I wasn’t prepared to like Saipan so much. Coming from the neighboring island of Guam, which is larger and more developed, perhaps I had a prejudice. Saipan surprised me with its raw beauty, refreshing trade winds, and precipitous cliffs. Read more about The Most Beautiful Island in America You’ve Never Heard Of.
These breathtaking cliffs mark the tragic suicides of Japanese citizens and soldiers. This popular tourist site is one of Saipan’s most dramatic lookouts. Sea turtles float in the heaving turquoise waters below.
GIOVANNI’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT
Saipan is admittedly casual, but Giovanni’s is an upscale option for Italian-food lovers. It was perfect for our date night dinner — strolling the Hyatt Regency Saipan at dusk was equally romantic — and the food was excellent. We ordered salad, cioppino, and pumpkin ravioli and I highly recommend all three.
This popular swim hole is also a diver favorite, but rough currents make it dangerous at times. The Grotto was closed to swimmers when we visited, but the lookout above provides sweeping views of the island’s profile.
Bird Island is my second favorite natural site on Saipan. The inaccessible island isn’t one you visit, rather one you admire from above.
LAST JAPANESE COMMAND POST
Just across the road from Banzai Cliff was the strategic last command post of the Japanese during WWII. This cliffside cave served as a bunker. You can walk through the cave as well as see war-beaten Japanese canons and tanks around the property.
SPICY THAI NOODLE PLACE
Located in the tourist hub of Garapan, this unassuming restaurant is a colorful concrete house. The lunch buffet made me cry — happy tears from, you guessed it, the very spicy noodles. There were plenty of non-meat options, which is always desirable for a pescetarian like me. Highly recommended!
This bar and grill is slick, but welcoming and serves up inventive seafood with sea views. The garlic octopus was savory and had the perfect char and the crabmeat stuff ahi had a crunchy panko-seaweed wrap.
This tiny, uninhabited island is perfect for a day trip filled with water activities. Pretend you’re a castaway or simply snorkel the island’s vibrant waters.
GARAPAN STREET MARKET
The Garapan Street Market is held every Thursday night in front of the Fiesta Resort from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Most of the local restaurants have booths where you can choose five selections for $5. Live traditional music and/or dancers begin at 6:00 p.m. Admission is free.
Located just off the east coast of Saipan, Forbidden Island rewards its visitors with breathtaking views, a pristine marine environment, hidden pools, and a cave. The hike takes about an hour.
Another sunny bit of WWII history, Suicide Cliff is where an unnumbered many of Japanese soldiers and civilians jumped to their deaths to escape capture by the Americans. There isn’t much to see on the cliff itself, but the location affords sweeping views of the coast and jungle.