Saipan’s west coast is characterised by idyllic white-sand beaches and protected lagoons backed by a selection of resorts. The island’s most popular beach resort is lively Garapan, a tourist hub of hotels, restaurants, bars and entertainment venues. For a more authentic experience, head to the wilder north and east coasts, where cliffs rise from the crashing waves of the vast Pacific and there’s nothing but ocean between the shore and Central America. Saipan’s interior is largely covered in jungle landscapes, with clearings where you’ll find small towns and villages.
You could easily while away a stay here relaxing on the beach and swimming in the clear waters of the Philippine Sea; but it’s also well worth exploring the island’s natural beauty and learning about the culture of the indigenous Chamorro people, whose ancestors arrived here over 4,000 years ago.
Many of Saipan’s historic sights are connected with World War II. During the bloody Battle of Saipan, the Americans wrestled control of the island from the Japanese, and a tour from Garapan takes you along the coastal road northwards to the Last Japanese Command Post and the USA Veterans Cemetery. Nearby are Suicide Cliff and Banzai Cliff, two very sombre spots of remembrance.
Continue east and you’ll reach The Grotto, a collapsed limestone cave that’s filled with crystal-clear blue seawater lit by underwater passageways. When conditions are calm enough, divers descend down to explore this unique spot’s underwater world; while non-aquatic types can get a glimpse inside the cave from a viewpoint. Nearby is beautiful Bird Island, which you can view from an overlook to the south of the small cove in which the island sits. To reach the beach itself, follow the steep trail that leads from the north of the cove through the jungle and down to the shore.
Further along the east coast, a couple of relatively short yet challenging hikes take you to two of the island’s most beautiful geological sights – The Old Man by the Sea and Forbidden Island. The former is a distinctive rock resembling the profile of an old man, located by a small sandy beach and other rocks that have been shaped by the untamed Pacific Ocean. A trip to Forbidden Island at the south-east corner of the island is a must for any coastal adventurers. The trail down to the water’s edge is steep and at times you need to scramble down slippery parts of the path, but the views en route and on arrival are definitely worth the effort. There’s also a small cave here called Hidden Forbidden, which you can explore if the tide is low and conditions are calm.
Beach bums, history buffs and nature lovers are all well catered for on Saipan and it’s not a bad destination for golfers, either. There are six golf courses, all with spectacular ocean views. An especially beautiful course, the cliff-side Lao Lao Bay, perches on the island’s east coast against the dramatic backdrop of Mount Tapochau, the highest point on Saipan. Hole Six is the highlight of the course, as the green is perched at the edge of the cliff and you have to tee-off over the ocean.
Most of Saipan’s accommodation comes in the form of beach resorts scattered along the west coast. There’s a high concentration of hotels in and around Garapan, but the further north you travel, the more spread out they become.
The island’s sole airport is Saipan International Airport, approximately 50 minutes from Guam. Simply contact one of our team and we’ll arrange everything you need to charter a private jet to Saipan.