5 Things To Do In Northern Mariana Islands

The Northern Mariana Islands is a chain of only 14 islands spreading out overf 89km, in the pacific ocean, near to Guam. This country, has plenty of things to see and do, should you visit. 

While it's one of the smallest countries in the world, there's many things to do in Northern Mariana Islands and we've outlined five of our top picks for 2020. 

So be sure to pack your bags, grab your travel pillow for the long flight via Guam or South Korea, and take your camera for those amazing photos. 

  • Population: 55,000 
  • Currency: USD
  • When To Go: April - May 

5. North Field and The Atomic Bomb Pits

The island of Tinian is often overlooked by many tourists, which is a shame because of the historical significance it has to the entire world.

After a short flight from Saipan and collecting your hire car, you can drive to North Field, the former World War II airfield where you can drive along the runways and see the atomic bomb pits. 

These unassuming sites are the location of one of the main turning points of the war, the location where the bombs that would be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were stored and subsequently loaded into the planes for their historic journey.

Nearby you can also visit some abandoned buildings: an old radio communications building, the administration building, and a barracks.

Related: Things To Do In Tuvalu

4. House of Taga

Another site to visit while on the island of Tinian is the House of Taga. Here there are twelve large latte stone pillars, only one of which remains standing due to earthquakes experienced in the area.

There is an information board which provides extensive information about the site, Several myths surround the purpose of these stones, they say that a man named Taga (who was possibly a giant and probably the chief of the island) quarried the stones to use as foundations for his house.

Some versions of the myth state that he carried the stones himself. It's a quiet little site that's worth a walk around and it's fun to image the mighty Taga carrying these stones himself.

3. Garapan Street Market

Once you've finished experiencing some of the ancient and more recent history of this island, visiting the Garapan street market is a great way to experience the melting pot of cultures that the Northern Mariana Islands are today. These markets run every Tuesday and Thursday evening.

There are a variety of stores selling souvenirs and apparel but the highlight is definitely the food options. In one stall you might experience some Thai ice-cream, across the way is a selection of fantastic Korean food and next door you will find a variety of BBQ meats to tempt your taste-buds.

It's all quite affordable, meaning you will be able to try a lot of different things. There's usually some sort of show on offer as well, sometimes a local traditional dance group, other times it may be a more modern Kpop style performance.

Whatever the case, this market is well worth putting on your list of things to do and if you stay on Saipan for a while definitely worth a repeat visit.

2. Mt.Tapochao

If you're willing to brave the steep and rocky road to get to the top of Mt Tapachao, you will be rewarded with 360-degree views of the whole island of Saipan.

It's a doable drive in most cars, as long as you avoid the worst of the potholes, but it is also possible to walk from bottom to top if you are so inclined. Every year on Good Friday, and again on Easter Sunday the Catholics and community members will make a pilgrimage to the peak, carrying large wooden crosses.

If your visit doesn't coincide with the Easter pilgrimage there is still plenty of information at the top and you can read about the islands wartime history.

1. Obyan Beach

What's an island holiday without some time at the beach and a little snorkelling? Be sure to take your underwater scooter. Obyan is a little off the beaten track, but that means you won't have to share it with lots of people like some of the more popular sites.

There are plenty of palm trees along the beach so you can find a bit of shade to leave your things or to rest for a while and enjoy the view, but if you're a little more adventurous get your goggles and snorkel out and have a look around the water.

There's a reef not far off shore if you're looking to do some scuba diving, here you will see many fish and even the occasional turtle or manta ray, maybe even a shark but there's no shark cage diving here, but the current can be strong at times so caution is advised.

If you're not overly keen on the water a short walk away (about 100 meters) you will find an old World War II bunker, it's a nice quiet place to sit and reflect on what it might have been like on this idyllic island in darker times. If you enjoy this, be sure to checkout Kiribati too. 

Kirsty Scott