A couple of years ago, when Donald Trump was president (well, it must be said in the past tense now), and the conflicts between Kim Jong-un circulated threats of military action from one to the other, they had put the world's attention on an unknown little island called Guam.
But where is Guam? It is the closest US territory to North Korea and is home to three US Army bases. That had made it the favourite target of the regime, which threatened to launch a nuclear missile on the island. But beyond politics, the news gives us the pretext to know more about this place and its culture. Here are 10 reasons why you should travel to Guam right now. But for those who are confused about where is Guam exactly, let's talk about it first.
Where is Guam?
Guam is an island in the western Pacific, of about 550 km2, strategically located between the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea. Its extension makes it the largest southern island of the Mariana Islands. It became a colony of the United States by the Treaty of Paris of 1898, which ended the Hispanic-American War.
With Hagatna as the capital of the island and 162,000 inhabitants, of which 40% belong to the Chamorro indigenous people, they are US citizens, but with limited rights. On the other hand, as a legacy of the Spanish rule, 98% of the inhabitants of Guam are Catholics; however, the official language is English and Chamorro, an Austronesian language, with a lot of lexicon of Spanish origin.
10 Reasons why to travel to Guam right now:
1. Because of Guam's Beaches
Guam's beaches are one of the best places to visit in Guam. Fai Fai or Faifa'i Beach is located north of Tumon Bay, considered the most beautiful area in terms of beaches in Guam.
This particular beach is somewhat far from Tumon, the town, so it is very quiet and not very busy. It is often recommended to travellers who are not interested in the typical atmosphere of the busiest places. To get to this magical Instagrammable place, you have to walk about 10 minutes along Gun Beach and follow a path that ascends a cliff. Also, on Fai Fai beach, there is a quiet resort to stay and rent canoes, snorkelling equipment, etc. Definitely, it is one of those places to see in Guam.
Ritidian Beach is somewhat more popular than the previous one, but it is still a magical and peaceful place. It is located in the northernmost tip of Guam and to get there you have to travel a route by car, actually, quite remote. Most of the land in this area of the island is uninhabited, and the only reason that tourists and locals go there is because of its magnificent beach. There are no resorts, so don't forget to bring everything you need for the excursion: water, food, sun cream ... And of course, the towel!
2. Because of Guam's Colonial architecture
Incredibly, Mexico and Guam share centuries of a common history. Spain conquered the island of Guam in 1565, so from that date, and until the independence of Mexico, the two countries were part of the same empire. Today, the colonial heritage is still alive on the island, and it is one of its main tourist attractions.
The town of Umatac is the place where you can visit Fort Soledad, the best preserved on the island, and is located on top of a hill from where you can see the sea on one side and the mountainous jungles on the other.
Umatac was the port where the Manila Galleon made a stop in Guam during its journey from the Philippines to Acapulco. Therefore it is the most significant place for their common history, not to be missed on a visit to the country if you are thinking to spend a good time in Guam.
3. Because of Guam's Chamorro Culture
Like any Spanish colony, Guam was inhabited by indigenous groups. In the case of this island, its inhabitants were the Chamorro.
Due to their remoteness from Spain, the Chamorro has always remained the dominant cultural group, and to this day they represent almost 40% of the island's population. Today, Guam has made a great effort to recover its Chamorro cultural heritage as a sign of identity and pride. If you travel to Guam, you will find the Chamorro culture as part of the island and ready to share it with you.
If you are looking for places to go in Guam, you can visit the Gef Pa'go cultural village, where representatives of the Chamorro people demonstrate crafts, art, and gastronomy. In addition to talking about legends and showing what a traditional village of this culture was like.
The village has two objectives, to show the local culture to the travellers who come to Guam, and to transmit this culture to the young Chamorro who will inherit and preserve it.
4. Because of Guam's ecological tourism
Most of those who visit Guam stick with the most popular beaches, accessible from man-made cities tailored for tourists seeking nothing but rest and distraction. But the traveller who makes his own route will discover a natural paradise that justifies the trip to this corner of the world.
Guam was formed from the union of two extinct volcanoes, and this characteristic gives it geography that distinguishes it from other paradisiacal islands in the Pacific.
Among the places to visit in Guam as the greatest ecotourism attractions are 32 waterfalls spread throughout its geography, and the Lamlam mountain, which is presumed to defeat Everest as the largest in the world. Sure, this is because they count its height from its source at the bottom of the ocean, although it actually barely rises to 406 meters above sea level. Still, these are beautiful places to see in Guam.
5. Because of Guam's shipwrecks
Looking for places to go in Guam but… under the water? Yes, you should go to Apra Harbor. Divers always choose Guam as one of the best places to dive, mainly in Apra Harbor because a large number of shipwrecks can be observed. Among them, you can see boats that belonged to the First and Second World Wars while diving in the crystal clear waters and at an optimal temperature where it is home to a lot of marine life.
Also, there is a place called Blue Hole where you can see many great white sharks, and it is about 18 meters deep but do not worry because the visibility is optimal at that distance to be able to appreciate tuna, reef sharks, and unicornfish. This place is unique for photography lovers.
6. Because of Guam's weather
Guam is known to be a tropical island, and the climate exhibits approximately equal temperatures throughout the year, between 21 and 30° C. However, it is possible to distinguish a drier season between December and June and a fairly rainy season from July to November. Even so, you will always find a great time in Guam to enjoy its attractions, and you can visit the island at any moment of the year because winter is not part of it. For example, visit its capital, Hagatna, on a rainy day is also a great option.
7. Because of Guam's security
If you were thinking of travelling to Hagatna or any other part of the island and you were wondering if it is a safe destination, then do not worry because it is a very safe place. This is another reason to choose Guam as a vacation destination. Here, the risk of having problems such as thefts is very low, although there may be some minimal problem, the police are very attentive to the tourist's safety.
In all the places to see in Guam, you will find police officers; however, care must be taken when swimming as marine animals can be dangerous. It is also recommended to check with the weather forecast when swimming, diving, etc. because storms can happen at any time. As for the care of other animals, the island is home to many snakes, and in the farthest part, contact with wild boars should be avoided.
8. Because of Guam's local cuisine
Guam offers unique dishes for the traveller, so one of the best places to visit in Guam is undoubtedly its local restaurants. A dish that can be exotic is red rice, and it is part of meat garnishes such as Kadon Pika, known for being chicken cooked in coconut milk and marinated in soy sauce and chili, so it gives it a touch hot spicy.
Another typical dish is the Kelaguen known for containing seafood, squid, octopus, or other types of meats with a sauce made with lemon juice, chili, and grated coconut. On the other hand, for those who like barbecue, the chefs prepare it with soy sauce and cook using the wood of the Tangan-tangan tree, which is why the meats acquire a special aroma.
9. Because of Guam's people
Specifically speaking of the local people of Hagatna. To have a good time in Guam and complete your trip, you must visit its capital 30 kilometres from Inarajan. Because it only has around 1000 people living there, they are very friendly with travellers who go on to enrich with their culture. The city offers year-round attractions such as museums, cathedrals, markets, and restaurants.
You will find local food from the Chamorra culture, handicrafts, and the museums are full of history waiting to be discovered. Once a week, the central market comes alive at night where the music is turned on, the smell of barbecue is felt everywhere to support the small businesses of Guam.
10. Because of Guam's strangest pet
Guam is known for being home to one of the largest land-living arthropod in the world: the coconut crab. Since one of the places to visit in Guam is the Chamorro village, take the opportunity to get to know it as it can weigh up to 9 pounds and measure more than 3 feet. Many of the locals even have it as a pet, and they know very well how to handle them since they have huge clamps that help them to open coconuts.
Their size is really impressive, although they are harmless. Unfortunately, they are in danger of extinction due to their hunting and exploitation of their habitat. To ensure the survival of the coconut crab, it has been prohibited to capture females with roe.
Now that you know about the different places to go in Guam let yourself be enchanted by this paradisiacal island and encourage yourself to know its culture in the first person. Travel to Guam, it is a place with a worthwhile climate since it allows you to enjoy the sun and the beach throughout the year.