Guam is rare in today’s world in that it is still a bit off the well beaten tourist trail. For most of the world, with the exception of the Japanese who flock here, it isn’t the first place you think of when considering an island vacation. Guam being the biggest island that forms Micronesia has more than its fair share of pristine beaches and year round perfect temperatures, but those aren’t the only reasons to visit this relatively undiscovered paradise.
Guam’s culinary experience is one of its best features. The climate makes for the ideal environment to grow a variety of the tastiest fruits, such as mango, papaya, and bananas. It’s location close to Japan and Spanish influence – it was once a Spanish colony – combined with the ethnic features of the local population make for some wonderful twists to traditional dishes from these countries. You’ll even find some of the best jerk burgers at the Jamaican Grill, thousands of miles from its Caribbean origins. The heavy Japanese influence means that you’ll find plenty of high quality restaurants serving sushi and other fish dishes. One local specialty every visitor should try is bubble tea, a wonderful, sweet, refreshing drink that combines tapioca in tea, frozen coffee, or smoothie form.
If you love shopping until you drop, then Guam won’t disappoint. You’ll find a mixture of major international brands you recognize from home and plenty of unique boutiques. To top it all off international visitors can shop duty free. There is even a shuttle bus that is hop-on hop-off that takes you to all of the main shopping areas. For high fashion, including Prada, Chanel, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, and popular cosmetic brands, such as Urban Decay, Clinique, and MAC head to the DFS Galleria. Another shopping center featuring luxury names is Tumon Sands Plaza, not as big as DFS, but also excellent. Not far from these shopping centers is a 24-hour K-Mart, said to the world’s biggest, where you will find a massive selection of clothes, household items, and toys, at much more reasonable prices than its luxury neighbours. Another top bargain hunting place to shop is Guam Premier Outlets.
Located in the shopping area of Tumon is the amazing Underwater World aquarium. It is home to over 2,000 sea creatures, including many native species. The major attraction at the aquarium is its tunnel-aquarium, which is 319-feet long, one of the longest in the world. The tunnel-aquarium holds an incredible 3-million gallons of salt water where you can see sharks, stingrays, and giant groupers. Visitors can witness live shark feedings where divers enter the tank and hand feed the sharks, protected is three layers of special gloves, one being kevlar.
To experience local culture and find unique souvenirs make sure to check out Chamarro Village. It is open every day, but the best time to go is on Wednesday night, when the night market is held. All of the restaurants and shops here are operated by the local people who are called Chamorros. On Wednesday night there are over 100 vendors selling their locally made items and food. The market attracts thousands of people and is a great way to mix with the people that live in Guam. It’s the perfect place to try eating a local specialty, such as eggplant grilled with coconut milk and lime, people watch, and soak up the culture of the island.
The carabao is a massive but gentle giant. These animals are Guam’s national symbol and native to the Philippines. They are a domesticated water buffalo that can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and grow large, curved horns. They are well suited to the hot, humid climate of Guam and enjoy wallowing in mud holes when they are not being used on farms. They were first brought to Guam in the 17th century by Spanish settlers. While there are much fewer carabaos in Guam today they still play an important role in the culture where they are often present at festivals. It is possible to ride a carabao, something children in particular love to do and something you won’t get to experience in pretty much any other place in the world.
If you enjoy diving Guam offers some of the most unique diving experiences in the world. Just off the coast in Apra Harbor you’ll find two ship wrecks that rest on the sea floor, side-by-side. What makes this dive site so unique is that the ships are from both world wars and from two different countries. One is a German ship from World War I, the SMS Cormoran and the second is the Tokai Maru, a cargo ship from Japan that was sunk in World War II. The ships are so close together that you can touch both of them at the same time.
Lina’la Chamorro Cultural Park
To learn about the ancient Chamorro people of Guam a visit to the Lina’la Chamorro Cultural Park provides wonderful, interesting, and educational experience for visitors who can learn about a culture they haven’t encountered before. The main attraction of the park is the recreation of a village as it would have been 500-years ago before any non-native people arrived in Guam. The recreated village is on the same site as an actual village that stood there at least 1,000-years ago. The village features authentic clothing, tools, and homes with costumed people carrying out daily activities like they would have hundreds of years ago. In addition to the ancient village, the park is also home to an animal zone, complete with carabao rides for children, lessons in traditional Chamorro crafts, food, and dancing, and a pretty nature walk.
Guam is a treasure trove of hidden natural wonders that can only be discovered by hiking, or as locals call it ‘boonie stomping.’ Guam is filled with beautiful, lush vegetation, waterfalls, hills, and flowering plants. One animal you’re sure to see a lot of are geckos, who you’ll spot on rocks or walls, especially in the evening. Don’t worry though, these cool creatures are completely harmless and only eat insects. There are plenty of hills to climb that offer spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.
The World’s Tallest Mountain
When you first look at Mount Lamlam, you have to ask the question how is this the world’s tallest mountain? At 1,332-feet high – from ground level – it isn’t very tall at all when compared to the mountains of the Himalayas or Alps. To solve this question one has to look below the sea. The mountain, which is found in the small town of Agat sits next to the Mariana Trench, which reaches 6.78-miles below the sea. To put this in perspective put the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest, which is 29,040-feet high at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. When placed here, there would still be nearly 7,000-feet of water above it.
One of the most obvious reasons to visit Guam is its stunning, pristine beaches. Turquoise water, soft white sand, and gorgeous swaying palm trees await sun seekers and water sports lovers. Governor Joseph F. Flores Beach Park is over a mile long and one of the island’s most popular beaches. You can rent jet skis here or enjoy its grassy park that is perfect for picnics. For great snorkeling head to Taga’change Beach Park, where there are great tidal pools with plenty of sea life. Unlike the white sand on most Guam beaches, Talofofo Beach Park’s black sands are great for walking and sun bathing.
Been to Guam? Let us know if we missed anything in our list.