CNMI all set for Tinian pepper festival; signature event draws local tourists

Saipan--Foreign tourists may not be around to partake in the CNMI's first biggest event this year, but local residents-- emerging from last year's Covid lockdown -- are eager to fly and set sail to Tinian for the annual pepper festival this weekend.

Star Marianas Air has announced it will extend its normal hours of operation during the 17th Annual Tinian Hot Pepper Festival on Feb. 13-14. In addition, limited ferry service will also be available.

The festival is a signature event organized by jointly by the Marianas Visitors Authority (MVA) and Tinian Mayor’s Office.

On Feb. 12-14, Star Marianas scheduled flights will be extended by four hours, with the last flights leaving Tinian at 9:30 p.m. Flights will leave Saipan hourly at the top of the hour (starting at 8 a.m.) and leave Tinian at the bottom of the hour (starting at 8:30 a.m.).

The ferry is available on Feb. 13 and Feb. 14, departing Saipan at 10 a.m. and departing Tinian at 8 p.m. on both days. The Super Emerald ferry will depart from the Commonwealth Ports Authority dock in Lower Base, Saipan. Passengers must check in one hour before departure. Departure time is prompt but may change based on ocean conditions.

Ferry round trip cost is $40 for ages 3 and older. For one way, the cost is $20 for ages 3 and older. The ferry is free for children ages 0-2. Advance ticket purchase is required and will be accommodated on a first come, first served basis. Ticket purchases may be made at the MVA Office in Saipan. Cash payments only will be accepted.

Due to capacity restrictions, Pika 50K Bike Race participants only with proof of registration will have a reserved ferry to Tinian on Feb. 12. A series of health safety measures recommended by the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. and Covid-19 Task Force will be implemented at the festival.