Transit Layovers in Guam
Guam is only about 10mi x 30mi. The roads are well maintained over most of the island, but you should note that the island speed limit is 35mph. If you rent a car for a few hours, you could easily circumnavigate the island. The rental car counters are open 24-hours, and in all truth, even renting for an hour is cheaper than getting a taxi in Guam (a 2mi taxi can be $15, while a 24hr rental can be $35)
visitguam.org has descriptions of many things to do separated by north, central and south, but as I mentioned, those are only a couple miles from each other.
Personally, I'd start by circling the southern half of the island, stopping at places like Old Spanish Bridge, Fort Nuestra Senora de Soledad, Inarajan Natural Pools, Jeff's Pirate Cove, etc. If time allows, then do the northern half of the island too. But I believe the southern half is more beautiful.Related to:
- Road Trip
Pago Bay is the largest Bay on Guam, and it is home to one of the oldest villages on the island, founded well before 1,000 AD. When the Spanish missionaries came to Guam, Pago was selected as the site of one of the six missions. Pago village was abandoned after it was ravaged by Western diseases in 1856, and only the archeological sites remain today.
Today the bay on Guam's east coast is being developed for resorts, housing and recreation.Add to your Trip Planner
Apra Harbor, on Guam's west coast, is a deep water port that is considered one of the best natural ports in the Pacific Ocean. The northern part of the harbor is a commercial port, while the southern side of the harbor is a U.S. Navy base. There are two shipwrecks in Apra harbor, the SMS Cormoran, a World War I German merchant ship, and the Tokai Maru, a Worl War II Japanese freighter. These ships, and other areas of the harbor are prime diving and snorkeling spots.Add to your Trip Planner
Gab Gab Beach
Gab Gab Beach, located on Naval Base Guam, is one of the island's best beaches for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, and more. Because it is located on the navy base, you'll need to have a military ID or an escort to enjoy the beach, unless you take the tourist submarine into the bay to see the sea life.Add to your Trip Planner
Asan Bay Overlook
The Asan Bay Overlook marks one of the first lines of Japanese defense of Asan Beach. This hillside was lined with machine guns, pillboxes, antiaircraft guns, artillery and other defenses.
The overlook was just establish in 1994, and it features a set of brass plaques that list the names of 17,771 people who suffered in the war, including 1,880 U.S. servicemen who died, 1,170 Guam island residents who perished, and another 14,721 people of Guam "who suffered atrocities of war."
The best part of the overlook is the view of Asan Beach and surrounding areas.Add to your Trip Planner
Asan Beach was the focus of the American amphibious assault on Japanese-occupied Guam during World War II. On 21 July 1944, the 3rd Marine Division landed at Asan, beginning Operation Stevedore and the liberation of Guam. In all, 55,000 soldiers and marines participated in operations on Guam, with 1,866 killed in action of of wounds sustained the the battle.
The WW II landings were just one aspect of Asan's history. Asan was established as a leper colony as early as 1892. In 1901 Asan became a prison camp for Filipino guerrilla fighters who opposed U.S. occupation of the Philippines. During WW I, Asan was a war prison, where German sailors were held, and between the wars this site served as a USMC camp. After World War II, Asan remained a military camp until 1947, then it became a civil service camp, and later a Vietnam War hospital. At the end of the Vietnam War, Asan hosted 111,000 Vietnamese refugees who fled the now communist southern regions of their country. Finally, Supertyphoon Pamela destroyed all of the remaining building on the site in 1978, and it became a central part of the War in the Pacific National Historical Park.
Today Asan Beach has a Liberator's Memorial, remains of some Japanese guns, and two monuments for Filipino insurgents.Add to your Trip Planner
Governor Joseph Flores Beach Park
Governor Joseph Flores Beach Park, or Ypao Beach Park to locals, is a nice public beach at the south end of Tumon Bay next to the Hilton Spa and Resort. One of the busiest beaches on Guam, here visitors can enjoy snorkeling, swimming, picnics and barbecues.
While this area was traditionally a Chamorro village, when the American arrived on Guam, they established a leper colony on this beach, and it later became a hospital farm then a prison farm. The area was occupied and fortified by the Japanese during World War II.Add to your Trip Planner
Island Cultural Shows
Along Tumon Bay, most of the big hotels have traditional island shows with hula dancers and fire dancers, along with expensive barbecues ranging from $35 to $70 a person. I saw parts of shows at the Hilton and the Pacific Islands Club, and I watched almost the entire show at The Beach Bar, all without ever paying the exorbitant dinner prices.
The shows are very popular and tourists really seem to enjoy them, especially the shows at the Fish Eye, the Westin, the Hilton, and the PIC.Add to your Trip Planner
Fort Nuestra Senora de la Soledad, Umatac
Fort Nuestra Senora de la Soledad, located on a cliff above Umatac, was completed in 1810, making it one of the newest of the Spanish forts in Guam. This stone fort was built to complement the other forts around Umatac Bay, one of the colony's most important ports. When constructed, it housed seven cannons, with a strategic view over the bay and town.
During this time Umatac Bay was a crucial stopping point on Spain's Acapulco to Manila shipping route. Only five years after the fort was built, the Mexican Revolution occurred and the route was abandoned. In the ensuing years the fort was dismantled by treasure hunters and the weather, until the government stepped in to preserve the site.
The fort's name means Our Lady of Solitude, the patron saint of sailors and mariners.Add to your Trip Planner
Gun Beach, Tumon Bay
Gun Beach, located at the northern end of Tumon Bay, is named for the Japanese gun that sits rusting along the waterline since World War II. Just a few years ago (prior to 2011), it is said this beach was very quiet, tucked back a seldom used dirt road. In 2011, The Beach bar was built, and in 2013 or 2014, the road was paved and a paring lot constructed. Today Gun Beach is lively and full of tourists who listen to live music, eat, drink and watch the cultural fire shows.
Unfortunately, this also means one of the best snorkeling and diving spots in Guam is now endangered due to masses of careless tourists who trample coral reefs, and because of the polluted runoff from the parking lots and restaurants.
There is a walkway from Gun Beach around the base of the cliff to more secluded Fai Fai Beach, which sits just south of Two Lovers Point.Add to your Trip Planner
Two Lovers Point, Tumon Bay
Two Lovers Point, or Puntan Dos Amantes, is probably the most visited spot in Guam, set on a sheer cliff overlooking Tumon Bay, this spot attracts crowds of tourists just before sunset, to watch the sun slowly sink into the Pacific Ocean.
The name arises from the legend of Two Lovers Point. During the time of Spanish rule of Guam, a family found a Spanish captain for their daughter to marry, but she fell in love with a Chamorro warrior. Rather than be separated as the family demanded, the two tied their hair together and leaped to their death from these cliffs.
It costs $3 to go up in the tower along the cliff, but the view near the tower is still spectacular... and free.Add to your Trip Planner
Proa is the type of dual hulled sail boat traditionally used by the Chamorro people, as well as across other Pacific islands. The biggest proa were more than 40 feet long, and could carry up to 100 people at speeds of an impressive 20 miles per hour with their sails made of pandamus leaf mats. The proa were used for fishing and long-distance trade to other islands around the Pacific. Due to the high speeds, Chamorro people could sail to the Philippines in just four days.Add to your Trip Planner
Umatac's Historic Sites
Umatac is a tiny village of 700 people, if you believe the census numbers. Despite its small size, it is filled with history and scenic beauty. The town is centered on a small bay that was discovered by Magellan and improbably became a hub of the Spanish empire. For hundreds of years, Umatac Bay was the only stopping point for Spanish ships sailing between Mexico and the Philippines.
Today Umatac has a number of unique historic sites. Listed here are just a few, mostly those that I saw or visited:
- Magellan Monument
- San Dionisio Church Ruins
- Fort Nuestra Senora de la Soledad
- Guam Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial
- Fort Santo Angel
- Spanish Bridges in nearby Sella Bay
- Site of Spanish governor’s residenceAdd to your Trip Planner
Nimitz Hill World War II sites
Nimitz Hill is a very historic area of Guam, and is will with World War II sites. After the Japanese occupied the island in 1941, they used build tunnels and caves on the hill and made it a major command and communications center. After the U.S. retook the island in 1944, Admiral Chester Nimitz made his headquarters atop the hill, hence its name. Even today, Nimitz Hill is still home to the United States Navy Commander Joint Region Marianas. The National Park Service administers the historic sites on the hill.
Among the sites on Nimitz hill are the Asan Beach overlook, Japanese communications caves, an old rock quarry (Mangan Quarry) that was used as a Japanese defensive position, a Japanese hospital, and the Fonte Plateau overlook.
A more modern site also exists on Nimitz Hill. Korean Air Flight 801 crash site where, on August 6, 1997, 228 of the 254 passengers and crew were killed while preparing to land at Wan Pat International Airport.Add to your Trip Planner
Magellan Monument, Umatac
At the end of Umatac Bay, on the southwest coast of Guam, stands a small, unassuming obelisk that marks one of the most historic spots on the island. It was here, on March 6, 1521, that Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his expedition landed during their circumnavigation of the earth. Just six weeks later, Magellan was killed in the Philippines.
From Fort Nuestra Senora de la Soledad, on the cliffs above Umatac Bay, you have a great view of the Magellan Monument.
The monument was erected in 1926 by the Guam Teachers Association.Add to your Trip Planner
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