Being tropical heaven and an inviting tourist destination with its beautiful weather, turquoise clear lagoons, and white sandy beaches, things to do in Saipan are endless. The largest of the Northern Mariana Islands, Saipan has a total land area of 115.4 kilometers square which is just big enough to fill it with dozens of adventurous and fun-filled activities while being just small enough to explore all in a short trip. While its geographical location as a small pacific island surrounds it with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, its abundant network of limestone hills and caves offer plenty of opportunity for cave diving, exploration, hikes and bike rides. One visit to Saipan and you can tell this island was made for vacationing! This is one of the few tropical islands left where you actually find deserted unoccupied beaches with great photo opportunities and beach side relaxation. On the more touristy side of the island, you will find plenty of fun activities to engage in such as snorkeling, scuba diving, cave diving and more. If you are looking for more thrills with less effort try the banana boat rides close to the Managaha Island or parasailing and even glider tours of the island with stunning aerial views of the beaches, lagoons and forests that rivals all other activities. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing vacation on a tropical paradise sipping a cold beer or want some adrenaline-filled action in the ocean or a bit of both, Saipan is the place to visit. With that being said, here are the top tourist activities in Saipan:
Table of Contents
1.Saipan Submarine Deepstar
3.Parasailing at Managaha Island
7.Banana Boat at Managaha Island
If you’re in the Smiling Cove Marina at Garapan you would often see a tiny yellow boat like vessel half submerged bobbing up and down in the ocean somewhere between the beach and the Managaha Island. That vessel is the Deepstar Submarine which is one of the very first tourist submarines in the world that has been operating on the coast of Saipan since 1991. This submarine is fully certified by the American Bureau of Shipping and runs on electric motors to dive and run underwater making it highly eco-friendly. Being one of the best things to do in Saipan, it is also among the top most-asked tours on the island. The submarine can take up to 48 passengers at a time and perform 8 dives a day in the Tanapag Lagoon. The submarine features a spacious interior with big seats and large oval viewports that enables passengers to get the best view of all that is outside the submarine. It is also air-conditioned and there’s enough space for everyone to sit comfortably and enjoy smoothly gliding over the lagoon.
The submarine is anchored off the harbor and you are ferried to it on a small boat from the designated pick up point which is usually your resort if you have booked a ride from there. The trickiest part of the whole ride is getting on to the submarine from your boat which you will be assisted with by the crew. Then you climb down into the belly of the submarine where you can take any seat you’d like and once everybody has settled, the sub dives underwater into the lagoon. There is audio narration throughout the dive so you will be informed about where you are and what it is that you are looking at. The ride takes you through multiple coral reefs in the lagoon where you can look at coral ecosystems, schools of colorful fishes, turtles, octopuses, and sharks. Also on the way are dive sites having sunken ships and crashed aircraft from during World War 2 and the stories behind those vessels. The tour costs $80 for adults and $50 for children between 1-9 years. The departure times are around 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00, which are subject to the booking.
2.San Juan Beach
The San Juan Beach is a quiet getaway close to the Kingfisher Golf Links resort. A small stream cuts through the rocks which eventually open into a narrow concave beach with rocky cliffs eroded into caves by the crashing waves. There are also plenty of clear pools to play in left behind by the waves but they can get a bit slippery as the tides rise and the waves get stronger. Although there isn’t any sports activity at this beach, it’s a great place to chill and unwind listening to the waves crashing into the rocks. You can also walk through the eroded caves and climb to the top of individual rocks for some great photo ops. A popular feature of this beach is a rock formation that looks like the head and snout of a crocodile which has earned the beach its nickname the ‘crocodile head beach’.
Whether you’ve done parasailing before or not, going on this thrilling ride close to the shores of Managaha island is an experience on its own. This low-risk ride involves a speed boat which tows you behind while you’re held aloft on a parachute and if you’re comfortable with it, the boat operator will even slow down enough so your legs hit the water and go in knee-deep before your pulled back up in the air! There are a couple of rules, to begin with, and they include the weight, age and the health of the person involved. Children less than 17 should be accompanied by a parent and those who weigh less than 50 kilograms must fly with one more parasailer such that the total weight of the two is less than 190 kilograms. Pregnant women, people with heart conditions or high blood pressure must refrain from participating in the activity. Your boat goes around in loops close to the island and your ride starts with your parachute gently towed behind with the towline gradually extended. You can reach heights of over 200 ft and get some splendid views of the island, clear waters and undersea features. The parasailing starts after your arrival on Managaha Island and the ride timings depend on the season and weather. High winds or rough weather from approaching thunderstorms can cancel rides. Being one of the most fun things to do Saipan, it’s a must-try for all visitors.
The Grotto is considered as Saipan’s top attraction by many who visit the island and even one of the best diving sites in the world, therefore it earns top place on the best things to do in Saipan. Simply put, it is a collapsed cavern that is accessible by a hundred steps where visitors can get into the water swim, snorkel or scuba dive. If you’re not a big fan of getting into the water you can stand outside and marvel at this geological structure where the sparkling clear waters of the ocean meet an underwater cave. To get the best view of the cavern, however, you must take a scuba dive so you can marvel at this underwater formation and all the animals that live in the ecosystem.
A guided scuba dive tour of the Grotto is ideal as you will be accompanied by a dive guide who will take you through the underwater caverns and show you all the best sights. You will be able to marvel at the cave structures, the undersea life and if you’re lucky, some harmless sharks! It takes about 3 minutes to decent the 100 steps that lead to the bottom and there will be a safety officer at the entrance to stop the visitors if the water is too rough. Since it’s a system of caves with flowing water currents, it can get a little dangerous with the tides. Therefore unless you’re an experienced swimmer, it’s best to dive with an instructor. You also get all your diving or snorkeling equipment along with your tour and the 2-hour dive usually costs about $40.
5.Glider Flying Tour
There’s nothing like a bird’s eye view of a tropical island flying around in an airplane looking at its blue-while coastlines, beautiful seas, and lush green forests. Chartering a plane and flying around the island is one of the coolest things to do in Saipan. You can choose from a few companies on the island who offer aerial tours of the island for one, two or three passengers at a time, it’s also a great package for honeymooners. The tour guide is an experienced pilot who will take you up and show you around the island while performing gentle flight maneuvers that are fun which includes a gentle zero-g dive that lets you be weightless and float for a few seconds! You are also given a brief explanation of the controls and allowed to take the stick for a few minutes to fly the airplane around for a while.
The tour takes off from the airport and goes around the island perimeter visiting all the famous spots with special emphasis on the Forbidden Island and circles around the Managaha Island. The flights last for about 45 minutes and cost $189 for one passenger, $ 280 for 2 passengers and $360 for 3 passengers. For a more exhilarating ride, try the biplane ride at the WACO Adventures where you get to fly around the Island in an open-cockpit Biplane in a 20-minute flight. There are restrictions on what to wear, what to bring, weight and health conditions which need to be looked in to before booking a flight.
Jet Ski rides are one of the most exhilarating things to do in Saipan around Managaha Island. They are quite easy to ride and if you follow a few rules, you can have plenty of good time on Jet Skis. You can ride alone, with a friend or with an instructor and have a great time zipping across the water around the island. Even if you have no previous experience, it’s easy to pick up the skills to ride a jet ski well and with a few safety gear and precautions; you can have a blast riding them around.
The Jet Ski rides cost about $35 per person and the ride time is 20 minutes. You can take the jet ski and ride around the island but not veer too far. If you have a partner you can double up with them and the cost would come down. Riding a jet ski is quite similar to riding a motorbike and if you relax and keep your hand straight, you can ride well without straining yourself. It’s also important to look forward and not the handle so you can maintain your direction. Try not to get too close to the shore or the rocks and you will have a great time.
7.Banana Boat at Managaha Island
Banana boat rides are the simplest and the most fun of all water rides. All you need to do is sit tight, hang on and try not to fall off! If you haven’t already gone on one, Banana boat rides are quite simple, eight to ten people sit tandem on inflatable banana-shaped tube that is towed behind a motorboat. The waves on the ocean make it a bumpy ride and add to the fun of trying to ride the boat and not fall off. Despite their best efforts people will fall off the boat and are kept afloat by life jackets until the boat comes around again to pick them up. The boat rides are quite safe as long as the seas are not rough and the water is deep enough for it.
At Managaha Island banana boat rides can cost between $25 to $30 and the ride times can last between 15-20 minutes. You are picked up from the island where you hop on board the banana tube and taken further away before the ride begins. The availability of the rides is also subject to weather conditions as high waves are not good for the rides.
The ATV tour of the island is also one of the most extensive tours you can take to explore the island and among the most adventurous things to do in Saipan. Even if you’ve never gone on an ATV ride before, you will be given instructions on how to ride one as a standard procedure. The tours are conducted by an experienced guide who will ensure you are taken on a trail that is safe and fun at the same time. The ATV tours cover two trails; Southern Saipan Trails and the Mount Tapochau Trails. It starts with a departure from the hotel to gather at the beginning of the trail where the safety briefing occurs along with handing over safety equipment. The Southern Saipan Trails go through the Primeval Jungle and the wild forests of the island where you get to see the forest flora and the rare birds and animals that live there. It also goes through the rural areas which show you the normal life on the island before ending in a visit to Ladder and Obyan beach. The Mount Tapochau Trails covers the mountainous terrain and the western shores.
The tours are available on a daily basis and the normal schedules are as follow: 8:00am-10:30am, 9:00am-11:30am, 10:00am-12:30pm, 1:00pm-3:30pm, 2:00pm-4:30pm, 3:00pm-5:30pm, 4:00pm-6:30pm. Total duration of the trip lasts 2 hours and 30 minutes and costs $50 for singles and $70 for a couple using one ATV
The Managaha Island which is often referred to as the jewel of Saipan has the most things to do in Saipan in terms of adventure sports. There are a number of day trip packages to Managaha Island which involves picks up and drops to the island with an on the venue locker facility and food. You can also choose the rides that you are interested in and enjoy all that the island has to offer. Some of its most popular attractions include snorkeling, parasailing, jet ski, and banana boat rides. Once you are on the island you have a locker facility to store a minimum number of your valuables before you go on your activities. The snorkeling lets you explore the shallow coral reefs around the island in its crystal clear waters while a parasailing ride lets you get a splendid aerial view of the whole scene. You can also choose to spend time peacefully at your own pace with food and drinks on the island and have a good time the whole day.
Many of the aquatic activities are restricted by bad weather, therefore, precautions need to be taken before venturing out. There are regular ferries to and from the island every hour so you can choose your departure and arrival times. There are no accommodations available on the island, therefore, you must return at the end of the day.
No matter what time of the year you are visiting Saipan, there are always fun things to do here that will keep you occupied all day. When you go for package rides with a partner you can avail plenty of discounts on adventure rides. Great discounts can also be found with booking your Saipan flight tickets along with accommodations in the best resorts close to the top attractions. Plan the perfect vacation and get the best deals on cheap flights and budget hotel bookings when you book with us.