What to pack for a visit to Guam

The “Lost in English” gang in Macerata, Italy are studying in an intensive English course and they’re doing a meme about “what to pack for a visit to my hometown.” It’s a great way to get to know a little bit about Italy from insiders. I hope you give their site a look.

They’ve tagged all blogs (this means you too) to tell them about their hometowns. So far, someone from Maine has written to them. Now I’d like to share my hometown (island). No, not Oahu. Guam!

Where is Guam? Guam is an island on the 13′ Latitude, which puts it in the North Pacific, about a 3 hour flight from Japan or the Philippine Islands. It’s the western most U.S. territory, but is the first place in the U.S. to see the sun rise (hence, Guam’s motto, “Where America’s Day Begins”) because it’s across the International Date Line from Hawaii and the U.S. mainland (Sorry Maine … )

What to pack for a trip to Guam?

Your swimsuit and sun protection: you’ll want to spend the day on the beach and in the water, scuba diving, wind surfing, jet-skiing, sailing, or just enjoying the sandy beaches. Guam doesn’t have too many surf spots. sorry.

Your appetite: Portions are generous and Guam has dishes that are unique in the world: start with a fiesta plate of red rice, chicken kelaguen (lemon coconut chicken salad), and BBQ ribs and chicken; and be sure to try the fried rosketi and melt-in-your-mouth guyuria cookies (a legacy of Guam’s Spanish and Portuguese influence) before you go. But Guam is also a melting pot of cultures and cuisine: Filipino, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, even Italian and Mexican!

Your sense of adventure: Take a rental car and drive yourself around. Guam is a place with a lot of history. It was discovered by Europeans (the Chamorro people were already there) when Magellan arrived in 1521; it was traded to the U.S. by Spain at the end of the 19th century; it was occupied by the Japanese during World War II and liberated by the US Marines in 1944. Visit the Guam Museum and the War in the Pacific National Historical Park to learn more. Also stop by the Latte Stone Park — I don’t think anthropologists are completely sure what purpose these ancient stone formations served, but they have become an icon of Guam’s culture. (BTW, in this case, Latte rhymes with “batty,” it’s not pronounced like the coffee drink!)

Money (US$): The tourist areas of the island are largely resort areas (Hilton, Hyatt, etc etc) and prices are comparable to those here on Waikiki. But if you’ve packed your sense of adventure then you’ll get away from the touristy areas!

Words to know before you go: “Hafa Adai” (hof ah-day) is Guam’s equivalent of “Aloha”; the local indigenous population are “Chamorro,” but residents of the island are “Guamanian” (I’ve heard Guamese, Guamolian, Guambat, and Guamer (in Germany), but these are all incorrect!)

For a virtual tour of the island, visit the Guam Visitors Bureau tour pages, or see highlights of Guam’s historic places.