Adventures in Guam

After waking up in Guam and grabbing lunch, our first course of action was to head to the beach.

Tanguisson Beach

The one big difference I found with Guam vs. every other island or beachfront town I’ve been to was how quiet the beaches are. The first beach we visited was Tanguisson Beach, about a ten minute drive from our apartment. There may have been six other people there on a Friday afternoon.

The weather was great, just like every day in Guam: 85 degrees.

The drive towards the beach was pretty smooth for the most part, but the parking area definitely had a few spots that highlighted our Hyundai’s lack of ground clearance. Once on the beach though, you could walk at least a half mile in each direction. In one area there was a defunct power plant that had apparently closed around 2015, although it looked like it had been abandoned for a lot longer.

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Checking out the crystal clear water
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View from under the cliff
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The abandoned power plant near the beach

 

Kmart and Poke

One of Guam’s biggest claims to fame is that it has the largest Kmart in the world. Although it didn’t seem much larger than an average Walmart Supercenter back home in Virginia, it definitely appeared to be a huge draw for the locals and the Japanese tourists in the area.

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The biggest Kmart in the world
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Had to buy some Guam 1 beer while I was there
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Seaweed flavored Lays, which were surprisingly delicious

After purchasing a few provisions, we headed over to Poki-Fry to grab ourselves some Poke bowls. For those who aren’t familiar, Poke is a Hawaiian fish salad made with tuna, rice, and a few vegetables. Guam is sort of a melting pot of different Pacific cuisines and we were able to sample many different kinds of food during our stay.

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The Poke bowl

 

Fort Nuestra De La Soledad and the Inarajan pools

The next day, we ventured towards the southern tip of the island to Fort Nuestra De La Soledad and the Inarajan pools. The fort was built back in 1810 and has since been turned into a public park.

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Plaque at Fort Nuestra De La Soledad
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Cannons overlooking the water

Next, we cooled off in the Inarajan tidal pools. Protected from the pounding ocean waves, the tidal pools were one of the most popular spots for the locals to cool off. There was even an old set of concrete steps that led up to an overlook where you could watch the waves break.

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Great place to cool off

 

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Lots of areas to jump as well
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I climbed up to the overlook to check out the pounding waves

 

Scuba Diving with Axe Murderer Tours

So I know what you’re thinking, but these guys are probably one of the best outfitters on the island. After being awarded the contract to conduct dives on the local Air Force base, Axe Murderer Tours moved their operation from Saipan to Guam. They have two dive shops on the island: one at the base and one at the Beach House in Hagatna.

A lot of the local dive shops cater to the one million Japanese tourists that visit the island each year, while this one seemed to cater to mostly locals and military. The Open Water classes were also small and manageable. For $350, I purchased a semi-private class that included all of my equipment with the exception of my mask, snorkel, boots, and fins, which I purchased for around $120 on Amazon before my trip.

After a half day of book work, I took the written test, and we began a full day of confined water training and two open water beach dives nearby in the warm 82 degree water. After successful completion of my first day of training, I was able to complete my final two dives from the boat to get my certification.

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View from the AMT Beach House. The waves break far out from the shore almost everywhere.
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Heading out to Crevice and Barracuda Rock
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Time for my second boat dive at Barracuda Rock

After getting my Open Water certification, I decided to do two more dives. For $150, I booked two guided boat dives, complete with all equipment rental. These two were by far the most fun. The first was at Blue Hole and the second would be American Tanker.

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Sampling the popular island coffee on my way to the dive boat, courtesy of my guide
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Making our way down the line to the stern of the tanker
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Checking out the American Flag hanging from the bridge
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Tons of fish made this sunken tanker their new home
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Reenacting that scene from Titanic

 

Tarzan Falls and Marbo Cave

In addition to the numerous dive sites, Guam has tons of great hikes for every skill level. For the last few days of our trip, we checked out Tarzan Falls and Marbo Cave.

Tarzan Falls was definitely the more difficult of the two hikes, but is still manageable for anyone at a moderate fitness level. After parking in a small parking area and about thirty minutes of hiking mostly downhill, we arrived at the top of the falls. After arriving at the top, it only took a few more minutes to climb down the marked trail to the bottom.

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Top of the falls
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Tarzan Falls
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Time to cool off

After spending ample time cooling off, we headed back up the trail for the nearly one hour walk back to the car.

The next day, we checked out Marbo Cave. This one was on the opposite side of the island and involved a long, winding scenic drive through the middle of nowhere, but a very short walk to the cave.

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No idea where we are. Just following the road.
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The nondescript entrance to the cave
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It was pretty easy to climb down
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The deepest swimming hole at the back of the cave.

At first glance, there didn’t seem to be too many areas to swim in the cave, but as you ventured over the rocks to the far end of the cave, you come upon a wide and deep swimming hole at least ten feet deep. The only way to swim back here is to have a flashlight or portable floodlight of some sort, as its pitch black without any sort of lighting device.

Tumon Bay

On two evenings, we ventured down to Tumon Bay to check out the restaurants and shops. The area is one of the most developed in Guam and definitely caters to the million Japanese tourists who visit every year. It reminded me of the Virginia Beach oceanfront, just with better parking.

Although most of the restaurants and shops were similar to what you’d find back home in the states, the Tagada Amusement Park was definitely an original. The most popular ride was the Tagada Disco, which I obviously had to ride.

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The Tagada Disco

The ride was absolute madness. It consisted of a spinning wheel with seats on the inside with no seatbelts. The operator could spin, reverse, and tilt the wheel to elicit the best reaction from the riders, often dumping them all out of their seats!

Also, the ride operator and all the other employees at the park only spoke Japanese.

The ride ticket was $10 and you were required to sign a waiver in case you were injured on the nearly ten minute ride.

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I had absolutely no idea what they were saying, but they loved my GoPro

Definitely don’t eat before riding this wheel of madness. I’m glad I didn’t. You’ll thank me.

Ypao Beach

At the recommendation of our Airbnb host, we decided to check out one last beach while we were on the island. Ypao Beach Park was just a short drive from our apartment and had ample parking, showers, restrooms, and lots of space to stretch out. Also, just like most of the beaches in Guam, there are almost no waves on the beach, as the topography makes them break far off shore, making the water much more inviting.

Sadly, the lens of my GoPro had fogged up, so I only have one somewhat decent picture to document the experience. But, if you only go to one beach in Guam, definitely make sure it’s this one.

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Catching some rays at Ypao Beach

 

Food, food, and more food

Guam has an excellent food selection. From Wendy’s, to the night market, to Mosa’s Joint right by the beach, everything was amazing.

Wendy’s serves breakfast at all their locations and it definitely beats every single other fast food breakfast I’ve ever had. The breakfast meals are all what they call “local favorites” and include such things as sausage, eggs, rice, potatoes, country fried chicken, and bacon fried rice.

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The country fried chicken and bacon fried rice were my favorite

Another two great places to grab a bite to eat were Meskla Dos and the Chamorro Village Night Market. Meskla Dos had a great variety of barbecue and hamburgers and the night market offered many different food stands, smoothie vendors, and a variety of different gifts to buy.

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The massive hamburger from Meskla Dos
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Checking out the fantastic food stands at the night market on Wednesday night

Four our last night on the island, we checked out Mosa’s Joint . It was highly recommended by my scuba guide and it definitely did not disappoint. The calamari had just the right amount of batter and seasoning and our entrees were fantastic. I went with the lamb burger, which won an award on the island and Elizabeth went with the fish and chips.

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Calamari at Mosa’s Joint
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It tasted like a gyro on a bun. Absolutely amazing.
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Elizabeth’s fish and chips

 

Travelers Bed & Rest

It was finally our last day and time to check out from our Airbnb apartment. Our gracious host Jose was wonderful and I definitely recommend staying at his place if you’re ever in Guam. He owns an entire building and lives upstairs in one of the four apartments. With the promotion through Airbnb, I ended up spending only $669 in total for the eight nights we stayed in the two-bedroom apartment.

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View of the kitchen and one of the bedrooms
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Elizabeth lounging in the living room

 

Two Lovers Point

Before heading to the airport, we decided to check out Two Lovers Point and take in one last view of the ocean before taking off.

The point is a beautiful park with a shop, a few vendors, and a wedding venue. I made my way over to the smoothie shop to have one last mango smoothie in Guam. This one was sweetened with local agave and was even better than the one I sampled at the night market.

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Great view of the sea
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Had to have another mango smoothie before leaving
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Similar to the Pont des Arts in Paris, you can affix a plastic heart to the railing

 

Guam United Club

After taking in the sights, we made our back to the rental car office and the airport.

While the staff at the airport were wonderful, the entire experience getting to the gate was complete chaos. I’m very glad we allowed extra time to make our flight. The check in was rather smooth, but in regular TSA fashion, the agents at the checkpoint didn’t seem to have any idea what was going on. From the looks of it, they had merged the business class and Pre-check lines, so the Pre-check people had to remove their shoes and laptops. Due to the lack of signage, I sent my laptop through the scanner inside my bag, so it had to be scanned a second time. Not a huge deal by any means, but several other people had to do the same, making the line much slower than usual.

The United Club was a pleasant surprise. From my reading online, I wasn’t expecting much, but this club was definitely better than most of the domestic United Clubs I’ve been to.

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Much smaller than most domestic clubs, but great views and food options
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I sampled the soup, salad, meatballs, and rice balls
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They also were able to whip me up a Long Island at the bar

After a short hour and a half at the club, it was time to board our flight for the next leg of our trip, so we grabbed our bags and headed towards our gate.

Japan, here we come!

Happy travels,

Matt

 

 

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