Trip Index (what we have published so far):
Guam has always been a fascination of mine. It lies 13 hours (!) flying time west from San Francisco, over the Pacific. It’s much closer to Japan and Korea (about 2,000 miles) than America or the Hawaiian Islands.
Table of Contents
Before you go – Things to know
Guam has major military bases; in fact the military installations are the biggest employers on the island. The second largest employer is United Airlines, which operates a surprisingly well run hub in Guam. This is a former continental operation, but given the minimal competition on many routes and the many travelers that ‘must travel’, this seems to be a great business to be in there.
Think of Guam as a mix of Hawaii and a small town in middle America. There is a Kmart there (though I didn’t see a Walmart), a Ross and all the major fast food chains. Almost all the tourists are from Japan, Korea and Taiwan, who go there for a weekend getaway or on a package tour trip. Japanese tourists don’t seem to have too much of a desire to explore the island individually, so the tourists and locals don’t really mingle too much.
Things to do Guam – North Shore
The northern part of the island is dominated by the military installations. The road does not lead close to the ocean, so during a road trip there isn’t as much to see. One thing on every tourist’s itinerary is ‘Two Lovers Point‘, which overlooks Tumon Bay. The view is just OK – not a must-do in my opinion.
Further north is the Ritidian Nature Preserve, which apparently offers great snorkeling – I tried to go there, but eventually gave up. The road is really washed out and the rental car company actually gave me a stern warning to not go there. It is considered off-roading and my Chase card CDW would NOT cover it. Technically, there is a road, but you should hire a truck (ideally a 4×4) to get there without breaking your suspension or blowing your tires.
The middle section of the island is a suburb – as much as any small town. It sprawls across the main Marine Corps’ driveways. There really isn’t anything new there, but it makes for cheap and convenient shopping.
A must do on the island is Tumon Bay and its crystal clear waters. This public beach park has lots of parking and lots of living corals to snorkel through.
Things to do Guam – South Shore
The southern half of the island is much less populated, with very few hotels or resorts. On the eastern and southern side of the island, the road loops along the coast and the views get really pretty. The southern side is more like Oahu’s Northern Shore – lots of small villages with lots of green, rolling hills.
There isn’t much to do down south besides enjoying the nature. Magellan landed there in 1521, so there is a monument there that reminds us of the great explorer’s journey. The views just before and after reaching the little town of Inajaran, Guam are fantastic and I highly recommend driving down there. The road is in perfect shape and the island knows no traffic jams so far south.
The only resort I could find is the Cocos Island Resort, which is on its own private island, about half a mile off the southern shore of Guam. I had never heard of it, but it looks truly stunning!
It’s a bit off to say, but I felt a foreigner in Guam as an American. Yes, there is Global Entry at the airport, but the immigration officers check your passport again and there is a separate customs form which needs to be filled out.
Guam does not have the Polynesian charm that Hawaii brings forth, but it is much less discovered on its southern side. Locals kept telling me about the brown tree snake that seems to have become a plague there, so before you start hiking into the jungles of Guam, it might be worth checking out!
What’s your take on Guam?