Garapan is the Heart of Saipan, offering many things to do, see, and enjoy. If you're going to make a trip to Saipan, then Garapan is where you want to be, especially if you're not renting a car, as everything is right next door to you, food, entertainment, and shopping only a foot step away. The beaches consist of White sand and tropical blue turquoise waters. We have a new Casino if your'e into the gambling scene or just looking to relax behind a few machines for awhile, while your family shops at the local DFS or I love Saipan stores.
Garapan is the largest village and is the center of the tourism industry here on the island. They have luxury shopping at DFS Galleria, nick knack shopping at I love Saipan and every other type of shopping and eating throughout Garapan, so whether you want to eat Chinese food or American food or the many types of other cultural foods in-between you will find it within walking distance from your shopping experience here in Garapan.
Garapan & Saipan’s history is rich with tales of the fastest canoes in the pacific called the flying Proa’s, by the Spanish when they occupied the islands, excellent fishing capabilities and major farming abilities of the local islanders prior to the Spanish arriving. Sadly most of this culture and history was lost during the Spanish relocation of Saipan. Garapan’s history really started with the Spanish colonial period back in the early 1700’s , the Spanish had deposited from many of the outer islands which was on their trade routes, all Chamorro’s as they called the island people to Saipan as a holding place, before forcibly transferring them to Guam, which is a small island 120 miles to the south of Saipan. Saipan was recorded as uninhabited by 1749. After 1749 the Spanish galleons would stop over on Saipan to hunt and gather fruits and vegetables for their long voyages ahead.
About 66 years later the village of Garapan was formally named from a Carolinian word which derived from a vine with a heart shaped leaf (Gharabwan) which grew near the beach where a newly arrived group of Satawal people in 1815 had set up their homes. The next period of Saipan history was the German colonial period from 1898 to1914, in which the only notable event that had happened was a road which was built connecting Garapan with Tanapag which were both primarily the only two fishing villages on the island. In 1920 the League of Nations gave the island to the Japanese who then started the islands most notable growth period and with the influx of new technology, schools, courthouse, hospital, bank and newspaper which were just a few of their accomplishments. The primary Japanese industry at that time was sugarcane and rice and they built railroad systems to take those products from the growing fields to the seaports where they used seaplanes and boats to transfer them to their final destinations.
1944 was another turning point for the island, the battle of Saipan started on the 15th of June 1944 and the island was won by the USA on July 9th of the same year. After the end of World War II, Saipan became part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. The village of Garapan remained empty until the late 60’s early 70’s in which the village became the major spot on island for the tourism industry and the 1st hotel was built known as called the Royal Taga hotel which is now Known today as Kanoa Resort, And in 1968 the Continental hotel was built in Garapan which was built due to Saipan being the capital of the trust territories for the pacific and Air Mike which was owned by Continental Airlines was flying many flights to and from many destinations during that time which eventually lead to Garapan becoming a tourist mecca and the primary destination for the CNMI.
The city of Garapan is the most urban area in the CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) but is considered more of a "mini town". Hotels, restaurants, shopping centers, smaller stores and shops, other businesses, and American Memorial Park are all within walking distance from each other, although unfamiliar tourists can take a taxicab to and from the insular areas of the city along with the other villages outside of Garapan. There are no public buses in Saipan, but DFS Galleria provides a free bus to its customers between the store and major hotels around the island.
At American Memorial Park, on Micro Beach Road (at the north end of Beach Road), there is a free museum on the Battle of Saipan with relics, audio recordings, and a documentary in several languages. There is also a gift shop. American Memorial Park is a U.S. National Park.
The Kristo Rai Church is a local landmark on Beach Road across from the fishing base, south of McDonald's. A historic bell tower is behind the church, to the left if you are on Beach Road facing the church.
Besides the many shopping and eating opportunities in Garapan, there is still much more to do. All beaches on Saipan are public (even if they are located in front of a hotel), so regardless of where you are staying, you can go swimming or enjoy other activities at Micro Beach. You can take a walk, jog, play frisbee, have a picnic, or check out the Visitor Center at American Memorial Park, which is next to Micro Beach. You can get a massage or you can get your hair done. You can rent a car or a motor scooter. You can watch the dancers in front of I Love Saipan, on Beach Road north of DFS Galleria.
There are many opportunities for shopping in Garapan. The DFS Galleria is a large shopping center that offers duty free shopping with low tax. Star Sands Plaza is the largest souvenir and island lifestyle store on island where U.S retail brand outlet Everblue store can be found. ABC STORES has two Saipan branches with an initial inventory that includes stocked grocery, souvenirs, drugs and cosmetics, ABC has grown to carry anything a tourist would need. There is also a popular local department store called Joeten in Garapan that offers unique gifts and grocery items. The Athlete's Foot is located next to Joeten at Hafa Adai Shopping Center.