Northern Mariana Islands — Things to Do
The 14 Northern Mariana Islands may be known as “America’s best kept secret,” but more and more people have nonetheless discovered the relaxed pace of life and countless outdoor activities found here. As most of the islands’ tourists currently arrive on South Korean or Japanese package holidays, guided tour information in English can be hard to come by. Although many Asian tourists come to partake in the islands’ gambling and prostitution industries, there are also many far less illicit pastimes to enjoy here.
From mountain biking on land to paragliding through the air to snorkeling or scuba diving beneath the Pacific Ocean, there is no shortage of adventurous activities to be found on the Northern Mariana Islands. Tropical trade winds provide ideal windsurfing conditions, while inflatable banana boat tours are the most unique way to explore the islands by sea. Saipan contains both 90 percent of the islands’ population and the vast majority of tour operators, followed by the only two other permanently inhabited islands, Rota and Tinian.
Despite its gruesome-sounding name, Axe Murderer Dive Tours is among the safest and most reputable scuba diving tour organizers on the Northern Mariana Islands. Saipan’s Grotto is ranked among the world’s most spectacular underwater caverns, where clown triggerfish and sea turtles swim around three different exit holes. The shallow Ice Cream site is named after its resemblance to an ice cream scoop, while the Chinsen boasts the most fascinating history of any of the islands’ numerous WWII-era shipwrecks.
Several Northern Mariana Islands scuba diving operators, like Dive Rota, also offer snorkeling tours. The islands’ best and safest snorkeling excursions are found along Saipan’s west coast and the uninhabited Managaha Island. Scuba divers and snorkelers can see colorful marine life from as far away as 150 feet beneath Naftan Point’s Obyan Beach, which has become a popular underwater photography site. Lau Lau Beach, among the biggest of the Northern Mariana Islands coral reefs, may be the safest place for beginning divers and snorkelers to explore.
Bsea Sunsports offers unforgettable parasailing excursions 100 feet above Saipan’s lagoon, while Mas Marine supplies an equally breathtaking aerial journey across Managaha Island. Swimming dolphins, flying seabirds, and underwater WWII shipwrecks are the most spectacular sights to see from these securely strapped parachutes towed by boats.
Windsurfing Saipan is the leading Northern Mariana Islands windsurfing tour operator. Saipan’s frequent tropical trade winds and sheltered lagoon provide the perfect conditions for this thrilling water sport. All windsurfers are welcome here, from absolute beginners to the Marians Windsurfing Cup competitors who return to the island year after year.
Cliff fishing from the precipices of Rota, Tinian, and Saipan is the most popular way to catch a bite on the Northern Mariana Islands. Banzai Cliff on Saipan’s northern coast ranks among the best known cliff fishing spots. However, anglers can also participate in bottom fishing and trolling excursions from Sea Star or deep sea fishing aboard Connie B. Charters.
Amigo Aquatic Sports is among the many Northern Mariana Islands water sports organizers offering unique inflatable banana boating journeys across the pristine waters of Saipan’s lagoon and Managaha Island waters. The ride can be bumpy, but it is perfectly safe and truly unforgettable.
Marianas Trekking, despite its name, also offers mountain biking excursions on its list of 18 different eco-tourism journeys throughout the Northern Mariana Islands. Thick jungles and towering mountain peaks are among the cycling challenges offered along the numerous trails across the islands.
Golfing is another popular Northern Mariana Islands’ dry land activity. Legendary golfer Greg Norman designed both of the 18-hole ocean-side golf courses at the Laolao Bay Golf Resort. The western course boasts spacious fairways and blind holes, while the eastern course’s fairways are narrower with four cliff line holes in a row. Larry Nelson designed the Coral Ocean Point Resort on Agingan Beach.