Saipan is much closer to the Philippines and Japan than to the United States mainland. In fact, this American island, which sits in the region known as Micronesia, is more familiar to Japanese tourists than to travelers from the 50 states. By some accounts, Saipan is touristy, with beaches, resorts and shops all catering to free-spending visitors from East Asia.
But if you step away from the main hotel areas and the popular beaches on the south and west coasts of this 14-mile long island, you can avoid the tourist scrum. Residents here often speak Chamorro (the local tongue) as their first language, holding on to a traditional way of life. Everyone also speaks English. The rugged interior of Saipan hides some wonderful tropical scenery and naturally restricts access to some of the best beaches on the island. As with many of the country's outlying territories, you need to bring your U.S. passport to Saipan as proof of citizenship.