling are the most popular tourist activities in the capital, and the waters are rich with marine life. A fringe of healthy offshore corals forms an enormous lagoon, and the larger bays are dotted with many smaller shallow lagoons waiting to be explored. The limestone cavern nicknamed the Grotto has been named the world’s second best cavern diving site, and Eagle Ray City is one of the world’s most unique dives. The rocky formation rises out of the ocean floor at a depth of 30 feet and is often surrounded by colonies of eagle rays. The majestic rays swim within inches of divers, offering an incredible photographic opportunity.
There is plenty to do in Saipan even if you prefer to stay on land. Five golf courses challenge even the best players, Segways can be rented to explore the entire island and horseback tours take visitors through much of the stunning landscape.
Trekking is another popular activity, and the Forbidden Island Bird Sanctuary is just an hour’s hike from the city’s edge. The trail begins in the small village of Kagman, goes down a steep hill, then emerges from the dense forest to reveal spectacular views of Forbidden Island. The tide pools near the shore are great for swimming or snorkeling, and a small cave called hidden Forbidden waits to be explored by adventurous travelers. If you are daring enough to traverse the rocky surroundings, you can enjoy the Hidden Forbidden tide pool’s cool and clear waters.
Nearby is Tanke Beach, an ideal spot for beach combing. All kinds of treasures wash up on the shores from around the Pacific Rim, including colorful bits of sea glass. The sands are also often dotted with Tree oysters, whose pearly insides are traditionally made into jewelry on the island.
Garapan is the largest city on the island of Saipan, and it is a shopper’s heaven thanks to an abundance of duty-free shops. Many shops sell locally-made crafts, including one-of-a-kind jewelry, clothing, vases and more.
About five miles off the shores of Saipan is Tinian, the least populated of the Mariana Islands. History buffs will particularly appreciate a visit to the island, which is home to many significant sites from the Second World War. In the North Field, visitors can explore the remains of Japanese fortifications and the United States’ bomber base. There is also a monument to the Enola Gay where the B-29 bomber took off holding the first atomic bomb before releasing it over Hiroshima.
Tinian has a rich history outside of the Second World War as well. The island boasts the only remaining Shinto shrine in the country, a traditional chief’s house and limestone pillars that date back to around 1500 BC. Although believed to have been constructed by the island’s ancient inhabitants, their meaning and origins largely remain a puzzle.
Saipan Geographical Location
Saipan is an island towards the south of the fifteen islands comprising the Northern Mariana Islands. It is the largest island within the chain and has a population of approximately 48,500.
English is the primary official language of the Northern Mariana Islands and is universally spoken however the majority of the population speaks a different language at home. Of these other languages the official are Chamorro, Spanish, and Carolinian.
Saipan Predominant Religion
- 100% Christian
The majority of Christian practitioners follow the Roman Catholic denomination but there are still traditional beliefs found throughout the islands.
The US Dollar is used in the Northern Mariana Islands.
The rainy season in Saipan runs from July to November and sometimes include typhoons. The temperature varies very little throughout the year and is typically hot.
Saipan Main Attractions
- Banzal Cliff
- Suicide Cliff
- The Forbidden Island
Other Attraction in Saipan
- Managaha Island
- The Grotto