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Dane Hodges...and the turquoise Sea of Saipan
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - 9:06 PM

Northern Marianas Islands...the turquoise Sea of Saipan

Dane Hodges fishing Saipan, CNMI

The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), is a commonwealth in political union with the United States, occupying a strategic region of the western Pacific Ocean. It consists of 15 islands about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines. The United States Census Bureau reports the total land area of all islands as 179.01 square miles (463.63 km2).

The capital of the Northern Marianas Islands, the Island of Saipan, is an enchanting tranquil tropical paradise island of unimaginable beauty; highlighted by turquoise crystal water, fire red sunsets, panoramic views, and unparalleled weather. Saipan's 10k+ voters have hosted 3/4 million tourists in a single year, entirely from East Asian, making Saipan a playground of seaside golf, scuba diving, sport fishing, snorkeling, para sailing, wind surfing, kayaking, biking, beach volleyball, or barbecuing on the remote pristine beaches. The laid back nature of the inhabitants is as legendary as the tropical breezes.

Windsurfers play in the turquoise sea, Saipan

The Northern Mariana Islands has a population of 53,883. More than 90% of the population lives on the island of Saipan. Of the fourteen other islands, only two — Tinian and Rota — have a significant population. The islands of Agrihan and Alamagan have fewer than ten residents each, and the remaining islands are unpopulated.

Another beach, Dane Hodges, Northern Marianas Islands

The Commonwealth's center of government is in the village of Capital Hill on Saipan. As the island is governed as a single municipality, most publications name Saipan as the Commonwealth's capital.


We are about here, Saipan, CNMI

The Northern Mariana Islands, together with Guam to the south, compose the Mariana Islands. The southern islands are limestone, with level terraces and fringing coral reefs. The northern islands are volcanic, with active volcanoes on Anatahan, Pagan and Agrihan. The volcano on Agrihan has the highest elevation at 3,166 feet (965 m). Anatahan Volcano is a small volcanic island 80 miles (130 km) north of Saipan. It is about 6 miles (10 km) long and 2 miles (3 km) wide. Anatahan began erupting suddenly from its east crater on May 10, 2003, at about 6 p.m. (0800 UTC). It has since alternated between eruptive and calm periods. On April 6, 2005, approximately 1,800,000 cubic feet (50,970 m3) of ash and rock were ejected, causing a large, black cloud to drift south over Saipan and Tinian.

Sunset on Saipan lagoon

Map of the Northern Mariana Islands. Climate The islands have a tropical marine climate moderated by seasonal northeast trade winds. There is little seasonal temperature variation. The dry season runs from December to June, and the rainy season from July to November and can include typhoons. The Guinness Book of World Records has cited Saipan as having the most equable temperature in the world.

Spanish possession

Dane Hodges swimming Saipan, CNMI

 The island of Saipan.The first European exploration of the area was in 1521 by Ferdinand Magellan, who landed on nearby Guam and claimed the islands for Spain. The Spanish ships were met offshore by the native Chamorros, who delivered refreshments and then helped themselves to a small boat belonging to Magellan's fleet. This led to a cultural clash, since in Chamorro tradition there was little private property and taking something one needed, such as a boat for fishing, was not considered stealing. The Spanish did not understand this custom. The Spanish fought against the local Chamorros until the boat was recovered. The Spanish then gave the archipelago the name Islas de los Ladrones ("Islands of the Thieves").

Three days after he had been welcomed on his arrival, Magellan fled the archipelago under attack. In 1565 Miguel López de Legazpi arrived in Guam and took possession of the islands in the name of the Spanish Crown. The islands were to be ruled from the Philippines as part of the Spanish East Indies until 1898. A Royal Palace was built in Guam for the Spanish governor of the islands. Its ruins can still be seen.

Jeanne Hodges in Rota, NMI

Guam was an important stop-over for the Manila Galleons, a convoy of ships carrying passengers and cargo such as silver, plants and animals from Acapulco (Mexico) to Manila. On the return trip from the Philippines to Mexico, the galleons did not call at Guam as the eastern winds were farther north, near the coast of Japan.

In 1668 Padre Diego Luis de San Vitores renamed the islands Las Marianas after Queen Mariana of Austria, widow of Spain's Philip IV.

paddlers paradise, Saipan

Most of the islands' native population (90%-95%) died from Spanish diseases or married non-Chamorro settlers under Spanish rule. New settlers, primarily from the Philippines and the Caroline Islands, were brought to repopulate the islands. The Chamorro population did gradually recover, and Chamorro, Filipino and Carolinian language and ethnic differences remain basically distinct in the Marianas.

Spanish colonists forced the Chamorros to be concentrated on Guam to encourage assimilation and conversion to Christianity. By the time Chamorros were allowed to return to the Northern Marianas, Carolinians (from present-day eastern Yap State and western Chuuk State) had settled in the Marianas. Carolinians and Chamorros now are both considered as indigenous and both languages are official in the commonwealth (though not Guam).

The color of the Marianas

German and Japanese possessionFollowing the Spanish–American War of 1898, Spain ceded Guam to the United States and sold the remainder of the Marianas (along with the Caroline and Marshall Islands) to Imperial Germany.

Early in World War I, Japan took the opportunity to declare war on Germany and invaded the Northern Marianas, hoping to annex them. In 1919, the League of Nations, precursor of the United Nations, awarded the islands to Japan by a mandate. During Japan's occupation, sugar cane became the main industry of the islands, and labor was imported from Japan and associated colonies (especially Okinawa and Korea). In the census of December 1939, the total population of the South Pacific Mandate was 129,104, of which 77,257 were Japanese (including ethnic Taiwanese and Koreans).

They look close to Saipan

Hours after the Attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese forces from the Marianas launched an invasion of Guam on December 8, 1941. Chamorros from the Northern Marianas, then under Japanese rule for more than two decades, were brought to Guam to assist the Japanese administration. This, combined with the harsh treatment of Guamanian Chamorros during the 31-month occupation, created a rift that would become the main reason Guamanians rejected the reunification referendum approved by the Northern Marianas in the 1960s.

American Invasion

Dane's dad in hobbit House, Rota, NMI

 Near the end of World War II, the United States military invaded the Mariana Islands on June 15, 1944, beginning with the Battle of Saipan, which ended on July 9 with the Japanese commander committing seppuku (a traditional Japanese form of ritual suicide). Of the 30,000 Japanese troops that defended Saipan, fewer than 1,000 remained alive at battle's end. U.S. forces then recaptured Guam beginning July 21 and invaded Tinian (see Battle of Tinian) on July 24, which provided the take off point for the Enola Gay, the plane dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima a year later. Rota was left untouched (and isolated) until the Japanese surrender in August 1945, due to its military insignificance.

The war did not end for everyone with the signing of the armistice. The lastgroup of Japanese soldiers surrendered on Saipan on December 1, 1945.    On Guam, Japanese soldier Shoichi Yokoi hid out in the village of Talofofo until 1972.


Tourists play where the Marines swarmed Sugar dock,Saipan

Between the end of the invasion and the Japanese surrender, the Saipan and Tinian populations were kept in concentration camps. Japanese nationals were eventually repatriated, and the indigenous Chamorro and Carolinians returned to the land.


Dane Hodges and friends

After Japan's defeat, the islands were administered by the United States as part of the United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands; thus, defense and foreign affairs are the responsibility of the United States. The people of the Northern Mariana Islands decided in the 1970s not to seek independence, but instead to forge closer links with the United States                                                                                       

Dane Hodges pulls kayak, Saipan, CNMI

Negotiations for territorial status began in 1972. A covenant to establish a commonwealth in political union with the U.S. was approved in 1975. A new government and constitution went into effect in 1978. Similar to other U.S. territories, the islands do not have representation in the U.S. Senate, but are represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by a delegate (beginning January 2009 for the CNMI) who may vote in committee but not on the House floor.

Such color, Saipan


Historical populations

Census Pop. %±

1960 6,000 —

1970 9,436 57.3%

1980 16,780 77.8%

Dane Hodges at AMP, Saipan

 1990 43,345 158.3%                       

2000 69,221 59.7%

2010 53,883 −22.2%

Dane Hodges B-day Saipan

The official 2000 census count was 69,221. Asian 56.3%, Pacific Islander 36.3%, Caucasian 1.8%, other 0.8%, mixed 4.8%. The Northern Mariana Islands have the highest female to male ratio in the world with 0.77 males/female (1.30 females/male).  The 2010 census was 53,883 and expected to drop with implementation of the federalization law.

Oh, Saipan sunset

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands benefits from substantial subsidies and development assistance from the federal government of the United States. The economy also relies heavily on tourism, especially from Japan, and the rapidly dwindling garment manufacturing sector. The tourism industry has also been dwindling since late 2005. Since late 2006, tourist arrivals fell 15.23% (73,000 potential visitors) from the eleven months prior.

Dane Hodges plays in the surf on Island of Saipan, CNMI

The Northern Mariana Islands had successfully used its position as a free trade area with the U.S., while at the same time not being subject to the same labor laws. For example, the $3.05 per hour minimum wage in the Commonwealth, which lasted from 1997 to 2007, was lower than in the U.S. and some other worker protections are weaker, leading to lower production costs. That allowed garments to be labeled "Made in USA" without having to comply with all U.S. labor laws.

Enter the Grotto, Saipan

However, the U.S. minimum wage law signed by President Bush on May 25, 2007, would result in stepped increases in the Northern Marianas' minimum wage to reach U.S. level by 2015.[15] The first step (to $3.55) became effective July 25, 2007, and a yearly increase of $0.50 will take effect every May thereafter until the CNMI minimum wage equals the nationwide minimum wage. However, a law signed in December 2009 delayed the yearly increase from May to September. As of September 30, 2010, the minimum wage is $5.05 per hour.  In the extreme, the island's exemption from U.S. labor laws had led to many alleged exploitations including recent claims of sweatshops, child labor, child prostitution, and even forced abortions.

Tourists, including Slone Hodges, play in Saipan

An immigration system mostly outside of federal U.S. control (which ended on November 28, 2009) resulted in a large number of Chinese migrant workers (about 15,000 during the peak years) employed in the islands' garment trade. However, the lifting of World Trade Organization restrictions on Chinese imports to the U.S. in 2005 had put the Commonwealth-based trade under severe pressure, leading to a number of recent factory closures. Adding to the U.S.-imposed scheduled wage increases, the garment industry became extinct by 2009.

Political status

Saipan's Grotto by Ron Hodges

In 1947, the Northern Mariana Islands became part of the post–World War II United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI). The United States became the TTPI's administering authority under the terms of a trusteeship agreement. In 1976, Congress approved the mutually negotiated Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) in Political Union with the United States. The CNMI Government adopted its own constitution in 1977, and the constitutional government took office in January 1978. The Covenant was fully implemented November 3, 1986, pursuant to Presidential Proclamation no. 5564, which conferred United States citizenship on legally qualified CNMI residents.

Swimming Hole, Rota

On December 22, 1990, the United Nations Trusteeship Council terminated the TTPI as it applied to the CNMI and five other of the TTPI's original seven districts (the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia (Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap)), this was acknowledged in under United Nations Security Council Resolution 683 passed on the same day.

You must see a Saipan sunset to believe it

Under the Covenant, in general, United States federal law applies to CNMI. However, the CNMI is outside the customs territory of the United States and, although the internal revenue code does apply in the form of a local income tax, the income tax system is largely locally determined. According to the Covenant, the federal minimum wage and federal immigration laws "will not apply to the Northern Mariana Islands except in the manner and to the extent made applicable to them by the Congress by law after termination of the Trusteeship Agreement." The local control of minimum wage was superseded by the United States Congress in 2007.

Sunset from Micro Beach, Saipan

Prior to November 28, 2009, the INA did not apply in the CNMI. Rather, a separate immigration system existed in the CNMI. This system was established under the Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Political Union with the United States of America (“Covenant”), which was signed in 1975 and codified as 48 U.S.C. § 1801. The Covenant was unilaterally amended by the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 (“CNRA”) approved by the U.S. Congress on May 8, 2008, thus altering the CNMI’s immigration system.

Dane Hodges with WWII Japanese canon

Specifically, CNRA § 702(a) amended the Covenant to state that “the provisions of the ‘immigration laws’ (as defined in section 101(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(17))) shall apply to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.”2 Further, under CNRA § 702(a), the “immigration laws,” as well as the amendments to the Covenant, “shall . . . supersede and replace all laws, provisions, or programs of the Commonwealth relating to the admission of aliens and the removal of aliens from the Commonwealth.”

Forbidden Island off Saipan

Transition to U.S. Immigration Law began November 28, 2009 in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). CNMI's immigration laws have been replaced by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and other U.S. immigration laws.

Inside Saipan's Grotto by Ron Hodges

The CNMI has a United States district court which exercises jurisdiction over the District of the Northern Mariana Islands (DNMI), which is coterminous with the CNMI. The United States District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands was established by act of Congress in 1977 and began operations in January 1978. The court sits on the island of Saipan, but may sit other places within the Commonwealth. The district court has the same jurisdiction as all other United States district courts, including diversity jurisdiction and bankruptcy jurisdiction. Appeals are taken to the Ninth Circuit. The district court's local rules specifically require lawyers to wear shoes to court.

Tuna anyone, Dane Hodges, Saipan

The CNMI was founded in January 1978. Following the foundation of the Commonwealth its qualified residents were granted U.S. citizenship in November 1986, after which it was represented in the United States (and especially Washington, D.C.) by a Resident Representative who was elected at-large by CNMI voters and whose office was paid for by the CNMI government. In 2008, Congress enacted Pub. L. No. 110-229, title VII of which established a CNMI delegate's seat. Democrat Gregorio Sablan was elected in November 2008 as the first CNMI delegate and took office in the 111th Congress.

Remnants of the Battle of Saipan

Agricultural production, primarily of tapioca, cattle, coconuts, breadfruit, tomatoes, and melons, exists, but is relatively unimportant in the economy

No where has such natural beauty, Saipan


Saipan is a US commonwealth island in the Northern Marianas chain 4100 km SW of Hawaii, 1300 miles south of Japan, and 1300 miles East of the Philippines.  We are known for unequalled tropical weather, averaging a daily high of 81 and overnight low of 74 twelve months a year.  The fabulous beaches are playground to a half million tourists yearly and NMI scuba diving must be seen to be believed.  Saipan's four seaside golf courses are windswept masterpieces! 

Dane Hodges parents Rota Island,CNMI

Rich Steele (L) races Dane Hodges (R) from pool to beach,NMI

Saipan is a diverse mix of island and Asian cultures making it the true gateway to the orient.  The English language is widely spoken and the US dollar is standard currency.  The 15 x 4 mile island is home to about 50,000 residents mixed between Chamorro, Carolinian, Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Russians, other islanders, and US mainlanders.  US citizens receive a 90% refund and rebate from their federal income tax provided you are a resident here for at least half the year.  With no real estate taxes and no federal income tax, this makes the CNMI the nations most favorable tax structure! Dane Hodges pictured above chasing Richie Steele from pool to ocean at Dane's 4th Birthday Party.

Manta in Tinian channel

                                                                                                       Three miles south of Saipan, Tinian has equally impressive beaches, a four star Resort and Casino (Tinian Dynasty), and fire red sunsets.  A former home to the WWII Enola Gay, Tinian can be reached several times daily from Saipan by ferry(not operating) and small aircraft.  Pictured above is a large Manta near the Tinian Grotto.

Wedding Cake Mt Rota, CNMI

Island of Rota

Rota is the the southernmost of the Northern Marianas, 100 miles to the south, boasting natural beauty beyond compare.  The "friendly" island of 2000 does not have a single traffic light and is a bit like stepping 100 years back in the past.  Blessed with scenery such as the Bird Sanctuary Lookout, Wedding Cake Mountain, Taga Stone Quarry, tranquil beaches, and CRYSTAL clear water, make Rota a Mecca for scuba divers and photographers alike.  Above Wedding Cake Mt across Sosanhaya Bay, Rota, NMI!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dane Hodges fishing the Northern Marianas Islands

OFFICIAL NAME: Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The Commonwealth is a 14 island chain. Three islands are inhabited, Saipan, Rota and Tinian.
POPULATION: Approximately 53,000 total as of 2010 census.
CITIZENSHIP: United States
OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: English, Chamorro, and Carolinian
RELIGION: No official religion, although the population is predominantly Catholic. Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Ba'hai and non-denominational services can be found throughout the island of Saipan.

Dane Hodges at Last Command Post, Saipan

ELECTRICITY: Single Phase 60 Cycles 115/230 Volts AC
HEALTH SERVICES: Provided by the Commonwealth Health Center. Full service medical care. Private health clinics are availble on Saipan
ZIP CODE: 96950
TELEPHONES: (Area Code:670) The Commonwealth is part of the North American Numbering Plan. Dial -1- followed by the area code and the number from anywhere in the United States.
POSTAL SERVICE: The United States Postal Service provides daily mail service at regular postal rates.
WEATHER: The Marianas enjoys the most consistent climate in the world, averaging 82 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. Weather information may be obtained at the National Weather Service.


Ron Hodges on Kingfisher Golf course, Saipan

Saipan is a land of seaside golf courses with five windswept 18 hole tracts that residents can play for 25. to 35. which includes a cart.   We have the 36 hole Lau Lau Bay featuring the seaside East (35.) and the long and difficult West course (30.)  We have the seaside links Coral Ocean Point on the south end of Saipan (30.) which has hosted Asian Tour (Larry Nelson is a former champion) events and 20-30 MPH winds are common on this brutally long course.  Kingfisher is another gorgeous Saipan course that is demanding and breathtaking.  Marianas Golf Course is on the North side of Saipan (25.) on the hill looking west with afternoon wind that makes any hole a challenge.  Rota Island also has a spectacular course at the Rota Resort (30.).


Dive Rota, CNMI

The NMI has legendary Micronesian diving, which is quite possibly only behind Palau and Yap for visibility, quality, color, marine variety, caves, wrecks (behind Chuuk in wreck diving), tunnels, coral, grottos, and general adventure diving worldwide.   Saipan can boast the Blue Grotto, Bonzaii cliff, Forbidden Island, Bird Island, Naftan Point, Lau Lau Bay, Obyan, Icecream, and other exceptional dive sites.  Tinian has a Grotto as well and the western walls are superb to drift.  Rota has famous 300 ft visibility and a week spent Diving Rota is a photographers dream come true.  Rota has too many dive site to mention, but you would certainly not want to miss the Senharnom Cave,  Harnom point drift, Pearlman Tunnel, Pona Point (the rollercoaster), Shoun Maru, Coral Gardens, Joannes Reef, and the seldom seen Hobbit House.

Tinian channel from COP Saipan

Dive boat in the Tinian Channel

Night Life

Saipan's evening scene includes fine dining at AJ's and Aqua Resort to numerous pubs such as  Godfathers, Wild Bill's, and Gig for drinking, music, and dance.  



The CNMI has several anual fishing derbies on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.  Our 39 lb Wahoo was a near miss 4th place in the last Wahoo division and a 496 lb Marlin was the grand prize winner (those guys caught 4 marlin in 2 days in a 24 ft boat)!!!!!!!!!

 Dane Hodges parents, Rota Island

Dane Hodges builds in the sand on a Saipan beach, CNMI

Marianas spearfishing

This blog details the travels of a young Micronesian boy, five year old Dane Hodges, and his exploits around the islands, from his home on the Northern Marianas Island of Saipan, and around the Pacific Rim and his East Asian neighborhood. Inspired by “Saipan: The World’s Greatest place to be a little boy” and expanded on 2011 adventures.

Saipan AP- Saipan, in the Northern Marianas Islands exposed...

it’s the World’s best place to be a little boy.

Dane Hodges 4th birthday

Saipan is the capital of the US Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands and is absolutely the best place on earth to be a little boy. 

Saturday(11-3-09), I grabbed the camera to document a day in the life of one little boy on Saipan, and we headed out early to celebrate Dane Hodges 4th birthday.  This is a revised version from the original celebration of Dane's 4th birthday(recently turned 6) now incorporated into the Travels of Dane Hodges Northern Marianas, Micronesia, or Guam chapters with both original and updated photos.

Many Americans have never heard of the Northern Marianas Islands, where America starts her day.  Some US citizens are unaware of the Battle of Saipan as the key to WWII in the Pacific, and oblivious to the US Marine efforts to unseat the legendary Japanese defenders

Dane Hodges, then 4, rides near Micro Beach

Saipan has a history of acclaim for breathtaking beauty and as a photographers dream. Yahoo Japan's poll picked Monagaha Island the second best beach in the world. After sharing that news with Saipan kids, one asked “what is number 1, Sugar Dock, Pau Pau, Micro, Wing, Marine, Lau Lau, or Obyan”, or other Saipan beaches. The same Yahoo Japan poll rated Saipan’s Grotto the second best dive site on earth, behind the Blue Corner in the Rock Islands of Palau.

The same way as our dive sites and beaches lay waste to contenders far and wide, so do we challenge every country, city, village, island, and town on earth as the paradise island for children and the best place for a child to live.


Bird Island, Saipan

We face many challenges, but little boys don’t worry about our GDP, expensive air travel, high costs of power, water, shipping, or being the lowest average income on US soil. Kids like to play and have outdoor fun, and if that’s the selection criteria, nature dealt us a straight flush. Parents rate safety factors when figuring the best place for their child to live, and again, the CNMI’s lack of traffic, low speed limits, clean air, and protective reef with spectacular turquoise lagoon have convinced affluent parents that could live anywhere, to remain here when economics might dictate moving.  The CNMI has the lowest murder rate and fewest traffic deaths of all US states, territories, including the one thousand largest cities or towns in America.

ANAKS flametrees taken from harbor, Saipan

NMI parents must be America’s most widely travelled, with virtually everyone having travelled throughout Asia, SE Asia including Indonesia, Australia, and throughout thousands of Pacific islands. Saipan’s adults discuss Labuan Bajo, Luang Prabang, Penang, Pokhara, Yap, Truk, and a myriad of other lands that 99% of Americans couldn’t find on a globe, and choose to live here with our kids. Make no mistake, as much fun as Bali, Thailand, and the 7k Philippines islands may be for adults, the traffic, pollution, crime, and instability of those places are not conducive to raising your child in a safe environment.

Dane Hodges plays in the surf, Saipan

The small mainland American population in Saipan originated from every US state. Saipan parents are critical of America due to traffic and fast driving resulting in deaths, time spent on the road, harsh winters, polluted cities and air pollution in general, lack of cultural diversity in the SE and Midwest, censured news, racism, a culture of bland unhealthy fast food, violent crime, increase in the availability of dangerous drugs, and being landlocked by a cold, dark, dead ocean as common reasons they would never move their children back to mainland USA. Most who moved back returned asking themselves “what was I thinking”.  Perhaps Henry David Thoreau summarized the pace of life in America best with his ant colony analogy in On Golden Pond.

Dane Hodges and Mom play on 4th birthday

Australia seems like a decent place for children if you haven’t been there. Aussies reside overwhelmingly in seven cities, so unless you want your child in an urban environment, don’t take them to such an inhospitable land. They do have unlimited beaches though, if you trust your child swimming in cold water with no protective reef and too many deadly creatures to name, but Saipan parents would all pass.
Africa and Central/South America are laughable options as well, because between their wars, disease, violent crime, include shocking murder rates, filthy quality of life, most parents here would only allow short well planned vacations to such troubled locales

Dane Hodges and dad build Great Wall on 6th birthday

Europe has a high quality of life in many places, but their brutal north would only be considered for summer vacations. Japan has a wonderful society and sea food equal to the NMI, but their horrific weather rivals the Midwestern United States with bitter cold, snow, ice, rain, mixed with windless humidity in the summer, and figures best for an occasional ski trip. Russia and Canada are endless, but again, only an option for a summer vacation.

Several Caribbean islands are nice if you stay in protected areas of five star resorts, safe from the crime caused by poverty among the indigenous populace. Other Pacific islands may figure to challenge the Island of Saipan for the title of “the world’s best place to be a kid”, but this author is only aware of one close contender to Saipan. Residents of the capital of the CNMI may also be among the most qualified to make that determination, because while our residents are experienced travelers, percentage wise, few have visited here.

Dane hodges pulls Saipan kayak

Some who have never travelled dream of moving to Fiji in the South Pacific, which would make Saipan residents laugh out loud.

Hawaii would beat us in an Internet poll due to their population, and that is also why they have a traffic standstill. The large and remote big island of Hawaii has attractions, even to spoiled residents of Saipan, but they have long fast drives on single lane roads and the ocean is not safe for a child to swim, even under close supervision. Saipan has children that can swim safely from Monagaha Island(shown above) across our glorious lagoon, but even tri-athletes are apprehensive about heading out from any Hawaiian island for a long swim due to the current and cold, much less let a child attempt it.

Saipan traveller Dane Hodges, Cambodia

Guam was probably great when the Cormoran visited early in WWI, before millions of brown tree snakes eradicated the birds, and before thousands of sailors created the traffic nightmare that is Guam.  Guam's traffic figures to intensify from the military build-up anticipated to add 50% to the population by 2014

The one contender for Saipan's title, is also found in the Northern Marianas Islands. The southernmost Northern Marianas isle is the Island of Rota, and arriving there is like stepping out of a time machine 50 years back in the past.

Dane Hodges in Burma

There is no night life and few lights in ancient Songsong Village after dark. There are no traffic lights and the lone paved road runs nine miles to Songsong along the western beaches and is often absent of motor vehicles. Long known as the 'friendly island" because motorists wave at every person or car they pass. The scenery, beaches, and views are comparable to Saipan. Parents would balk as a little boy haven due to lack of educational opportunities and absence of a quality medical facility, two traits that wouldn't faze little boys though. Kids there prefer Saipan because of Happy Meals that are not available in the remote Island of Rota. While the ocean is offers tremendous diving for adults, Rota lacks the enormous lagoon of Saipan and the water sports available to Saipan's children. The swimming hole of Rota is tempting though, but nine of ten young boys choose the northern capital of Saipan.

Dane Hodges in Mt Kinabalu National Park, Borneo

The capital of the Northern Marianas Islands, the Island of Saipan, is an enchanting tranquil tropical paradise island of unimaginable beauty; highlighted by turquoise crystal water, fire red sunsets, panoramic views, and unparalleled weather. Saipan's 10k+ voters have hosted 3/4 million tourists in a single year, entirely from East Asian, making Saipan a playground of seaside golf, scuba diving, sport fishing, snorkeling, Para-sailing, wind surfing, kayaking, biking, beach volleyball, or barbecuing on the remote pristine beaches. The laid back nature of the inhabitants is as legendary as the tropical breezes.

Dane Hodges rides the Thailand train

Time is the most enchanting element of living in paradise. Transient tourists roll in and out with the tide, each on a sightseeing timetable. Their eyes follow the hour glass, each hoping to escape the frivolous details of home and knowing they are being counted out of time. Residents here seldom wear watches unless they scuba dive, dinner starts just after sundown, and residents often ask “what month is it. 

Dane Hodges pool hopping

Saipan is not perfect and the young US commonwealth has a shady political past.  The NMI has had a terrible economic run the past five years, some of our own design, and some from outside economic forces beyond our control including globalization.  The once flourishing NMI garment industry that once poured millions into the local

economy closed their last factory in June of 2009, ending the legacy of labor abuse that had tainted the reputation of the decent people of the Northern Marianas.  The NMI government was instrumental in the Jack Abramoff bribery affair of Tom Delay and the US House of Representatives to block federalization of CNMI labor and immigration.  Nearly 20 have plead guilty or are cooperating with that investigation and labor reforms take effect November 28, 2009, ending the story of shame that disgraced the CNMI for a generation.  The CNMI has been plagued with poor governance and poor judgment.  Fascinating as that tale has become, I have never heard of a little boy that worried about it!

The CNMI has had some bright spots recently as well.  Federalization here gave the NMI a delegate to the US House of Representatives, Kilili Sablan, and the Marianas Trench Marine Monument must be one of the seven wonders of the natural world.  Citizens of the world's fastest growing markets, China and Russia, have been granted visa waivers to the CNMI, the only US soil with that distinction, and that will open opportunity from investors and tourists from these heavily populated markets.  Again, none of that is important to island kids!  Richie Steele (L), leads Dane Hodges (R), in a mad dash from the pool to the ocean, modeling formal island birthday attire (defined in Saipan as sandals with shirt as opposed to informal being optional for both) for occasion.

Little boys on Saipan have 10 major resorts to pool hop and enjoy.  Saipan kids are uninterested that CNMI citizens are the only Americans NOT required to pay US federal income tax. 

Little girls have fun in the Northern Marianas too, and Jinhee and Jinju Thompson have Dane Hodges cornered, Saipan, CNMI

        Dane Hodges at The Last Japanese Comand Post, Saipan,CNMI

Managaha Island, Saipan

           The Queen Mary II visits Dane Hodges in Saipan, CNMI 2012

Dane Hodges fishes Saipan age 4

Saipan Real Estate photos and pictures


Dane Hodges, Dane Hodges Saipan, Dane Hodges CNMI, Dane Hodges CNMI US Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, Saipan, Marianas, Dane Hodges travels traveler traveller China Cambodia Thailand Philippines Korea Japan Micronesia Burma Myanmar Borneo KL Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Lao Indonesia, Marianas Trench National Monument, America Japan Korea,Saipan Grotto, Last Command Post, WWII Enola Gay, Florida Disney World Magic Kingdom Animal Kingdom Sea World, Great Wall Mutianyu Forbidden City hutongs Summer Palace Tiananmen Square, Ancient City Bagan Siem Reap Angkor Wat Mt Kinabalu Tinian Rota Guam Chang Mai Rai Ponape Palau Yap Kosrae Truk Forbidden Island Bird Monagaha Traveler World Asian Pacific Traveller Travels, Jose Rizal Marcos Imelda Aquino Marco Polo Ferdinand Magellan Lapu Lapu Zheng He fleet Genghis Khan Kublai Khan Mao, Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan US House of Representatives, Tom Delay, John Bohner, Saipan CNMI human rights garment industry slave shops abuse trafficking, Ron Hodges, Ronnie Dane Hodges, Josh Hodges, Jeanne, Saipan CNMI golf scuba diving beach tropics. Battle of Saipan, Saipan Real Estate Realty agent broker land sales leasing, Dane Hodges Manila Beijing Bangkok Tokyo Inchon Seoul Tianjin Hong Kong Cincinnati Fairfield Hamilton Ohio Orlando Spring Hill, Joshua Morgan Slone Isaac Dane Hodges, Bulacan Obando, Sunshine 100 realty group, Governor Ben Fitial Jack Abramoff corruption poverty federalization, President Obama Bush CNRA. persona non grata, consultant, Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Gandhi Guy Gabaldon Larry Hilbloom Bill Mallard unheardnomore Nobel Peace Prize Aung San Suki Sun, Marines, Cormoran German, Spanish, Trust Territory, Elvis Ronald Reagan Bill Clinton, Chamorro Carolinian Juan Babauta Pete Froilan Tenorio Ricardo Atalig Tim Villagomez Paul Manglonia Pete Reyes, atomic bomb Hiroshima Nagasaki, Zaldy Dandan, latte stones taga Conception Santa Margarita galleon Senhanom Cave Wedding Cake Mountain Mt Tapachau, Chamberonomics HANMI Chamber of Commerce Duty Free Hyatt PIC Fiesta, operation forager 2nd 3rd army navy air force coast guard, legislature US Congress, Tojo Admiral Nimitz Seito Japanese Empire Macarthur U.S. 2nd Marine Division 4th  Marine Division 27th Infantry Division Lieutenant General suicide cliffs bonsai Holland Smith Pearl Harbor Hawaii 43rd Division Imperial Japanese Army banzai Holland Smith attack Nagumo, DHS Homeland Security Saipan CNMI labor immigration, Dr Ashlee E. Moore, FBI TSA Tony Babauta Insular JFK MLK Janet Napolitano, financing commercial residential BPO brokers price opinion construction contractor auctioneer, FDR Harry Truman B-20 flying fortress Emperor Hirohito, mvariety, Saipan Tribune, IT&E, Bank of Guam, Hawaii 1st Hawaiian,, saipangaragesale, Saipan homes houses Russian Chinese visa waivers, HR-1466, HR-3079, Article 12, land lease law        


Dane Hodges Saipan CNMI US Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands travels traveler China Cambodia Thailand Philippines Korea Japan Micronesia Burma Myanmar Borneo KL Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Lao Indonesia Marianas Trench National Monument America Florida Disney World Sea World Great Wall Mutianyu Forbidden City Summer Palace Tiananmen Square Ancient City Bagan Siem Reap Angkor Wat Mt Kinabalu Tinian Rota Guam Chang Mai Rai Ponape Palau Yap Kosrae Truk Forbidden Island Bird Traveler Travels Jose Rizal Marco Polo Genghis Khan Kublai Khan hutongs Ron Hodges Ronnie Josh Jeanne golf scuba diving beach Pacific tropics Battle of Saipan Saipan Real Estate Realty agent broker land sales leasing Manila Beijing Bangkok Tokyo Inchon Seoul Tianjin Hong Kong Cincinnati Fairfield Hamilton Ohio Morgan Slone Bulacan Obando Sunshine 100 Governor Ben Fitial Jack Abramoff corruption poverty federalization President Obama Bush CNRA persona non grata consultant

Challenger deep Trieste Jacques Piccard Don Walsh Richard Branson James Cameron Marianas Ladrones Saipan Tinian Rota Guam travels traveler Dane Hodges Marianas Trench


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