Food and Shopping
Most food items you need are available locally. We have several mid-size grocery stores. Some produce is grown locally and other produce is brought in by air from the U.S., Korea, or Japan, resulting in higher-than-mainland prices. You will also find some different items.
Tiny local bananas are a treat and papayas and mangoes are among the locally grown fruit. One of the biggest differences between food shopping in Saipan, and in North America, is that although most everything is available here, the variety is much more limited. For example, instead of 2 aisles of different kinds of cereal, there might be five different brands of cereal. It often takes a visit to several different stores to find a particular item, and one tends to have to plan meals based on what is available on a particular day in the stores.
There is a Price Costco on island and most household items can be found there. Prices are comparable to state-side prices (plus the cost of shipping), however, again, the selection is not as varied.
There several hardware stores with a broad selection of hardware items, appliances and furniture. The prices are probably comparable to what it would cost to purchase the items and ship them from the US.
Clothes and many electronic items can be easily purchased online, however not all merchants ship to Saipan.
There are many restaurants on Saipan. There is no shortage of choices for dining out. Chinese, Korean, Chamorro, Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai, Filipino, Bangladeshi, Mexican and Continental cuisines are all available. Many of the first class hotels have upscale dining available. The fast food chains are represented by: McDonald’s, KFC, Subway, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut.
Healthcare in the CNMI is very well developed. The main healthcare facility is the Commonwealth Health Center, which is a modern 74 bed hospital. It has a staff of 34 physicians, in eight departments: Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Obstetrics & Gynecology, General Surgery, Radiology and Emergency Medicine. There are also several sub-specialists on staff including an Ophthalmologist, an Orthopedic Surgeon, Nephrologists, Gastroenterologists, Anesthesiologists and others. All physicians are licensed to practice medicine in the US or Canada, as required by CNMI law. The quality of care is quite good, and rivals that of any community hospital in the US.
Individuals needing care that is not available in the CNMI can travel to Guam, Hawaii, Japan or the Philippines. The government, as well as various insurance companies, have offices in some of these locations to facilitate care.
In addition to the Commonwealth Health Center, there are several private clinics on island.
Outstanding eye care is available at Marianas Eye Institute, Hardt Eye Clinic, and at the Saipan Adventist Clinic.
High quality dental care is also available through the Saipan Adventist Clinic, Smile Saipan, and Toothworks.
There are well stocked pharmacies on the island. If you use any special medications, the pharmacies can arrange to order your medication for you.
For those interested in alternative care, there are a variety of alternate healers available. Because of the large Asian population, there are plenty of acupuncture clinics. Holistic healers, and traditional island healers are also present.
Our tropical climate and island lifestyle encourage cool, loose-fitting cotton shirts, slacks, blouses and dresses. Some cool, rainy evenings may call for a lightweight jacket or sweater. Except for the most formal of occasions, you are unlikely to ever see a suit or a formal dress. You will be doing more washing/laundry than in the states, so wash and wear products are highly recommended. Dry cleaning facilities are available on island. There is a good selection of clothing on Saipan, though it is less expensive to bring clothes with you.
Tennis or jogging-type shoes will get a lot of use. Beach shoes are recommended for wading along the beaches and reefs to protect your feet from sharp coral and the occasional sea urchin or stone fish.
Saipan offers the same postal rates and services as any post office in the United States. Most people here have private post office boxes, however, home delivery can be arranged. Most mail from the states takes about a week to arrive and boxes tend to take up to 3 weeks to arrive because of heightened security. Anything coming by surface will take 6-12 weeks to arrive. Other carriers on island include DHL, Federal Express and UPS. They are, of course, more expensive than U.S. mail. The zip code for the island of Saipan is 96950.
Radio, TV, and Newspaper
Considering its location and small population, the Commonwealth has an extensive media service:
Radio: There are commercial, top-40 AM radio stations with sister FM stations. The Northern Marianas College operates the public radio station which broadcasts National Public Radio and Public Radio International.
Television: Cable TV is widely available on Saipan. Programming is primarily taped on a delay basis on the west coast and shipped out to be carried about a week later. Unfortunately the CNMI is on the edge of most satellite “foot prints,” making it a difficult and expensive proposition to bring in live programming. CNN International is carried live. A daily local newscast is prepared on Saipan and local news coverage from nearby Guam is carried on a one-day delay. Some live programming, particularly sports, is brought in by satellite to Guam and then replayed on the Saipan system. Personal satellite dishes are uncommon so far.
Newspapers: Unlike most mainland cities these days, Saipan has two and even three city newspapers on island. Two local daily newspapers, the Marianas Variety and the Saipan Tribune, are published on Saipan and the Guam-based Pacific Daily News publishes a Friday supplement covering the CNMI. (The PDN is flown to Saipan on a daily basis). All three papers are available in electronic version online.
Barber and beauty shops
Many shops are located throughout Saipan. Most have complete beauty treatment including shampoo and set, permanents, hair cuts, manicure, pedicure, hair-coloring and facial treatments. Prices are lower than on the mainland.