Top 10 Things to Do in Guam
Getting to Guam, a former Spanish colony and the biggest island in Micronesia, may seem slightly tough, with few airlines flying to this US territory in the Pacific Ocean. However, a trip to Guam is worth every second you spend on the long flight.
With year round temperatures between 24 to 29 degrees Celsius, it’s no surprise that a million Japanese tourists head here every year for the balmy weather, white beaches and the clear blue sea. There are theme-park style hotel pools, beach side wedding chapels and sprawling malls.
These attractions make for a happy few days, but if you spend all your time there, then you’re missing the point of Guam. The real draws on the island are the stunning scenery, the local cuisine and the enduring culture. Here are ten things you need to experience while you’re in Guam:
1. Dive the world’s deepest ocean
Remember when James Cameron journeyed to the Challenger Deep in 2012, in his one-man submersible? You can do that too. The Challenger Deep is the world’s deepest point underwater, some 6.8 miles below the surface. Located in the Marianas Trench, 250 miles away from the island of Guam, the Challenger Deep is something you can tick off your bucket list if you’re an avid diver. Guam is also a diver’s paradise, with wrecks, vibrant reef formations and tropical weather.
2. Spend the day on Alupang Island
A mile off the sands of Dungca Beach is Alupang Island, which is uninhabited. Accessible from the Hotel Santa Fe and the Onward Beach Resort, it’s perfect for a lazy afternoon away from the crowds. Those looking for some thrills can rent jet skis and kayaks, and make their way to this small beach cove.
3. Experience Guam’s culture at the Guam Island Fiesta Tour
- The Guam Island Fiesta Tour, or GIFT, introduces tourists to the unique culture of the locals. You’ll be able to experience island life as the locals do, and see life through their eyes. Visitors are greeted with shell leis, and you can also participate in activities like coconut husking, talaya throwing, tuba drinking and much more. At the end of it all, you’ll also be treated to tables groaning under the weight of delicious Chamorro cuisine.
4. Stand atop the largest latte in the world
No, we’re not talking about a huge coffee. Latte stones, consisting of pillars and capstones, were used by locals to build foundations for buildings. The Latte of Freedom, which is the largest latte in the world, was built to symbolize Guam’s heritage, and is also used as an observation deck, overlooking the Asan and Agana bays.
5. Pet a coconut crab at Chamorro Village
You might flinch at the prospect of petting the world’s largest land-living arthropod, but don’t worry, the coconut crab does not bite. They can weigh up to 9 lbs, with a leg span of 3 feet. Locals are experts at handling these creatures, and some even keep them as pets. Stop by the Chamorro Village Night Market on Wednesday and Friday, and you can get a photo with one too!
6. Touch shipwrecks from two world wars
Guam is home to a unique site, which doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. The SMS Cormoran, a German ship, was scuttled at the outbreak of US entry into WW I and rests 110 feet below the water of Apra harbour. A Japanese cargo ship, the Tokai Maru, which was sunk in WW II, rests right next to the Cormoran. This is the only place in the world where wrecks from two different wars, from two different countries rest next to each other. You can get a diving suit on, venture to the depths of the ocean floor, and touch both wrecks.
7. Go boonie stomping
Locals call it boonie stomping. To me and you, it’s hiking. The names are different, but one thing is for certain – there’s plenty to explore in Guam. From hidden waterfalls, to rolling hills and jungles, Guam is rarely boring. Trails range from easy to difficult, so everyone can explore the island.
8. Visit the Lina’La’ Chamorro Cultural Park
Guam’s first and original Chamorro cultural theme park aims at recreating Chamorro life as it was 500 years ago for visitors to learn and experience what it was like. Lina’la’ Park actually rests on a real Chamorro village, which is over 1000 years old. Latte stones, authentic pottery and many other artifacts reveal that inhabitants lived there until the start of the Spanish era in the 17th century. The park has a visitor centre which showcases cultural artefacts and also screens a short film about the Chamorro creation belief.
There is also a nature walk for visitors, which is filled with tropical flowers, medicinal plants and fragrant fruit trees. The path leads to the recreation of an ancient Chamorro village, where visitors are greeted by men and women in what appears to be traditional outfits – a loincloth and a bandeau top for women. According to historical reports, when Magellan landed on the island of Guam in 1521, the islanders were mostly naked, however, women sometimes wore a small apron called a tifi, which is a skirt of grass and leaves suspended from a belt. However, a word of advice, as of 2016, the park will only be open for private tours, which means you’ll have to book a slot in advance. For more details, contact the park before your trip.
9. Ride a carabao
The carabao is Guam’s water buffalo, and the docile animal is also Guam’s national symbol. The carabao has been used for centuries to farm, and you can ride one, really slowly, when you visit Chamorro Island, or Fort Senora Nuestra de la Soledad in southern Guam.
10. Spend the day at Ritidian Beach
Guam’s northernmost beach, Ritidian, is a stunning stretch of white sand and the seemingly never ending ocean. Sunbathe and get a tan, or take a dip in the azure waters, or take shelter under the trees by the coast and enjoy a siesta.