A personalized tour is
• Unrushed--At your pace!
• Intimate--No huge, noisy crowds!
• Conversational--Ask absolutely ANYTHING you want!
• Customizable--More of what you like, less of what you don't!
• Flexible--Want to go back to that first site? No problem!
• Interactive--Get out, touch, meet local residents...
• Unpredictable--may include a special treat!
• Extended--Twice the duration of standard tours! (7 hours!)
Take my personalized tour and you, too, can discover Saipan, explore Saipan, understand Saipan, and really get to know Saipan (as well as Tinian and Rota) in ways most people never will!
Typically, tours on Saipan are conducted from inside big buses of 50 or more people, visiting just a few manicured sites, lasting for just a few hours, and narrated by a tour guide who has memorized some approved facts and figures-- doing what amounts to a job. Now, that may be okay for some folks.
But what if you had a guide for an entire day; someone who does this as his passion; someone who could take you off the beaten path, show you sites and sights the average tourist never gets to see; taking detours based on your unique interests, in a more intimate setting, with one-on-one conversation in which you could ask anything about the island, and get a real person's perspective while you tour the island? What if you could get all that, AND get to see all the standard, manicured sites, too! Well, that's what a personalized tour is!
(I and my tours were recently recognized by American Memorial Park (The National Park Service) for my efforts to bring visitors to this national historic park!)
My Discover Saipan Advantage "Not all tours are created equal!"
Every customer is unique. Some have unusual requests for their visits to Saipan, Tinian, Rota, Pagan and Guam--everything from simply finding unique accommodations and transportation to locating specific individuals for genealogical research, or historical/cultural artifacts for study, to visiting "off limits" areas, and doing unique activities!
Whatever your unique request, my mission is to "make it happen" for you. In the process, I do everything I can --leveraging professional as well as personal contacts, calling in favors, harnessing my experience in unrelated industries and backgrounds--to make your request come true.
That's my Discover Saipan advantage, and that's what you pay for!
Sure, you'll pay a bit more for it, but the overall experience, the information, the connection to your guide, plus the photos and memories
you'll take with you will be priceless!
Depending on your time and interests, you can experience some or all of the following uniquely Saipan sights and sites! (Mandarin, Cantonese and Russian-speaking guides may also be available with enough advanced notice.)
Highest point on the island!
Walt's secret spot
Old Japanese Jail
Your special request!
Help! I'm only on Saipan for a short time, and I want
to see as much of the island as possible!"--Suzanne
Photo: Ferdinand Ramos
My name is Walt Goodridge, nomadpreneur author and founder of DiscoverSaipan.com, DiscoverGuam.com and Saipan Bookings. I've been doing this now since about 2008 when the idea for the "Saipan in a Day" land excursion tour came through a request from a woman who was island hopping in the region. Suzanne was going to be on Saipan for one day, and tracked me down through some of the websites I founded (and for which I was recognized by official CNMI Senate Resolution )
and she wanted a personalized tour experience to see as much of the island as possible. (See a recent interview in Beach Road Magazine)
Since my personal experience of Saipan has been overwhelmingly positive and inspiring, I wanted to give her the same "Best of Saipan" experience that I've had. So, I put together a special experience for her. Here's a little bit of one of my actual emails to her:
Yes, Saipan is many things to many people. Depending on whom
you ask, and when you ask, Saipan could be a paradise
get-away, a secluded beach, a place to meet the person
of your dreams, a den of corruption or, as it is for
many, simply a place they call "home."
And despite whatever changes, occupations, takeovers,
scandals, scars or tsunamis sweep over the island, there
is always something to do and see differently on Saipan!
Saipan has Americans, Russians, Chinese, Koreans,
Filipinos, Japanese, Ghanaians, Kenyans, Bangladeshis and more living
on this small piece of rock in the middle of the Pacific.
But even with all that diversity, it's easy to get
trapped within a single paradigm. My tour will help you break free from that trap! Here's why
- Being born and raised in Jamaica offered me a different view of reality.
- As a Caribbean, I have a positive bias towards island living.
- As a writer, I have an eye for detail.
- Being a native English-speaker, I fill a need in this part of the world!
- My Ivy League education gave me a unique perspective.
- My career as an engineer ingrained in me a habit of thoroughness.
- As an "*INTP", I prefer observation rather than judgement
- As a vegetarian, nomad and minimalist, I challenge paradigms.
- Spending most of my life in the heart of New York City, offered me
an experience that serves as an insightful contrast to the pace of
this my second/third life on Saipan.
- And, finally, as an entrepreneur coach who helps people discover
and pursue their passions, I can see value in just about anything!
- In other words: I can help you experience Saipan in ways others can't!
You're in for a treat and an experience!
Walt *INTP, Introverted INtuitive Thinking Perceiving (Myers- Briggs personality Test)
"It was exactly what I wanted!"--Suzanne F.,M.D., New York, USA
One thing led to another and.....
Suzanne got exactly what she wanted, and before long, I was giving tours of the island to visitors
from all over the world. I've created a unique adventure
that few tourists actually get to experience.
Here's a little background on Saipan!
SAIPAN! You don't really know US!
How well do you know the US? Everyone knows Hawaii. That's part of the United States. The Virgin Islands? That's US, too. Alaska? Puerto Rico? Guam?
Yes. Yes. Yes. American Samoa? Well the name says it. They're all part of US.
Where is Saipan?
However, many people don't know about the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)--a 15-island archipelago that includes the islands of Tinian, Rota and the capital island of Saipan. It's a lesser-known territory of the United States, located in the western Pacific Ocean about four hours from Japan. And until you've discovered Saipan, you can't really say you know US, now can you?
The indigenous Chamorro and Carolinian populations of Micronesia first discovered Saipan, and have been living here for thousands
of years before the Spanish and even the Germans discovered it!
The Japanese "discovered" Saipan, too! It's been a favorite vacation spot for decades. Thousands visit Saipan's white sand beaches and enjoy Saipan's water sports, world class diving, unique mix of cultures and more!
US military personnel and their families know Saipan. Saipan was the battle ground for one of the most fiercely fought battles of World War II, and Tinian was the take-off point for the infamous Enola Gay flight to Hiroshima.
Contract workers from Asia and the Pacific, too, "discovered" Saipan. For many years, Saipan's garment industry attracted thousands of workers in search of higher wages and opportunity.
Even Russians have "discovered" Saipan. The CNMI's unique immigration policy allows Russians to travel visa-free to get a taste of America and a tropical vacation from the cold Russian winters. (Chinese nationals can also visit, visa-free! See "Do I need a visa for Saipan?" for latest)
And quite recently, Saipan, situated atop the Marianas Trench--the deepest part of the world's oceans-- was the site of a grass roots conservation effort that resulted in the landmark designation of the Marianas Trench Marine Monument.
But, even so, Saipan is still America's best kept secret! Isn't it time YOU discovered Saipan, too?
You get to experience
• seeing the island at your own pace
• no big bus, big group tours
• tailored for YOUR interests and passions!
• secret sites most tourists never see
• conversation, culture, insights and a one-on-one experience with a recognized (and recognized again) guide you can trust (with more personality than a map...or so they tell me!)
Yes, Saipan is many things! It's a language learning haven. It's a tropical paradise. It's a former war zone. It's a sweatshop case study. But not everyone can show it to you the right way so you really "get" Saipan. Not everyone is able to give you the one-on-one attention, private tour, off-the-beaten path experience with thought-provoking narration and a unique perspective.
While "they" cater to large groups of tourists on a tight, rushed schedule, you and I can have some stimulating conversation that challenges your perceptions of yourself, and exposes your cultural blindspots, or just relax at my favorite vegan spot and discuss politics, dating or retiring on Saipan while eating cold papayas overlooking an amazing cliffside view!
Even when the group size of my tours get large--as they sometimes do when cruise ship visitors find my site--I hire local residents, rent smaller, more agile vans, and still manage to arrange to see and do things that the larger companies simply can't! (think private collections, home visits and more)
If this is one of your last see-the-world adventures, there's no better
place than Saipan to make the experience memorable and give you
something to talk about for years to come. You'll experience
more of the world during one day on Saipan than you might any place else!
Looking for a "fixer" on Saipan? In addition to tours, I also take on other unique projects that require a familiarity with Saipan's culture and geography. I recently provided location management services
for ZanyBros, Korea's most famous video production company known for their work with K-pop artists (part of the "Hanryu" Korean Wave) as they worked with popular Chinese idol group, SNH48!
I've also written several books about Saipan. So, whether you can make it to Saipan for my tour or not,
you can check out the following:
...the newest, most current, all-photo travel guide & souvenir book about Saipan as it exists in modern times!"
....created by me, and local and visiting photographers! CLICK HERE
Yes, there's something about Saipan that endears it to visitors and residents alike. But what is it exactly? Is it the weather? Is it the unique history? Is it the warm, welcoming indigenous Chamorro and Carolinian people? Is it the unique mix of guest workers and expats from all over the world? Is it the unique, possibly magical. energetically enhanced proximity to the Marianas Trench, a combination of all these or something as yet unidentified?
It's been known for over 70 years that Saipan figures prominently in Amelia Earhart's fate. Check out this keepsake from my Saipan in a Day-Amelia Earhart tour! Read More! Note: You'll be able to purchase copies of these and other books once you take my tour! (Or, order on Amazon, bring it with you, and I'll scribble my name on it!) Take a look below at some other Saipan-themed items you can order online:
T-shirts, mugs and more!
Want more? Well, before you decide to experience the history and the mystery of Saipan, check out what previous clients are saying:
What people say about my tours:
In Search of Amelia Earhart
Visitor, Reginald, tours the Old Japanese Jail where it's said Amelia Earhart was detained after her capture by Japanese authorities even after the rest of the world assumed she had perished at sea....
90-year old veteran, Lloyd Glick, experienced the personalized WWII Pilgrimage of a lifetime on Saipan!
WWII Veteran Lloyd Glick and wife, Judy, experiencing Saipan at their own pace upon Lloyd's return by cruise ship
to the island 70 years after participating in the naval bombing of the island during the Battle of Saipan. Photo: Jim Davies
Note: Lloyd and I communicated by email for several months prior to his arrival. He sent me detailed recollections, facts, figures, war-related and cultural triva of that time in American life, and even photos of his early life and his time on the battleship, USS North Carolina. Using all of that fascinating info--and unbeknownst to Lloyd while I was doing it--I compiled his 1945 war experience, and chronicled his hero's return in 2014 and, once he landed on Guam, I presented him with a personalized surprise: a paperback book I rush printed entitled From Bugle Boy to Battleship! Read more about the hero's welcome on Saipan, and the special treat I arranged on Guam (See Saipan Tribune tribute: pdfjpg) (Now, I can't promise you that I'll write a book about your life when you come to Saipan, but we can discuss it when I see you!)
Denise's first-ever trip outside of China was to Saipan!!
Patrick Hayes, son of a Battle of Saipan veteran, came in search of answers
Lead Ranger Brooke Nevitt, Patrick Hayes, and author/tour guide Walt Goodridge lay a wreath for Jesse B. Hayes, Jr. at American Memorial Park's Court of Honor; Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Jan 12, 2018
"Hi Walt, thank you for the impressive effort you put forth on my behalf yesterday on the tour. You certainly planned the tour around my obvious desires and fulfilled all of the curiosity and then some that I had when I arrived on the island of Saipan as a son of a critically wounded Marine from the 2nd Marine Division. I leave the island enriched with historical data that can live on for generations in my family. Thanks Again!"-- Patrick Hayes (READ MORE and see the article that appeared in Saipan's local newspapers!
The China Travel Channel had a great time
观看中文短片 (View video narrated in Chinese; sountrack Mine by Phoebe Ryan)
Kay from Guam had a great "Tours by Natives" adventure!
Kay (in the white "I ♥ Saipan" t-shirt) with internationally famous Carolinian performer,
Gus Kaipat (in yellow) and family! (Ask about Tours by Natives™)
"I had an unbelievable time on Saipan!!! Thank you so much for all of your help with organizing such an awesome experience! I will definitely write more later, but I just couldn't let one more second go by without letting you know how much I appreciate what you've done!!!"--Kay H.Read what Kay wrote later!
Al and Reginald took the WWII tour
Al, Reg, Fabian the relic hunter and Walt on Saipan
"I’ve been to Japan over a half-dozen times over the past decade. Recently, I learned how easy it is to visit Guam via Tokyo’s Narita airport. For this year’s Japan trip, I decided to do just that and visit Saipan and Tinian as well. The overriding reason was to visit the latter two islands as my uncle participated in their invasion by U.S. forces (his unit was the 534th Amphibian Tractor Battalion) during WWII. He lived a long and full life, but like many vets, he did not discuss his service. So, this visit was very personal. I am so happy that I learned of Walt and DiscoverSaipan.com, and with a friend booked Walt’s personalized tour. Although the tour had a WWII site focus, Walt ensured we also visited other sites that helped us also better understand Saipan, its history, and its citizens and their culture. This comprehensive tour let us take many photos, which will be much easier to caption, remember, describe to friends due to Walt’s meticulously timestamped post-tour itinerary. He even sketched an itinerary for our next-day’s visit to Tinian. Walt was open to all questions, and he even now continues to provide us more information and amplification via his post-tour research updates. Having Walt as a tour guide was like having another close friend in the tour group to share the experiences. Walt and DiscoverSaipan provide an excellent personalized tour of Saipan that my friend and I thoroughly enjoyed and learned much. Because of Walt and his focus on a personalized tour experience, I felt my personal mission was fulfilled and that I made a new friend. I highly recommend Walt and DiscoverSaipan.com! "--Reginald R.
Bill and Antoinette did Saipan AND Tinian! (Feb 2018)
Bill, Fabian the relic hunter, Antoinette and Walt on Saipan
"We have been on many tours in many countries and this tour is among the best. Walt is a transplant from Jamaica via NYC but has fallen in love with Saipan. He is incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastically shares that knowledge. He is incredibly attentive to every detail. The tour was exhaustive and insightful. We felt we really knew Saipan at its conclusion. If I had a complaint, it would be the high cost. Although initially reluctant because of the price, we are glad we chose to do the tour."
R.F. from Hong Kong enjoyed the activities!
"Thanks for the photos, and thanks again for your kind serving and arrangement of our tour. We had a great time in Saipan, and too bad we just don't have enough time to taste the place. Hope we have chance to visit the place again."--R.F., Hong Kong
"Thank you for sending the pictures and also your kindness and help during the trip.
It was a good experience for us. I would be happy to see you again when I return to
Saipan in the future. I wish you success!"--Jian G., Weihai, Shandong, Chinamore p.s. WeLoveSaipan.com is really cool!
Hi Walt, Thanks a lot for house and tour of island! It's what I really want! :) "--Dmitry M., Khabarovsk, Russian Federation
Bruno on Saipan!
"Hi Walt, We are coming to Saipan just for 3 days to run away from the busy/crazy life of Seoul. The world is big, but we decided to come to Saipan without any clues about the island, or the things to do and visit. Your website about discovering Saipan just gave me the will to visit the island!"
"Thank you for everything and see you there next time ! :)"--
Bruno Le Toullec, The French Embassy in Korea
Thank you so much! This is more than we've seen and done on any other port on our cruise! [Kagman, Forbidden Island,
Tank Beach, Grotto, Suicide, Banzaii, Memorial Park] - Bruce No.1, Bev, Jill, Bruce No.2 from Australia; along with the
Sun Princess in the harbor over Bruce No.1's shoulder
"Kind words from Ukraine, via New York"
"I moved to Saipan from New York in late 2009, and was very fortunate to come across one of a number of very informative web sites maintained by Walt Goodridge, director of DiscoverSaipan, that are dedicated to Saipan. I wrote to him shortly, and was amazed to discover what a caring, knowledgeable, and accommodating person he is. From the moment I met Walt all my uncertainties and questions about my new life on Saipan have disappeared. Walt came up with a myriad of lodging options for me, which met my budget, and the choice was basically between "very good" and "even better". Walt knows the best places on Saipan for lodging, shopping, and entertainment that will not cost you a fortune. From telecommunications, to farmers' markets, to postal service – Walt's got the answer as to what, where, how much, and what's best. He anticipates any pitfalls you may encounter arising from your newness to the island, and is swift in helping you avoid same. Most of all, he is down to earth, gracious, very genuine and easy to communicate with, optimistic and unmercenary person. In my opinion Walt is the best guide on the island, by far, that you may find. At times forgetting of his own needs, and generous with his time and knowledge, he is at all times concerned that your experience on Saipan is the best possible one. Thank you Walt!!!"
--Alexander P., New York
World travelers to over 129 countries discover Saipan!"
I'm a history professor at Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu, and I'm doing a research project on government systems in the Pacific. So, I'm interested in historical sites and buildings related especially to government history (and WWII history)...."
"Walt provided an excellent tour of Saipan. It was both interesting and informative. I wanted to see a number of sites off the beaten path, and Walt did the research to insure that we found those places easily. What I especially liked was that Walt personalized my tour based on my interests. He's also a wealth of knowledge about the island and has a genuine passion for what he does. If you really want to see what Saipan has to offer, go with Walt!"
Eric, the adventurous!
I discovered Saipan through my interest in off-the-beaten path travel, world geography, World War II history, Manhattan Project history, and island life. While Guam is moderately well known, the remaining Marianas islands are often overlooked. Saipan is a tropical Pacific island where US ditizens can enter with little to no hassle or visa limitations. Specifically, I discovered Saipan in 2012 while researching potential side trips from a work trip to Guam. I have already visited Palau, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Majuro, and lived on Johnston Atoll so the Northern Marianas were a natural extension. Walt's user friendly website will assist other travellers who might be less familiar with Oceania.
"The best part of my trip was interacting with other people on Saipan, whether they be hoteliers at Mango Resort, Walt (guide extraordinaire), or the staff at American Memorial Park. Of course, this is set in an amazing island atmosphere with gorgeous Pacific sunrises and sunsets. From the flame trees to the mango trees, from the World War II bunkers to ancient Chamorro stones, Saipan has it all. Even though I am an experienced solo traveller, it was fun to spend a day without having to be completely immersed in the decision making. I would definitely recommend Walt's guide services."--Eric
"Wolfgang and Gloria in the woods!"
Kay and Barbara at Bird Island !
Globetrekkers, Patricia, Neil, Del, Linda and Marcia (front) on Saipan!
"Tinian native tour guide, Laila, describes daily life (and where to find the island's world famous hot peppers) to Marcia, Patricia, Linda and Del! who took a Tinian day trip from Saipan"
"Ask me about a Tinian tour, as well as adventures on the remote, pristine island of Pagan!--Walt
D's two-day WWII tour ends with a sunset on Saipan
I was surprised at the amount of history, both World War II and island history that Walt was able to orally pass on as well as show me. Saipan and Tinian are different from Guam, Walt was able to explain the different backgrounds and how they play out in today's society. Reading about the history and then daily life of a location like Saipan doesn't have the same impact as being there, touching history and putting ones self in the place where that history happened. That's why I went, and that's what Walt was able to deliver for me. Thanks for a fascinating and fun two days!"--D.D.
Read all of D's testimonial! (click once to expand)
Click again to hide this section
"I came to Saipan and Tinian to explore the history of the Mariana Islands and focus on visiting historic sites from World War II. I desired a tour guide, not because I was afraid to travel alone but because of the desire to see off the beaten path locations, gain local knowledge and not have to do even more research into times, directions and the location safety. I'd never met or spoken with Walt before and, going only by his website, took my chances."
"Walt delivered and exceeded on all expectations for my two day tour. Things started right with Walt awaiting me at the Saipan airport, getting us over to Tinian and seeing all of the sites I desired to see along with many other hidden locations that where unknown to me including the SEABEEs monument and both of Tinian's Shinto Shrines. We returned to Saipan early the first day in order to make the documentary at the American Memorial Park before they closed at 5pm (local knowledge kicking in). Walt dropped me off at my hotel, and I was off to dinner on my own."
"Punctually the next morning, Walt was waiting for me in a car to start my exploration of Saipan. We took a quick 15 minute detour to the harbor to assist two customers from another group who were having a small issue, and Walt was there to help out. We proceeded south visiting World War II sites and other Saipan related historical/scenic locations I didn't know about ahead of time including the garment factory district, Ladder Beach and the Old Japanese Jail. We drove, hiked at various spots and sometimes stopped for the photo opportunity. Walt was never pushy and listened to what I wanted to do, and if I wanted more or less time at a location, he was happy to oblige. We finished the tour after seeing everything on my World War II list along with much much more. We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to catch my flight and reflect on the wonderful two day trip."
"When I see beauty like this I feel like Nature has forgiven the world."--Claudia
Claudia and Christian from Germany
The Schmidt family from Japan enjoying Saipan's secret cave pool as part of their Saipan in a Day & day trip to Tinian adventure
Jermaine and Nikki from Shanghai by way of Vancouver!
Lyn and Judi on Saipan
We really enjoyed getting to meet you and hope that we can join up again sometime in another part of the world. You truly showed us a local friendship we were longing for. Thank you for all you did to make our time here enjoyable and for your continued support through the health information. We feel truly blessed to have crossed paths with you :-) We got the great pics of our tour, and thanks for being such an amazing host."
--Lyn and Judi
Maxine on Saipan
Thanks so much for that wonderful, personalized tour of Saipan. I did get the maps and your sweet card when I checked out and thank you for them. It was a great day which I will remember with fondness for the rest of my life. Good luck to you in all of your various endeavors and I hope that you will have many more travelers heading your way. Fondly, Maxine" (Oct 2015)
Mary Tiffany on a star sand beach on Saipan
Star sand under a microscope. Photo: cruise ship guest, Mary Tiffany
EXCERPT: When you see sand stars, you may be looking at some of the oldest fossils known to man. There is fossil evidence of them dating back 550 million years, and molecular evidence suggesting 800 million to 1.2 billion years. The best time to find some is after a typhoon when the raging ocean has washed them up from its depths as the sea bottom lets loose some of its treasures. One reason they are so abundant on beaches in the Indo Pacific Oceanic area is that they prefer shallow waters, often combining with sea algae anchoring them – so you might find some living ones if you look very closely.[Excerpt from this site]
Walt provided my wife and I an excellent tour of Saipan and Tinian. We did a self guided tour of Saipan, on our first day. Having done this, when Walt took us around Saipan on day two we modified some stops to our great satisfaction. His excellent narratives of WW2 sites as well as history of Saipan were absolutely great. Walt was even able to get us in to see a private collection of WW2 artifacts. Really cool stuff...Our next day started with a really great airplane flight to Tinian. If anyone goes to Saipan, you also have to go to Tinian. Between both islands, Walt made history come alive. All I can say is Walt made this a very cool experience."--Gary and Nancy, Feb 2017