When it comes to beautiful, exotic islands, there’s an array of picks right off the coast of the United States through out the Caribbean. However, If you’ve ever wanted to visit an exotic island far from the rest of the world, yet still stay nestled within American roots, you should consider vacationing to the little island of Guam. This lesser known Micronesian paradise is located beyond the International Date Line and about a 3 hour plane ride south of Japan.
So how did this far off, beautiful island become part of America? Guam became a US territory in 1898. It was ceded to the US in the after the Spanish-American War and happened to play a large strategic role in WWII. America still uses Guam as a strategic military point, housing both an USAF and USN base on the island. Guam happens to also be referred to as where “America Starts Its Day”, due to its location on the other side of the International Date Line.
I had the amazing experience of calling this small but mighty island my home for 3 years. In that time I was able to experience and discover many different amazing aspects of Guam. Here are my top 10 reasons as to why you should certainly add a trip to Guam to your bucket list.
1) American soil but tax free
Guam offers it’s visitors the protection and safety of the United States while giving travelers a shopping paradise! Guam happens to be a duty (tax) free zone, so everything purchased throughout the island is all tax free. There are lots of high-end shops and stores in the area called Tumon which happens to be the Las Vegas strip of Guam. Located right on the coast and offering tons of shops, restaurants, clubs, and resorts, Tumon is where most visitors tend to stay when visiting Guam.
2) The perfect wedding destination
Speaking from experience, getting married on the beaches in Guam is the epitome of being married in paradise. With picturesque sunsets, pearly white beaches, turquoise water, jungle waterfalls and stunning rock formations, the island offers every different background suitable for an amazing wedding
3) Water sport paradise
Located within 250 miles of the famous Marianas Trench, Guam is a world-wide diving destination offering underwater caves, crystal clear blue water, thousands of species of exotic fish and great places to deep-sea fish and snorkel. Fishing charters are very popular on the island and give you the chance to catch everything from Mahi Mahi to Marlin. Take a trek to Marbo or Pagat cave and discover more of Guam’s amazing beauty and even swim within the caves.
4) Jungle waterfalls
Take a hike through Guam’s jungle and be rewarded with the sight of one it’s many different waterfalls! A few of the most popular are Talofofo Falls, Tarzan Falls and Ceti Falls. Most can be reached through hiking or by visiting the park area in which the waterfall is located such as Talofofo Falls Park. Many tour companies on the island are able to guide you to these areas or if you’re looking for an adventure, your free to head out on your own.
5) Rich culture
Guam offers an array of cultural experiences that allow you to explore the rich Chamorro heritage the island has. From visiting Chamorro Village and tasting the local food and drink to visiting the Guam Pacific War Museum. Getting to know the locals is another great way to experience the island and don’t be surprised if you walk past a BBQ on the beach and are invited to join in. BBQing and hosting large gatherings is a part of the Chamorro way. Some of the best food I’ve ever eaten was through being invited to a Chamarro BBQ!
6) Stunning Sunsets
I have to say, I don’t think I’ve honestly seen more beautiful sunsets than on Guam. With the glowing water of the beaches and the vast ocean surrounding you, seeing a sunset from anywhere on the island is an experience. My favorite spot to take in the beauty of the twilight hours is Two Lovers Point. Located a top a massive peak overlooking Tumon Bay, Two Lovers Point is a romantic destination for many visitors to the island who mark their visit to the point with adorning the lookout with hundreds of personalized locks and tags. Of course the destination is shrouded in mystery and legend as it’s said that two star-crossed lovers threw themselves from the point as it being their only way to be together.
7) Beaches for both surfing or R&R
Because Guam is pretty much surrounded by a coral reef, many of it’s beaches feature waves that break very far out from the shore. This creates a super calm, relaxing beach experience that’s great for those looking to get away from waves and just walk out into a serene, turquoise ocean. It also seems to be a good shark repellent as they tend to stay more around the reef than venture in towards shore. Snorkeling is also prevalent throughout the areas where the waves crash further out. Travel to the other side of the island or venture past the reef and you have waves that could rival Hawaii’s! Be sure you’re swimming skills are up to par when venturing over the reef through since this area tends to claim many a visitor due to strong currents and riptides.
8) Family friendly fun
Guam offers lots of great family friendly activities. A few of my favorite are,
- UnderWater World – A massive indoor aquarium located on the strip in Tumon.
- Island Tours – Lots of tour companies are sprinkled through out the island and offer everything from dolphin watching to river cruising to Talofofo Falls
- Fish Eye Marine Park – Follow a large boardwalk to a tower that dives deep below the ocean and discover local fish as well as see divers and other underwater fun. Sign the guest book to leave your mark and see if my signature is still there from 2008!
- Atlantis Guam – Explore the deep on an underwater tour on board a submarine!
- Inarjan Pools – This beautiful and unique natural feature of the island is great for kids big and small allowing them to splash and play in the natural salt-water pools made from continuous water flowing in and out of the area.
- Water Parks – Guam’s warm weather makes it perfect for water park fun year round. Visit Tarza, Onward or the Pacific Islands Club for family water park fun.
- Jeff’s Pirate’s Cove – This awesome restaurant is located in Talofofo and offers some of the BEST burgers I’ve ever had! besides enjoying great food, you can also go swimming, play volley ball or build a sandcastle on their private beach.
9) Touch and visit 2 shipwrecks from 2 different wars
110 feet below the water of Apra harbor lies the German ship, SMS Cormoran which was sunk during the U.S. entry into WWI. Directly next to it is a Japanese cargo ship, the Tokai Maru, which was sunk during WWII. This underwater ship graveyard marks the only place in the world where two wrecks from different countries and two different wars are nearly touching!
10) Ride a Carabao
Weighing up to 2,000 pounds and considered the water buffalo of Guam, this national symbol has been used in farming for centuries. Visitors have the chance to ride one of these gentle giants at different areas throughout the island such as Chamorro Village or Fort Señora Nuestra de la Soledad.
With everything from pearly white beaches to turquoise water and even stunning waterfalls and fun people, Guam offers more than the island paradise experience. Throw in it’s exotic location and you have the perfect American destination off the beaten path!