When Your Backyard Is Paradise: Living and Working in Saipan

Samuel Tanenbaum, a fun-loving traveler from Maine, tells us about his recent experience living and working on the beautiful pacific island of Saipan.

How did you first become interested in going to Saipan and how did you go about looking for a job there?                                

I saw an advertisement to work as an activities staff/lifeguard at a resort on an island that I had never heard of in the middle of the pacific ocean. I did research on the island and resort and decided to apply.

When you first arrived on the island, what were a few of the things that stood out to you the most?

The first thing that stood out to me was the temperature and the different vegetation compared to what I have been accustomed to. The next thing that stood out to me was the amount of Asian tourists, and the how family oriented the locals are here.

What are the people like on Saipan?

Saipan is a beautiful tropical island. Because of this it attracts many tourists, which is why there are so many resorts on the island. The amount of tourists on the island is astounding. There are still many more locals on the island than tourists.

What might a typical workday look like for you?

To start a typical day I would open one of the areas of the waterpark around 9am. Throughout the day I will spend each hour working at a different area in the park. Some of the different activity areas for the guest including: several pools, lazy river, several beach activities in and out of the water, flow riding machine, wall climbing, archery, tennis, etc. Most of the work consists of activities, lifeguarding, and handing out equipment to guests. Work days vary in hours from 4 hrs to 11 hrs. Each week is different.

What has been one of your favorite experiences on the island?

I have grown fond of interacting with guests from Korea, Japan, and Russia. Every day there are new guests who come for vacation. Each guest has a story of their own, and I get great satisfaction from talking with them and learning about them.

What is the most difficult thing about island life?

Spending 10 months on the island I have been able to see many different things. Growing up in Maine I was able to experience all four seasons, and get excited for the next season to come. Saipan is one of the most consistant temperature areas in the world. All year the temp says between 75-85, because of this there are only two seasons, summer, and 1 month of rain, The most difficult thing for me has been adapting to the lack the four seasons.

Do you have a favorite spot on the island?

My favorite spot is on top of the highest mountain on the island, that allows me to see all around the island. It has an amazing view of the vegetation, buildings, and surrounding islands.

Experiencing a new culture in a new location is part of what makes traveling such a wonderful experience.

Working in a new place and taking seasonal jobs in various locations are great ways to travel at a slow pace. Seasonal jobs often come with housing, and sometimes with food, making the planning and transition phases between travels easy. Spending a few months in one location lets you transform from a tourist into a local, develop strong friendships, and learn about a new culture, all things that are difficult to do on a short vacation.

Want to live your own travel adventures? Check out the Adventure Job board or browse this great List of Resources for Free Travel! You don’t need to be super-experienced to begin your adventures. There are positions (both volunteer and paid) for all types of people, from a volunteer position at a Buddhist Retreat Center, to trip leader positions around the world. Best of all, there are still plenty of positions to snatch up for the summer!