Beaches

The Dead Whale in Guam

Whale

Last week I read about the dead whale that washed on to the reef in Guam. The whale died at sea and ended up in Ylig Bay in the village of Yona. It was both sad and amazing. Over the weekend I went in search of the whale using the map and directions from the newspaper. The small road that leads to the private property was lined with parked cars and people walking to see the whale. We basically had to enter the private property, which included crawling under a locked chain linked fence. We walked past the person’s home and down to the beach. People have been asking me if there was a bad smell, but I didn’t smell anything. The whale had been there for a few days by the time I went to see it. As I reached the bottom of the hill, I could see the massive carcass stuck on the reef. I stood there for awhile and watched as a few crazy people walked out to touch the whale. Hopefully we will find out more about how the whale died and what they are going to do about the carcass. As far as I know, it will be on the reef for awhile!

How to Be a Beach Bum

Hello there!

Since I returned from Oregon, I’ve been trying to enjoy the sunshine as much as I can. Lately it has been rainy here on Guam and I don’t like to go out after the rain because the humidity is unbearable. But over the weekend I was lucky to have spent a beautiful day on the beach.

We recently sold our car, which I used for work, and have come to rely upon our scooter once again. I like the scooter better anyway. Driving on Guam is a nightmare and the scooter lets us get through traffic quicker, we spend less on gas and on a sunny day the cool breeze feels nice! Anyway, we packed the beach gear (tarp, beach mat, snorkel gear, and other miscellaneous beach necessities) and headed up to Ritidian beach, yes again!

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It was one of those days when I’m like, “I never want to leave Guam, EVERRRR!” and I kept saying things like, “How can it be this pretty?” and “WOW look how blue the sky is.”

The road to Ritidian seemed like it had been patched up a little bit…I mean it’s still a horrible road to drive on, but it was better than the last time we drove on it. Oh and some good news, there is a new viewpoint just as you reach the top of the hill before you descend down to the beach! I was very excited about this.

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The view from here is GORGEOUS!

I say we went on the weekend, but our weekend is Sunday and Monday. So we went to Ritidian on a Monday, which was why the beach was empty! We found a nice spot near the trees to set up our beach bum gear. Tarps are necessary on Guam. For some reason Ritidian beach seems to be hotter and the sun just feels like it’s burning my skin, unlike some of the other beaches I visit. So yes, you MUST buy a tarp/canopy to survive beach time in Guam. I laid out the beach mat and set up our solar powered radio. We shared a sandwich and guzzled three of the four juices we bought and then we ran into the water to cool off.

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The water was warm and clear. Just how I like it! Ritidian’s reef is closer than the reef in Tumon Bay and the water is rougher. I stayed close to shore. I put the snorkel gear on and to my surprise there were TONS of fish swimming around me. They weren’t scared at all and some even swam TO ME! It was nice. I searched for cool rocks, shells and broken glass. I pretty much splashed around and snorkeled for a few hours. Then we ran back under the shade of the canopy to rest a bit before we packed up. I felt like I could stay there all day and every weekend!

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My Favorite Beach

I’ve written about Ritidian before. That’s because I love it. It might be the cleanest beach on Guam and that’s probably because it’s a wildlife reserve. It’s never opened on holidays and always closes at 4pm. If you drive north toward Yigo and across from STARTS Golf Resort, you will find the road to Ritidian Beach. On my most recent adventure, I found a trail that leads around in a loop to a couple of caves, a well and some very old latte stone. Walking through the jungle, there were tons of black butterflies that fluttered past as we went by. It felt magical. How many times can I say that about some new place I’ve discovered on Guam? The water felt fresh and clean. It was cool as I sat in it, but my body quickly adjusted to the temperature. Later, we had a barbecue and had a few cold beers while we listened to some music. Why is it that I let the world get to me and how can I forget that I live in my paradise.

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Hiking in Guam: Sella Bay

Wow what a weekend! In the midst of moving to a new apartment, Peter and I decided to take a break and go on a hike to Sella Bay on Sunday. Peter had completed this hike with friends before and, from the stories I heard (bees, getting lost in the jungle, falling down a hill), I wasn’t too keen on the idea of going. He reassured me that if we stayed on the path everything would be fine. This was true.

After an extremely unhealthy Burger King breakfast, we headed south to the viewpoint where the trail to Sella Bay begins. This trail is across the road from the trail to Mount Lam Lam. The hike to and from Sella Bay, in my opinion, was VERY easy. Peter said he thought it was harder than Mount Lam Lam and Ague Cove, but I completely disagree! This is a good hike for people of all ages. The ground is mostly red dirt/clay and a short patch of mud.

It is VERY easy to get lost on this hike. YOU MUST follow the pink (sometimes white or orange) flags placed on trees by previous hikers. This is important or you WILL get lost and possibly hurt. There are sudden drops hidden by tall grass and at any wrong step you could fall over the edge. I’m writing “trail” but actually there isn’t a trail at all. There are lots of spaces in the dirt that look like they could be trails, but aren’t. Again I stress the importance of following the flags.

The terrain and open space reminded me of the Owyhee desert in Eastern Oregon, where I spent my time hiking with my dad. Eventually we came to a small creek which we had to walk through to  continue on the trail. As we got closer to the bay, our surroundings turned into jungle until we reached a large area of mud. Due to the forest of palm trees, it was very dark and cool. The mud and shade also made the perfect breeding ground for the killer mosquitoes that attacked us. Finally Peter said, “Look you can see the bridge from here.” As I carefully dodged the fallen branches and coconuts, looking across the creek that now turned into a river pouring into the ocean, I saw it! The old Spanish bridge that MUST be at least a few hundred years old. Overgrown plants and moss covered the bridge and through the other side I could see the bay. It was so magical!

When we crossed the bridge we found a perfect spot to leave our things, undressed and splashed into the water! The waves were rough and the ocean floor wasn’t the nice soft sand we’re used to. We sat in the water for a bit and enjoyed the warmth compared to the cool water in the creek, then we continued exploring the beach. Unfortunately we got caught in one of those crazy, Guam rain storms that lasted for about 30 minutes. We were soaked! Peter used his machete to cut a few palms that gave us some cover from the rain and protected our gear. Once the rain stopped we packed up and headed back up. But before we left on the far end of the shore we saw a giant white bird. We tried to walk closer to it but it flew away. We were too far to see what it was but it was pretty big.

Despite the weather, I enjoyed myself. There are small pools of water that are home to baby fish and really interesting sea life that I’ve never seen before. There are tons of crabs, all sizes, everywhere! It’s a very secluded, quiet and clean beach. I hope to go back one day when the weather is nicer and maybe do some snorkelling

Step, Step, Slide.

I hope you all had a wonderful Labor Day weekend! This is what I did on Monday to celebrate and enjoy my day off from work.

The past month Guam has been experiencing some heavy rain and thunderstorms so I haven’t been able to spend too much time outdoors. On Sunday the storm seemed to get worse with loud thunder and heavy rain again. I was hoping for some sun on Monday, but I had no idea what I would wake up to. When Monday arrived, the sun was shining through my blinds and it seemed as though the storm from the night before was just a dream…a bad dream.  Immediately I dressed for hiking and knew exactly where I wanted to go. I packed some snacks, lunch, camera and bug spray and hopped on the scooter. We drove to the village of Mangilao, down a dead end residential road, passed between two large cement boulders, through some bushes and parked in a very secluded parking lot. Here we began our journey down the 256 steps to Tagu’an Point (also known as 1000 steps).

Much like the rest of Guam, this park looked like there was a lot of effort put into it to make it accessible but then forgotten about. There is a large parking lot, steps, trails, benches and picnic tables. The only thing missing…a road that leads to the parking lot.

We headed down the trail, under mystical looking canopies of palm trees and various shrubs and bushes. The heat from the sun was blocked out by all the trees in the jungle. There were so many lizards and crabs and probably monitor lizards hiding around us. We hit the first set of stairs which then turned into a slippery pavement (thus the name of this blog post). We walked slowly because of the slippery pavement and the massive cobwebs surrounding the path. Finally, we reached the last set of stairs which had the best view of the ocean and jungle. The hike was roughly 1.25 miles and the only hard part was the heat/humidity.

As soon as we took the last step, the entire landscape changed. It almost looked like we were back in Oregon, with what looked like pine needles scattered all over the ground. There were some really interesting leafy, green plants that I wish I knew the name of (if you know the names of any of the plants in the pictures, please let me know). In the middle of the path there was this oddly-shaped tree stump, which formed a perfect seat. After the last “pine tree,” we reached the large coral formations and found a nice, flat spot to sit on. On good days like Monday, you’re able to snorkel and swim around on the ledges that formed along the shore. I don’t know how to explain it, but it really is amazing and I wonder how these platforms are made. The water is very shallow, but there isn’t a reef to break the waves so swimming can be dangerous.

After awhile the sun became unbearable and we ended our hike. Of course the hike back up the 256 steps was hard!

Walking Out to Alupang Island

Have you ever WALKED to an island? Yeah, neither did I until Peter showed me this place in Guam near Hotel Santa Fe where you can walk out to a small island. Alupang Island is maybe a mile from the beach in Hagåtña, but still within the reef. If you wade in the water toward the right direction, the water won’t get any deeper than your waist, allowing for an easy walk out to the island.  The first time I tried, we’d gone the wrong way and the water was so deep I couldn’t touch the floor. So I quickly swam back to the shore, only to try it again. The second time I went a little more to the left and I was able to make it all the way across!

The island is uninhabited and very small. The sand on  the island was a little larger, whiter and rougher. We walked around a bit to look at the plants and animals. We found a few coconut crab carcasses, geckos, lizards and fish. Then we laid in the water and let the sun shine on us. It’s very relaxing and away from other people so it was quiet. If you want to, you can pay to take a canoe or jet ski out to the island. I recommend walking!

A Rainy Beach Day…

Hope you enjoy the video! Ritidian on a rainy day.

I’ve been craving beach time a lot lately, so we loaded up the car and drove on that beat up road to Ritidian Beach again. There was a giant, ominous cloud drifting over the island. Being optimistic, I thought it might just pass us without a threat to our beach day. Half way through the drive the rain poured and didn’t stop for about 1 ½ hours. We waited in the car until the humidity was so intense that we were drenched in sweat. So we ran, umbrella in hand, to a shelter outside. Then the thunder and lightening began and we thought it would be safer in the car! The thunder was so strong that it shook the car! The rain slowed and we couldn’t take the humidity in the car anymore so we took a walk on the beach. As usual, once the storm passed it turned out to be another beautiful day on Guam. During our walk on the beach, we gathered shells and then decided to jump in the warm water. Ritidian really is a beautiful beach. The sand is also different than any other beach I’ve visited on Guam. If you were curious about the weather in Guam, this is a perfect example of what the rainy season is like. I think it rained in one day what it would rain in one month back in Oregon. It will just pour down, seemingly out of nowhere, and then suddenly clear up and the sun will shine again. As you can imagine, the heat and rain combined make for a HUMID day!

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Boonie Stomp to Ague Cove

I’m very excited about this post because it has been the best outdoor excursion I’ve done since I’ve been in Guam. Peter and I decided to take a scooter trip around the island looking for this place called Ague Cove. We found the entrance, which is near the Naval Base in Dededo. Unfortunately, the property belongs to a family in Guam and they decided to close it off to the public! A few days later I was reading the newspaper and saw that the Guam Boonie Stomp group would be holding a boonie stomp to AGUE COVE in two weeks!!! What luck! The Guam Boonie Stompers are a group of people who gather on Saturday mornings around 9:oo to go on all sorts of hikes throughout Guam. The cost is $2 and you can find out more information about future hikes on their Facebook page. If you’re interested in going on a Boonie Stomp, I highly suggest it. This one was a clean up stomp so before we left we scoured the area for trash.

I’d cut out the advertisement in the newspaper about this hike. It said what we needed to bring (snorkel gear, swmsuits, lunch, hiking shoes…). Saturday morning came and we were off! There were about 55 hikers total who met at Chamorro Village in Hagatna. We paid our dues, got driving directions and met at the trail. Thankfully, the property owner gave permission to the Boonie Stompers and opened the road so we could hike that day.

The hike is about a 200ft. descent to the cove. There were red ribbons to guide the way through the thick jungle. The shade from the trees protected us from the heat and the humidity, on this day, was manageable. The hike down wasn’t bad at all, it might have taken about 20 minutes, the hike up was a different story! It is a very steep climb down so if you go on a day when it has been raining, you might have some issues with mud and sliding. When we reached the bottom it was like an oasis or a beautiful scene from a movie. Another unreal moment for me. The color of the water was beautiful, massive coral formations jutted out from the side of the hill we’d climbed down from and formed a perfect cliff to dive from. On the other side of the cove was a rope for swinging into the water. We wasted no time and began exploring the serene area.

When we were ready to swim the water was surprisingly cool and took some time for us to get used to. There are freshwater springs that mix with the ocean water; thus, the cool temperature. There were so many small, bright blue fish everywhere. Peter and I took turns jumping from the rope into the water. It was hard to see anything when we were snorkeling because it was a bit cloudy, probably due to all the people splashing around. We ventured out near the reef line where the waves crashed against some rocks and I spotted some really bright fish. Peter put the snorkel gear on, leaned his body across the rocks and stuck his head in the water. He looked really funny. When he popped back up he said, “That’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.” He couldn’t stop talking about the huge bright fish in that deep pool of water. We splashed around some more near the waves and headed back.

The Boonie Stomp leader showed us the way to a small cave where there were old Chamorro drawings along the walls. We took photos and Peter tried to see if he could fit into a hole (of course!) then headed back down. There is a lot of sharp coral that we had to climb through. It’s very dangerous and painful if it cuts. After that, we packed up and climbed up the hill, which was a struggle for me! I want to go back again! I hope someday Ague Cove is reopened to the public; although, it was very clean and beautiful I think it might be better that it’s closed so that its beauty can be maintained.

Your Cure for Island Fever: Cocos Island!

After months of trying to go to Cocos Island, we finally did it! No, this is not another country. It’s still Guam…just a small island a few miles south of Guam that forms a beautiful lagoon. We hopped on the scooter and headed down to Merizo where the Cocos Island Resort boat picked us up and took us to the island.

(sorry for the poor quality, camera broke!)

Cocos Island Resort is a day resort that offers quiet beaches, water activities and lounging. The price for locals and military is $25 and includes the boat ride and buffet. All other people are expected to pay $45 for JUST the boat ride. I think that’s ridiculous! So, if you know someone with a military or local ID, bring them with you! We caught the 11:15 am boat and off we went!

As we approached Cocos Island all I could hear were TONS of birds. Due to the abundant Brown Tree Snake population, we don’t have too many birds on Guam. Seems as though they all fled to Cocos Island. If you’ve ever watched Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, it reminded me a lot of that. We continued walking down the long bridge to the entrance.

Here, there’s a building where you can purchase tickets for the buffet, snack bar and usage of beach toys. You can’t pay for things with money, you must purchase tickets.

Since the buffet came with our ticket and it closed at 2:00pm, we made a beeline straight for it. The buffet was basic. Water or tea, salad, curry, rice, fried lumpia, fruits…not bad!

After lunch we took a walk to look at the birds and pool. We didn’t use the swimming pool, we snorkeled and swam in the beach instead. As I said before, there were many birds which caused the entire place to smell really bad! The humid air and bird smell combination was horrid! We had to be very careful because of the bird poop that was falling out of the sky. There were some really pretty white birds amongst all the black birds and quite a few Coco birds. In addition to the free flying birds, there were some tropical caged birds including a VERY loud peacock!

While snorkeling, we saw a few Balati (sea cucumbers), possibly the biggest one I’ve ever seen, and a large needlefish (which I call a sword fish in the video). I was so scared when I saw the needlefish because it was the largest one I’ve ever seen and it was swimming very close to us. They usually swim near the surface of the water and in the past I’ve only seen small ones that would swim away quickly when I moved. But THIS needlefish just gave us the side eye and did not swim away. I think this is a really good place for snorkeling and probably diving. I also read that there’s an old sunken Spanish ship just off the island!

The downside to Cocos Island Resort is that it looks a bit run down and if the ridiculously priced ticket isn’t enough, visitors are expected to pay for using the umbrellas, CHAIRS and pretty much every single thing. I think some of the basic things like beach chairs and umbrellas should have been free. So we found a dirty table and used that instead. Thank goodness we brought our own snorkel gear or we’d have to pay $20 per person!

As we were putting our stuff away and getting ready for our walk, I noticed something small and fluffy sitting on a broken tree stump. It was this cute little baby bird! I have no idea where it came from or what it was doing there, but Peter fell in love with it and so did I! We made sure not to touch it and just left it where it was.

After our swim, we took a walk down a trail to the other side of the island where the waves crashed close to us because there wasn’t a reef to break the waves. We continued on the trail and got stuck in a sudden downpour of rain. It was so beautiful and I loved how the rain and birds sounded together. We hid under a large tree until we decided to just run for it and headed back to the resort! While we were drying off we played a couple games of dominoes and decided to call it a day.

But before we left…

We just had to see the little bird who was drenched after the rain!

Lost Pond

Well, hello there readers! A few posts back I mentioned that on a failed search for Lost Pond, I fell upon an incredibly beautiful beach near Tanguisson Beach.  A couple of weekends ago, we decided to give the search for Lost Pond another try. I’d researched videos online to  find out where the entrance into the jungle was. We still managed to get lost! We entered the jungle too soon and ended up deep within the palm trees and coral. We also stumbled upon an old Chamorro village!  As we passed through the village, we spotted a few deteriorated latte stone and continued on.

30 mosquito bites later, we were nowhere in sight of Lost Pond. I was beginning to get angry. The coral became very jagged and dangerous so we decided to head back to the beach. We felt as though we’d failed again, but as we reached the end of the secluded beach, a few military guys burst out of the jungle! They told us that Lost Pond was just through that part of the jungle and that there was red tape that led the way! By this time we were itchy, hot and frustrated so we decided to take a quick swim and snorkel before heading into the jungle again. The same military guys found a blue starfish that they gave to me to take photos of.

     
Once we rested, we headed into the jungle again! This time, we were successful! The path was sooo easy and fast. Along the way someone spotted a giant monitor lizard! Just as we turned the corner you could see the water between the trees. It was beautiful! Lost Pond is a sink hole/sunken cave which then formed a freshwater pool.

I, of course, did not swim. Peter went in  and said there were some deep spots and lots of jagged rocks. After our successful journey we headed back home, satisfied 🙂