Andrew’s Tripadvisor review of the Tinian to Hiroshima tour!

Seattle, Washington resident, Andrew Kennelly, completed his mission of visiting all 50 US states a few years before the pandemic. “What’s next?” he asked himself. “Well, why not visit the US territories and commonwealths?” he answered! And that’s what he did! He used up all his frequent-flier miles to book a trip to Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. I entered as a character in Andrew’s story when he decided on the once-in-a-lifetime, requisite tour of Tinian! I’ll let Andrew tell the story as outlined in his review of my tour on the Tripadvisor website:

I am normally an independent traveler who does not feel a need or desire to hire guides. However, I made a rare exception for my day tour of Tinian, hiring Mr. Walt Goodridge to take me around. Five years ago, when I first considered a visit to Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, I had bought Walt’s book, There’s Something about Saipan. I enjoyed the book, and then I noticed Walt was also mentioned extensively in another book I bought, The Not-Quite States of America. So it would seem he is something of a local celebrity and has a fascinating personal story: An Ivy-League educated native of Jamaica who gave up a good engineering career in New York City to relocate to Saipan. And then I happened upon his website and saw that he offered tours. I figured I had to meet this guy and I bet he could give a pretty good tour. I also figured that most likely in my entire life I would spend at most one day on Tinian so I wanted to make sure I got the most out of it, and did not miss anything important.

Anyway, Walt picked me up at my hotel (the Saipan Hyatt) and then we went to the Saipan Airport. The first great part of the daylong adventure to Tinian was simply getting there – a 15-minute flight on a 5-passenger 1974 Piper Cherokee Six with a 300HP Continental TIO540. The views of Tinian from the plane provide a great “preview” of what is to come.

After arriving in Tinian, we jumped into a rental car (Walt arranged it) and we set out on our Tinian tour. The majority of a tour of Tinian will, appropriately, be focused on sites relevant to World War II. There are a number of World War II era buildings, most of them originally Japanese-built and subsequently repurposed by American forces. They are in varying states of decay, but mostly structurally sound so you can walk into and onto them. The fact that they are left to decay naturally, as opposed to being “restored”, is, in my opinion, neat.

Perhaps the highlight of the trip is viewing and driving on the actual runway used by the Enola Gay when it left on its mission to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Two other sites of high significance are the pits used to load the atomic bombs (“Little Boy” and “Fat Man”) onto the Enola Gay and Bockscar respectively.

Other worthy sites around the island include various bomb shelters, Shinto shrines, abandoned artillery and vehicles, Chulu Beach, a currently operational Voice of America transmission facility, life-size replicas of “Little Boy” and “Fat Man”, the “House of Taga” (think of it as a tropical Pacific Stonehenge). I also found a drive past the recently-abandoned Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino to be interestingly eerie. A brief drive through San Jose, the one and only village on Tinian, where the vast majority of the island’s population lives, is interesting.

Walt obviously knows his history and is a wealth of information. If he doesn’t know something, he’ll acknowledge as such and make a note to look into it and get back to you. Perhaps more importantly, however, I enjoyed talking to Walt over the course of the day about his own story and about what life is like in Saipan. He’s an “open book”, willing to share much about himself, and there are no “off-limits” questions.

We concluded our tour of Tinian and made the short flight back to Saipan. After returning to Saipan, Walt offered to take me to one or two sites in Saipan to fill up the remainder of the day, but my jet lag was kicking in and I needed some rest so we called it a day. But it is a day I will never soon forget.

I absolutely recommend engaging Walt for a tour of Tinian. Reach out to him directly, though, no need to book through some third-party booking site.

On the 10min:50sec flight to Tinian
The obligatory first photo on Tinian!
Tinian is home to two of the only Shinto temples outside of Japan
The American Memorial with a photo of what it looked like in years past
Air Operations Building (control tower) with a photo of what it looked like in years past; a second level is now no longer!
Inside the Japanese air raid shelter, frogs, lizards and all!
Japanese power plant
Bomb Pit #1: Little Boy
Amphibious landing craft
At the newly-erected statue of King Taga

You can tell by Andrew’s thoroughness, attention to detail, and generosity lavishing what is now my “best review ever”) that he was a fun and interesting client to hang out with! Hope we can hang out again if you’re ever back in this part of the world, Andrew!


Tour client raves about Tinian experience on Facebook!


According to Andrew (this post is “public”): “I very rarely post more than 5 pictures in any Facebook post, the maximum number of thumbnails that will appear. But my experience today touring the island of Tinian (5.8 miles/ 9.3 km south of Saipan) was so overwhelmingly great that I really cannot sum it all up in just 5 pics. So here is an “annotated album” of 30 slides.
      “Tinian is arguably most famous for…”

To read more and view Andrew’s photos, CLICK HERE



B-29 pilot visits Saipan

As it appears in the Marianas Variety AND the Saipan Tribune (Thur, March 16, 2023)

Alex Dunn, former United Airlines pilot of 32 years and one-time pilot of the lone, operational B-29 used by the Commemorative Air Force for traveling air shows, recently visited Saipan for‘s World War II Pilgrimage tour. Dunn is seen here with John S. Castro-Mames, project coordinator of the Seafaring Traditions Program in Susupe along with author/guide Walt F.J. Goodridge.(Photo: Tyler Warwick)


Cruise ship tour day canceled, but thanks to Roger, it wasn’t a total loss!

The Saturday, March 4, 2023 cruise ship arrival here on Saipan was canceled due to high winds which made the docking a safety issue. Here, however, is a Tripadvisor review from one of the day’s “almost-customers,” Roger Cook:

I began corresponding with Walt in August 2022 in advance of a planned cruise stop in March 2023. Walt responded immediately and an engaging dialog ensued with Walt proposing a fascinating full day group tour of the island. We continued to email regularly over the next several months as the group grew to nearly 40 members.

On the morning of our arrival, as the ship steamed toward the entrance to Saipan harbor, the Captain announced that weather would prohibit us from making the port call. We were greatly disappointed. We had been looking forward to meeting Walt and touring Saipan with him.

Gracious, as always, before the day was out, Walt had already refunded half of the group their fees and was working on the balance. I would urge anyone planning to visit Saipan to contact Walt, an honest man who offers good value with a delightful manner. I may never get to Saipan, but I will treasure the experience of working with Walt forever.

My Response:

Hey Roger! Even though we never got to meet, it was great having you as my one-man, pre-cruise, tour marketing department and as my onboard contact as the docking situation evolved that morning.

We needed to rent one of the vans from the evening before, but–as this was not my first time at this rodeo–my team and I waited at the airport rental agency before signing out the other vans while we waited for your email about the captain’s decision. A few other passengers on the ship emailed me as word of the cancellation spread, but we didn’t call it a bust until we got YOUR email!

Cruise ship arrival days are a rarity here on our little island, so I do hope you get to swing by this corner of the planet in some other way. There’s a lot of history and mystery to see and experience here on Saipan, Tinian and Rota!

Thanks for the review!

Walt (“The Jamaican on Saipan!”)

P.S. Thanks as well for your amazing generosity in helping defray the costs. FYI: For this and any business service I offer, I like to charge only for results. So, even though I did, in fact, incur expenses in the lead-up for the day, I don’t believe the potential customers should be penalized if they don’t receive any of the results they anticipated–particularly if the reasons are not under their control. It probably won’t endear me to my competition, but that’s my policy and I’m sticking to it!

P.P.S. On the bright side, I gave away all the boxes of Chicken Kelaguen wraps from Herman’s Modern Bakery (a sample of local Chamorro cuisine that was to be a surprise for the group) to gas station attendants, strangers and friends as I tied up the day’s loose ends. So a few (non vegan) folks got free snacks from the day’s outcome!

Bangladeshi, Carolinian, Jamaican and Fijian volunteer team and special honored guest awaiting final word of captain’s decision.




The Annapolis Group! The movie!


Annapolis Group DAY 6-Fabian’s Battle of Saipan Museum & Community Thanks!

On this final day of their itinerary, the team is about to meet Fabian Indalecio, Saipan resident, veteran (Operation Iraqi Freedom) and passionate collector who has a unique collection he agreed to share with our guests!

Our originally-scheduled meetup on Sunday had to be canceled due to unforeseen circumstances. Fabian, however, not one to disappoint interested visitors to these islands, called me up last night, and we made it happen this morning with just a little bit of time before their scheduled departure!

For safety reasons and to avoid crowding, Fabian suggested we split the group in two.

Fabian greets the first group

“Wow! This is crazy…”overheard upon first entering the museum.

Yes, it can be overwhelming at first sight! Gathered over a period of thirty years, the thousands of items in Fabian’s “Battle of Saipan Museum” include relics of every shape and stripe from pre and post war Saipan and Tinian.

Spotted, unearthed, retrieved and gathered primarily by Fabian himself (with some provided by members of the community), the items come from battle sites, caves, the ocean, backyards, construction sites, recycling stations and the post-war military dump sites.

Many of the items from Tinian were collected by Fabian’s uncle, Franklin Mundo, who is doing great work finding and sharing the remains still being discovered on both islands with organizations in Japan and the US who are still working identifying and repatrating the over 30,000 individuals who have still not yet been found since both battles.

Rare items under glass

..bottles, bombs, books…

An amazing collection


Molly inspects a Japanese helmet featuring the anchor/cherry blossom badge

Fabian welcomes the second group

The engraving reads “Weighted Container for Classified Matter” (see below)

The team! Thanks, Fabian!

The Marianas Variety newspaper hit the stands early in the morning, but neither I nor the group had actually seen it! I grabbed a few copies and shared with some of the team while they had breakfast at Shirley’s in Susupe!

Seeing the Variety spread for the first time! Yep, you’re famous on Saipan, Tinian & Rota!

A few hours later, I met up with the group for their check-in with Star Marianas for the flight back to Guam.

Being cleared for departure by CBP (Customs & Border Protection) officers

Group 1 on the tarmac

Members of group 2 make their to the plane!

And that, my friends, is the short, happy tale of the 9 intrepid visitors from Annapolis, Maryland and the Jamaican on Saipan! They’ll leave with over 500 photos and videos (not including their own) with which to remember this experience, a hands-on appreciation of the life and culture here in the CNMI, a more concrete sense of what the conflict here entailed, and hopefully the names and memories of a few folks they can now call “friend.”

“Walt, thanks again for arranging such a wonderful and memorable trip! Visiting [the private] collection this morning was a perfect cap to the tour. We will look back on it fondly—and we will make sure to sing the praises of you and Saipan to everyone we talk to about it.”-– Bob from Maryland


Mission accomplished!

Thank you!

The Saipan Tribune (Monday, Aug 8, 2022)

Marianas Variety (Monday, Aug 8, 2022)

TEXT from letter: THANKS to the Community
“An Experience Worth Remembering & a Story Worth Telling!”

From July 31 to August 5, a group of visitors from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, got a taste of the history and culture of the CNMI as part of the academy’s Language, Regional Expertise, and Culture Program. It was, for several of these young, future officers, their first time leaving the mainland US. With a tight schedule and many moving parts, it took a team/community/village effort to make this a success. On their behalf, I’d like to extend thanks and appreciation by publicly recognizing the following individuals and organizations here on Saipan as well as on Tinian (as well as Guam & the US mainland) whose participation, generosity and professionalism made this an experience worth remembering and a story worth telling:

• The Naval Academy’s International Program Office (MD), David Anderson of Outdoor Focus, LLC,Las Vegas.

• Beth Demapan, Ray Deleon Guerrero, Jr., Eva Chamorita & Willy Kaitabu.

• Shaun Christian & managers/staff of Star Marianas, Hertz, Maria Aileen Arnold and staff at Islander Car Rental & Century Hotel.

• Tinian Mayor Edwin P. Aldan, Bernadita Palacios, Jose Kiyoshi, Jose Atalig (photographer) & Franklin Mundo.

• National Park Service Lead Ranger Brooke Nevitt & Ranger Nataline Kaneshi (who arranged
to grant us access to the American Memorial Park Visitor Center…on a day normally closed to the public!)

• Yumi “Naka” Brundidge, Sydney Takahashi and crew of FishGuyzScuba, Pat Calvo and staff of Kim’s Food Court & Snack Bar.

• Parker Yobei (Executive Director), Tony Piailug (Master Canoe Carver and a Master Navigator), John Castro, Orlando Limes and all the trades helpers of the Seafaring Traditions Program under the Commonwealth Council of Arts and Culture.

• Chen of CK Electronics (across from KFC).

• JM Guerrero, who (w/Pat Calvo assist) gifted each team member a copy of a full-color collector’s item Saipan Pictorial from 1994!

• Fabian Indalecio for graciously sharing his passion and time with us.

• Jayvee Vallejera & Aldwin Batusin (Saipan Tribune) & Zaldy Dandan (Marianas Variety).

Thank you!!

Walt F.J. Goodridge


More? Check out the DiscoverSaipan Youtube Channel



Annapolis Group DAYS 4 & 5-Scuba Diving!

“Fishguyz were SUPERB. Really wonderful. I highly recommend them to other divers – and I am picky!”M from Maryland                                                                    

As word spread around the island of the group’s presence, Pat Calvo called to inform me that JM Guerrero, farmer and businessman who was once a Marianas Visitor Authority executive, sent a gift for the team: a full color souvenir book titled A Pictoral View of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands published by J.M. & Associates & Island Business Solutions back in 1994!

Pat delivered the books to me, and I met up with the group this morning to hand them their collector’s item souvenir and to see them off for their scuba diving adventure with FishGuyzScuba!

“Thanks, JM!”

FishGuyz on the scene!

The following photos were provided by Sydney Takahashi of FishGuyzScuba:

“We loved them. They’re a fun team. They listened and were willing to learn!”Sydney Takahashi, FishGuyzScuba


Annapolis Group DAY 3-“Forbidden Island, Canoes & Cuisine!”

Day 3. This time, Molly leads the morning ritual. I meet the group at 9:00am to begin our day of cultural immersion!

Molly leads the ritual.

We pile into the van and head to my favorite spot to introduce guests: Forbidden Island!

At the lookout spot, I share the cultural significance of Forbidden Island (you’ll have to take my tour to hear me explain it!).

A moment of silence to show reverence for the sacred site.

“Over hill, over dale…”

A pause to enjoy the scenery (one of many)

Stunning beauty

Rappelling is probably second nature for this group

Aidan the Explorer

Molly on the rocks

The Intrepid nine

On our way to the secret cave

Note to self: Perhaps I should learn how to swim…

Having fun!

Back from the secret cave

On the way back up

After a brief stop at Lau Lau Bay Golf Course, we head back to Susupe to meet up with John Castro, Canoe Program Coordinator of the Seafaring Traditions Program under the Commonwealth Council for Arts & Culture.


John S. Castro-Mames welcomes the group

Tony Piailug (Master Canoe Carver and a Master Navigator)

Tony is a recent recipient of the Governor’s Humanities Award for Preservation of Traditional Cultural Practices

John shares the Seafaring Traditions program mission and goals

…and takes tons of questions

…and more questions

Can’t have a cultural experience without food! Pat Calvo, his wife Mel, and staff member Marissa of Kim’s Food Court & Snack Bar, share Chamorro cuisine. On the menu: Chicken, yellow rice, taro, fried breadfruit and more!

Catering by Kim’s Food Court & Snack Bar; left side: Marissa, Mel & Pat 

Enjoying Chamorro-style cuisine

Aldwin from the Saipan Tribune interviews group member

Aldwin & Me

Pat shares local lore, history and culture with Molly

Aidan receives guidance from Orlando, a trades helper

Sydney gathers info for the next day’s adventure

And that was how Day 3 was spent! Members of the group decided to enjoy Saipan’s beach and calm waters for the rest of the evening!

Micro Beach redux



Annapolis Group DAY 2-“Tinian to Hiroshima”

“On Monday, August 1st, Mayor Edwin P. Aldan met with Mr. Walt F.J. Goodridge and U.S. Military personnel from Annapolis Naval Academy. The meet and greet focused on discussions sharing the history of our islands during World War II, the military’s role during the war, the Chamorro Culture, and the famous sites around our island. Mr. Walt F.J. Goodridge is a Jamaican author on the island of Saipan, famous for his many published books, websites, and documentaries, including his tour business…
We thank Mr. Goodridge and all the U.S. Military personnel for taking the time to visit Tinian. Thank you and si yu’us ma’ase.”–From the Mayor of Tinian’s Facebook page
It started with an early morning pickup and a drive to the Francisco Ada International Airport. On the way, Willy suggested a breakfast run at the world-famous Herman’s Modern Bakery, the first post-war business on Saipan and in Micronesia!

“Don’t forget the sweet bread!”

MJ takes in the history of the Herman Guerrero family business

We’ve still got a few minutes before check-in and departure…

Becca leads the morning ritual as we await the charter

Weigh-in for proper weight distribution


On the 10min 24sec flight to Tinian; (I predicted 10min 39sec)

The obligatory pose for a once-in-a-lifetime trip!

Exploring the Japanese Radio Communications Building

To the Japanese Defense Caves

The blow hole (Ava got “travel points” for her request; truth is, I would have stopped here anyway!)

A dip at the blow hole! This was a first, but I promised on DAY 1 that I wouldn’t let anyone leave with any regrets, so this one was for Charlie!


I stressed to the group that despite how critical Tinian is in the telling of world history and the telling of the story of mankind’s impact on civilization (splitting the atom, atomic bombs, etc.) very few people will ever make this journey.
Very few will have these memories and photos to share. So, I encouraged them to appreciate the gravity of where they stood, and to take full advantage of the opportunity.

Here’s a sign you won’t find many other places on the planet

Setting foot on the runway that changed the course of the war in the Pacific

Runway Able, Tinian

Air Administration Building

Inside the Japanese Power Plant; Column failure from shell pounding from above

Power Plant destruction

The next most significant sites on the tour are the bomb pits, from where “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” (uranium and plutonium bombs, respectively) were winched into the bellies of the Enola Gay and Bock’s Car B-29s (respectively) prior to their missions to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki (respectively).

At Bomb Pit #1

Carson shares his knowledge of the fission vs fusion processes

Aidan adds to the discussion

Next, we quickly head south for a scheduled meeting with the Mayor of Tinian, Hon. Edwin P. Aldan.

Welcomed and greeted by Mayor Aldan

Everyone gets a copy of Don Farrell’s meticulously researched book, Tinian and the Bomb: Project Alberta and Operation Centerboard

We spend the next 25 minutes engaging with the Mayor, asking questions about the island’s relationship with the US and with the military, the geopolitical landscape and even Tinian hot peppers!

Let the questions begin!

…and more questions!

A photo for the scrapbook!

There’s still much more to see after bidding farewell to the Mayor’s office!

At the House of Taga

Touching ancient civilization

The last stone standing

Replicas of Little Boy & Fat Man. Are they they actual size of the originals? See me measuring them:

See for yourself if the replicas are actual sized.
For the group’s battlefield study, a stop at White Beach (Chulu Beach) was on the bucket list, so we squeezed that–and few other sites–into our remaining time on the island before heading to the airport! We still had an important appointment back on Saipan!
Back on Saipan, we headed to American Memorial Park (AMP). Since COVID, the Visitor Center has seen a reduction of tourists, and thus a reduction in its days and hours open to the public, and as it happens, Monday is one of those days closed.
However, Lead Ranger Brooke Nevitt was gracious enough to extend us “by appointment” access, and Ranger Nataline Kaneshi came back in to work on her day off to welcome and host the group!

Ranger Nataline Kaneshi welcomes the group

Thus, we were able to wrap up this critical battlefield study portion of their objective with the Island Called Saipan documentary and a walk through the fascinating and informative display.
After such a jam packed day, we wrapped up just a bit earlier to give the troops some time to unwind. Up next: DAY 3!

A Special Group from Annapolis, MD Experiences Saipan- DAY 1 “WWII Pilgrimage/In Search of Amelia Earhart”

“Thanks so much for going above and beyond my, and I am sure the academy’s expectations in providing a quality tour of Saipan and Tinian. Your attention to detail and ability to remain fluid during the tour was very appreciated. I really enjoyed looking at the images and video clips you captured of the trip, and I look forward to working with you again in the future!” — David Anderson, Outdoor Focus LLC


From July 31 to August 5, 2022, I had the honor and pleasure of hosting a cultural and history tour for a special team from Annapolis, Maryland! Here are some photos and video screen shots from that adventure. We’ll start with some of the local media coverage. (You’ll have to get certain details of the trip as well as the identities of the participants from the local media coverage as I have to be careful about what I reveal in the actual text of my blog.)


Thanks to Zaldy Dandan (Marianas Variety editor) for his generosity!

 Read online

The day prior, we appeared on the front and second pages of The Saipan Tribune! Read online


Thanks to Jayvee Vallejera (Saipan Tribune Editor), and Tribune correspondent Aldwin Batusin, as well as Zaldy Dandan (Marianas Variety Editor) for their generosity getting the stories out in time for the team to grab a few copies of the papers while still here on Saipan as souvenirs of their trip!


“It was a great story and well worth the Page 1 and Page 2 placements.”—Jayvee

We also appeared on the Mayor of Tinian’s Facebook page!

View the post here

Thanks to Mayor Edwin Aldan for making time in his schedule, and Berni Palacios for arranging the Meet & Greet! Thanks also to Mr. Jose Kiyoshi for helping us find our way when we showed up! (More on the DAY 2 blog post)

Stay tuned! There’ll be many more people in the community whose participation and support made it a great success!

The group typically starts each day with a quote and discussion for motivation.

The morning ritual in the hotel lobby


We then loaded into a van and started our tour with an orientation at Micro Beach.

Orientation at Micro Beach


Japanese tank atop bunker at Red Beach (Quartermaster Road)


The team


Follow me!



More details about the landing beaches


Willy K., volunteer driver for the day, shares his thoughts as a Fijian on Saipan


Along the pathway on Beach Road


Susupe Park bunker on the beach


We then met up with Eva Chamorita, who agreed to offer some perspective and insight into Chamorro culture. Eva is also a contributor to the recently-published Latte in the Marianas book.

Eva and the team at Ladder Beach


After visiting a few more cultural and historic sites, we made our way to Mount Tapochau.

A view from the top at Mount Tapochau


Mount Tapochau


Lunch break


Tragedy and beauty at Banzai Cliff


Bird Island

The Last Command Post

In search of Amelia Earhart at Garapan Prison (The Old Japanese Jail)


The team at the Old Japanese Jail

“Golden Hour” Photo by Sunset on Saipan