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Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands
Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands by Vincent Camacho on Unsplash.

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Northern Mariana Travel Notes

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Northern Mariana Islands Travel and Tourism on Travel Notes


Experience the perfect blend of rich cultural heritage and breathtaking natural landscapes. Plan your Northern Mariana adventure with our top travel insights.

About The Mariana Islands

A Commonwealth of The United States, the Northern Mariana Islands, located in the western Pacific (east of the Philippines and south of Japan) are considered to be a part of Micronesia.

The Northern Mariana Islands offer a variety of attractions for tourists.

The unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and historical significance makes it an intriguing destination for those seeking a tropical getaway with a touch of American history and Pacific island culture.

Visitors to the islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota can enjoy sunbathing on the beaches, gambling at casinos, golfing with stunning views of the Philippine Sea, and diving to explore a World War II shipwreck.

Travel Map Mapping Mariana Islands

Map of Mariana Islands

Map of Northern Mariana Islands

The Northern Mariana Islands, with their mix of cultural influences and natural beauty, offer a unique and fascinating destination in the Pacific Ocean.

The main Mariana Islands are Saipan, Tinian and Rota.

Mariana Islands Overview

Ferdinand Magellan first sighted the Mariana islands in March 1521; and claimed 'Las Isles de las Velas Latinas' for Spain.

In 1668, the islands were called by their present name, in honour of Philip IV of Spain's widow, Mariana of Austria.

Germany bought the islands from Spain in 1899, but were forced out by the Japanese during the First World War.

Enter The Americans

Guam had already been ceded to the Americans, after the Spanish-American War.

American forces entered the Mariana Islands on June 15th, 1944, and were met with fierce resistance by the Japanese.

In the following month the Americans managed to gain control of the islands; building bases and airfields as Pacific launching pads.

Key Facts About The Northern Mariana Islands

The Northern Mariana Islands, often abbreviated as the CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), is a group of 15 islands in the western Pacific Ocean.

They are located in the Micronesia region and are a self-governing territory of the United States.


Like many island nations and territories, the Northern Mariana Islands face challenges related to 'climate change', including rising sea levels and more frequent tropical storms.

Additionally, economic diversification and sustainability efforts are ongoing to reduce the territory's dependence on a single industry.


The Northern Mariana Islands have a rich cultural heritage influenced by their indigenous Chamorro and Carolinian populations, as well as by the various colonial powers that have occupied the islands.

Traditional practices, dance, and music are important aspects of local culture.

The Chamorro language and Carolinian language are spoken, along with English; which is the official language.


The economy of the Northern Mariana Islands is diverse and includes tourism, garment manufacturing, agriculture, and fishing.

Tourism is a significant industry, with visitors attracted to the islands' natural beauty, historical sites, and warm climate.

The garment industry was once a major economic driver but has declined in recent years.


Education in the Northern Mariana Islands is provided by both public and private institutions.

The islands have their own public school system, and there are also private schools, including those operated by religious organisations.


The Northern Mariana Islands are situated in the western Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines.

The largest and most populous island is Saipan, followed by Tinian and Rota.

The islands are volcanic in origin and are characterised by tropical climate and beautiful natural landscapes.


The Northern Mariana Islands has a political system based on a presidential representative democracy.

The local government includes a governor and a legislature, with the legal system based on the U.S. model.

While the islands have their own constitution and government, the United States is responsible for defense and foreign affairs.


The islands have a complex history, with influences from various colonial powers, including Spain, Germany, and Japan.

After World War II, the United States administered the islands under a United Nations trusteeship agreement.

In 1976, the Northern Mariana Islands became a Commonwealth of the United States, which means they have a certain degree of self-governance while being under the sovereignty of the United States.

Natural Beauty

The Northern Mariana Islands are known for their stunning natural beauty, including coral reefs, white sandy beaches, lush tropical forests, and volcanic landscapes.

Popular tourist destinations include the Grotto, a famous diving spot, and the American Memorial Park in Saipan, which commemorates World War II history.


The Northern Mariana Islands are served by several airports, with Saipan International Airport being the main gateway.

Inter-island transportation is primarily facilitated by air travel, although there are also ferries and boats for shorter distances.


The islands are home to a variety of unique and diverse wildlife, both on land and in the surrounding waters.

The Mariana Trench, one of the deepest parts of the world's oceans, is nearby and supports a wide range of marine life.

Self-Governing Commonwealth

The Northern Marianas finally gained self government in January, 1978.

In 1986, the then US President, Ronald Reagan, proclaimed the Northern Marianas a United States commonwealth and its residents as US citizens.

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) forms a chain of 14 volcanic islands: Agrihan, Alamagan, Anatahan, Asuncion, Farallon De Medinilla, Farallon De Pajaros (Uracas), Guguan, Maug (three islands), Pagan, Rota, Saipan, Sarigan and Tinian stretching over 375 miles north to south, with a land area of 181 square miles.

Visiting the Mariana Islands

For stays of 30 days or less, non U.S. citizens need a valid passport and an onward ticket.

Visitors from the United States may enter the Commonwealth on proof of American citizenship.

Like a studded crescent moon upon a bed of glistening sapphires, The Marianas attracts visitors to its embrace. A tropical paradise offering the relaxing shores of magnificent beaches and crystal clear blue waters, as well as the lively bustle of night life, shopping, a wide range of ethnic restaurants, and a multitude of outdoor activities.

Relaxation, adventure, new cultural insights, and just plain fun are treasures offered in the Northern Mariana Islands. Once you've experienced this unique island spirit, the tropical warmth will be yours forever.

If you're planning to visit the Northern Mariana Islands, here are some key things to know.


The islands have a tropical marine climate with warm temperatures year-round.

The dry season typically runs from December to June, while the wet season is from July to November.

Typhoons can occur during the wet season.


The islands have a rich cultural heritage influenced by Chamorro, Carolinian, and other Pacific Islander cultures.

You can experience traditional dances, local cuisine, and visit historical sites that showcase this unique blend of cultures.


The U.S. dollar is the official currency of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Entry Requirements

U.S. citizens do not need a passport to travel to the Northern Mariana Islands, as it is a U.S. Commonwealth.

However, you should carry identification, and non-U.S. citizens may have different entry requirements.


English and Chamorro are the official languages of the Northern Mariana Islands, but many residents also speak other languages like Tagalog and Carolinian.

Local Cuisine

Don't miss the chance to try local dishes, such as chicken kelaguen, red rice, and coconut-based desserts.

Seafood is also a staple in the local diet.


The Northern Mariana Islands are situated in the western Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines.

The capital and largest city is Saipan.


The Northern Mariana Islands are generally safe for travellers.

However, it's essential to take usual precautions and be aware of your surroundings, especially if you're exploring less populated areas.

Things to Do

The Northern Mariana Islands offer a range of outdoor activities, including snorkelling, diving, hiking, and beachcombing.

Popular attractions include Banzai Cliff, Suicide Cliff, Managaha Island; and the Grotto, a popular dive site.


Most visitors arrive at Saipan International Airport, which offers connections to other parts of the Pacific and Asia.

Transportation within the islands is primarily by car, and rental cars are available.

Travel Advisories

Remember to check the latest travel advisories and entry requirements before planning your trip, as regulations and conditions can change.

Getting to Northern Mariana Islands

Freedom Air and Pacific Island Aviation offer regular scheduled flights between Guam, Saipan, Tinian and Rota.

Freedom Air:
Saipan: (670) 234-8328; Tinian: (670) 433-0060; Rota: (670) 532-3801

Pacific Island Aviation:
Saipan: (670) 234-3601; Tinian: (670) 433-3600; Rota: (670) 532-0420

Located at the southern end of the island, Saipan International Airport: (SPN) receives direct flights from cities in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Guam; with Japan Airlines, Continental, Northwest and Asiana.

Mariana Accommodation

Where To Stay in Mariana Islands

There are a good selection of hotels in Saipan, but only a few on Tinian.


Saipan is an ideal resort destination if you like hiking, spelunking, scuba diving or a round of golf.

Map of Saipan

Map of Saipan

Diving is probably the number one reason to come to Saipan, as the island caters to divers of all experience levels. Explore wrecks and reefs within protected lagoons or enjoy the dramatic drop-offs and blue-water dives.

The Saipan Chamber of Commerce is the largest private business organisation in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. With over 140 business members, the Chamber is an association aligned to make a difference in the Commonwealth community.

The Saipan Tribune is The Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands' first daily newspaper.

Diving in Saipan

Since 1996, Stingray Divers has been dedicated to offering western and European style diving to divers from all over the world.

If you're not a diver you can still enjoy the wonders of the deep on the yellow Submarine Sirena; an underwater tour of the Saipan lagoon in air-conditioned comfort, and marvel at the beautiful corals, schools of tropical fish in their natural environment, and historical sunken wrecks.

Saipan Sunset Cruise

Operating since 1990, Saipan Sunset Cruise offers a variety of cruises and marine sports activities for the whole family at competitive prices.

Where to Stay in Saipan

Aqua Resort Club Saipan

Aqua Resort Club Saipan

Aqua Resort Club Saipan: Achugao Beach, Saipan.

Saipan’s premier beachfront resort hotel is located at Achugao Beach, with stunning views overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Guests at the Aqua Resort Club Saipan enjoyed the sea-view swimming pool, health spa and choice of restaurants.

Hotels in Saipan.


Not the smallest of the Northern Mariana Islands, but the most laid back, until the casino came on the scene.

The first nuclear weapon was dropped on Hiroshima from a B-29 taking off from one of the airfields on Tinian.

The Navy maintains a training area on Tinian, within the Military Lease Area, with limited activities in San Jose Harbour.

Tinian International Airport

For a long time just serving inter-island passenger traffic between Saipan, Rota and Guam, the newly completed Tinian International Airport (TIQ) runway positions Tinian for direct flights from Asia; for its casino-hotel facility.

Accommodation on Tinian.


Rota is getting to be more than just a day trip from Saipan. The diving is said to be excellent, and there is plenty to see on land.

Rota is still considered by many to be Micronesia's best kept secret. If only the population of 3,000 knew that we were spreading the word about this island paradise, only 30 minutes by air from Saipan or Guam.

Rota Airport: (ROP) handles passenger traffic from Saipan and Guam.

Rota Resort and Country Club:
Nestled on a lush green hillside, the Rota Resort & Country Club sweeps over 560 acres of swaying coconut trees, golden beaches, and a kaleidoscope of tropical flowers.

Mariana Islands in Oceania

The Battle for Tinian Battle For Saipan

Tinian - Saipan.

Weather in The Pacific:
Local weather forecasts for destinations around the Pacific region.

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