It’s easier than ever this year to get to the 13th Tinian Hot Pepper Festival, slated for Feb. 18-19, 2017, in the home of the legendary Chamorro chief Taga.
Organizers and supporters are offering extra flights and ferry transportation between Saipan and Tinian, as well as a free shuttle between the airport, seaport, and festival grounds at Tachogna Beach.
“With the closure of the Tinian Dynasty, it’s imperative to make it more convenient for people to get to and from the Tinian Hot Pepper Festival, whether it’s a day trip or an overnight visit,” said Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Christopher A. Concepcion. “Tinian is a welcoming, clean, and historically rich destination, and we want to make it as easy as we can for visitors to enjoy this unique event hosted by Tinian.”
Star Marianas Air, in cooperation with the MVA and 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 by three hours, with the last flights leaving Tinian at 9:30pm. 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 SaipanTinian shuttle service.
Advanced bookings are accepted, but travelers can also show up at the airport on Saipan or Tinian and expect to be transported in a timely fashion.
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 offer ferry service on Feb. 17-20, 2017. The ferry schedule is: Feb. 17, departing Saipan at 6pm and departing Tinian at 8:30pm; Feb. 18, departing Saipan at 9am and departing Tinian at 6:30pm; Feb. 19, departing Saipan at 9am and departing Tinian at 5pm; and Feb. 20, departing Saipan at 8am and departing Tinian at 12pm The Super Emerald ferry will depart at Commonwealth Ports Authority 1 Dock at the Port of Saipan, and passengers must check in one hour before departure.
Ferry round trip cost is $20 (ages 3-11), $35 (ages 12 and older), and free for children ages 0-2. For one way, the cost is $10 (ages 3-11), $18 (age 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.
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 1 1/2 hours before ferry departure time. Individuals arriving or departing at Tinian International Airport can call for a shuttle at 433-3216 or visit the MVA information booth at the festival grounds for assistance.
Toilets, showers, and limited power are available for campers. However, campfires on the beach are prohibited, according to the MVA’s Tinian office. Available hotels on island include Fleming Hotel, Lion House, Lorilyn’s, and Street Motel. Some hotels offer airport shuttle, as well.
Activities will include the 65K Pika Bike Race on Feb. 18 at 6am, cooking competitions, indigenous craft sales, and live entertainment including cultural dance. Sample a variety of local dishes, catch the umang (hermit crab) races, join numerous sports activities (including beach volleyball and dragon boat races), or join the donni sali eating competition, itself.
Festival times will be from 2pm to 11pm on Feb. 18 and from 11am to 11pm on Feb. 19.
Tinian is also accessible within minutes of Saipan via airplane or via connecting flights from Rota and Guam. For more information, contact the MVA Tinian office at 433-9365 or e-mail Vida Borja at firstname.lastname@example.org. (MVA)