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Guam is “where America’s day begins,” a territory probably overshadowed by the state of Hawaii. Both places offer the same sunny experiences, but one claim to fame in Guam is its military bases, which are popular attractions, too.

Guam is part of the Mariana Islands and is nearer to the Pacific nations than Hawaii. The island has a rich history dating back to the time of the Austronesians – the expert ocean navigators. Ferdinand Magellan anchored on the island in 1521, and that started the eventual reign of the Spaniards that lasted until 1898. It has remained in US hands since then, though it was ruled by the Japanese during World War II.

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Even with such a long history of colonization and war, it’s amazing that Guam was able to protect its Chamorro beginnings. Said Austronesian culture remained intact, and together with Spanish and American influences, the island formed a unique Pacific personality. These and the natural wonders will greet tourists who opted to go beyond Hawaii and visit the Marianas. Hafa Adai!

Plan The Visit

Here are some reminders for a hassle-free trip to Guam.

Guam, as part of the US, follows federal travel guidelines. However, US citizens must still bring their passports for necessary documents. Non-US citizens must be fully-vaccinated against the coronavirus and must present a negative test upon arrival. The lone civilian airport in Guam is the Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport. Residents speak English well so it’s easy to make hotel requests. Guam has some of the most fascinating resort hotels, offering unmatched Pacific views.

RELATED: Why Guam Is Perfect For Both History Buffs & Beachgoers

Heritage Sites

The beach adventure can wait. First-time visitors who want to know more about Guam can visit its historic sites. Impressive landmarks dot the island, offering guests the chance to learn while having sunshiny moments.

Chamorro Sites

The Chamorro are the indigenous people of Guam, the ones who were there even before the arrival of the Spaniards. They have a rich culture and colorful past that can be appreciated in their heritage sites.

The top cultural attraction in Guam is the Valley of the Latte, a place where tourists can explore thousands of years of local culture. Latte pertains to the ancient stone architecture unique to the Marianas.

  • The park is open from Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There are cruises that take guests along the Talofofo and Ugum Rivers, where they will learn about the history of the ancient site. Paddlers can also explore the rivers on their own with kayaks or stand-up paddleboards. Photography enthusiasts can also join a photo walk where an expert lensman will take them through the lush forest. Some workshops let guests experience firsthand the Guam way of life. Such workshops include rope making, coconut leaf weaving, flower crown making, candy making, and lei making.

Outside the adventure park, there are other latte landmarks, like the one in Angel Santos Memorial Park in the capital Hagatna, where tourists can see the 80-foot Latte Freedom. However, if tourists want more cultural adventures, they can visit the Guam Museum, the protector of Chamorro heritage.

  • It’s open from Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • The entrance fee costs $3.
  • Exhibits feature artworks, war, ancient origins of the Chamorro, history, culture, and heritage, among others.

Historic Spots

Other equally important landmarks are those connected to the Roman Catholic Church and World War II. They are worth a visit, too, because they are brimming with history and insights.

Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral Basilica is an important landmark because it’s located on the site where the island’s first Catholic Church was erected. The ruins of San Dionisio Church are popular reminders of Guam’s Spanish past.

There are six historic parks in Guam that feature various World War II-related items and facilities.

Asan and its beach where gun encasements, pillboxes, foxholes, caves, and mountain guns can be seen. Piti, meanwhile, has three Japanese coastal defense guns that are still in good condition. Mount Chacho and Mt. Tenjo, on the other hand, have a gun enclosure. Mt. Alifan, meanwhile, has tunnels, caves, and bomb/shell craters. Lastly, Agat is for divers because its relics are sunken.

RELATED: How The USA's Smallest & Largest National Parks Compare

Beach And Beyond

The most famous Guam escapade is none other than basking under the sun along pristine beaches, and after that, going underwater to visit a whole new world.

Tourists can visit the beach of Guam National Wildlife Refuge after spending a day exploring the reserve. Other stunning beaches can be visited on Cocos Island, at Piti Bomb Holes Marine Preserve, and Uruno Beach Site.

Guam is a diver's hangout spot because there are stunning reefs everywhere. There are more than 400 hard and soft coral species on the island and thousands more marine species. The World War I-era shipwreck of SMS Cormoran II can also be explored in Piti. At Fish Eye Marine Park Underwater Observatory, meanwhile, tourists can join a snorkeling tour, dinner show, or a dolphin-watching cruise.

Hiking Trails

Hikers are in for a treat, too, because Guam offers challenging yet scenic trails. Hikes are spearheaded by Guam Boonie Stompers because they aim to deliver an enjoyable trek while protecting the surroundings.

The 1.5-mile-Umatac to Toguan Bay trek will take guests to the best of both worlds: inland wonders and shore surprises. Those who want to challenge -- and ache -- their legs should hike cross-island for six hours. Another difficult hike is along the Anao coastline where rough rocks and steep slopes will challenge trekkers. Those who want to hike and then swim can take the Taguan trail, where they can explore sea caves if the tide is low. Probably the most difficult yet most rewarding hike is Mt. Finansanta, Guam’s steepest peak.

Waterfalls also abound in Guam, the most famous of which are Tarzan, Priests Pools, and San Carlos. Wildlife to be seen in any of the adventures include the famous brown tree snake, water buffalos, mallards, kingfishers, doves, seabirds, chameleons, monitor lizards, bats, and coconut crabs, among others.

It’s so good to be in Guam, thanks to its cornucopia of attractions, from man-made wonders to Mother Nature’s gifts. In Guam, rejuvenation and relaxation are guaranteed.