[y] Guam Visitors Guide
Guam is the largest and most southern island in the Mariana Islands archipelago in the western north Pacific Ocean, covering 212 square miles with a population of some 150,000 people. The most developed island in Micronesia, it serves as a transportation and communications hub and is regarded as the gateway to Micronesia. There is traffic congestion, fast food restaurants, large shopping centers, a university, lavish resort hotels, and a large U.S. Military Base.
In contrast, southern Guam is made up of hills ranging in altitude up to 1,300 feet (Mt. Lamlam) and has sleepy villages, good sandy beaches and an abundance of butterflies and rainbows. The central and northern part of the island consists mainly of a limestone plateau with steep cliffs dropping down to a narrow coastal shelf.
History of Guam
The earliest inhabitants were the Chamorros who traced their origin to Indonesia and Malaysia. The islands fell to the Japanese shortly after the Pearl Harbour attack and were occupied by Japan until 1944. It was retaken by America and was made a United States territory.
A wide variety of vines, shrubs, and trees decorate the island giving it a lush tropical appearance and there are also many types of flowers. Today, small scale agriculture provides families and local markets in the capital Hagatna, with pineapples, bananas, papayas, mangoes, limes, avocados and melons, also cucumbers, green beans, squash, peppers, and eggplants.
According to legend, the origin of the people of Guam resulted from a god of the past ages named Chaifi (Fire) who lived in Sasalaguan (Hell). Sasalaguan was a place where Chaifi made souls and used them as slaves. One day Chaifi built a very large fire in an open pit which suddenly exploded. In the confusion, one of the souls escaped and landed on the southern part of Guam. The soul turned into a rock, which softened as the rain fell thus transforming into a man. According to legend, the remnants of this rock is Funa (Rock), located a mile to the north of Umatac in Fouha Bay.
After exploring the island of Guam, the man found he did not like to be alone so he decided to make some companions for himself. He gathered up some red earth and water forming it into the shape of a man. He used the heat of the sun to give it a soul and then he made both men and women calling them children of the earth.
Chaifi, by this time, had found that one of his souls had escaped. He searched for it for many days and noticed a small child playing on the beach. Chaifi thought that this child was his lost soul and sent a big wave to destroy the child who consequently escaped as his soul had come from the sun. Chaifi then tried many other ways to destroy the child but was unsuccessful. This child became a man and told Chaifi that he could not destroy him or the many other souls on Guam as they had come from the sun. Chaifi had no power over souls from the sun and returned beaten to Sasalaguan.
INTERNATIONAL RESORT HOTELS
International resort hotels line the shores of Tumon Bay less than fifteen minutes from the Airport and shopping center. Sea Charter Fishing is on hand and only a day’s notice is needed to secure a boat charter that departs daily from Agana Boat Basin, Agat Marina or the charter pier in Merizo. Scuba equipment and snorkeling gear can be bought at duty-free prices and if you are not interested in deep-sea fishing, you can rent scuba gear and go see the fish in their natural habitat on the coral reef.
There are lots of small sailboats and catamarans for rent at most hotels and resorts. Guam is a shopper’s paradise for the island has duty free status, which means you can pick up name-brand merchandise and other items cheaper than in their country of origin. In 1969 Guam initiated its visa waiver program whereby citizens of more than a dozen countries are allowed entry to Guam without a visa for a period of up to 14 days. However, travel onward to other U.S. points is not allowed.
Diving in Guam
Guam has an underwater world only recently discovered by visiting divers to be exceptional. The water is crystal clear, with 200 ft visibility being commonplace and you can expect to see coral gardens teeming with fish life, a unique blue hole, and caverns.
There are several wrecks of historical importance here such as a Japanese Zero. Also, the remains of a Spanish Galleon, the world’s largest side paddle-wheeler, and a 230-meter passenger liner were found layered on top of each other. You can also trace the remains of both World Wars at the double wreck of the Cormoran a WWI German Gunboat, and the Toka’s Maru, a Japanese freighter from WWII.
Guam Accommodations Guide
HILTON GUAM RESORT AND SPA
Located on prime beachfront property on the western end of Tumon Bay, the 691 room Hilton Guam Resort and Spa is one of Guam’s premier deluxe resort hotels. The island’s capital city, Agana, and the international airport are consequently located only minutes away from the hotel. Many of the island’s optional tour activities, such as golfing, diving and deep-sea fishing, are also conveniently located within a short 20-minute drive from the Hilton.
Guests can select from a choice of 357 rooms in the Magas Building (Chief’s Building), 234 rooms in the Magalahi Tower (High Chief’s Tower) or from 100 luxurious rooms in the recently renovated Magahaga Spa Wing (Female Chief’s Wing) which overlooks a spectacular view of Tumon Bay and Two Lover’s Point, Guam’s most famous landmark.
THE WESTIN RESORT GUAM
Beachfront on the shores of Tumon Bay, the 21-story Westin Resort Guam with the attractive atrium tower, is ideally situated in the heart of the hotel and shopping district. It is just minutes from Guam International Airport, the city’s business center, and major attractions. Westin properties worldwide are renowned for elegant five-star accommodation. Guest rooms feature air-conditioning, cable television with in-room safe, private bar, iron, iron board, and complimentary tea service. Each room provides two queen or two double beds, and king-size beds are available on request. Bathrooms feature jet baths, and every room has a balcony with views of the city overlooking the bay.
Five-star relaxation options include two swimming pools with waterfalls and towel service provided. Active guests will want to take advantage of the range of water sports on offer. You can try an outrigger (longboat), pedal boat, hobie cat, water bike, kayak, water wheel, or windsurfer, and there are also floats, snorkeling gear and life jackets available. Golfers will appreciate the free shuttle to the Leo Palace Resort where a 27-hole championship golf course designed by Palmer and Nicklaus offers preferential rates to Westin guests.
PACIFIC STAR HOTEL
Majestically located on prime beachfront in the heart of Tumon Bay, the 19 story Pacific Star Hotel is one of Guam’s most magnificent luxury resort hotels. Fronting the beautifully landscaped San Vitores Road, it is within easy access of the main business district of Agana and the airport.
Accommodation is in 436 air-conditioned guest rooms and suites which offer captivating ocean views and are equipped with all the five-star amenities you would expect including IDD telephones, electronic voice mail and wake up call systems, mini bar, tea and coffee making facilities, remote control TV and instant view movies.
Relax by the spectacular swimming pool and spa, or visit the marine center for windsurfing, canoeing, aqua biking, paddle boats or snorkeling. Additional recreational activities on offer at the sports activities center include a championship tennis court, bicycle rental, diving and tour programs including jet skiing, parasailing, golf and the Atlantis Submarine.
HYATT REGENCY GUAM
Situated on a prime 150 meter stretch of beach on Tumon Bay, Hyatt Regency Guam is one of Guam’s premier hotels. All of its 455 air-conditioned guestrooms and suites command spectacular oceanfront views of Tumon Bay and the sunset. The interior design is light and airy with tropical color tones evoking a resort feel. Three floors comprise exclusive Regency Club accommodation, a ‘hotel within a hotel’ concept for which Hyatt ‘hotel within a hotel’ concept for which Hyatt is known worldwide. The Regency Club Lounge, for the exclusive use of its guests, is the ideal setting. Complimentary breakfast and late afternoon hors d’oeuvres and cocktails are served daily. The Regency Club also features its own Business Centre where coffee and tea is served all day.
Hyatt Regency Guam’s dining options include La Mirenda, the all-day cafe restaurant, Niji Japanese restaurant, the Lobby Lounge and Breezes Poolside Bar. The Italian restaurant, Al Dente, boasts the only wood-burning pizza oven in Micronesia. DJs offer quality live entertainment and cigar aficionados have their own space at Cigar Corner. Special monthly promotions in all five outlets ensure constant variety.
ROYAL ORCHID GUAM HOTEL
Opened in 1999, the seven-story Royal Orchid Guam at Time Square sits on a hillside with a commanding view of Tumon Bay. European designs and furnishings provide an understated elegance to the 200 air-conditioned guest rooms. Features include color cable television, voice mail, two-line telephones with data port, coffee maker and hairdryer. A valet laundry service and iron/board are available on request.
The pool and jacuzzi provide an alternative to the beach across the street and a beach shuttle service is available. Golf enthusiasts can indulge their passion nearby, and a world-class shopping complex offers ample opportunity for a little retail therapy. A range of specialty restaurants including Tony Roma’s A Place For Ribs, Capricciosa Italian restaurant and Tokugawa Japanese restaurant ensure you will never want for variety in dining. More than 5,000 square feet of space including an enclosed poolside meeting room will take care of your conference and function needs. In fact, the staff at Royal Orchid Guam, are committed to meeting all the needs of the discerning traveler.