Like an emerald glistening in a velvet blue jewel case, the green peaks of Guam emerge from the surrounding waters of the Western Pacific.
Guam is the largest and most southern island in the Mariana Islands archipelago in the northern area of the Pacific Ocean, covering 34159 square kilometres and with a population of approximately 167,000 people.
Situated approximately 2494 kilometres south of Japan and 6115 kilometres west of Hawaii, Guam has pristine beaches, championship golf courses, world-class diving and snorkelling. Visitors can experience a variety of cultural and historical sites, outdoor activities as well as recreational events.
As the largest and most developed island in Micronesia, Guam serves as a transportation and communications hub and is the gateway to Micronesia, a region of 2000 islands and atolls spread over five million square kilometres of the Pacific.
Guam is also America’s airline link to Asia with an average flight time of around three hours to most Asian cities.
The terrain of Guam is a startling contrast of limestone plateaus. The steep cliffs and narrow coastal shelves in the central and northern parts of the island are wonderful to observe. Volcanic hills range up to 204 metres which is the height of Mount Lamlam that is the tallest mountain in the world from below sea level as a result of Guam’s proximity to the Mariana Trench.
Southern Guam features lush jungles and quiet seaside villages. The central area of the island has all the modern conveniences of suburban living, with restaurants, bars, shopping centres and international class resort hotels fronting Tumon and Agana Bays.
Guam’s earliest settlers were the Chamorros who make up about 37 percent of the island population today. They are thought to have travelled by canoe from South-East Asia to the Mariana Islands, where they lived isolated from the rest of the world for centuries.
The Chamorros flourished as an advanced fishing, horticultural, and hunting society and were skilled craftsmen who built unique houses and canoes well suited to this region of the world. They are also skilled in intricate weaving and detailed pottery making.
In 1521, Ferdinand Magellan, the explorer sponsored by the Spanish court, arrived on Guam and forged a link between Spain and the Chamorros. The Spaniards’ influence lasted more than 300 years until the island became a US Territory in 1898 after the Spanish-American War. The Japanese briefly occupied the island until 1944 when it was liberated by American forces.
Today, even with modern suburban living, Guam still offers abundant natural beauty. The island is blessed by year round balmy tropical weather and cooling trade winds. Stunning coral reefs and clear crystalline blue lagoons, teeming with colourful aquatic life ring Guam’s white sand coastline. Its verdant interior is lush jungle with hidden waterfalls, rivers and volcanic ridges.
Guam’s natural offerings have something for everyone above and below water. There is fishing, hiking, golf, kite and windsurfing, parasailing, scuba diving, snorkelling, jet-skiing, dolphin watching and cultural tours to name but a few.
History and geography have given Guam a vibrant cosmopolitan population. The charm and warmth of the people originates from the eclectic blend of Spanish, indigenous Chamorro, Asian and Western cultures. The mix of East, West and Pacific traditions and cultures is evident and is infused in the arts and crafts, language, and especially the food of this island nation.
Guam is truly an undiscovered Pacific gem and deserves to be shortlisted as one of your next holiday destinations.
Guamanian People & Chamorro Culture
People in Guam
History and geography have given Guam a vibrant cosmopolitan population of 167,000.
Guam’s earliest settlers, the Chamorros, who now make up 37% of the population, are thought to have arrived by canoe from South-East Asia, living isolated from the rest of the world as an advanced fishing, horticultural, and hunting society for centuries.
Asking around, I find a good handful of people have never heard of Guam, Micronesia. However, word of its uniqueness is beginning to spread. With a 17.1 percent visitor increase between 2015 and 2016, it seems people are starting to take notice. It’s no surprise: Guam boasts a rich culture, gorgeous beaches, year-round tropical weather conditions and some of the most hospitable inhabitants in the world.
Things to Do In Guam
Places to Visit In Guam
Visit beautiful limestone forests unique to Guam and view the indigenous plants, like the pahong, used for its waxy lining and edible seeds that the Chamorro people still use today.
Go on a river tour to experience Guam’s native culture and lush jungle or take a trip back in time to visit Guam’s six historical parks. Abandoned tanks, pill boxes, guns and bomb and shell craters, some being reclaimed by the jungle, stand as sombre testaments to the Guam’s violent past in the World Wars I and II.
Chammoro Food & Places to Eat in Guam
Try out traditional kelaguen, made with meat marinated with lemons and hot peppers, on the side of red rice infused with achote seeds, onions and garlic. Spicy stewed marinated chicken, or kadon pika, goes well with red rice.
The Chammoros know their marinades well, so their barbecued meats grilled atop blazing tangan-tangan wood fires are a must-try too and you can end your meal with a bite of Chammoro caramelised coconut candy.
Getting around Guam
Buses and trolleys provide affordable transport around Guam, connecting most major hotels to shopping centres and districts. It is also easy to grab a metered taxi with a cheap starting flag rate of US$2.40. Taxi fares increase by US$4 for the first mile and with increments of S$0.80 per subsequent mile.