Monday, January 15, 2007

Vacationing in Saipan - General Information

The points of entry into Saipan include Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Beijing and Guam. The major carriers flying into Saipan are JAL, Continental (Micronesia), and Northwest.

The majority of the tourists are Japanese. While the principal language of the island is English, the vast majority of tourist information is in Japanese (not even bilingual).

Hotels are targeted at the Japanese market, with most hotels including at least one Japanese restaurant. The hotels are arrayed down the west coast of the island from the Mariana Resort in the north, to the Pacific Island Club in the south. The Hyatt, Fiesta and some smaller hotels are in the main town of Garapan.

Transportation is available roundtrip between the hotels and the Duty-Free Store in Garapan every hour. Free cabs are also available between the hotels and DFS. Cabs are otherwise readily available, but also relatively expensive (>$20 for a 15-minute drive). Cars and scooters are available for rent.

Snorkeling in the surrounding reefs and diving around the shipwrecks are major attractions. Parts of the island are rugged with the highest point at Mt. Tapotchau at 1,554 feet.

Recommended hotels – Hyatt at the top-end (though the architecture is uninspired) and Marianas at the mid-range for a very quiet location. Aqua Resort Club looked very nice and had more restaurant options than Marianas. Recommended restaurant – the island was disappointingly short of the type of beach restaurants we love in Thailand. That said, the view and food at Coffee Care are good, and the Sunday Brunch at the Hyatt was a good deal.

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