Sunset on Guam © Yuki Yaginuma
An increasingly popular travel hub in the South Pacific, Guam offers lush tropical jungles that bump up against sandy white beaches largely undiscovered by Western tourists. Although it is Micronesia's largest and most populous island, Guam is still small enough to explore in a day or two, and its resorts and attractions are ensuring that it becomes more and more popular as a Pacific holiday destination.
The island is an unincorporated US territory, and although US accents abound, traditional Guam culture is a unique blend of Spanish, Micronesian, Asian and Western influences. The original inhabitants, the Chamorros, have inhabited the island for over 4,000 years, surviving occupation by Spain and the United States.
Many tourists in Guam base themselves in the city of Tumon Bay, which offers a number of resorts and a wealth of duty-free shopping. However, the real attractions of Guam lie in the less densely inhabited areas of the island. Southern Guam is home to many traditional Chamorros villages, and here you'll have a better chance of experiencing local culture than in the more cosmopolitan cities. The village of Talofofo is a worthwhile stop, as much for the spectacular two-tier waterfall as the village culture. Northern Guam is largely occupied by the US military's Andersen Base, but if you venture that way you'll discover the pristine beaches of Ritidian Point. Popular activities in Guam centre on the ocean, and include scuba diving, reef fishing, surfing, wind surfing, jet skiing, kayaking, boat trips and even submarine rides.
Central Guam is more developed and contains the capital city of Hagatna (formerly called Agana), which retains reminders of the island's colonial history in the pretty Spanish architecture alongside less cultural attractions like one of the world's largest K-marts. Both Hagatna and Tumon Bay offer an array of nightclubs, shops and restaurants. Nearby, the War in the Pacific National Historical Park is a must-see for World War II history buffs.
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