Hafa Adai! If there was ever a time to visit Guam, now is it. With its vibrant mix of native Chamorro culture, a food scene rich in local and foreign influences, the convenience of American and duty-free shopping and state-of-the-art accommodations — not to mention stunning surf, sea and sand — are just a few reasons why Guam should be your next holiday destination.
From the ancient Chamorro civilizations — whose architectural legacies remain today in the form of latte, the limestone pillars that supported traditional thatched huts — to its unique and complex multi-colonial past, the modern-day population of Guam is a diverse and rich sum of many parts. A post-World War II economic hub, the nation has not only absorbed Spanish, Japanese and American influences, but also conveys the warmth of the Chamorro language, culture and spirit.
Wonderfully hot when Japan’s not and the perfect winter escape, Guam’s weather is typically warm and tropical. The island boasts mostly sunny climes from January to April, which is also said to be the best and driest time to visit, with temperatures averaging about 31 Celsius. Umbrellas are recommended, but rainfall is usually sudden and sporadic.
Guam offers plenty of alternatives to take it slow and relax when it’s time to escape Japan’s hectic way of life. Whether lazing at one of the privately owned eco-cultural retreats located along Guam’s northwestern beaches or by a hotel pool with cocktail in hand, visitors can quickly unwind. Also renowned as a beauty and wellness destination, popular pampering treatments at hotel spas and independent aestheticians offer massages, reflexology, facials and more.
With its crystal-clear waters and shimmering white sands, Guam is indeed paradise when it comes to water sports, spectator or otherwise. Experienced divers can explore 100 meters under the sea via the Blue Hole limestone shaft. Others can still get up close and personal snorkeling at the upper plateau, viewing sea whips and other tropical fish at the Fish-Eye Marine Park underwater observatory in Piti or commandeering a kayak in Tumon Bay.
Post-exercise, it’s time to refuel. From restaurants serving homespun dishes to Japanese eateries making the most of abundant seafood to Worldchef Global Master Chef Peter Duenas of Meskla (“to mix” or “mixture”), recognized for his Chamorro fusion’s modern twists and flair — Guam’s food scene is a reflection of the island’s melting pot society.
“Chamorro food is typically comfort food and is really tasty,” Duenas told The Japan Times. “My goal (with Meskla) was to combine the knowledge from my professional career with my indigenous cuisine. The idea was to use the same basic ingredients with an elevated concept. Nothing too pretentious, just good-looking, flavorful Chamorro food with a professional twist.”
Duenas cited one example of his award-winning food. “In Guam, we love our oxtail. Chamorros are also masters of pot roast. Combine the two with a little bit of red wine and mirepoix (lightly cooked diced vegetables) and you get a Chamorro-French fusion braised oxtail.”
Chamorro food speaks of the bounty of the ocean and land, from parrotfish deep-fried just so, its succulent flesh accompanied by multipurpose sauce finadenne (salty, sour, and spicy), to the sometimes coconut-kissed, ceviche-like kelaguen and smoky barbecue, aromatic thanks to the wood from the tangantangan tree. Guam Food Tours offer deeper insight into Chamorro cuisine.
Boasting tax-free status, Guam remains a popular destination for retail therapy as well. High-end brand stores dot Pale San Vitores Road in Tumon, with the area also famous for various shopping malls, easily accessible by public trolley. Traditional Chamorro arts and crafts also make memorable souvenirs. On Wednesday nights, such goods can be found at the Wednesday Night Market at Chamorro Village in downtown Hagatna. Alternatively, try Sagan Kotturan Chamoru above Ypao Beach, a free artist-run community center.
For an additional shopping value, a free smartphone application, “Shop Guam Festival,” displays a notification when the phone is near registered shops offering coupons for special services. Users can apply to win a travel coupon worth ¥50,000 each month. The app can be downloaded via the following QR code.
For more information, see www.visitguam.jp