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Saipan is the largest of the Northern Mariana Islands.
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Points of Interest in Saipan
Saipan, Guam, and many other islands of the Marianas were all important battle sites during WWII, and many Japanese bunkers and armaments still exist on these islands. These sites are managed by the National Park Service under the "War in the Pacific" Parks designation. Saipan is fairly small and by renting a car or moped, it is easy to drive around the island and take in the natural splendor, as well as visit a number of parks. Scuba diving is also popular, and the underwater world should definitely be seen.
- Banzai Cliff and Suicide Cliff, on the northern tip of the island, were sites where thousands of Japanese civilians, trying to escape the fighting and convinced by the Japanese Army that they would be killed by the Americans, jumped to their deaths in the Battle of Saipan in 1944. The former is by the sea while the latter is on the rock outcropping overlooking it. Numerous Japanese memorials mark the sites.
Popular events in Saipan in the near future
Saipan is 23 km (14 mi) long and 8 km (5 mi) wide. The best beaches and most populated areas are on the western and southern coasts, with the north and east being rugged and mountainous.
Because only one branch of the US Military - the Coast Guard - has even a small permanent presence on Saipan, many Chamorros on Saipan consider their culture more intact than on Guam. Therefore, comparisons between the two islands should take this into account. Furthermore, Chamorros on Saipan and throughout the CNMI still primarily speak Chamorro at home, while the same isn't true of Guam. While the differences between a commonwealth (as in the CNMI) and a territory (as in Guam) may not appear to be great (especially to a mainland US citizen), Saipan should not be referred to as a territory when speaking to a local. Finally, while the population of the CNMI, as on Guam, are US citizens and proud to be recognized as such, their independent identity is equally important.
Scuba diving and snorkeling on Saipan are deservedly the most popular activities here among western tourists, though gambling and karaoke/hostess bars are most popular among Korean businessmen, as well as some Japanese travelers. Garapan is coastally located, so other watersports abound as well. For scuba divers, the term "Fun Dive" is used for those who have already been certified and just want to recreational dive, while "Taiken dive" is used to designate first-time divers that take classes on Saipan. The same is true for the rest of the CNMI and somewhat so for Guam. While boat dives are available, you can still drive to some awesome dive sights, like Grotto. A cavern dive to open ocean is great. If you go outside, you will need a guide as it is very easy to get turned around outside and lose track of the tunnel back in.
- Aquasmith, - American/Chamorro/Japanese dive Instructors Dive shop located in Garapan, across from DFS.Tel:233-5055, . (Scuba diving/Skin diving/Spearfishing)
- Saipan Scuba. American dive guide/Instructor/Underwater Photographer & Videographer (670) 233-1979 or 670-483-6764
- Tripper's Tours. Canadian dive Guide/Instructor/Underwater Photographer & Videographer with 15 years experience including 7 on Saipan (670) 285-MIKE (6453)
- Dive Saipan - Korean dive shop
- Speedy Tertle- Russian dive shop
- G.O.D.I.- Dive Shop. Russian, Japanese and English speaking. 1-(670)-287-0705
For more detailed descriptions of individual dive sites in Saipan, see the Dive sites of Saipan article.
You may also want to check out one or more of the 5 golf courses. Two were designed by Greg Norman, one by Larry Nelson and another by Graham Marsh. The other course is considered a "local" course. There is also a 9 hole course that is great for beginners.
Recently, Segway of Marianas has started renting out Segway Personal Transporters for use in exploring downtown Garapan at reasonable rates.
The Saipan Hash House Harriers meet every Saturday at 3:30PM at the Bank of Guam parking lot in Garapan to run, hike, jog, climb and otherwise trek through jungle, swamps, mountains, and other terrain. It's usually a great way to meet people and see a side of island life you might not catch otherwise.
Trekking and other land-based activities are available on the island. The Forbidden Island, originally occupied by evil spirits and now a bird sanctuary, can be reached by an hour's hike from the edge of the town of Kagman on the east coast. Take a snorkel kit to enjoy the diving area between the island and shore.
Most trekking activities will require a guide.
- Marianas Trekking, Mariana Resort and Spa, ☎ 322-0770. Mountain Bike Tours, ATV Tours, and Kayak Tours and all of it is done completely first rate. The guides are super friendly, the equipment is good, and the fun factor and local knowledge is definitely better than anything you could do on your own.
- Destination Saipan Marketing, Inc., PO Box 503991 Saipan MP 96950, ☎ 670-287-8100. 9am to 9pm ChsT. Destination Saipan Marketing, Inc. is the newest one-stop vacation/relocation package provider on Saipan. Whether you're visiting as a tourist or relocating to the island, you can find and prepay for low cost accommodations, car rentals, and activities (scuba, jetski,cruises,etc.). Their specialty is budget accommodations including home rentals.
Many nice bakeries exist in and around Garapan and local breakfast places are within walking distance of the main hotel area. Seafood is understandably very fresh.
Hard Rock Cafe, Tony Roma's, McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Subway. Vegetarian options are possible to find as well. For self-catering options, try one of the Joeten supermarkets for fruits and vegetables, some locally grown.
- Canton Restaurant: phone="234-7236" Fantastic Chinese food and excellent service. Delicious roast duck and excellent steamed parrotfish. Oldest Chinese restaurant on the island.
- Coffee Care, Capitol Hill. Has excellent coffee and some very good homemade pasta dishes, sandwiches, soup, and desserts.
- Ebisuya, Susupe. Fresh bread, sandwiches, sushi, and homemade soup.
- Esko's: One of the few local places catering locally made treats dating back to the Spanish era. Excellent place to experience the real taste of the Marianas.
- Himawari,Garapan. sushi, Bread, pastries, and hand made fresh noodle.
- Wild Bill's Bar & Grill. Beach Rd, Garapan. Great omelets, hash browns, and pancakes.
- Winchell's. For donuts and coffee.
- Bobby Cadillac's. A casual deli and pizza spot with a bar. Hot pastrami on rye with melted swiss cheese!
- Hong Wan (On Beach Road, central Garapan), ☎ 233-7259. Sichuan, Shandong, and Pekingese cuisine. mid-range.
- Ubu (On Micro Beach Road, central Garapan), ☎ 233-8701. 11:30-14:30, 18:30-23:00. Japanese cuisine. It's a branch of a restaurant in Tokyo, so it's fairly authentic. mid-range.
"Herman's Modern Bakery and Tan Marikita's Cafe" the first bakery and cafe in Saipan, making traditional and American breads.
Karaoke/Hostess Bars abound in Garapan all of which allow ample drinking opportunities if one is so inclined.
Coffee Care Saipan, is located part way up Capitol Hill road, is a great place to eat or enjoy some fine coffee. Need a ride? Call 323-5282. Or, send e-mail to:email@example.com
Thai House, next to the Cabrera Center in Garapan. Call them at 235-8424 for a ride.
The Hyatt has the best Sunday Brunch in the Asia/Pacific region, according to some travelers. Don't miss it.
The Spicy Thai Noodle Place (Tel : 235-8603) in San Antonio next to the Thailand Food Store has excellent Thai food.
Oleai Beach Club is a great 'sunset' bar and lunch spot on the beach in San Jose Village. It's popular with the locals because of their lunchtime $1 Taco Special.
Giovanni's at the Hyatt Hotel in Garapan offers the best Sunday Brunch in the Pacific for $34.00. Reservations are a must. The Hyatt also has a daily buffet lunch for $20.
Java Joe's A very simple, yet outstanding little coffie shop. With a big selection on coffie, lattes, and smoothies. Located across from the Joten/Pharmacy building in DAN DAN
Saipan finally has a multiplex theatre run by Wallace Theaters. Now with first run movies with Dolby Digital sound.
If you like to run, drink beer or both, there is an active chapter of the Hash House Harriers (a drinking club with a running problem) on Saipan. The Saipan Hash House Harriers meet every Saturday at the Bank of Guam building in Garapan at 3:30 PM in 'Winter', and 4:00 PM in 'Summer'. Join the Hash if you'd like to meet some folks from Saipan, see some of the lesser known areas of the island, and enjoy a bit of outrageous partying. The cost is US$10.00 per person for the run, all the beer, soda and junk food you can consume, and all the fun you can handle. The Hash also has a home page.
For those with a different idea of 'fun', there are plenty of night clubs, strip joints, karaoke bars and massage parlours.
Duty Free Galleria, in the center of Garapan, has the top name brands and fashions available for high prices (but supposedly lower rates than in Tokyo). Locally made crafts are available in some stores on the islands, but check first to make sure the items were not manufactured in the Philippines, Thailand, or Indonesia.
The largest locally owned souvenir store is La Moda Isla . It's located on the north side of DFS Galleria. It's got a full selection of island oriented merchandise both made locally and throughout Asia. They've got a snack bar with free wifi.
There is a tiny branch of Bestseller Books, packed full of the latest titles as well as magazines and travel guides, in the Joeten Susupe shopping center. Music And, further south on Beach Road, carries discs by local musicians.
One of the classic adventures on island is a bike tour done by Marianas Trekking up on the North Coast. The guides take you up by van to the top of Suicide Cliff and then you can ride down, with stops at all of the historical sites, and a snorkeling stop at the Blue Grotto. The tour breaks for lunch at Mariana Beach and ends at the Mandi Asian Spa. It is a treat.
- Fu Dogs & Qi. Tourists and residents alike may enjoy a browse through the uniquely named Fu Dogs & Qi (pronounced chi), Saipan's only Asian antiques store. One-of-a-kind Jewelry, art, vases, bowls, fu dogs, censers, porcelain, kimonos and more await you.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Saipan on Wikivoyage.