Tropical beaches, dazzling corals, exotic cultures, English-speaking locals and the US dollar as currency - the small island of Guam in the Pacific presents itself as the perfect vacation destination for those who want to relax far away from everyday life.
The U.S. outpost of Guam, a good 2,000 kilometers east of the Philippines, is the largest and southernmost island in the Mariana archipelago. The tropical paradise with English as the official language and US dollar as the official currency is appreciated by numerous vacationers: After Hawaii, Guam is the most visited island in the Pacific! With fine sandy beaches, crystal clear sea, a colorful underwater world and a fascinating cultural mix, the Pacific island of about 550 square kilometers also has a lot to offer!
In 1668, the small island in the Pacific was taken possession of by the Kingdom of Spain. During the Spanish-American War at the end of the 19th century, the Americans occupied Guam, which was surrendered by the Spanish without resistance in 1898. Guam remained under U.S. rule until World War II. On December 10, 1941, just two days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese captured Guam and held the island until the U.S. recaptured it in August 1944.
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What is the best way to get to Guam?
Guam is located about halfway between Japan and Australia and is best reached by air. The international airport Antonio B. Won Pat is located 5km east of the capital Hagåtña and is mostly approached from Central Europe via intermediate stops in Japan or the USA. Accordingly, the flight time from Frankfurt to Guam is around 20 hours.
The cruise forms an attractive alternative to the airplane. Apro Harbor, the port of Hagåtña, is the most important port in Micronesia and is large enough for ocean giants to dock. Cruises to Guam depart from the USA, but also from Hamburg.
Best time to visit Guam
Due to its proximity to the equator, the weather on Guam is very similar throughout the year. The climate is tropical and thus hot and humid. Temperatures range around 27°C during the day and 21°C at night throughout all months. Also the sea invites with
From January to June it is "cooler" and drier on Guam, therefore this period is also considered the optimal travel time. Showers are always to be expected, but the rain clouds usually disappear after an hour at the latest and give way to blue skies.
From July to December, on the other hand, heavy rains and thunderstorms can be expected every day in the afternoon and evening, and typhoons cannot be completely ruled out.
Tumon and its wonderful bay
Tumon on the northwest coast of Guam is the tourist center of the small island in the Pacific. Here you will find the most beautiful beaches, the most luxurious hotels, the biggest shopping malls and the liveliest nightlife. This beautiful spot is on our list of the top 10 places to visit in the South Pacific.
Tumon Bay is also truly one of the most beautiful places Guam has to offer. The turquoise-blue Pacific licks here on snow-white, partly downright forested sandy beaches, which unfortunately have been somewhat disfigured by huge hotel bunkers.
Two Lover's Point near Tumon
At either end of Tumon Bay rises a spectacular emerald cliff with the famous Two Lover's Point. Its name goes back to an ancient Chamorro legend. According to this legend, the daughter of a rich family was promised by her father to a Spanish captain. However, the daughter fled the planned wedding and met a Guam man on a secluded beach, with whom she fell head over heels in love.
Secretly they began to meet until one day they were pursued by their father and the Spanish captain with his soldiers to the cliff of Two Lover's Point. With no way out of their hopeless situation, they knotted their long black hair and jumped off the cliff together into the roaring surf.
To this day, Two Lover's Point is a site full of romance mixed with a touch of drama. Couples like to use the spectacular spot high above Guam to vow eternal love. Thousands of heart pendants (conveniently available for purchase on site) now adorn the railing of the viewing platform, which can be entered for a few dollars. From there, you can enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of the deep blue Pacific and the dreamlike beaches of Tumon.
The most beautiful beaches in Tumon Bay include Joseph Flores Beach Park, Matapang Beach Park, Naton Beach, Gun Beach and the completely secluded Faifa'i Beach. Tumon's beaches are all protected by an offshore reef and are suitable for swimming and bathing even for small children.
Tip: The bay of Tumon is under nature protection! Fishing or taking corals or shells is not allowed.
Activities in Tumon
As a "mini-Waikiki," Tumon offers an incredible variety of tourist attractions, whether it's the largest tunnel aquarium on Hotel Row, the Magic-on-Ice show at Sand Castle, which also has demonstrations with tigers and flamingos, Hawaiian-style fire dances or typical Guam shows.
Shopping enthusiasts will also be delighted. The gigantic Micronesia Mall has now been joined by a Macy's and a food court familiar from the USA. Guam's Kmart, which is open around the clock, can easily keep up with its counterparts on the U.S. mainland.
At night, the hotel complexes in Tumon Bay are spectacularly illuminated and the many restaurants and bars on the beaches attract visitors with music and culinary delights.
History of Tumon
Tumon was already the most important place in Guam when the Spaniards arrived in 1668. The Roman Catholic San Vitores Church on Tumon's main street still commemorates the first missionaries. Diego San Vitores, along with his church servant Pedro Calungsod, was murdered by the village chief Mata'pang after they baptized the chief's daughter without permission. A park and a statue still commemorate their violent end.
The Japanese occupation from 1941 to 1944 also left traces in Tumon. A small tunnel through a rock on the beach, once created by the Japanese, is still visible today. Since World War II, Guam has been an important base for the U.S. Army.
The paradisiacal Ritidian Beach on the north coast is another Guam must-see. The north of the Pacific island is the most secluded region of Guam, whose isolation has created a breathtaking coastal landscape. Ritidian Beach has the typical appearance of a perfect picture-perfect beach: Bright, fine sand over a mile-long stretch, turquoise, crystal-clear water under an azure sky, lined with lush green coconut trees.
And best of all, not a soul. Maybe a few fishermen or a few other tourists have strayed onto the beach, but it's not hard to find a spot to yourself on the expansive strip of sand.
What is the best way to get to Ritidian beach?
Even the journey to Ritidian Beach gives you an idea of what you are in for. The road to the north of Guam leads largely through uninhabited territory. Although it is paved, it is not regularly repaired and has an uncomfortable amount of potholes and cracks. At the end of the road there is no beach to be seen. This can be seen only after an idyllic walk through tall trees and wild grass.
One of the most beautiful beaches of Guam
Then you have arrived at the perfect place for relaxation far away from civilization and crowds. The very first view of the long, peaceful beach and the sparkling sea will take anyone's breath away. The tropical sun invites you to sunbathe and swim, the gentle waves provide perfect relaxation music, the absolute solitude is not broken by anything.
The beauty of the beach continues underwater in the form of colorful corals and tropical fish. You will definitely not get bored on this piece of paradise. If you want to enjoy the beautiful beach, but prefer to be around people, you should visit Ritidian beach on weekends. Especially local families meet here for picnics and barbecues.
Since the beach belongs to the military area, it is accessible to the public only during daylight hours. The gates on the access road are already closed at about 4 p.m., so you should arrive early enough at Ritidian beach if you want to enjoy the wonderful beach life extensively for a few hours.
Tip: The tourist infrastructure at Ritidian beach is conspicuous by its absence, it is highly recommended to take enough water, provisions and especially sunscreen for a day at Ritidian beach. The nearest store is 15-20 minutes away by car. Attention: No infrastructure means no life guards, so beware of waves and currents!
Plaza de España in Hagåtña
The Plaza de España in the center of Hagåtña is still a reminder of the former Spanish rule of Guam. It was first built on in 1669, a year after the Spanish landed on Guam. It was once the residence of the Spanish governor. In the Battle of Guam between the U.S. and Japan in 1944, most of the structures were destroyed, but some buildings have been semi-preserved.
Best surviving the centuries are the Arsenal, once used to store supplies, weapons and tools, and the so-called Chocolate House, a circular building with snow-white walls and red roof tiles.
Under American rule, a baseball field and badminton court were even built at Plaza de España. Today, a kiosk stands at the former baseball field.
To emphasize the historical significance of Plaza de Espana to Guam, the new governors of Guam are still sworn in here today.
Governor's Palace and Azotea
The Governor's Palace was completely destroyed in 1944 as the center of the Japanese occupation, only some foundation walls of the "Casa Gobierno" give a hint of its former location. The two-story building was still from the Spanish in 1885, and the ground floor was converted from a storeroom to an office under the new American rule. The acting governor and his family still resided on the second floor, while the servants were housed in the rear part of the palace.
From the Azotea, the terrace of the Governor's Palace, three stone arches remain, standing somewhat lost amidst the green lawn.
Latte Stone Park in Hagåtña
At the Latte Stone Park in Hagatna, a variety of the traditional latte stones can be viewed, which are an important part of the Chamorro culture. The Chamorro are the indigenous people of the Mariana Islands, which include Guam as well as the Northern Mariana Islands. Made of basalt, limestone or sandstone, these characteristic statues were erected and placed throughout the island. Popular places were on the coast and in river valleys.
Since the invasion of the Spaniards in the 17th century, the latte stones were no longer used. Today, the latte stones are considered a symbol of Chamorro identity, since they do not exist in such a form anywhere else in the world.
Latte Park in Hagatna is located at the foot of the hill behind the cathedral. The latte stones on display are about 1,000 years old. They were transported to the park from the village of Mepo, south of Hagatna, after the village gave way to the military after World War II. Lined up, they were erected in Latte Park in 1956 as silent witnesses of the ancient Chamorro culture.
Function and symbolism of the latte stones
The Latte stones, or Taga stones, consist of a stone pillar, the "Haligi", on which a stone hemisphere has been placed with the flat side up, the "Tasa". The sculptures, between half a meter and 3 meters high, look like mushrooms with their hats turned upside down.
In the past, the Chamorro used them as support pillars for their houses or as gravestones. After the death of a Chamorro, not only his mortal remains, but also jewelry and even entire canoes were buried under the stones. Thus, not only are the latte stones themselves of historical importance, but also their locations, where researchers can learn more about the former life of the Chamorro. Such latte stones were considered sacred and were not to be touched.
Night market in Chamorro village
The Chamorro Village near Hagatna also tells of the Micronesian culture. Located right next to the Hagatna Boathouse and Paseo Stadium, it offers tourists a glimpse into the ancient indigenous culture of this fascinating South Sea island. Visitors are immersed for a few hours in the cultural dances, historical customs, traditional jewelry and excellent cuisine of the Chamorro people.
If you have the opportunity, you should definitely visit the Chamorro Village on a Wednesday evening. Every week, the traditional and now legendary nightly weekly market of the Chamorro village is held here, which has now almost reached fairground proportions.
Tip: You should arrive at Chomorro village already at about 5 pm, because the parking lots are quickly filled. The cheapest parking is next to the Agana Post Office and the Basilica. If all the spaces are occupied, it is best to park your car outside the village at the baseball stadium.
Live at the Chamorro night market
From about 6 pm, the whole village is here on the street. A variety of goods are sold at countless colorful stalls. From colorful clothing to handmade artwork, jewelry made of beads and shells to both tasteful and kitschy souvenirs, just about anything can be bought at Guam's night market.
But the real highlights are the culinary stalls. Grilled chicken, fresh vegetables, boiled bananas, seafood, fish soup and other delicacies spread a colorful mix of different scents that makes every visitor's mouth water between the stalls.
And the special thing about it: everything comes directly from Guam. The absolutely fresh food that lands in the steaming pots and over glowing grill coals is no more than a day old - and you can just taste it. Armed with a plate box, hungry diners stream through the many cooking pots, pans and bowls, loading up on a ladle here and there. Then it's on to the dance performance. Namely, between 6 and 9 p.m., traditional dances in colorful costumes are performed to lively music.
The prices at the Chamorro market are also very reasonable and there is no entrance fee at all for the shows. Anyone who has witnessed this spectacle will remember the lively village on Guam forever.
Tip: If you missed the night market in Chamorro, you can make a pilgrimage to Mangilao on Thursday evening. Not quite as boisterous as the Chamorro village, there are also handicrafts and delicacies made in Guam here!