Posts Tagged With: snorkeling

Gov. Joseph Flores Beach Park (Ypao Beach Park)

You know, it kind of feels like a copout to say this was one of our favorite beaches because it was so close to our hotel, but it really was one of the best. It’s definitely a tourist-centric beach, with more facilities and parking than I saw almost everywhere else. But because of that, it was well maintained and perfect for some easy but scenic snorkeling.

It’s settled right on the outside edge of Tumon Bay, between two hotels that have their own private beach access so their guests are filling the shores at the beach park. Even though it’s easily the most touristy beach, it was still remarkably uncrowded and I think we only saw 10-15 people on the busiest day. It’s opposite Two Lovers Point, but you can still see the gorgeous cliffs to the right in the picture.

The water is about waist deep for me, a 5’10” woman who’d rather swim in deeper waters. I don’t remember there being much of a current, so I’d gather it’s relatively safe for kids of most ages as long as they know how to paddle. And why would they be in the water if they don’t?

The beach area itself isn’t very large, and just a five minute walk to the left or right gets you into a very private feeling area. The sand is nice and soft, and we were more than happy to just sit and drink a cheap bottle of strawberry wine from Kmart on the quiet, peaceful shoreline when we got to the beach and found it closed on our last day.

Snorkeling is decent. Not the best, but definitely not the worst. It’s a great, calm area to get your feet wet and make sure all your equipment works before setting out for more challenging waters.

As an added bonus, Proa is just at the end of the road and they have great ribs. And as another added bonus, it’s just across the street from Tower of London Pub, the least cheesy bar on the strip (and the most affordable).

Prime picnicking capabilities!

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Ritidian Point

Talk about paradise! It took us two hours to get there from Tumon (on scooters that wouldn’t go over 35 mph and a decent hike through private property) but it was entirely worth the trip.

The hike down remind me a bit of the steps to and from Coit Tower in San Francisco, except somehow even more lush and tropical.

When we got there, we were completely awe-struck by how beautiful the beach was. There was not a single soul in any direction (something we saw more often than not on the island) and it was like stepping into a postcard.

The only downside of the beach is the current. Thanks to its location on the island, the tides are incredibly strong and have a tendency to suck people right out into the Philippine Sea. Yikes, right? Total yikes. And perhaps it’s different in the refuge area, but the water doesn’t go more than a couple feet deep all the way out to the coral shelf. Because of the tide and the shallow water, snorkeling ain’t easy out there, but what you can find is still beautiful. Even if you don’t snorkel, there’s plenty of beach to be combed and napping under a palm tree to be done.

We tried to visit on New Year’s Eve, which is apparently some form of a government holiday. I don’t know where you can find a list, but make sure you don’t visit on a government holiday because the public part of the beach is a National Wildlife Refuge and it won’t be open to the public.

When we realized the public beach was closed, we tried our best to find some sort of access to it from the private side of the road. The beach is at the bottom of a steep drop-off, so you can’t just sneak through the woods and find your way there like you could on the south side of the island where there are fewer cliffs. All of the private beach access points are part of resorts that require AT LEAST $20 per person to get in, and from what I’ve read, few of them are worth the high cost of admission. A camp let us park our scooters behind a tree and use their stairs to get to the beach, but we were very lucky they were so kind and I honestly wouldn’t count on that for a return visit.

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Pago Bay and the Much Nicer Beach Down the Road

I can summarize Pago Bay in three words: Don’t go there. To expand on that, the trail to the beach is hard to find, there is no parking except in a private neighborhood, and once you finally do get parked and find the trail, the beach and the water are nasty to the max. The only reason that first picture of Pago Beach looks semi-decent is because it’s washed out by the blazing Guam sun. This one’s a little more true-to-life:

Truly remarkable, though, is Taga’chang Beach, just down Rt. 4. I believe there’s a sign for it, right past the sharp bend beyond the neighborhood at Pago Bay (if you’re going south). There’s a long road that’ll be absolutely beautiful to gawk at with a beach at the end even more remarkable.

Marshall certainly enjoyed his time snorkeling in this remote, completely private bay and seemed to find some wonderful wildlife under the waters. My time was spent exploring the giant lava rocks, little lagoons, and caves all along the shoreline. There are little covered gazebo/picnic spots near the parking area, which would be perfect for a nice big lunch of tinala katne and red rice.

Yona just took over management of the beach and the article I read said something about a fee structure to help with maintenance, but I’m not sure if that means a fee just to access it or a fee to rent out the covered areas. Might want to make sure you have a couple of bucks on you when you show up just in case, but I promise you it’s worth it.

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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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