Visiting Guam - What to See and Do
(Guam Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport GUM, Guam)
Set in the Mariana Islands archipelago, the tropical paradise of Guam lies in the western waters of the South Pacific Micronesian region. Its central region is the most-visited for its towns, shopping opportunities, attractions and general tourism facilities, while its southern region is a picturesque rural haven for the traditional island Chamorro culture. Of note, Talofofo's black sand beaches are a particularly popular destination.
The northern region of the island, the least visited of any of Guam's districts, is owned by the US Military and is home to Ritidian Beach, the most remote and beautiful beach. The island's coastline is spectacular, with sheer limestone cliffs to the north, mangrove forests, black sand beaches, jungles, grasslands and small mountain ranges. Eco-tourists are in heaven here, as are divers.
The Chamorro culture is still active on Guam, in spite of centuries of colonisation, and high-quality local handicrafts such as woven mats, bags, food containers, clothes and belts are all popular souvenirs. The main tourist hub here is Tumon, well set up with hotels, restaurants, shopping and entertainment venues, as well as golf courses.
Ten things you must do in Guam
- Guam is famous for its fabulous dive spots, with the entire island surrounded by coral reefs and underwater attractions. Marine reserves have been set up to protect the fragile reef environments, and there are a number of dive schools and equipment hire places in Tumon Bay, itself now a marine reserve.
- The Guam National Wildlife Reserve lies in the north of the island on unused military land, where it includes publicly accessible Ritidian Point in its protected zone. A colony of endangered 'flying fox' Mariana fruit bats is established here, and green sea turtles nest on the beaches.
- Mount Lamlam is the highest point on the island and is a favourite with hikers for its superb views and challenging gradient. Amazingly, the base of this mountain lies at the deepest point of the Marianas Trench, over 6 miles / 10 km down, although onshore Mount Lamlam is little more than a large hill.
- Umatac village is unspoilt and its friendly Chamorro people welcome visitors. Proud of their heritage and lifestyles, they tell the legend of a place just to the north where the first natives were created by the gods of the region. Magellan, a famed Portuguese explorer, landed here in 1521 and this event is still celebrated annually.
- Two Lovers' Point connects with the tragic yet romantic Chamorro legend of two young lovers who, forbidden to marry, jumped to their deaths from the 125-metre / 410-foot limestone cliff. In memorial, there is a giant, gilded statue of the unfortunate pair at the top of the cliff, surrounded by beautifully landscaped greenery.
- Guam's 'At War in the Pacific' Historical Park gives an overview of the three years during WWII when the Japanese Army controlled the island. Set around Asan, the landing beach for the American liberation forces, the area has exquisite landscaping and is a memorial to those who died during the conflict.
- Diving comes into its own in Guam as a magical underwater experience, with dives to the depths of the Piti Bomb Hole. Those who'd rather not get wet can see the Fish Eye Marine Park's beauties and diverse species from an underwater observation deck or via a Nautilus submarine ride.
- Talofofo Falls isn't just a spectacular waterfall and natural attraction, it is the start of a trek to Yokoi's Cave, the refuge of a Japanese WWII soldier who hid here for some 28 years after the end of WWII, living on forest food and avoiding coming into contact with other humans. After he was discovered, he wrote a book about his experiences.
- The Saluglula Pool Park lies on the eastern coast of Guam, not far from Talofofo, and contains several salt-water swimming holes, a natural feature of the island. Surrounded by lush, green jungles, swimming here is a uniquely refreshing experience after a visit to the waterfalls and Yokoi's Cave.
- Merizo Pier is the gateway for a boat trip to the glorious Cocos Island, and also has pretty picnic spots nearby. The waters here are almost transparent early in the morning and, on a calm day, just standing quietly on the pier gives a fascinating glimpse of the sea creatures swimming below.