Dededo Flea Market

One of my favorite things we did on the island was a trip to the Dededo Flea Market, only I wish we’d done it the first morning we were there so we could get a machete and load up on local produce for mid-day snacking.

I have three suggestions for visitors to the market:

  • Try every kind of food you possibly can. If you see a fruit you don’t recognize, buy one and try it. If a kind woman, proud of her son for becoming a doctor and talking about it constantly (pictured above), offers you banana cinnamon lumpia, try it. If there’s some sort of baked good on a table and you’re not sure what it is, try it. We discovered so many amazing things at that market.
  • Talk to every vendor who will talk back. This applies everywhere you go, whether on the island or not, but always take the opportunity to hear their story.
  • Bring lots of $1 bills. Lots of cash in general, but don’t expect everyone to have change for the $20 you got at the ATM.

If I could do it all over again (I can in March!), I’d go to the flea market on the first morning and get a machete for hikes. Those coconuts don’t just fall open on their own but they sure are refreshing.

The Dededo Flea Market is on Marine Corps Dr. (1), just past where it meets with 27/Harmon Loop Rd. You’ll see it with no trouble. Bring cash to park because we couldn’t find free parking, although we were able to get a discount because we were on scooters.

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Snorkeling at Gun Beach (And A Little Tanguisson Beach, Too)

Pale San Vitores Road will turn into Tumon Strip will turn into Gun Beach Road will turn into the best damn snorkeling on the island. The road gets a little intense, so I hope you can either dodge some potholes orpaid for insurance on your rental to cover that flat you’ll get, but it is entirely worth it.

We went out there for swimming on our first day. We set out down the strip to see what we could see, and after a quick pit stop at Hotel Nikko to take some pictures from their balcony, we decided to continue down that kind of sketchy looking road to see where it ended. What luck! The beach is beautiful and great for swimming, but it wasn’t until our boonie stomp and snorkel tour with Guam Guided Adventures that we found out what waited for us beyond the coral shelf.

When you get to the main entrance of the beach (at the parking area), walk to the left towards Tumon until you see a pipe heading from the sand back into the water. That’s an old, old communications cable pipeline and it’ll take you to the promised land. Our best luck came from putting on our fins and masks and just swimming, even in the shallow part, the whole way out past the shelf by following the line. Make sure you hold your breath when you get to where the waves are breaking at the reef shelf, but one or two strong kicks will push you past that line into calm seas that are salty enough to float in without any assistance.

At that shelf, the sea bed drops about 20-30 feet. You’ll find a ton of coral, fish, starfish, crown of thorns, and even little squid everywhere. It’s truly incredible. Make sure you bring some vienna sausage for a snack (for the fish), but bring the can back with you because littering is already bad enough on the island without you adding to it.

Best way to follow such a great snorkel trip? A short, easy hike past the eponymous gun (there’s some history there but it mostly just looks like a rundown canon and I don’t remember the story) to Tanguisson Beach. The hike is so damn picturesque it’ll run down the battery of your camera, with paths cut into the cliff, winding stairs, and a wooden bridge crossing over the waves.

Tanguisson Beach is well stocked in beach chairs and not well stocked in fellow human beings, so it’s the best of both worlds. We went there on New Year’s Eve to watch the fireworks over Tumon Bay. We were joined by maybe five other people and had a great view of all the action. If you’re on the island during fireworks season, make sure you watch them there. And make sure you bring flashlights.

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Ramada Inn – Guam

You’ll hear a lot of folks suggesting you stay on the Tumon Strip when you visit the island, but our hotel was just slightly off the strip and we loved it. It was significantly less per night than the others, but still had clean sheets, air conditioning, and wifi, which is really all we require from a hotel. If your goal for the trip is to go shopping and that magic show by Hard Rock Cafe, then the strip is for you. Otherwise, those cheaper hotels on Ypao Road (like Days Inn, where we’re staying in March, and Ramada) make it a lot easier to get out of Tumon and onto exploring the rest of the island.

Our room was split into two parts, with a big comfortable couch in the front room with the bed and a closet in the other room. And a mini fridge for all the Mr. Brown’s Coffee we could accumulate!

The best part of the Ramada’s location was that there was a convenience store just outside, a little gift shop for the basics downstairs, another little convenience store just down the street, and a gas station less than a block away. Not only that, but our favorite beach for swimming, Gov. Flores Beach Park, was just at the end of Ypao Rd. Can’t wait to go back!

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Getting Around Guam

The hardest thing to do on Guam is find your way around. Our first day there, we went to what felt like a million gas stations, convenience stores, and grocery stores looking for a detailed map with street names and numbers. You know what doesn’t exist there? A detailed map with street names and numbers.

The best one we found, and the one we ended up using so much it nearly fell apart, was in the centerfold of the free Island Time Magazine, which can be found in most any hotel on the island. Between that and google maps when we were in the hotel, we were able to cover every major road, see over a dozen unique beaches, and find some pretty amazing views. The map is posted on their Japanese language website here, but the magazine version has a little more detail in it from what I remember.

I’m a born-and-raised Houston girl who has seen more than her share of hot and oppressively humid days. I can work outside in July and only just barely break a sweat. I worked on a farm in one of the hottest summers I can remember. Heat is nothing to me. (Don’t bring up cold, though. I hate cold.) See that delightful back sweat? I acquired that after less than 10 minutes of walking on almost entirely shaded sidewalks at 8:30 in the morning. Seriously. The humidity on the island is somewhere in the neighborhood of 300% at all times and it’s a killer. We had big plans to spend most of our time in the Tumon area on foot until we actually got there and started breathing like an invisible hand was holding a steaming hot, wet washcloth over our mouths. The bus system there isn’t great either from what I’ve read. Perhaps we weren’t in the right places at the right times for it, but I don’t recall ever actually seeing a bus that wasn’t a Japanese tourist shuttle from the hotel strip to the duty free shopping strip.

We traveled the island on scooters from Scooter World (I linked to their facebook because their website is under construction and has no information), and I can’t think of a better way for us to see everything. In fact, we loved it so much we’ve had reservations for March’s trip since the minute I found out we were going. They never really got above 40 mph unless we were going down a hill, but that gave us a chance to take in everything around us. With a full 360° viewing area everywhere we went, I feel like I was able to see much more of the island as well.

It was only $175 per scooter for a week, which sounds comparable to a car until we get some real talk about gas. A scooter tank can be filled for less than $5 and will go just as far as a car. Can you fill your car’s tank for $5? The only challenge with the scooter was getting our fins, masks, snorkels, towels, sunscreen, and snacks in the little seat compartment. Marshall ended up having to ride with fins strapped to his backpack, which wasn’t fun but totally worth it.

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About Us

(On our way to the island in 2010.)

We’re two American tourists from Texas who spent ten days in Guam in December 2010 for our honeymoon. We fell in love with the island and are doing what we can to make everyone else fall in love with it too.

When planning our first trip, we found a wealth of information for Japanese tourists, but it was mostly focused on resorts and duty free shopping. That’s not our bag. We rented a couple of scooters and drove our way around the island every day, forging our own path, covering every major road, and experiencing as much of the Chamorro culture as we could on every part of the island.

A return trip has been scheduled for March 2012. If we love it as much the second time, we may just move there for good.

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