Flowers at Sirena Park in Hagatna.
When I went to Guam and saw bougainvillea, I thought of my folks’ backyard. Now when I’m at my folks’ house and look out at the towering bougainvillea, all I think about is Guam.
This post is dedicated to Monique and she knows why.
We’d waded through clear water and traipsed through spider-licious jungle, and were finally at Shark’s Hole! I love this beach. In CA, Muir Beach in Marin County (or the Tennesse Valley Road beach, or maybe Panther Beach south of the City) is probably my favorite beach on the Pacific Ocean, but this is my favorite one certainly on the Philippine Sea and definitely to swim and snorkel in.
Kate had been carrying this coco-embryo all the way from the jungle. We had no machete, but she was convinced she could get it open on the coral rocks.
Kate’s attempt to kick some coco butt! A valiant effort, but clearly her skills are more suited for CocoRugby.
Kate, realizing defeat, just decides to cradle the coconut. Surely a ploy to coax it into submission for her next attempt.
Shark’s Hole beach.
The water was rather inviting for snorkeling. We made sure to be there at high tide to make it easy to get out into the reef.
My beloved fins! These bad boys have been on more than 70 dives around Micronesia. Thanks, Harry, for the loan!
Serious beach time! Important tasks include snacking, looking at the water and sorting collected shells.
The Tanis and I headed out to Shark’s Hole nice and early, and it was a beautiful day indeed. I’ll never get enough of this clear water and cool limestone mushroom rocks.
The Tanis love Guam!
My official dorky guide look! I’m carrying all the snorkel stuff, so that’s my excuse.
Square beach flowers!
Blair Witch-esque beach coral formation.
There are a few beaches to trek through on the way to Shark’s Hole. This one was covered with cool funky purple algae!
I suggested to the Tanis that renting scooters and heading down south would be an awesome thing to do. And it was! I stole the idea from my December scooter trip of course. We scooted down to Agat and checked out the Taleyfac Spanish bridge, part of the transportation network that once extended up and down the coast.
The mangoes were growing!
We had to pull over at the Cetti Bay Overlook. Check out KJ’s sweet helmet!
Of course we swung by Fort Soledad in Umatac.
Luckily, my cannon buddy Kate is always willing to climb on some artillery with me…
Speaking of climbing, KJ was happy to climb aboard Betsey, the ever-friendly carabao…
…while Kate checked out the scene from the horn end.
After Umatac, we rounded the island and came across Cross-Island Road, where I ran out of gas. KJ sped off in search of gas, while Kate (in solidarity!) and I pushed our scooters up the hill (followed by additional drama of getting back to the rental place with a flat tire). NOBODY stopped to offer help, but soon we were scooting back home. Moral of the story: check the tires, check the gas, check out the scenery.
The Professor and I recently dived the double-whammy wrecks of the Tokai Maru and the SMS Cormoran. (Forbes.com randomly has a decent write-up about their history. Btw, I googled for that link. It’s not like I read Forbes.com or anything.) It was pretty sweet to drop 100 feet down and simultaneously touch two ships from two different wars.
I’ve always been a sucker for anything maritime, military or not. Stick me in a maritime museum and I’m happy. Pro tip: Amsterdam and San Diego are the best that I’ve visited. (But I haven’t been to La Rochelle yet.) Hint: Get your act together, SF! I’ve been waiting a LONG time for you to finish the job at Aquatic Park.
Because I’m equally obsessed with containers and their cranes, I’ve also been known to stalk ports (Oakland has let me get the closest, but I do like Seattle and Long Beach, or at least what I could see from San Pedro). So it was truly a treat cruising through Apra Harbor by Guam’s Commercial Port.
Happy post-dive! Hat courtesy of Ben AKA Mr. Howell, entrusted us with the care and entertainment of his hat when he left island.
Containers! Bringing us things from off-island! Like soymilk and Anchor Steam and toilet paper!
Safety first! It’s the cardinal rule. (Too much?)
I love shadows of clouds on hills in the south of Guam. (I’m clearly also a fan of endless prepositions…)
Shiny happy harbor!
The Professor and I went out with two friends for a nice little boat dive. As usual, all my pictures are from above water, but at least it was a lovely day!
The MDA dive boat at the Agat Marina. Looks rather stately. Don’t let that fool you.
We did our first dive at Eel Gardens, which was nothing too special, but our surface interval was near our second dive site, Anae Caves. I’d been down this way at Coral Gardens, and this one was a bit more interesting. But mainly I was excited about snorkeling during our whole surface interval. I practiced my especially poor free diving: 10 feet for about as many seconds, whoohoo!
Our faithful diving companions!
After the dive, we treated ourselves to some Sunset Grill pizza. As usual, stunning view off their patio…
Boat dives are nice, but I really still prefer shore dives.
Umatac is really one of my favorite villages on Guam. The Professor and I had driven down there before, but there’s always something to draw us back. In this case, scenery and Japanese tourists riding carabao!
There’s a dive spot down here, but I’m not sure where…
Fort Soledad, home of those great cannons.
I do believe this is Betsey, cousin of Lucy.
Everyone loves a nice carabao!
The Professor and I have driven past the turn-off for Two Lovers’ Point in Dededo many times, but we had always been too eager to get to Tanguisson Beach Park to dive or Sharks’ Hole to snorkel. We’d also never been too eager to check it out since it’s a Japanese tourist trap, but I did know that this is the the site of a Guam legend, so I figured it was worth a detour at least once.
To distract you from the obvious apostrophe issue going on here, I’ll let you read Guampedia's take on the legend that draws so many thousands of Japanese tourists. Part of that draw might of course be the view, which ain’t bad at all…
We didn’t actually pay the $5 to enter the outermost point, but the idea was clear. And we saw a wedding (haoles actually) along with plenty of Japanese tourists. Another box checked.
I’m headed to the diver’s paradise of Palau this week, but The Professor and I had to sneak in one more Guam sunset before we took off. Bonus points if you can name this beach. Esta.
The Professor and I rounded out our driving tour of the southern end of Guam back in December with a trip to Fort Soledad. Of course I was smitten once I saw the cannons.
I’ve never been privy to as many amazing sunsets as on this island. The light on the hills and the remnants of the fort is pretty stunning.
After The Professor and I checked out cannons in Agat, we continued on south toward Umatac. I really love how the name of this village is pronounced: You-MA-tick. But more importantly, it’s the site of Magellan’s landing on Guam in 1521. In 1565, another explorer claimed the island for Spain, and so began the colonial history of this island, starting with the expected burst of village-burning and religious conversion. Sharper minds than mine tackles these issues, so let’s concentrate on the tourism aspect. Cop-out perhaps, so I’ll segue with a really cool legend that begins in Umatac: Chief Gadao and The Three Feats on Strength.
This sign warmly welcomed us into the bay area and then around to the village. (I think that’s the first time that I’ve not capitalized “the bay area”! But it is in fact as area of a bay. Just a different one than the one by my hometown…)
Another fantastic sunset. This is the mouth of Umatac Bay.
Since I’m such a fan of carabao, I had to give this one a nosetug. I know he’s a tourist trap, but I could tell he knew we had a connection. When I turned to leave, he looked oh-so-wistfully toward the village… Never mind that it’s likely a female.
Here’s the church at Umatac in front of some of those beautiful southern hills…
…And here we have the bridge at Umatac, which is the main road to point further south (and then back around on the eternal loop that makes up this island’s road system.) I’d love to hear what others think of this color scheme, because I love its Playmobil-esque aspect.
All right, Umatac, it’s been real. Let’s head up the hill!
I have slowly been falling in love with the southern part of Guam. It just seems so much more… present. The scenery and history are at your fingertips, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s a more laid-back, less-populated area. The Professor and I took a nice slow drive to the southern tip of the island back in December.
These murals are everywhere. Often they are sponsored by businesses, like this one, but often they are a community effort to express local village or neighborhood pride. I keep meaning to do a photo study of more of them, but for now, this will give us some idea…
Oh yes, down in Agat, there’s a set of guns. Naturally, I climbed aboard. Note the cameo of The Professor in the shadow! Always the willing (if eye-rolling) photographer.
Ga’an historic guns at Ga’an Point include a 20cm short-barrel Japanese Coastal Defense Gun and a Twin Mount 25mm antiaircraft gun. Ga’an Point is where 55,000 U.S. Marines and Army Infantrymen stormed the shores to begin the recapture of the island.
More than 11,000 lives were lost on this site, the majority of them Japanese, so we can end on a more solemn note to counteract the cannon silliness:
There is almost never an excuse for littering. And leaving litter on a beautiful beach such as Tagachang in Yona? Despicable. The brand-new local apparel brand guamstyle decided to get a bunch of folks together to do something about it. My day job sponsored the pre-clean-up food and it just seemed like a worthwhile experience all-around. I dragged my neighbors (who are thinking they want to be The Howells, since I started the Gilligan’s Island theme with The Professor…) down for the fun.
Tagachang is pretty stunning, surrounded by steep cliffs of jungle. The water is rough and beautiful, as this is the Pacific side.
Many families were out participating. These two are too cute.
Mrs. Howell and yours truly. Never working too hard for a photo op!
When the beach was more or less clean, we took to the jungle around the parking lot. One crew went into a particularly disgusting makeshift dump. Mr. Howell and I edged the parking lot and the edges of the jungle, where the litter was plenty. Beer bottles, can, plastics of all kinds, cigarette butts, clothes, the usual…
Quite the load for the small beach!
Yes, this is me with a Miller Lite. Try to put your brain back together now.
Kids playing on a newly-cleaned beach: priceless. I can’t wait to go here again when the water’s a bit calmer to snorkel and relax. I’m sure nobody will litter between now and then…
Guamstyle provided a sweet DJ for our soundtrack and the clean-up was followed by a very impressive buffet of donated fiesta food and tons of musical entertainment. All talent, time, food and materials were donated, making for a true community event. Looking forward to the next one!
The owners of the restaurant where I get to spend four days a week serving up deliciousness decided to take out the whole team on a scooter adventure around the southern part of the island. It was a beautiful day to be on the most beautiful part of the island. I wish I’d been able to take pictures of the scenery, but since I’d never been on a scooter before, I decided to concentrate on the driving. Our day of scootering was punctuated by lovely swim stops.
That’s USO beach, by the power plant. We jumped off that ledge in the back there. The scooters stayed on land.
Then we headed to the natural pools in Inarajan for more jumping action! That’s the diving board there. That little kid shied away from diving in, but I, well, took the plunge. We paddled around the pools with the snorkeling masks and saw a few fishies (triggerfish, butterflyfish, etc.), but the real attraction was the sweet jumping.
Above is the whole crew, most of whom I see every time I work. They’re great! It’s nice to have tons of support since I’ve never done restaurant work before. Luckily, the diners on Guam are very forgiving…
Then came a quick bite at Jeff’s Pirate’s Cove in Talofofo. Obligatory tropical drink at this tourist joint. It actually reminded me of Florida in a way. I enjoyed some of their decorations, though.
Then we scooted over to Yona to check out the river by the site of the Menenggon Concentration Camp. Despite this somber part of history, which is relevant today as the Chamorros are repeatedly denied war reparations, the area is beautiful. We jumped off a board nailed to the top of the sheetpile to the right there. The Professor actually filmed me jumping off (and screaming the whole time, much to the amusement of my co-workers) but it wasn’t as scenic as I’d hoped.
Memorials move me no matter what. An awesome day of co-worker bonding, exploring the island and mastering the art of scootering.