Ferry nearly full, flights increase for Tinian festival

Local cuisine tantalizes revealers at the 2017 Tinian Hot Pepper Festival. The 2018 Tinian Hot Pepper Festival will be held on Feb. 17-18, 2018, at Tachogna Beach. (MVA)

According to the Marianas Visitors Authority, over 90 percent of available ferry seats to the Tinian Hot Pepper Festival on Feb. 17 and 18, 2018, have been sold out.

“The demand this year is greater than ever, and that’s awesome,” said MVA managing director Christopher A. Concepcion. “Over the last couple years, we’ve been working diligently to make the Tinian Hot Pepper Festival even more enticing and accessible to visitors, and it’s paying off. It’s going to be a great weekend [on] Tinian for sure.”

The available ferry slots aboard the Super Emerald ferry schedule are: Feb. 16, departing Tinian at 8:30pm; Feb. 17, departing Saipan at 9am; Feb. 18, departing Saipan at 9am and departing Tinian at 5pm; and Feb. 19, departing Saipan at 8am and departing Tinian at 12pm. Passengers will depart from the Commonwealth Ports Authority dock in Lower Base and must check in one hour before departure.

Star Marianas Air, in cooperation with the MVA and the Tinian Mayor’s Office, will extend its normal hours of operation during the festival. On Feb. 17 and Feb. 18, scheduled flights will be extended, with the last flights leaving Tinian at 10:30pm. To supplement its regularly scheduled flights that leave Saipan hourly at the top of the hour (starting from 7am) and Tinian hourly at the bottom of the hour (starting from 7:30am), Star Marianas will be operating additional aircraft to provide a Saipan-Tinian shuttle service. Advanced bookings are recommended. To minimize airport waiting times, interested travelers are encouraged to contact Star Marianas Air’s reservations team at 433-9996 or 9998 to find out if a particular time of the day is expected to be busier than others. For more information visit www.starmarianasair.com.

In addition, the MVA will provide free shuttle transportation between Tinian International Airport, Port of Tinian, and the festival grounds, only. Due to limited resources, shuttle transport to other venues will not be available. Car rental is also available.

Individuals arriving via the ferry will be shuttled directly to the festival grounds, and those departing via the ferry can catch the shuttle leaving the festival beginning one-and-a half-hour before ferry departure time. Individuals arriving or departing at Tinian International Airport can call for a shuttle at (670) 433-3216 or visit the MVA information booth at the festival grounds for assistance.

Ferry round trip cost is $20 for ages 3-11, $35 for ages 12 and older, and free for children ages 0-2. For one way, the cost is $10 for ages 3-11, $18 for ages 12 and older, and free for children ages 0-2. Advance ticket purchase is required and will be accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis. Passengers are allowed up to 70 lbs of cargo, including bicycles. A $10 fee will be charged for additional cargo. Ticket purchases may be made at the MVA Office on Tinian and Saipan. Cash payments only will be accepted.

The festival highlights Tinian’s famously potent donni sali pepper. The event is also co-organized by the Tinian Mayor’s Office and the 16th Tinian Municipal Council and sponsored by MVA members. Activities will include the road/off road 65K Pika Bike Race on Feb. 17 at 6am, cooking competitions, indigenous craft sales, and live entertainment including cultural dances. Sample a variety of local dishes, catch the umang (hermit crab), join numerous sports activities (including beach volleyball), cook your best kadun pika (spicy stew), cha-cha to the championship, arm wrestle or join the donni sali eating competition, itself. Festival times will be from 2pm to 11pm on both days.

Tinian is also accessible within minutes of Saipan via airplane or via connecting flights from Rota and Guam.

Available hotels on island include Tinian Ocean View Hotel, Fleming’s Hotel, Lorilynn’s Hotel, Tinian Street Motel and Green Lion House Hotel, and some hotels offer airport shuttle as well.
For more information, contact the MVA Tinian office at 1 (670) 433-9365, email MVA Field Operations supervisor Vida Borja at vborja@mymarianas.com, or visit the Marianas Events Calendar at www.mymarianas.com. (MVA)

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