Guam: Main Sights
Micronesia's most populous island
For such a small island, Guam has an incredible amount of things to see and do. The main sights reflect the diverse, vibrant culture of Guam and its rich, multicultural history. From beautiful architecture to tranquil beaches, battlefields of times gone by to panoramic views, Guam has it all.
The indigenous population of Guam are know as ‘Chomorros’, and the Chomorro Village offers visitors the opportunity to see some of the islands various cultural offerings. A centre for vendors of all kinds, the shopping village contains numerous stores and stalls that showcase Guamanian arts and handicrafts, and local fruits, nuts and meats. The village is also home to a number of eateries, at which visitors can sample bubbling dishes of seafood, chicken, vegetables and more. A meal in the village will cost you as little as $6-7, and portions are hearty. This renders it a popular spot for an afternoon snack. Wednesday night is particularly liked, and features live, local entertainment.
Tumon Bay is the coastal jewel in Guam’s crown. Containing the island’s best hotels, finest beaches and most diverse array of water sports and activities, it is a beacon to tourists and locals alike. The bay is protected by a natural reef, meaning that it is perfect for swimming, and you can while away the hours sunbathing in the afternoon, only to dip into the sea to cool off. At the north end of the bay lie numerous hotels and restaurants that are ideal for enjoying an afternoon cocktail or an evening meal. Romantic strolls along the beaches of Tumon Bay at sunset are a must for any couple.
Before the war, Sumay was a prosperous village with a vibrant community and a rich history. After the Japanese bombing raid of 1941 it was virtually destroyed, and all that remains of it now is the cemetery, which originates from the era of Spanish occupation of Guam. The cemetery contains the last resting place of many figures from the island’s history, and is an eerily peaceful place to visit, especially considering the destruction and carnage that once surrounded it.
South Pacific Memorial Park
During WWII, many Japanese and American soldiers lost their lives fighting in Guam. The South Pacific Memorial Park is a memorial to their memory, and contains a 50 ft tall, white statue in the shape of praying hands. The memorial is paid for by donations from the Japanese people. It is within 10 miles of the capital, Agana, and admission is free.
Plaza de Espana
Plaza de Espana has historically been one of the focal points of the island. The Chamorros saw the area as highly significant, and some of the land next to it was donated to the Catholic Church, on which a Cathedral was built. The site itself played host, from 1669, to the palace of the Governor while the island was under Spanish rule. During WWII, however, the palace was almost completely destroyed, leaving only some of the foundations visible. Nowadays the plaza is a beautiful and picturesque reminder of times gone, embodying some of the incredible history of the island of Guam.
Fort Santo Angel
Fort Santo Angel was one of the main forts built by the Spanish during the time that they occupied the island. It acted as an important watchtower for the island’s security, and commanded views out over the pacific from the top of the large rock on which it was constructed. The fort was rebuilt and amended on several occasions during the island’s history, particularly when the Spanish, French and English increased their presences in the South Pacific. Today the fort lies in ruins, and is covered by foliage, but it still presents a mysterious and powerful sight for the passing tourist.
Two Lovers Point
Two Lovers Point, also known as Puntan Dos Amantes, is one of Guam’s most famous sights, and is located on the northern part of Tumon Bay. The point is atop of a 400 foot cliff that provides stunning views across the bay, and it gets its name from a local legend. Supposedly, two young Guamanian lovers were forbidden to marry by their strict and tyrannical parents. The girl was a beautiful young maiden from a family of high repute, betrothed to a scheming and evil Spanish captain. The boy was a young Chamorro of modest means. Naturally, the girls’ parents refused to allow their daughter to marry so far below her perceived station, and forbade the wedding, insisting she married the evil Spaniard. The girl ran to her lover, but was pursued by the Spanish captain and his guards, who cornered them atop the cliff. In their grief, and as a statement to the cruel parents, it is told that that two lovers tied their hair together and threw themselves from the cliff, plummeting to their deaths below. Nowadays the point is open to visitors for $3, and has panoramic views of the beautiful Tumon Bay and beyond.
Chief Quipuha Park
On the Paseo de Susana peninsula lies Chief Quipuha park, a memorial to the respected chief Quipuha, one of the island’s most senior tribal leaders when the Spanish settlers first arrived in Guam. After the arrival of the missionaries, Chief Quipuha has converted to Christianity, and was held in high regard by the natives and the missionaries alike. The park is surrounded by a busy road, but if visitors brave the crossing to the middle, they will find a beautiful memorial and statue of the great leader himself.
Merizo Bell Tower
The Merizo Bell Tower was built on the orders of Father Cristobal de Canalas in 1910. the purpose of it, in his opinion, was to further civilize the locals from the village of Merizo. It acted as a focal point of the community, announcing meetings, religious ceremonies and more. Since a restoration project in the 80s, the bell tower remains a popular sight on Guam.
The Tailafak Bridge is one of the few remaining examples of original Spanish architecture on Guam. Formerly part of the El Camio Real (the main Spanish highway on the island), it was built in 1785 and is still visited by tourists today. The bridge is a beautiful, rustic and historic site, and is well worth a visit if only to appreciate the beautiful scenery around it.
Latte Stone Park
Despite sounding like a dubious form of coffee, the Latte stones are one of Guam’s most famous sights. It is thought by scholars that the stones were used as supporting struts for raised houses, and they are particularly unique for their two-tiered design. Atop a large pillar sits an inverted mushroom shaped stone, allowing it to sit inside a crucible carved into the top of the pillar whilst maintaining a flat top on which to support the house. The Latte stones are one of the most obvious remnants of the original Chamorro civilization that inhabited the island, and they are thought to date from around 500BC. The stones are found all over the island, some in extremely remote locations. They are reminiscent of the stone sculptures of Easter Island in that nobody knows a great deal about them, and their origins are uncertain. A large collection of them has been placed in the Latte Stone Park, which regularly draws crowds wishing to gaze on this unique architectural and historical oddity.
Statue of Liberty
Guam is home to an, albeit less impressive than the original, replica of the Statue of Liberty. The statue, like its inspiration, was a gift, and represents the same ideals of truth, liberty and freedom. It stands at the entrance to Hagatna harbour and is visible to boats approaching the island, as with its New York counterpart. The statue was constructed in 1950 by the Boy Scouts of America.
The Asan Overlook is one of Guam’s most popular tourist attractions. Based in Asan Harbour, it provides the same view over Asan Bay as the Japanese forces had during the American liberation invasion during WWII. The area also features monuments and bronze statues commemorating those who died during the vicious and fierce battles that took place there, and this is an interesting juxtaposition with the calm, tranquil and picturesque views that the overlook offers. Buses stop regularly at this site, and it is particularly popular with Japanese tourists.
Dulce Nombre de Maria Agana Cathedral Basilica
This beautiful cathedral is located next to the Plaza de Espana. It was visited by Pope John-Paul II, and is one of the catholic centerpieces of Guam’s religious culture. It is also Guam’s first catholic church, built in 1669. Well worth a visit for its architectural and historical significance, the Cathedral is a must-see for any visitor to the island.
San Vitores Martyrdom Site
Located close to the beach next to the Guam Reef Hotel, this stunning monument is a memorial to the death of Diego Luis de San Vitores, the founder of the aforementioned first Catholic Church of Guam. On April 2nd, 1672, Chief Matapang brutally murdered San Vitores for baptizing his daughter without his consent. This resulted in a number of Spanish reprisals, and made the area politically unstable for some time. The monument itself is beautiful, and well worth a visit.