Northern Mariana Islands: America’s Tropical Secret

Northern Mariana Islands: America’s Tropical Secret

When it comes to traveling, we all have certain tropical destinations that come to mind. But there is one location that you’ve likely never heard of, and if you’re an American citizen, you won’t even need a passport to get there. Time to start looking at flights and planning your next vacation to the Northern Mariana Islands.

The Northern Mariana Islands are located in the middle of the ocean, just north of Guam, and consists of a string of islands including Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. Unlike Guam, these islands are not a US territory, but they are considered to be a Commonwealth. With the island’s main source of revenue coming from tourism, there are so many incredible things to do while visiting!

Northern Mariana Islands: America’s Tropical Secret


Saipan is the largest and most populated island in the Northern Mariana Islands. There are direct flights from Guam, Japan, South Korea, and China coming in daily, so there are a variety of options on how to get to this dreamy tropical destination! 

If you’re a big fan of history, you’ll likely have heard of the Battle of Saipan that took place during World War II. There are so many historical landmarks on this beautiful island, that you can dedicate an entire day to sightsee. From American Memorial Park all the way to snorkeling tanks that are stuck in the ocean, you’ll find so much rich and fascinating history throughout the island.

Northern Mariana Islands: America’s Tropical Secret

If you’re a hiker, then get ready to pack your gear! This little gem in the Northern Mariana Islands has so much hiking potential, it’s insane. Saipan’s hiking provides a rawness that many of us don’t have the pleasure to see in our lifetime. There are simple hiking trails around Banzai Cliff and up to Mount Tapachao, but if you’re an experienced hiker then get ready to buy a machete and chop your way through the tropical forest to see destinations like Old Man by the Sea and Forbidden Island. If you are interested in doing a more intense hike, ask your hotel or any locals for tips and safety advice before adventuring on any hike.

Northern Mariana Islands: America’s Tropical Secret
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Within the barrier of Saipan, there is a tiny and peaceful island called Managaha. Taking a day trip over to this paradise in the Northern Mariana Islands is simply not a choice – it’s a must! With only a 20-minute boat ride from Saipan, you’ll be drooling over the tininess of Managaha where it will only take you a total of 10 minutes to walk around the entirety of this island.

With no stores or cars, it makes for a great day trip away from society or a private overnight camping trip! Don’t forget to pack lots of snacks, but more importantly your snorkel gear. Managaha is a wildlife preserve, so the sea life is blossoming and lively through the crystal clear water.

Northern Mariana Islands: America’s Tropical Secret

Scuba Diving is one of the most popular things to do in the Northern Mariana Islands, as the islands are located in the Mariana Trench. Make sure to book with a local dive company like Axe Murderer Tours to experience the wonderful world down below. With a wide variety of sea creatures, you may not only experience swimming with sea turtles but you may happen upon an octopus as well! 

Northern Mariana Islands: America’s Tropical Secret
Diving in the Northern Mariana Islands is absolutely a must!

Whether you’re wanting to chill on the beach or try windsurfing for the first time, you won’t fall short of things to do in Saipan. With an abundance of wildlife and tourism-related things to do and see, Saipan is definitely one of the best islands to visit when seeing the Northern Mariana Islands!


Tinian is only a 15-minute plane hop away from Saipan. With only one airline that goes to and from this little piece of paradise in the Northern Mariana Islands, you’ll want to make sure that you book your trip ahead with Star Marianas. With a smaller population, it’s easy to spend an entire day wandering around without seeing a single person.

Northern Mariana Islands: America’s Tropical Secret
There are tons of places to cliff jump in the Northern Mariana Islands, but Taga Beach in Tinian tops them all!

There are tons of war relics and diving on Tinian, but the best place to visit while you’re there is Taga Beach. You could spend an entire day floating on top of the clearest water you’ve ever seen as your family does backflips of the neighboring cliff. When booking your trip to the Northern Mariana Islands, be sure to look into when the Tinian Hot Pepper Festival is! Tinian’s hot peppers are known for being the hottest pepper you’ll ever taste, and joining the celebration is an incredible experience and a sense of culture that you’ll carry with you forever.


If you’re wanting a tropical destination in the Northern Mariana Islands that has barely been affected by any war, then Rota is the place to go! There are only four hotels on Rota, so make sure to do your research on which one is best for your family. The wildlife on this incredibly tranquil island is outstanding. The Bird Sanctuary is hands down a must-see, as well as what locals call the Swimming Hole. Prepare to see an abundance of wildlife as you ignore the rest of the world.

Northern Mariana Islands: America’s Tropical Secret

Regardless of which islands you choose to visit on your trip, you will not be disappointed. Most of the time, you can sit on nearly any beach in the Northern Mariana Islands and not see a single soul the entire day you’re there. Whether you’re snorkeling, hanging out at the hotel or driving around the entire day – you’re absolutely going to love it!

Traveling to the Northern Mariana Islands

There are lots of ways to get to the Northern Mariana Islands, whether you have a passport or not. The best part of these islands is that they do not experience cold weather at any time of the year. So when you’re looking at times to travel, the dates aren’t a huge deal. If you have a US passport, then you have more opportunities to see other countries along the way. The most popular route is through the Narita, Japan Airport. Other locations are Seoul in South Korea as well as Hong Kong in China.

If you’re wanting to make a trip to the Northern Mariana Islands but you do not have a passport, you’re in luck! Directing your flight through Honolulu, Hawaii, and Guam means that you will not technically step foot outside of the United States, which means you won’t need a passport! This is by far the longest flight to get to the Northern Mariana Islands, so taking a day or two to spend in Hawaii may be a great way to break up the jet lag. 

Read more: 8 Travel Bag Essentials to Take Wherever You Go
Northern Mariana Islands: America’s Tropical Secret

Traveling to the Northern Mariana Islands is truly a once in a lifetime experience. When you come back from your trip, you will show endless sunset and beach photos to your friends and family, sharing with them a part of America that most people don’t know exists. 


Wanting a tropical location a bit closer to home? Make sure to read 5 Unforgettable Days in Jamaica!


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Northern Mariana Islands America S Tropical Secret

Photo credits: Lauren Benson Photography | Axe Murderer Tours