Guam: America…with a twist!

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Sunset at Tumon By (Photo by Kellie Kunzman)

By Kellie Kunzman

Many people seemed quizzical when I told them I would be venturing to Guam during the Golden Week vacation. “Why would you go to Guam? It’s an American territory and it’s full of Japanese tourists!” I think a better question is, “Why wouldn’t I go to Guam?” Tropical beaches, perfect weather and ‘gaijin stares’ we’re already well used to made Guam very appealing for my friends and I.

The number one thing I would suggest a visitor to Guam do is rent a car for an evening or two and drive around the island. I’ve been told you can drive the entire coast of Guam in about four hours (it took us much longer because we stopped to take in all the sights along the way). This is impressive considering there are no highways and the maximum speed limit is 35 miles. While driving around the coast, my friends and I saw various war remnants, gorgeous mountains, many beaches and also how the locals (called Chamorros) spend their time.

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View from Two Lovers Point (Photo by Kellie Kunzman)

While you have the car, I suggest going to quite possibly the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen: Ritidian Beach. We were fortunate enough to have a local take us there for a free snorkeling lesson. It’s quite a drive and off the beaten path, but, when we went, the water was crystal clear and the beach was basically secluded because many tourists stay at Tumon Bay and do not venture far from their hotels. Bring cans of Vienna Sausages along with you and hold them out to watch the fish nibble at your fingertips! I’d also suggest not swimming too far out, as the tide can take a beating on you and the coral can do a lot of damage to your legs. And most importantly: wear sunscreen. Man, did we ever learn our lesson on that one!

Also, while you have the car, make sure to stop at a restaurant called PROA. We were in Guam for only five days but made a stop here twice for lunch. They had the best fresh snapper dish we had ever tasted, along with lots of fresh salads and local Chamorro style recipes.

One place all of the tour books recommend is Two Lovers Point. It’s another great place you should check out while in Guam. If the Chamorro love folklore doesn’t entice you (it is said that two lovers jumped to their death amongst these cliffs with their hair tied together in a knot because they were forbidden to wed) then the view certainly will. It’s definitely the best view on the island.

Before you return your car, don’t forget to make one last stop at the K-Mart of all K-Mart’s. I know, I know… K-Mart in America is a dump, but in Guam they take it seriously. Guam is home to the world’s largest K-Mart (we’re talking parking lot on the roof, people) that is open 24 hours. I’d like to say that we spent three hours in there because one of our travel companions was Irish and had yet to have a K-Mart experience, but I’m sure we would have been in there that long even if she wasn’t with us. K-Mart is walking distance from the main hotel area, but you need the car to get all of your purchases back to your hotel room.

After more than five days in Guam, I think I would have gotten bored, so don’t plan an extended trip there. The hospitality of the locals, the good food and the beautiful beaches make it a wonderful place to venture to. If you want a place to relax in that has the comforts of American culture (large shopping malls, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, authentic Mexican food, ENGLISH!!…) then Guam is a great place to consider!

Getting There

There are flights daily from Hiroshima, Osaka (Kansai) and Fukuoka year round. Approximate flight time is three hours and thirty minutes.

Getting Around

There is plenty to see within walking distance, but it is worth renting a car for at least one day and heading south. Taxis in Guam are expensive. There are two bus routes in the touristy area of Tumon Bay. The first route is $2 each way, and takes you to the popular shopping areas. The other route offers touristy destinations at various prices (but these schedules are all in Japanese).

Links

http://www.visitguam.org
Guam Visitors Bureau site. Information on Chamorro culture and various activities in Guam.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/worldguide/guam/
Lonely Planet guide to Guam.

http://www.guamportal.com/
Great resources for Guam tourists—complete with maps, schedules of events, and recommended hotels.