In the North Pacific Ocean, the fourteen Northern Mariana Islands are resplendent with volcanoes, caves, lagoons and cliffs. In the waters off Saipan, coral reefs make for excellent diving, and underwater passages at The Grotto challenge expert divers to explore tunnels leading from the ocean to a limestone cavern.
The Northern Mariana Island of Saipan has seen major tourist development, with plenty of resorts and golf courses. Historically, the island saw significant activity during World War II, and relics of that era remain at Banadero, while at Laderan Banadero, also known as “Suicide Cliff”, one can imagine the final moments of thousands of Japanese people who eluded capture by leaping to their deaths. The Northern Mariana Islands of Tinian and Rota are less developed, but no less attractive. At the House of Taga, on Tinian, hand carved stone pillars adorn the home of a legendary Tinian chief, named, you guessed it, Taga. Rota’s huge Tonga Cave was a hospital during World War II. The islands are home to the Chamorro and Carolinian people, who maintain native traditions through a number of yearly cultural festivals. Saipan’s downtown market offers visitors a variety of native handcrafts to bring home as souvenirs.