SAIPAN IS A PART OF THE UNITED STATES YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF
A little conversation came across us one time as our friend asked "So, where are you guys off to next?" and as we replied "Saipan", a common question like "Is that in China?" was asked. Just to clear the air, Saipan is NOT in China. Saipan is actually a part of the Northern Mariana Islands and is the largest of the three islands (including Tinian and Rota) where the Marianas Trench is located. After World War II, Saipan became part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, administered by the United States. In Short, if you were born in Saipan, you are an american. If you are a tourist, you need a United States Visa depending on what passport you are carrying (Filipinos, like us, need a United Stated Visa).
As soon as we heard the cliff was called "Suicide Cliff" we already knew what happened in that place during the war. There's alot of history in Saipan, and what happened in Suicide Cliff was that 3000 Japanese soldiers and Civilians decided to jump off and end their lives instead of getting captured and tortured by the Americans, hence the name "Suicide Cliff", but history tells us that this was all misinformation as the Americans would have not tortured the Japanese.
"Are there any Birds in Bird Island?", we did not see any but the view is magnificent. Bird Island Overlook has the most magical view of Saipan, our mouths fell to the floor as we drove passed. Locals tell us that you can even spot baby sharks and sea turtles from this overlook because the water is really clear.
The Grotto is a spectacular dive spot, known to be part of the Top 3 dive spots in the world and when you see it, you'll know why. The clear cobalt blue water that has 3 underwater passageways that lead to the open ocean. Sadly, we were not able to swim because the water can be calm but can also have random power surges and can cause injury to non-divers. Those who do plan to dive this amazing spot, there is a lifeguard on duty but only until 5pm.
Banzai Cliff, along with Suicide Cliff was where the Japanese jumped to their deaths nearing the end of the Battle of Saipan in 1944. As some people did not die as they jumped, they were rescued by the Americans.
Our next stop was to go on a Submarine. Most of the Submarine tours out there are just to tour the submarine itself, but this time we were brought down to the water to explore a shipwreck and an airplane wreck and to see thousands beautiful corals and fish. As soon as we saw the submarine we instantly thought: *cue that beatles song*.
Being in a submarine was definitely a surreal experience. Viewing the sea in a different perspective, exploring shipwrecks and airplane wrecks brought goosebumps, because it was history right before our very eyes.
Managaha Island is a small islet located off the west coast of Saipan. The island has no permanent residents and everyone gets off the island by 4pm (unless you've got your own mode of transportation off the island, then you should be fine). We arrived at 2pm witnessing the bluest blue water our eyes have ever seen. Saipan's waters have all the blue hues and is as clear as a crystal. As soon as we got to the island, we went on diving tours, snorkeling and parasailing.
as 4pm hit, all the people had gone. it was a great time to take photos because the island is usually packed with people. The weather in Saipan can be sort of predictable, in the morning its Sunny and in the afternoon, rain hits. At this time we were thankful it was sunny, but a storm is starting to brew up in the distance signaling us to start our journey back. We took a Banana Boat back to the mainland, and just as we hit halfway through, the storm caught up to us and we were on a Banana Boat in the middle of the sea, in the middle of a storm, and you can guess how painful that felt, like a thousand needles to our whole body, but in the end, the rain stopped, and we had an amazing experience to remember.
On our last day, a storm decided to hit as we planned to hike to Forbidden Island. The storm was so strong, we thought that it was over, but a little wait can go a long way. At about 9pm we started our hike through the muddy forest, the trail was so slippery that it took us about an hour and a half to get to where we were going when it was only supposed to be 30 minutes on a normal sunny day.
The view of Forbidden Island is worth the hike, its a little hard to get to because of the steep climb but once you see its beauty, you can't go wrong. Usually there are only small groups of people, and it is advisable to start the hike at 7am if the weather permits. Our local guide also informed us that the Marianas Trench is just at the right side from the view of the island.
There is only a small lagoon where people can swim, because the waves are too strong on other areas that the current can pull you out and cause any injury. Before entering the Lagoon, you can choose to visit the "Secret Cave" which our guide told us isnt so secret anymore. it involves climbing huge rocks to get to a small cave opening and then climbing down a small hole into a small cave with a small lagoon as cold as ice.
Saipan is one of the most underrated places we've visited. It's pristine blue waters, amazing landscapes and friendly people, you can't go wrong taking a trip to this wonderful place. Philippine Airlines flies to Saipan on a schedule, so you may visit their website for the best times to visit. If you ask us, we'll be back, and this time to dive.