Saipan is the capital of the US Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands and is absolutely the best place on earth to be a little boy.
Saturday, I grabbed the camera to document a day in the life of one little boy on Saipan, and we headed out early to celebrate Dane Hodges 4th birthday.(Dane Hodges comes up for air, Saipan, CNMI)
Many Americans have never heard of the Northern Marianas Islands, where America starts her day. Some US citizens are unaware of the Battle of Saipan as the key to WWII in the Pacific, and oblivious to the US Marine efforts to unseat the legendary Japanese defenders.(Dane Hodges spots Saipan, CNMI)
The same way as our dive sites and beaches lay waste to contenders far and wide, so to do we challenge every country, city, village, island, and town on earth as the paradise island for children and the best place for a child to live.
We face many challenges, but little boys don’t worry about our GDP, expensive air travel, high costs of power, water, shipping, or being the lowest average income on US soil. Kids like to play and have outdoor fun, and if that’s the selection criteria, nature dealt us a straight flush. Parents rate safety factors when figuring the best place for their child to live, and again, the CNMI’s lack of traffic, low speed limits, clean air, and protective reef with spectacular turquoise lagoon have convinced affluent parents that could live anywhere, to remain here when economics might dictate moving. The CNMI has the lowest murder rate and fewest traffic deaths of all US states, territories, including the one thousand largest cities or towns in America.
NMI parents must be America’s most widely travelled, with virtually everyone having travelled throughout Asia, SE Asia including Indonesia, Australia, and throughout thousands of Pacific islands. Saipan’s adults discuss Labuan Bajo, Luang Prabang, Penang, Pokhara, Yap, Truk, and a myriad of other lands that 99% of Americans couldn't’t find on a globe, and choose to live here with our kids. Make no mistake, as much fun as Bali, Thailand, and the 7k Philippines islands may be for adults, the traffic, pollution, crime, and instability of those places are not conducive to raising your child in a safe environment. (Below Dane Hodges and Richie Steele frolic at Palms Resort, Saipan, CNMI)
Australia seems like a decent place for children if you haven’t been there. Aussies reside overwhelmingly in seven cities, so unless you want your child in an urban environment, don’t take them to such an inhospitable land. They do have unlimited beaches though, if you trust your child swimming in cold water with no protective reef and too many deadly creatures to name, but Saipan parents would all pass.(Left- A scattered shower doesn't stop AMP fun, Dane Hodges on top of the world, Saipan)
Africa and Central/South America are laughable options as well, because between their wars, disease, violent crime, include shocking murder rates, filthy quality of life, most parents here would only allow short well planned vacations to such troubled locales
Europe has a high quality of life in many places, but their brutal north would only be considered for summer vacations. Japan has a wonderful society and sea food equal to the NMI, but their horrific weather rivals the Midwestern United States with bitter cold, snow, ice, rain, mixed with windless humidity in the summer, and figures best for an occasional ski trip. Russia and Canada are endless, but again, only an option for a summer vacation.(Below - Dane Hodges needs a coconut for bait to catch Coconut Crabs, Saipan)
Some who have never travelled dream of moving to Fiji in the South Pacific, which would make Saipan residents laugh out loud. (L- Dane Hodges in foreground as the Japanese defenders surrender Saipan, CNMI WWII museum, AMP
Hawaii would beat us in an Internet poll due to their population, and that is also why they have a traffic standstill. The large and remote big island of Hawaii has attractions, even to spoiled residents of Saipan, but they have long fast drives on single lane roads and the ocean is not safe for a child to swim, even under close supervision. Saipan has children that can swim safely from Monagaha Island(shown above) across our glorious lagoon, but even triathletes are apprehensive about heading out from any Hawaiian island for a long swim due to the current and cold, much less let a child attempt it.
The capital of the Northern Marianas Islands, the Island of Saipan, is an enchanting tranquil tropical paradise island of unimaginable beauty; highlighted by turquoise crystal water, fire red sunsets, panoramic views, and unparalleled weather. Saipan's 10k+ voters have hosted 3/4 million tourists in a single year, entirely from East Asian, making Saipan a playground of seaside golf, scuba diving, sport fishing, snorkeling, para sailing, wind surfing, kayaking, biking, beach volleyball, or barbecuing on the remote pristine beaches. The laid back nature of the inhabitants is as legendary as the tropical breezes.(Below - Dane Hodges' Trick or treat islands style, Palms Resort, Saipan, CNMI)
Time is the most enchanting element of living in paradise. Transient tourists roll in and out with the tide, each on a sightseeing timetable. Their eyes follow the hour glass, each hoping to escape the frivolous details of home and knowing they are being counted out of time. Residents here seldom wear watches unless they scuba dive, dinner starts just after sundown, and residents often ask “what month is it.
Richie Steele (L), leads Dane Hodges (R), in a mad dash from the pool to the ocean, modeling formal island birthday attire (defined in Saipan as sandals with shirt as opposed to informal being optional for both) for occasion.
Splashing with Daddy, Saipan