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Found east of the Philippines in the western Pacific Ocean, Saipan is the capital and largest island of the Northern Mariana Islands. Over the centuries, the Northern Marianas were subject to Spanish, German, and Japanese colonial rule, until they were established as a commonwealth of the United States in 1978. Today, Saipan reflects a mix of Western, Asian, and Pacific Island influences and is famous as a tropical destination with pristine beaches and spectacular limestone rock formations. From incredible hiking and snorkeling locales to landmarks with fascinating World War II history, this beautiful island is full of opportunities for adventure, relaxation, and discovery.
Saipan is about 12 miles (19 km) long and 5.5 miles (9 km) wide, making it easy to navigate by car. Most of its popular beaches and resorts can be found on its western and southern coasts, while the northern and eastern sides of the island are mountainous and less populated.
The western coast is populated with hotels, bars, and restaurants, primarily in the villages of Garapan and Susupe. Garapan is home to the American Memorial Park, which remembers lives lost during the Marianas Campaign of World War II and offers convenient access to the nearby Mañagaha Island.
Saipan's north end is known for its ruggedly beautiful terrain and important World War II sites. Acquaint yourself with the island's remarkable limestone formations at spots like Bird Island and The Grotto.
Many visitors venture to the eastern side of the island for a hike to Forbidden Island, as well as snorkeling and sunbathing on the white-sand shores of Lau Lau Beach. Golf enthusiasts can practice their swing at two of the island's oceanfront golf courses—Lao Lao Golf Course or Kingfisher Golf Links.
Most people begin their trip to Saipan on the island's southern end, home to the Saipan International Airport. From here, travelers can also depart for Tinian Island, which lies just 5 nautical miles (9 km) to the southwest.
Discover a tropical paradise with a rich history as you explore Saipan's top sights. Marvel at the gorgeous views of Bird Island, a tiny rocky islet and one of the most photogenic spots on the island, and make the spectacular trek along the coast to reach the pristine tidepools of Forbidden Island. Sweeping views also await you atop Mt. Tapochau, the island's highest point. Another of Saipan's natural wonders is the Blue Grotto, a sunken limestone cave with underwater passageways and cobalt-blue seawater. World War II buffs can also retrace the events of the Battle of Saipan on the northern tip of the island. The Last Command Post retains original cannons, tanks, and other weaponry from the Japanese military's final stronghold on the island. Nearby, Banzai Cliff and Suicide Cliff mark the somber spots where thousands of Japanese civilians and soldiers jumped to their deaths to avoid capture by the United States forces.
Seek out adventure on Saipan with a variety of activities on land and sea. Opt for a snorkeling tour paired with a luxurious spa experience, which gives you the opportunity to explore the island's clear, cerulean waters and indulge in relaxation afterward. One of Saipan's most idyllic destinations is Mañagaha Island, a tiny islet just off its west coast that is known for its wide, sandy beaches. Create your perfect day trip to Mañagaha with an excursion featuring your choice of water activities, including parasailing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and even banana boating. If you're eager to uncover more of the Saipan's stunning scenery, hop on a bike or an ATV for an action-packed ride across jungle trails to breathtaking viewpoints.