Beaches

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There have been only a handful of times that I ever questioned my decision about moving to Guam. One of those times was the evening that I arrived on island. As the taxi pulled out of the airport and onto the road toward my new home of Tumon I noticed that most of the island was dark. I asked Peter where the city center/downtown was and he responded, “I don’t think there is one but I guess Tumon.” I looked out toward the bay, darkness, and in that moment I realized just how small Guam is.

People often ask me where the best place is to live in Guam. I have no idea. For the last three years, I’ve lived happily in Tumon. It was important that I live somewhere that was pedestrian friendly and near the beach, since I didn’t have a car. What’s the point of living on an island if I can’t walk to the beach! Although it is a little pricier than other villages, it can be done affordably. We chose to live a different lifestyle than the one we led in the states. We don’t want a car or smartphones (shock!), we rent furnished places, and try to live as minimalistic as possible. Even though we’ve lived on Guam for a few years now, we try to have fun and live like we might leave tomorrow; enjoying everything we possibly can.

If apartment hunting in Tumon, make sure that you aren’t fooled by the location of “upper Tumon.” People like to advertise as upper Tumon to charge more and make their place more appealing but, there isn’t an upper Tumon, there is just Tumon. If you can’t easily and quickly walk to the beach or you have to cross Marine Corps Drive to get to the beach, you’re not in Tumon. I consider Tumon to be From the Hilton Hotel all the way down San Vitores to Gun Beach/Fai Fai Beach and a little bit up the hill toward Tagada.

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Why I ❤ Tumon

  • Although I’m curious about life in other villages, I love Tumon because I feel like I’m on vacation. That’s partly due to all the tourists running around and having fun.
  • There’s always some form of entertainment available; whether it’s the beach, bars, coffee shops, dancing, restaurants, aquarium, parks, live bands, shopping; the list goes on and on.
  • Every hotel has different restaurants, bars, and cafes that are really good.
  • Driving down the hill after a long day at work and seeing the sparkling ocean is just another perk of living in Tumon.
  • And OH MY GOODNESS, cloudy or clear, the sunsets are ALWAYS amazing.

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  • There are so many fun and free things to do in Guam, especially Tumon, that we don’t have to spend a lot of money on entertainment if we don’t want to.
  • Any kind of food you want at all price ranges, you’ll find it in Tumon.
  • There are sidewalks up and down the main road that’s great for running or walking.
  • During my morning walk, I usually pass a foreign couple getting married at one of the many chapels that line the beach. I see them so often that I’ve noticed their weddings are all the same, but I’m sure to them it is a unique and memorable experience. Who wouldn’t want to get married in a chapel made of glass overlooking the ocean?

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  • Beach access is just a few minutes away…can’t beat that.
  • Tumon is the best place to live if you want to be in the center of all the activity and fun. There are festivals throughout the year at Ypao Beach Park and in the Pleasure Island district.

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  • It’s pretty safe and doesn’t take long for police officers to come when needed.
  • Most places have generators in case of power outages (which happen frequently).
  • Sometimes I stop to watch a fisherman throw his net to catch the really small fish near the shore. The beach is a great place for people watching.

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Things I Don’t

I wish though, that Tumon was either pedestrians only or that the weekends were, because the cars drive WAY too fast, don’t respect people walking or crossing the street, and tear up the road. During rush hour it’s really hard to get out of Tumon because of all the cars driving through trying to avoid the busy roads.

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As much as I think tourists make Guam a better place, living in Tumon has made me appreciate the towns and cities that aren’t tourist attractions. It is definitely more expensive, crowded, and fast-paced and I can see why someone might choose a different village. Although generally the tourists are fun and friendly, they seem fascinated with Peter’s and my hair. I didn’t think my hair was out-of-the-ordinary and at first I didn’t mind when they’d point at me and squeal, “kawaii, kawaii!!” and sometimes they’d ask to take pictures with me. Then one day my family and I were having a picnic when a tourist came over and pointed to Peter’s hair and then to her camera. I suddenly felt really offended like, “We’re not part of your vacation package nor are we animals in a zoo!!” I kindly said no and from that point on I decided not to let people take pictures of us anymore and to be more mindful of things that I might do when visiting foreign countries. If you can afford to visit Guam, then you probably have a T.V./internet where you can see people with curly hair.

The beaches are gorgeous, with white sand and blue water. Unfortunately there are so many hotels that have monopolized the shores, filling them with large water toys and beach chairs under umbrellas, that it’s hard to find a nice shady place to set up your own beach towel and swim.

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And of course after a busy weekend of BBQ’s there’s the garbage problem.

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There is more good to Tumon than bad and living here has allowed me to lead a completely different lifestyle than I could have in Oregon. I feel like a beach bum half of the time! I truly am lucky to have such a wonderful life, to have had many of my dreams come true, and to be able to experience life on an island. I’m glad that we chose to live this way. I feel so free and never tied down by having too much stuff. It is a great feeling and on top of that I can’t complain about the beauty that I get to see everyday by living in Tumon.

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My Happy Place

After this last trip to Ritidian and the outdoor hikes I’ve done since then, I think I’ll be staying out of the sun for awhile and give my skin a break. I love going to Ritidian for hiking, swimming, and relaxing under the trees. I always feel refreshed after beach days, especially after days at Ritidian. It’s so quiet, I could walk on the sandy beach for a mile without realizing it, and when it gets too hot I like to wade in the water. I love chasing birds, looking at the shells and rocks that wash up on the shore, and staring into the sky. It’s always beautiful here, that terrible drive is actually worth it! This beach has a special place in my heart.

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Exploring at the War in the Pacific Historical Park

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The park is one of Guam’s well known attractions. Lined with palm trees along Asan beach and wide open spaces that are great for kite flying, there’s more to it than what meets the eye. To think that some of the bloodiest battles on Guam happened here; it is now a peaceful, breezy park where I enjoy watching the sunset. When the sun and temperature go down, locals begin walking around the large grassy space for exercise and fisherman end their day by packing up their fishing equipment and heading home.

One afternoon I decided to explore the park beyond the usual area where the picnic tables are. We ended up finding this whole other area of wartime history and gorgeous views. It was a little hard to see through the overgrown shrubs, but up a steep hill near the park entrance we found Asan Cave. It was a small and VERY dark space.

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Further down the paved road to the park, there is another small sign on the left that indicates a trail. From the road you might not be able to see it, but if you walk toward the restroom then you will see it better. This is where the good stuff is!

The path is dark and intimidating because of all the trees and bushes that enclose it, but this makes for a nice shield from the sun. The trail splits into three directions, on my first trip we chose to go left which led to the area that is above the cave.

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On the way, we spotted a pillbox! The small windows look out toward the Piti Bomb Holes. We stopped here for a little picnic and imagined what is was like during the war. The pillbox was built into the cliff and looks out over the ocean. The space inside the pillbox is narrow and dark.

At the end of this trail, the views were incredible! In one direction the view looked out toward the road and hills, another toward the Fish Eye Marine Park, and another over the park, bay and the Governor’s Office.

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On another trip to the park, we took the path that goes down the stairs.

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Here we found another WWII remnant and a very secluded beach. I was amazed and surprised to find this shelter on the other side of the park. Does anyone else know that it’s here? It still amazes me that these historical structures are all over the island without any sort of protection. We should feel lucky that we get to learn about our history AND see it.

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From here you can either go left, to a beach with some really cool rock structures, or to the right where the water has carved out a shelf that allows you to cross to an even more secluded beach. (another great area to watch the sunset)

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Finally, back to the path that leads three different directions. Taking the path to the right took us down a grassy path that had colorful hibiscus, butterflies everywhere, trees, and breadfruit. This trail leads to the main area of the park and Asan beach.

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This was a great, easy walk for me to get out and enjoy Guam’s nature. I love exploring and finding new, to me, places. I feel like Guam is full of secrets and whenever I do something like this, it’s like I’m slowly learning what those secrets are.

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I Left My Heart in Inarajan

DSC_0070You would think that living on an island means going to the beach everyday, enjoying the sand and sun, and living a laid back lifestyle. Living in Tumon, it’s easy to forget that I’m on an island because things seem much faster. That’s why every-now-and-then we go south, where the true spirit of island life seems to live.

I first went to Inarajan when we were invited to a fiesta (Don’t Be Ashamed!) and again this year (Go Eat). It quickly became my favorite village on island. The historical part of the village is like walking down a street in the village that my dad is from in Spain. That’s what I love about it. It felt nothing like the other villages I’d been to. The Spanish influence was evident in the architecture of the old houses. The streets are narrow, the homes are dilapidated, and on some there pretty murals that depict a part of Guam’s culture. It’s beautiful and there’s no other way to put it.

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I again visited the village when my parents came to visit in February. My mom also felt that it reminded her of Spain. I think we both felt nostalgic and it seemed like she loved Inarajan as much as I do.

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As we walked through the village, we spotted this giant statue of Chief Gadao the chief of Inarajan located next to the Baptist church. Someday I’d like to walk to Gadao’s cave that is located in the area!

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(Read about the legend of Chief Gadao here)

That weekend they had a cultural festival where they taught us how to husk a coconut and throw a talaya (fishing net). Peter and my stepdad entered a coconut husking contest where they both cut their hands on the coconut grater!

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We ate red rice, with finadene and bbq chicken and stared out into the bay; we were hypnotized by the cool breeze and shining water. It was a hot day, but we didn’t care! After that we walked over to the bakery where the baker had made fresh bread. He taught us about the history of the village and the stove where they bake their breads on Sundays. Apparently many of the homes are historical houses and can only be renovated in a way that reflects their original appearance, which is too expensive for many people to accomplish. So instead, they are left to wither away. If I could, I would buy one of the homes and renovate it and turn it into a museum or something. I wish I could live in Inarajan! It would be a nice place to retire or raise kids.

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After our busy day at the festival, we headed to the Inarajan pools and watched the sunset.

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Snorkeling and Walking on the Reef

This morning I called my dad to wish him a happy Father’s Day. He randomly asked me if I had been swimming and told me to watch out for sharks. I said to him, “Dad, there’s a reef, so it’s hard for the sharks to get in. But now you’ve scared me!”

This whole weekend was spent at the beach. No complaints here. On Sunday, Peter had a gig at Jimmy Dee’s Beach Bar to play during a beach rugby tournament. It’s been SO hot lately, and Sunday was no exception. I had a good time, it was relaxing and fun! That evening we swam in Tumon as we watched the sun set. Beautiful rays shot out through the clouds making another breathtaking sunset in Guam.

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Today (Monday) we had brunch at King’s then headed to Ritidian. As if I didn’t get enough beach time from the previous day, I wanted MORE. And why not? The weather has been perfect, hot, but perfect beach weather. These are the type of days that made me fall in love with Guam. ❤

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We’ve had low tide for a few days now and the usually rough waters of Ritidian were calm, shallow and HOT! Because the water was so shallow and the sun was working hard, the water warmed up. Warmer than I’ve ever felt it.

We snorkeled near the shore and saw tons of cool fish. Then I noticed that the tide was so low that the coral was sticking out all the way to the reef. We decided to walk to the reef. The water went from ankle deep near the shore, to no water at all. For most of the walk my feet were out of the water, that’s how low the tide was. After a long walk, me slipping on all the bumps and crevices in the coral, we made it to the edge of the reef! I’m so scared of going out to the reef because there are so many stories in the newspaper about people being swept away into the depths of the ocean after falling over. I made sure Peter and I stay away, but today was an exception. It was great! If I had a bucket list I would have crossed off “Walking out to the edge of the reef.” I looked back to the shore to see how far we’d come and it was a little further than the length of a football field. I said, “So this is what’s on the reef!” As I looked down at these strange sea plants that had long stems with big things that looked like bubbles on the tips. We walked over them and let some of the water splash on us from the waves hitting the reef. I looked out to the dark blue water  and  got an eerie feeling, thinking about what my dad had mentioned earlier. The ocean is both beautiful and scary to me.

As we walked back to the shore we found a deep pool of water that we thought would have some stuff to look at. We put our snorkels on and saw that the pool was filled with sea creatures. I saw a very LARGE spiky sea urchin, tons of black fish and some other larger multi-colored fish with lips that looked like they were kissing, baby needlefish AND my worst fear of all a small sea snake! After that we walked back over the coral and headed into the shade.

What a wonderful weekend. All the worries that had been on our minds were cleared away as we explored the waters of Ritidian.

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 Note to self: First trip back to Ritidian (just the two of us) after our engagement. 6-16-2014

 

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A Couple Days of My Life

This time last year I was on my way to the Pacific Northwest for my first trip back home since moving to Guam. I remember we left on an absolutely beautiful day. The rest of the week consisted of rain, cold, and my skin turning grey. I was miserable, but so happy to see family again.

This year we’re not going home, but instead enjoying our Guam dry season before the rainy season begins. I don’t know why every morning I wake up and am surprised by the blue sky! I hope that I never stop appreciating it. I hope that I don’t turn into one of those people who just goes about their day without seeing the ocean, being happy when the sky is clear, or being too busy to realize that I live in MY paradise!

Thursday: After work we decided to go to Tanguisson beach and walk to Hilaan beach. We were trying to figure out how far the walk is. Maybe one or two miles. It felt really long because we hadn’t been there for over a year. It was also very hot but we walked in the water to cool off. We set down our pack, got attacked by mosquitoes, and then jumped in the water. This is a very rough area to swim in so we just waded in the water for a bit. After that, we ate our sandwiches that I packed and then began exploring. We found these huge rock formations and noticed that fresh water was seeping out and into the ocean. We also found some really cool shells, a baby praying mantis about the size of my thumbnail, crabs, and watched as a group of people raised a cross in remembrance of a young man who died in the water recently. We headed back just before sunset and watched the sun fall as we sat on the crushed coral on Tanguission beach. At the end of the day I felt exhausted, but it was good to stretch my legs.

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Friday: Peter asked if I wanted to go for a ride on the bike and I thought it would be a nice and relaxing time after the previous day’s long walk. When he came home I chucked my mosquito repellant and left all my hiking gear because I didn’t think we’d need it. On our way to Nimitz Hill he called his friend and invited him to ride.  What started out as a nice ride on the bike, turned into a hike! At first I was annoyed because I wasn’t prepared. It was hot, I didn’t have sunscreen or a hat, and I left my bug spray. I was also scared because the trail was really bumpy and steep so I wasn’t sure how Peter would do packing me on the back. We decided to park and walk the rest of the way, which was a good idea. I had no clue where we were or where we were going. We kept walking through a valley and finally stopped in front of a cliff and a rope. Peter went down first and came back up to tell me that it wasn’t so bad and I could do it. After some convincing and pretty much no choice, I grabbed his motorcycle gloves and propelled myself down.

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Oh but it was SO worth it to see the Lonfit waterfall and river. Tons of tadpoles and even a freshwater eel swam around us. It was serene, lovely, and unexpected.

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Pulling myself up the steep hill was much easier. I was so proud of myself! We all hopped on our bikes and decided to explore more of the roads.

We found the memorial for the Korean airplane crash that happened in 1997.

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Then we followed the fuel pipeline down until we reached a very steep slope that was too dangerous for Peter to drive down. We rested for a bit while taking notice that we could see both the east and west sides of the island. It was so cool!

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America’s Best Kept Secret

When I find really good music I immediately feel like I should share it and enlighten everyone about my findings. Then I get this feeling, that maybe it’s too special to share and maybe no one will understand or appreciate it. These conflicted feelings I get about music, I also get about Guam. As I think back to the first time I swam at the beach in Tumon, I remember floating on my back and staring into the blue sky, unable to believe that this place existed outside of T.V. documentaries and travel magazines. Places like Guam had always been my ideal paradise. When I thought about all those people who had labeled Guam as inferior to the rest of the U.S. I felt like saying, “In your face, I live in paradise!” Maybe I did, I can’t really remember. Who would have thought that way out in the Pacific Ocean this unknown island existed. I sure as hell didn’t! That’s when I started my blog, because I decided that Guam was way too special to keep private and it deserved to shine! People should know the truth about the island. Sometimes I worry that once this secret, that belongs to the U.S., is discovered the island will be ruined by throngs of messy tourists. Contrary to my worries, on Guam, tourists make it a better place and this is not a secret that should be kept. The island deserves more recognition for its natural splendor and culture. I feel that Guam’s beaches are extremely underrated and are even as good as Boracay’s White Beach (Boracay voted Best Beaches in the World 2011 by TripAdvisor), in the Philippines. So over the last two years I’ve accumulated tons of pictures, but more specifically I want to share with you the beautiful sunsets of Guam. They’re always very dramatic, providing a good evening show. These are some of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen.

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December 2013 the view on my birthday at Guam Reef Hotel.

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Tumon beach walk

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Two Lover’s Point

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Top of the Kmart parking lot…most incredible yet.

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August Adventures in Guam

Howdy!

I can’t believe how quickly August has come and gone. Summer in The States is coming to an end and the rainy season in Guam is in full effect. Again, I put together a short video of some of my August activities. It’s funny looking back at the end of the month to see what I did. August was a peaceful month for me. I discovered a new beach that I hadn’t been to before. I also tried to bodyboard for the first time, which is actually quite difficult in Guam because inside the reef there aren’t any waves! At least I had fun trying and pretending I was awesome!

We also did some fishing, with no luck! I don’t know what we’re doing wrong. We had dinner at Jeff’s Pirate’s Cove where I had a chicken gyro and listened to the one man band.

I did a lot of staring up into the sky, laying on the beach and relaxing at the park! Sounds like a good month to me!

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June in Guam!

Hey everyone happy 4th of July!!!

In June, I went in search of the dead whale that landed on Guam’s reef, snorkeled at Ritidian where I found lots of shells and polished glass and tons of friendly fish and flew my kite at Ypao Beach Park.

During June, the village of Agat held it’s annual Mango Festival, which I went to last year. This year, it was even more crowded and there were many new vendors! We arrived in the afternoon and most of the food vendors had run out of food, so we weren’t too impressed this year. I did learn that you can make doughnuts out of mango! If you know me well, you know I’m a doughnut connoisseur!!

Peter and I discovered so many new things last month. We found the Piti Guns which are HUGE Japanese guns from World War II, the park and guns are in very good condition. It is sort of hard to find, if you go to the main part of the village Piti, the entrance to the trail is by the church and you will see an information board that tells you about the park. Also in Piti is the watershed restoration project that we had no idea existed! There are trails and a nice dock with benches. It’s very peaceful and relaxing.

One of my favorite things that we did during June was fishing! Although we didn’t catch anything, I had a really good time. The sun was so hot so we were only able to fish for an hour. I think next time we will try fishing either very early in the morning or just before sunset!

Throughout the month, I filmed the different adventures I had and decided to compile all the videos into one. You can watch that below!

Thanks for reading!