Not everyone is confident in their ability to find Guam on a map or a globe.

Unless you have served in the United States military and been stationed on this island of 225 square miles, you probably have no clue where it is or what it is called.

But Guam has an extensive history that dates back to 2000 BC, when the Austronesian forebears of the current Chamorro population landed.

The Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan was the first non-native to arrive in the region in 1521. He was on his way to Spain after circumnavigating the globe.

The lives of the Chamorros were irrevocably altered when Spain formally claimed the territory 44 years later.

Guam, which was bombed by the Japanese only four hours after Pearl Harbor, was a significant player in World War II and is still fresh in the minds of many people today.

Because of the American victory, it became a U.S. territory without a permanent population or government in 1950, and it has since become a major military outpost and a famous tourist destination for people from Japan and Korea.


Formed millions of years ago by two volcanos, Guam is the main island in the Mariana Islands chain. Around 30 miles long and 4 to 12 miles wide and situated between the Pacific Ocean on the east and the Philippine Sea on the west, it’s the first place where the sun rises on U.S. soil.


Mount Lamlam (“lightning” in Chamorro) is located on the south side of Guam, and the island itself sits on the edge of the Marianas Trench, the deepest tunnel in the world, which extends nearly seven miles below the surface. Lamlam, the second-tallest peak in the world (after Mr. Everest), rises 1,332 feet above sea level from the trench and is said to be the highest vertical ascent in the world. Those who take the time to make the two-hour slow ascent to the peak can boast about their accomplishment.

Guam’s reef is a popular spot for scuba diving, snorkeling, and other water activities, and it also features excellent opportunities for hiking. The paths are popular among both tourists and locals because they pass by waterfalls, tropical forests, caves, waterways, and up and down mountains.

If you want to go on a Saturday excursion with the Guam Boonie Stompers, make sure to wear appropriate clothing, apply sunscreen, and bring plenty of water. As an added precaution, never go hiking by yourself. You could spend hours wandering aimlessly.


One of my best drives is a loop around the island’s southern coast, where Route 1 connects with Routes 2 and 4, taking me through communities that have been home to Chamorros for generations.

Spectacular vantage points, public parks and beaches, trailheads, and towns with historical markers can be found along the way. These include the purported landing site of Magellan, the War in the Pacific National Historical Park, and the Spanish Fort Nuestra Seora de la Soledad (c.1810).

Even though the south side of the island is more mountainous and has more greenery, the north side of the island is still beautiful and worth the trip.

A family of wild pigs dashed across the winding road as I drove to Ritidian Beach for the first time in the Guam National Wildlife Refuge, their tufted tails bobbing in the air.

The native blue-banded king crow butterflies were buzzing around in the hundreds during another walk to the wooded Latte Loop Trail that leads to ancient caves and the site of a prehistoric Chamorro village. Hearing my approach, a juvenile monitor reptile darted underground.

The two miles of trails in the refuge are popular among both tourists and residents, as are the two and a half miles of empty, white sand shoreline, the guided tours of the ancient Chamorro village, and the caves along the limestone cliff.

Other famous family destinations include the Valley of the Latte, so called for the ancient stone pillars that served as supports for communal houses and symbolized the Chamorro culture.

The park features paddle boarding, river cruises, and paddling, as well as workshops where guests can learn about Hawaiian culture through activities like traditional weaving with coconut leaves, making coconut oil and coconut candy, and making beautiful floral crowns and leis.

The Guam Museum is one of my favorite locations to kill some time because of the wealth of resources it provides regarding the island’s past, present, and future. I always spend a pleasant few hours learning from the engaging displays.


A big Chamorro population and a sizable Filipino population both call Guam home. Cultures from Micronesia, Japan, Korea, China, and Thailand, as well as a smattering of Mexico and two large handfuls of Spanish, all come together in Guam.

This is reflected in the abundance of locally owned restaurants found throughout the island, many of which serve freshly caught reef fish or tuna (Micronesia is the tuna capital of the world), as well as coconuts, more than a dozen varieties of bananas, taro, papaya, breadfruit, mangoes, eggplant, pineapples, and hot peppers.

Guam is an island made up of many different towns, many of which were once used for farming, ranching, and fishing but are now residential and business centers.

Every town has its own patron saint, Catholic church, and annual celebration to honor everything from the region’s bounty of bananas and coconuts to the harmony and history of its residents. You can consume your way to culinary fame while immersing yourself in the local culture.


I always tell my American friends who are curious about Guam that it’s “like Miami.” The air is hot and sticky, and the ocean is close by. As well as that spot over there.

Dry weather predominates from January to May, while rainy conditions predominate from July to November (and a slight temperature drop). January is widely regarded as the best month to travel.

There is a hotel strip lined with international chains along Tumon Bay on the western shore of the island. Multiple sites of fast food restaurants like Applebee’s, California Pizza Kitchen, Ruby Tuesday, and Lone Star are common in shopping and tourist centers.

Kmart, Macy’s, and Ross are all located here, and they are the largest of their kind in the globe.

Even so, if you do as the locals do and hang out in the areas where the locals hang out, you can easily escape the blatantly American parts of it. Also, it’s much easier to avoid crowds now that the once-vigorous flow of Asian tourists has slowed to a trickle ever since Covid struck.

Still, if you’re interested in visiting this relatively undiscovered island location by Western tourists, the door is open; all you need to do is bring proof of vaccination and follow the three Ws (cover your face, wash your hands, and don’t get too close).

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