Guam. A tiny little island in the South Pacific, only 30 miles long, and 12 miles wide, was the final stop on our three year Asian tour. We decided to make a quick pit stop in Guam, en route to the States, because, well, who doesn't love a little beach time?!
It was strange boarding a van for the Narita International Airport knowing that we would not return any time soon. Our time in Japan was complete.
One last cardboard character cut out!
Also, a very pretty Japanese bento box on the flight. We were heading out in style!
Three hours later, we made it! Though not really home, it sure seemed like it. The girls were amazed that the cab drivers and customs agents spoke English. Our English!
After the stress of an across the world move, and weeks of saying difficult goodbyes, Guam was a good idea indeed!
The first day we headed north, to Andersen Air Base, and their private beach. And private it was! We had the place to ourselves.
The shore was very rocky though, this was not the type of soft sand beaches that I love. Water shoes were a must!
The girls loved exploring the creatures in the small tide pools.
Rocks in lieu of sand.
But the rocky shore made for some fabulous snorkeling!
We passed a few wild boars on the side of the road, and Matt decided that he really liked his chances of surviving alone on this island. Good snorkeling=fish, and boars=bacon, throw in some tropical fruit and you have a feast! (Maybe we've watched too many survival shows?)
We finally found a beautiful sandy beach, but it was closing just as we arrived. There was only time to snap a quick picture, but I wish we could've stayed.
And an evening walk along the shore, of course.
Most of our second day was devoted to World War II history. I love WWII history! It was also cool to visit a US National Park, so far away from the mainland.
So how did Guam become a US Territory anyway? Here it is in a nutshell.
The museum was small but very well done. Ranger Bob was friendly and knowledgeable and absolutely insisted that we wear these hats and pose for a family photo. So, you have him to thank for this one! (#styledbyRangerBob? Or maybe, #fingercoveringthelens? You decide!)
On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. But did you know that Midway Island, Wake Island, Guam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Hong Kong were also attacked on the very same day (or +1 with the International Date Line)? Looking at these locations on a map, it makes so much sense strategically. Fascinating!
Here is another cool fact. I had no idea!
A Japanese two person submarine.
The next stop was Naval Base Guam for more snorkeling. I must say, the US Navy owns some of the world's most prime real estate!
Guam is covered with the remains of many war fortifications, still standing today.
We had heard of an amazing snorkeling spot on the Navy Base nicknamed the Spanish Steps. The reason for the name, was because the hike down to the water uses old steps built by the Spanish settlers.
The 30 minute hike was fairly intense, with some parts having only ladders with a rope to assist you. It was also was pretty much straight down for the better part of the hike.
And the remains of the old steps.
Sandals were probably not the most appropriate hiking footwear, but we carried on.
We eventually reached a flat area consisting of dense, lush jungle.
The air was heavy and humid. We enjoyed all the jungle critters, like these crabs feasting on a coconut. I really wish this picture was not blurry, but you get the idea.
When the jungle opened up, we were standing in a breathtaking cove.
Protection from the choppy and rough ocean waves along with the rocky shore, made the perfect recipe for amazing snorkeling.
And, once again, we had the place to ourselves!
The water was clear and the temperature was that of bath water. We saw hundreds of varieties of fish without even moving. They came to us!
After getting our snorkeling fill, it was time for the hike back to the top.
Ella was desperate to go cave exploring. In sandals. Not today!
The mossy remains of the old Spanish well, built in the 1600's.
After snorkeling and some lunch, we drove to the southern end of the island. This beautiful beach was the site of one of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific. It was hard to fathom.
There was a reverence there to me. I thought about the young lives that were lost too soon, as my daughters played on that very shore without a care in the world. Such a dichotomy.
On down the coast was the landing place of the great Spanish explorer, Ferdinand Magellan. Magellan was the first contact Guam had with the western world, and he quickly claimed the island for Spain.
The landing happened in this large cove,
and the fortification was built on the top of the surrounding cliffs, making an ideal scenario for defense.
Whew, that was a lot of history for one day! We spent the evening spying on the hotel entertainment. I say spying, because we did not actually want to pay for the restaurant buffet that included the show. It worked well!
Well, even as interlopers, the girls ran up to the stage when volunteers were needed. Who could say no to two cute girls, or ask if their parents actually paid?! The girls did a great job!
And, the next morning, one final goodbye to the beach before our 24 hour trip to the States. A trip that started in Guam, back to Japan, on to Seattle, then finally to Salt Lake City where family was anxiously awaiting our return.
Not a shabby view as we waited to board our plane, either!
Guam, a tiny little island in the middle of the South Pacific, rich in history and great snorkeling. Not a bad way to spend a few days!