The islands of Rota, Tinian, and Saipan all offer unique experiences for beginning to advance divers with a selection of shore, boat, night, cavern, and wreck dives. The average water temperature is also fairly consistent at 28-30 Celsius. A 3mm full wetsuit would suffice for all seasons.
The island of Rota, located 1050 km south of Tinian and 1217 km south of Saipan, is known for its clear visibility even in comparison to The Marianas’ already famously transparent water. It has been stated, “In the ocean of Rota, you can see as much as you can with your eyesight. Your eyesight is the visibility range,” and this attests to Rota’s underwater visibility. The average visibility underwater is 40m, even extending up to 70m on a good day.
Although May-July is known as the optimal diving season, this time period is only a reference to the best presentation of “Spotlight,” the most famous feature of Rota Hole. The island’s warm climate and great visibility allow all-season diving, excluding during the rare typhoon. Rota’s diving sites can be separated into two groups. First, there are points along the southwest to the north of Mountain Taipingot (also known as Wedding Cake Mountain). Then there are the other points on the southeast region located in Sasanhaya Bay, a body of water gently hugged by the mountains, located on the right side of Mount Taipingot. Due to the strong northerly wind in January to March, access to certain points may be limited; however, it is still a popular time for diving as this season boasts the best visibility. The southeast points from the Mt Taipingot to Pona Point are also popular during the winter season. All diving in Rota is done via boat, and all sites are within 10 minutes travelling time.
Saipan is 13 miles long and the largest island of The Marianas. Saipan is a diver’s dream and is a gift box set of high visibility, extensive coral habitat, dozens of stingrays, unique underwater floor characteristics, submerged World War II history, and one of the world’s top cavern dives, Grotto. Furthermore, Saipan can satisfy all levels of divers with its diversity of dive types, its varying seafloor features, and water conditions that are ideal for scuba diving.
Taking a thorough trip of all of Saipan’s diving spots will take more than a week, but a week on this beautiful island surrounded by coral reefs feels like only a day. Saipan offers beach and boat diving; with sites 5-40 minutes away by boat (traveling 40-50 minutes by boat can take divers to the nearby island Tinian).
Saipan is indeed a paradise for scuba divers. Although there are dry and rainy seasons, the temperature stays stable and the visibility remains clear all year long for the perfect diving experiences. June-August is the best season, although this is also the beginning of the rainy season and periodic inclement weather. Please plan accordingly, as boat trips may not be available during inclement weather.
Tinian is located 5 km southwest of Saipan and it is the second largest island of The Marianas. Like the other islands, it is known for its outstanding underwater visibility. There are two ways to enjoy diving in Tinian: staying overnight in Tinian or staying in Saipan and visiting Tinian points via boat. Many divers choose to do a day diving trip in Tinian. The trip from Saipan takes only 40-50 minutes by speedboat, so a day trip itinerary may include early departure to Tinian, two dives, then a return to Saipan. For this schedule, most divers choose Tinian favorites Fleming and Grotto as the two diving spots.
Unlike the other islands of The Marianas, Tinian has a flat landscape. Both sandy beaches and cliffs make up a shoreline where waves shatter into white sparkles. The underwater topography is especially intriguing. Because of its rare, flat surface, Tinian once served as the busiest airbase in the world, following a brutal battle on the island in World War II. Beyond its waters’ clear visibility, which is a feature of the entire Marianas, Tinian has many historical relics of the war and other historic periods, presenting many tourist attractions both under and above the sea. Tinian has plenty to offer on land for those who may wish to spend more than a day there.
Tinian’s gentle climate is warm and clear yearlong, providing all-season diving opportunities, although the wind can be a big influence as the flat landscape cannot buffer the wind as much as on neighboring Saipan or Rota. Moreover, the round shoreline that does not circumvent a body of water fully exposes diving sites to headwinds. Usually, this island is serene, punctuated by an occasional typhoon during rainy season. Be advised of such considerations when planning for diving, as traveling by boat may become difficult.
Most of Tinian’s points are appropriate for boat diving and are close to the island, except for Goat Island. Travel time varies significantly as there is only one port on the island, but most points are accessible within 5 to 20 minutes by high-speed boats.