Guam is one of those places I’ve always been curious about. It’s a mysterious U.S. Territory in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, comparable in area to Chicago. Since it’s around 8,000 miles from Washington, DC, it’s a very unlikely tourist destination for mainland Americans. But isn’t it funny where life takes you. Last month I was fortunate enough to spend two weeks Guam for my job. Of course 80% of that time is spent in a cold, windowless office plugging away at Excel spreadsheets, but I tried to make the most out of that other 20% to see what I could of this beautiful, mysterious island.
The first thing I found out is that Guam is a very popular destination for young Japanese tourists, since it’s only a four hour flight from Tokyo. However with a 17 hour flight from Washington DC, Guam is not an easy trip or a cheap holiday for those of us from the U.S. Mainland. I stayed on Tumon Bay, the main tourist drag, which consists of a long strip of beachfront hotels and high-end shopping centers. I lucked out and got a room with a gorgeous sunset view of the beach.
One of the first places I was able to visit was the Chamorro Village, an outdoor Wednesday night market that sells assorted barbecue and souvenirs to an unbelievably huge crowd of tourists and locals alike. Although it’s a bit of a tourist trap, it’s a great place to pick up some souveniers to bring back home. And you can’t leave the Chamorro Village without trying some delicious barbecue. Just be sure to pack your patience, since the lines are extremely long, especially at the popular barbecue stand.
Out of all the places I went during my stay in Guam, the most beautiful place I visited was by far Two Lover’s Point. Two Lover’s Point is set on top of a cliff just north of Tumon Bay. There’s a story that goes with it about two forbidden lovers plummeting to their deaths over the edge of this cliff. Sort of like the Chamorro version of Romeo and Juliette. It costs $3 to enter. Upon entering one of the first things you’ll see is a wall of love notes written on luggage tags and heart-shapped labels. These love notes are locked to the entrance gates and throughout the compound. Some people locked their notes to rocks, guardrails, anything they could think of. Go up the stairs of the structure and you’ll see one of the most breathtaking views of Guam you can imagine.
So those of you who know me know I’m obsessed with strange underwater creatures, so when I heard about a place called “Underwater World” I knew I had to go. Underwater World is basically an aquarium you can walk through and watch fish, sting rays, and sharks swim all around you. It was really fascinating, and far less crowded than most aquariums I’ve been to here in my area. The first floor is the walk-through aquarium, the second floor is more like a traditional aquarium, with jellyfish, coral, and all sorts of other bright, bizzarre looking underwater creatures in individual tanks. Admission was maybe $23 and the aquarium isn’t very big, however I really enjoyed it. Even mid-day on a Saturday, it wasn’t crowded at all. It’s definitely a must-see if you’re traveling with kids.
Of course, a trip to Guam wouldn’t be complete without some fun in the water. We went Jet Skiing at Ocean Jet Club at Agana Bay, which is only 10 minutes from Tumon. This was my first time Jet Skiing, so I decided to the “Fast Tour” where an experienced jet ski driver would drive us out beyond the reef at frightening speeds. They also offered various other water sports such as banana boat, kayaking, and water-tubing. This spot almost entirely consisted of young high-school/college age Japanese tourists. I guess many of them had not seen black people in real life before because we were quite the spectacle. We saw several people sneaking pictures of us, however some actually asked first before snapping pictures of the two black girls. Being a spectacle is definitely my least favorite part of any overseas trip, but that’s a subject for a whole ‘nother blog all together.
In the evening, I visited the beautiful Meskla on the Cove in Agana. They say it’s amazing to watch the sunset from this beachfront restaurant and bar. Of course, since I’m completely incapable of being on time for anything, I missed the sunset. I still enjoyed my time at this cozy bar. This place reminds me of somewhere I would go back home. Friendly people, strong drinks, and tasty food. It seemed like a popular spot for locals, American tourists, and Military. I instantly felt at home here. I would definitely recommend this place if you find yourself in Guam.
Another restaurant everyone said I absolutely needed to go to was Jeff’s Pirate’s Cove on the south side of the island. The locals will act like the south side of the island is soooo far, but in actuality it only takes about 20 or 30 minutes to drive there. It’s a beach-front pirate-themed bar/restaurant that boast Guam’s best burger. They’re so proud of their burger that they even branded the bun with their logo! Totally cool and instagram-worthy. I have to say it was pretty good, and the owner was very friendly, greeting us and giving us complementary blueberry chocolate ice cream (yes… blueberry chocolate. I’m still not sure how I feel about that combination).
From our hotel room in Tumon, every night we would hear this rhythmic drumming and people cheering. It was loud enough to come through our windows and let me know that some awesome stuff was going on next door that I was missing out on. I asked the concierge at our hotel what that was and how we can be a part of this awesomeness. She told us, the hotel next door, the Pacific Island Club (or “PIC” as it’s more commonly known), has a cultural dance/dinner show every night at sunset. Since I love dance and dinner shows, we made reservations immediately. It’s a buffet-style dinner with various barbecue, asian dishes, and tiny deserts. It costs $65 per person. The food was… mehhh. The barbecue didn’t have much flavor (I think it was cooked on a *gasp* gas grill), and the rest of the food was just ok. I wasn’t terribly impressed with the food and the buffet lines were pretty cutthroat. I had several women, children, and men literally push me out the way to grab a piece of chicken before me. No taking turns here. Polite mouths don’t get fed. The show, on the other hand, was lovely! The restaurant is outdoors, so dress appropriately and get ready to sweat. There was a beautiful man-made waterfall and other gorgeous scenery that served as the backdrop for the dance show. The show featured a showcase of traditional dances from various islands throughout Micronesia and the pacific including Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, and of course Guam. While all the dances were impressive, the highlight of the show was by far the fire-dancers. Don’t ask me to tell you what island that’s from since, of course, most of the announcements were in Japanese.
Another wonderful place we visited was just a couple doors down from our hotel on Tumon, Proa Restaurant. Proa is a itty bitty tiny weenie restaurant that serves upscale Chamorro food including various kinds of fish and barbecue. I ordered the Tuna and it was… OMIGOD good. It was unbelievably delicious and beautifully presented, kinda like food art. It was nearly impossible not to Instagram your meal. I was so impressed with the flavor and presentation that I immediately attempted to recreate this dish when I got home. It turned out good, but nowhere near as good as the original. The staff were extremely friendly and helpful. It was a shame I only discovered this little gem on my last day on the island. One piece of advice, dinnertime is extremely busy there, so if you arrive at peak times, be prepared to wait.
Finally… the beaches! The beaches in Guam are absolutely beautiful! Although I was working most of the time, I managed to get off work in time to see several sunsets along Tumon bay most nights. Gorgeous! One of my favorite aspects of the beaches is that, unlike many tropical beaches I’ve been to, the beaches on Guam, specifically Tumon were not crowded. On the weekends, there will be locals barbecuing, and in the evenings you will see people jogging along the beach and a few people swimming in the water. It almost felt like I had the beach all to myself, a refreshing change of pace from Caribbean islands where you have to fight for towel space. The water is a clear green, and the sand is clean and light in color. My only complaint is that seaweed was a problem in certain areas. However, the area behind the Fiesta Hotel was very clean and clear of Seaweed. I’ve been told that there were other, more beautiful beaches on the island, specifically on the military bases, but I found the beaches at Tumon and Agana to be more than enough.
Also, I found the Chamorro people to be so unbelievably kind, outgoing, and friendly. I received such a warm welcome from all the Chamorro people I spoke with. They’re so eager to show you their beautiful island. Maybe the beautiful weather puts people in a better mood, but the warm welcome we got really made the trip much more awesome. Kindness helps you feel like home even when you’re on the other side of the world.