There is a way for local residents of Saipan to get out to Managaha for free. I had heard about it from a friend but we never tried it out until last week. It is a little involved and the whole there-are-no-physical-addresses-on-Saipan thing makes it extra tricky, but now that we know how, we can do it as often as we want. Probably. (One alternative we know of is to pay $8/person to go, but that adds up really fast for a family of 5. A third option is to pay one of the boat operators who hang out at the Fiesta resort beach to take you. I don’t know how much that costs, but I know you can try to negotiate a bit with them.)
Here is what to do:
1. First, you need to get local IDs for everyone who wants to go, children included. This could be a driver’s license, a Mayor’s ID*, an employee ID (there is a comprehensive list of acceptable IDs in the Tasi Tours office).
2. At least 24 hours before you want to go to Managaha, take photocopies of the local IDs to the Tasi Tours office on Beach Road (they don’t want the originals, just copies). It is located just south of National Office Supply and Star Water, and just north of Triple J Motors and an eye doctor’s office. There is a sign but it is set back from the road just enough that you have to be looking for it or you might miss it.
The office is open from 8 or 9 am until 11am and then closes for lunch until 1pm. Then it is open again from 1 to 3pm. They will sign you up for the ferry of your choice, or, if it is already full (priority seems to go to paying customers of Tasi Tours), then you will have to settle for another time and/or date. Sometimes they try to be accommodating.
3. Show up for the ferry 30 minutes ahead of time on the day you are scheduled to go. It is located in Lower Base (basically directly west from Isa Drive at the Capitol Hill turnoff–you can get there either by driving either north or south on Middle Road, and then turning west–towards the ocean–at the first opportunity), behind the Utilties power plant. You cannot count on friendly service on the ferry, but you can expect a free boat ride to Managaha where you can enjoy the best snorkeling around, and turquoise water like this:
*How to get a Mayor’s ID: If you are residing on Saipan or currently employed on Saipan, you can qualify for a Mayor’s ID. I believe those are the only stipulations. It costs $18 for an adult, and $7 for a minor to get a Mayor’s ID.
First of all, take your passport or driver’s license down, along with cash, to the Treasury office. (The Mayor’s Office does not accept payment for the IDs.) The Treasury office is located on Beach Road, just south of the highschool, also on the left if you are headed south. It is in the Courthouse building, more or less across the street from Naked Fish restaurant & the “Sabado market” (an outdoor farmer’s market held on Saturday mornings. They have excellent soups, too!). You do not need to have filled out the application beforehand; just tell them you want to pay for an ID and they will take care of the rest.
Then take your receipt over to the Mayor’s office (I recommend going in the morning for better service), along with the individuals who are getting IDs (because they will need to be photographed). The office is located further up north on Beach Road, past the Joeten Motors dealership and First Hawaiian Bank. It is in a two-story coral brick building that also houses the Armed Forces Recruitment office and a business called “Noni Noni.” The Office is on the second floor.
Fill out the application, get photographed and voila.
(Can you even believe that it only took me six months to figure all those steps out, get IDs for our whole crew, and then actually sign us up on a day we could all go? I feel like a HERO.)
Stay tuned for a future post on “how to buy groceries on Saipan.” It is not as straightforward as you might think…