MANILA, Philippines – If you’re craving a trip to the beach and wanting to explore a different culture, Saipan could be your next travel destination.
The island is just a 4-hour plane ride from Manila and it’s the capital of the Northern Mariana Islands in the North Pacific Ocean. And Philippine Airlines has just announced it will start flying to Saipan in June, making it more accessible for those based in the Philippines. (READ: PAL to start flying to Saipan in June)
Saipan isn’t just about sun and sand, the island has an interesting history too, because of its location. The island is now a US territory in the Pacific, as the Americans won it from the Japanese during World War II.
Because it’s a part of the US, you do need a visa to get to Saipan, but legislators have petitioned for Filipinos to get in without a visa, according to senior advisor of the Marianas Visitors Authority (MVA) Jemy See. He added that it’s because a third of Saipan’s 53,000 population is Filipinos working abroad.
Philippine Airlines recently announced that it will open twice weekly flights from Manila to Saipan starting on June 15. Curious about the place, we had a look at what one could see and do there on a few days’ vacation.
Here’s what we found.
Head to the beach
A day at the beach in Saipan is nothing like the seaside parties you’ll get in Boracay. Saipan’s beaches are peaceful and more secluded. Book a hotel near the beach and relax in the sun and sand.
Snorkel and dive
When you’ve had enough of the beach, you can visit the white sands of Managaha, a 15-minute boatride away. Managaha is one of the best snorkeling and diving sites in Saipan.
The Grotto, a large cavern opening with underwater passageways, is also a popular spot for diving. At The Grotto, you can see barracuda, turtles, titan triggerfish, parrotfish, colorful corals, and whitetip sharks.
See the sunken ships
Because of the part it played in WWII, there are many sunken Japanese warships in the water surrounding the islands. You can see them, and the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, up close by taking a submarine tour.
Another historical attraction is Suicide Cliff, an 800-foot cliff that some Japanese soliders jumped off of during the second World War, rather than be captured by the Americans.
For the golfers, Saipan’s Laolao Bay golf course is a must-visit. The 36-hole golf course is situated on a cliff, sandwiched between the ocean and a forest.
Like Guam, Saipan is a good place for shopping for luxury goods tax-free. According to Alex Stutely, vice president of Luxus Pacific, LBC services are available in Saipan, and he said it takes around $50 to ship a balikbayan box from Saipan to Manila by boat.
Watch the sunset
Saipan has its fair share of gorgeous views and sunsets, too. Relax by the water or enjoy an early dinner as you watch the sun disappear into the horizon.
Saipan is a popular place for romantic beach weddings, too. The island could also be the perfect place to renew your vows or for your second honeymoon.
Take part in the festivals, visit markets
There’s always something going on in Saipan, whether it’s a festival, a marathon, or a street market. The MVA website has a calendar of activites that you can use to plan your trip.
Saipan is just a few hours away from Guam and its neighboring Mariana islands, Rota and Tinian too, so you can give those islands a visit after Saipan.
Will you be planning a trip to Saipan soon? Let us know in the comments! – Rappler.com
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