The cuisine of the Northern Mariana Islands

Pitched just 100 miles northeast of Guam (a miniscule distance in terms of the Pacific), the Northern Mariana Islands share the Chamorro traditions of their larger neighbour.

Travellers can find plenty of international fare and American staples in the many busy eateries that are clustered in the resort area of Garapan, on the west coast of the biggest island Saipan. Adventurous palates can also sample a few regional dishes to get a local flavour of the islands.

Kalaguen uhang, for example, is a Chamorro take on South American ceviche, where fresh shrimp are slow-marinated in salt, lemon juice, coconut milk, onions and peppers. Kalaguen guihan gives the same patient treatment to fish – which, given the Northern Mariana Islands’ oceanic location, are in plentiful supply wherever is chosen to eat.

Kalamai, meanwhile, is a pudding made using either corn starch or coconut which solidifies into firm, sweet chunks and is often flavoured with either vanilla or cinnamon.

Experience Region
Five Facts
  • Another local delicacy of the Northern Mariana Islands is apigi - a sweet dish formed of coconut wrapped in banana leaves which is then roasted. Visitors should also look out for dishes containing donne Sali - a small and fiery local pepper.
  • The small island of Rota is the perfect spot for visitors to sample local delicacies in the calm and quiet of this small, close-knit community. Foodies can try ayuyu, the large coconut crab, when it’s in season from September to November, and kadun pika, a hot and spicy beef soup.
  • Visitors to Saipan can explore local food at the weekly Garapan Street Market. Taking place every Thursday evening from 5pm-9.30pm, holidaymakers can explore the many stalls for a variety of international dishes, as well as local arts, crafts and souvenirs. The market also features traditional music and dance performances.
  • Saipan hosts the annual Taste of the Marianas Festival. Visitors are invited to join the festivities, which feature live entertainment as well as local and international food on offer from participating hotels and restaurants, at the American Memorial Park every Saturday in May from 6pm.
  • Visitors looking to indulge whilst on the Northern Mariana Islands can find a number of fine-dining restaurants on Saipan. The Revolving Restaurant 360 in Susupe offers spectacular island and ocean views, while the Lao Lao Bay Golf Resort offers luxurious dining at the Café Bay and Dining Deck. Holidaymakers can also take a dinner cruise from Saipan to enjoy dining in front of a superb sunset.