he United States’ support for Cuban independence ultimately
led to the Spanish-American War in 1898, but when U.S. captain Henry Glass
sailed to Guam looking for a fight, the Spanish colonists greeted him with
smiles. Someone apparently did not get the war memo. The following day, the Spanish
governor surrendered the island, and Guam joined America. As one of five inhabited
U.S. territories, Guam allows travelers to visit an English-speaking, dollar-using
island as far east as Tokyo and Melbourne.
Guam is the largest island in Micronesia, a collection of
2,000 islands spread across 2,000 nautical miles with a combined population of 400,000.
The native Chamorros arrived from Indonesia about 3,500 years ago, and they
proudly showcase their culture in music, dance and food, most notably on
Wednesday nights at the Chamorro Village Night Market.
An ideal Guam trip should include the southern rainforest
and the 80 miles of coral reef, and at only 209 square miles, the island is
easy to explore. Waterfalls like Talofofo, Sigua and Tarzan Falls cascade into freshwater
swimming pools, while the saltwater Salugula Pool has diving platforms and
crashing waves separated by lava rock formations. For wreck diving, a downed
Japanese Zero plane sits in Umatac Bay, while Apra Harbor offers a unique sight
with the sunken WWII Japanese freighter Tokai Maru sitting atop the WWI German
cruiser Cormoran. Divers here can literally have a hand on both World Wars at
the same time. For non-divers, the Piti Bomb Holes are natural offshore
sinkholes, and the Fish Eye Marine Park–attached to the coast by a 1,000-foot
boardwalk–is an undersea observatory near one of the largest sinkholes.
-When the U.S. military recaptured Guam in 1944, Japanese Sergeant
Shoichi Yokoi hid in a jungle cave on the island for 28 years before two locals
finally discovered him in 1972 trying to catch shrimp.
-After failing to land the Nancy Spungen role in the 1986
film Sid and Nancy, future rocker
Courtney Love danced at the long-gone strip club Brandy How’s, near the
military base in Guam.
-Point Udall in Guam is the westernmost point in the U.S.,
and Point Udall in the Virgin Islands is the easternmost point.
If You Go
Guam claims the best election turnout in the territories, and
the islanders voted to legalize medical cannabis last November making it the first
U.S. territory to do so. A small number of dispensaries could open by the year’s
end. At present, most cannabis reportedly comes from Southeast Asia, and
differing views about the recent legislation necessitate prudent and watchful use.
Time to Go: Spring
Weather: Warm and dry