Most travelers to the US territory of Guam gravitate along the tourist strip of Tumon Bay, lined with posh beach resorts, international restaurants, and shopping outlets. While it may be tempting to spend your entire vacation along this popular area, you’ll miss out on all the outdoor adventures and unexpected wonders a leisurely drive around the Pacific island would offer.
Here are six secret spots worth hunting down on your excursions around the island:
Hemmed in by towering cliffs north of famous Two Lovers Point, this favorite spot among Guamanian picnickers is largely undeveloped, save for a decommissioned power plant along the south end. Adventurous beachgoers, however, can walk farther north for 10 minutes for a more pristine stretch of white sand punctuated by intriguing limestone formations — nicknamed Mushroom Rock — rising from the shallows.
Marbo Cave Pool
This subterranean swimming hole concealed by thick forest along the northeast coast is an excellent place to rinse off the salt after beach hopping. Plunge into a pool of fresh spring water that shines turquoise when illuminated by sunlight beaming through the entrance. A dirt trail detours from outside the cave, taking visitors to dramatic seaside cliffs overlooking the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean.
Looking for another place to cool off? Tucked away in a grassy valley in the south, the Pigua river cascades down a basalt gully, forming a series of seven natural pools, where Spanish priests from a nearby Catholic church used to bathe since the 1600s. It’s best to visit during the rainy season when the natural bathtubs are filled to the brim. Hikers must be extra cautious, however, of slippery rocks.
Other caves on the island are time capsules of a rich ancient culture. One excellent example is this seaside rock shelter housing around 50 human and animal-like drawings painted with coral lime and tree sap. Two of the pictographs are said to represent Gådao and Malaguana, legendary chieftains who figure prominently in Chamorro folklore. Who, when and why this cave art was created remains a mystery to archaeologists.
Desolate beauty makes this palm-lined beach compelling enough to visit. But one can also marvel at an archaeological site: latte stones — pillars of basalt, limestone or sandstone used as building supports by ancient Chamorro people — in their original setting. At the end of the beach is Two Lovers Cave, a shallow cavern with a rock formation shaped like two persons sleeping side by side.
Located at the southeast portion of Guam, these accessible waterfalls along the Ugum river are some of the most majestic on the island with the largest cascade measuring 9 meters in height. The adjacent amusement park with a historical museum and kid-friendly rides may be skipped, but it’s worth hopping on the cable car for remarkable bird’s eye views of the falls.
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How to get there. With public transportation unreliable to nonexistent outside touristy areas, these off-the-beaten-track attractions are best reached by rental car services. Edgar was a guest of Discover Guam Tours, which customizes excursions around Guam. discoverguamtours.com
Cebu Pacific flies to Guam from Manila. cebupacificair.com