The Northern Mariana Islands, more simply known as The Marianas, are an easy warm-weather escape in the western Pacific Ocean. Once you’re on the islands of this U.S. commonwealth, the only difficult decision you’ll have to make is whether to sunbathe on a beautiful beach, try your luck at a casino, play golf with dazzling views of the Philippine Sea or go scuba diving in a World War II shipwreck. Though the Northern Marianas consists of 14 islands in total, the most popular are Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.
The tiny island of Tinian is a place where visitors will find pristine and secluded beaches, World War II landmarks and world-class scuba diving. Another remote island known as “Nature’s Treasure Island” in the Marianas is Rota. This U.S. territory is know for its laid-back island culture, balmy weather, sensational sights, and superb scuba diving and water sports.
Visitors can take their pick of dozens of places to swim, sun and snorkel like Obyan and Pau Pau Beach of Saipan. Divers can see stingrays, clown fish, eels, nudibranchs, surgeonfish, parrot fish and white-tip sharks.
Saipan is brimming with historical sites. Evidence of ancient Chamorro and Carolinian civilizations can be seen in archeological remains such as the pictographs in Kalabera Cave and the remnants of villages at Agingan Beach and other locations. Agingan is also the site of the wreck of a 17th century Spanish galleon. World War II history is everywhere, including at Micro Beach, where there are numerous bunkers and memorials.
The Islands’ storied past – and especially its indigenous Chamorro and Carolinian cultures – is very much alive everywhere you look. Archeological sites, prehistoric stone structures and small villages engage you with people, past and present. Spring and summer’s San Vicente Fiesta and San Antonio Festival introduce you to Chamorro and Carolinian food, dance and music.
Most eateries are casual snack bars or cafés that either serve basic American fare or fresh local delicacies like ayuyu (coconut crab) and kadun pika (hot spicy beef).