We spent all day touring the northern part of the island. Initially we were reluctant to warm to Saipan but after spending some time exploring the variety of outdoor options the island offers we are now sold on its natural beauty. I love how small the island is and how easy it is to get around – we’ve seen many tourists with tour groups, but we’ve rented a car and are exploring on our own.
The Grotto is well worth visiting. It is a semi covered swim and dive spot connected to the ocean by several tunnels. It is very deep here and the surge is extremely dangerous ripping in and out quickly over the sharp corral. Jumping off of the rock I plummeted into the water, careful to remain in the center of the pool away from the rip tide – and then swam into the tunnels. There is a cool ledge that sits slightly underwater in the semi darkness of one tunnel. Some free divers will swim the entire length of the tunnel – but with the surge, the depth and the corral all around – you need alot of experience before you attempt something like this!
Mount Tapochau is the tallest mountain on the island – at 475 meters. Some say you need a 4wd to get here – we raced up the dirt road in our Toyota Yaris – aggressively pursued by a pack of 4wd vehicles driven by Korean drivers. For some reason they thought they were in a race. Parts of the road are somewhat rocky and rugged but we motored right on through at fairly high speeds somehow avoiding hitting the bottom of the car.
From the top you have 360 degree views of the entire island and bonus views of the two nearby islands, Tinian and Rota. The gem of Saipan, Managaha Island lies in the middle of the corral lagoon. Looking at its beautiful white beaches and surrounding aqua marine waters – this became top priority on our quickly changing must visit list.