We had heard about this cool beach up north called Ritidian Beach that’s a wildlife preserve so we decided to just drive up there and see what it was. The cool thing about Guam and driving is that there are only a few major roads so you can just start driving and you’ll probably get where you’re going just with common sense.
We picked up breakfast – spam and rice and Chamorro sausage and rice and ate it on the beach.
We have absolutely no pictures of the ocean but we saw some of the most amazing fish. Most of the fish from finding nemo, some really friendly guys that were always in a pair – they came up to our hands if we extended them. Really hope people haven’t been feeding them! We snorkeled for 2 hours in some of the most clear blue amazing fish-heavy waters we’ve ever been in.
We were pretty darn sunburned again even with frequent applications of supposedly-water-proof-sunscreen. So we spent the rest of the day indoors and had carrots and ranch for dinner.
Day Whatever: My birthday!
We were pretty conflicted on what to do for my birthday. After a somewhat disastrous breakfast at Dennys we decided we wanted to be alone. The crippling-introverts we are were not doing well with being surrounded by people who could understand us. Call us crazy- we haven’t been in an English speaking country for 2 years! We’re used to having open conversations whenever we want. A bad habit but a habit we’ve become accustomed to. It’s also somewhat of a coping mechanism. The Koreans draw a deep line in the sand that leaves us as outsiders. This can actually be nice for introverts – so while it was so so wonderful to talk to people in Guam and be understood it was also uncomfortable. This will be a huge problem when we move back in February.
What I wanted for my birthday: to be alone, to relax and recharge. So Chris took us on the best hike of isolation from Cetti to Sella Bay. This is the one Chris fell on before we changed our minds and did LamLam.
It ended up being one of the best hikes we’ve ever been on and probably the best in Guam.
In the picture below you can see the two bays
The hike starts at the top and you descend further into the jungle across the same creek a few times then you’re deposited right onto the beach – then you walk along the beach to the other bay.
Its a really rough beach, not the kind tourists lounge on. It’s covered in vines, decaying/sprouting coconuts, trash, and half the sand isn’t even sand. Half the sand is huge knobs of coral or just blackened volcanic rock with deep blue crystalized bits (don’t know my rocks anymore). It’s really beautiful how wild it is. It was also very secluded. It was nice to sit on a beach where no one else was for miles and just watch the ocean.
The other thing that was cool was the hermit crabs absolutely everywhere. It was just us and a million crabs.
We also enjoyed seeing a progression of how palm trees grow, from the coconut falling to sprouting to getting bigger and bigger to eventually being a tree to decaying and falling over and all the other coconuts repeating the process. I decided if I wanted anything for my birthday it was a fresh coconut which was basically impossible with our lack of beach/ocean know-how. Still we had fun lobbing rocks at coconuts, attempting to climb the trees, and whacking at the low hanging ones with bamboo. We made the discovery of the day – besides an old 90s cellphone washed up on the beach (and a pair of scratched up Oakley’s) we found a 9 iron that even had a neoprene case. I don’t know if it was left on the beach or somehow found it’s way from the water onto the beach but it was ours to whack at coconuts as we saw fit.
Here’s Chris demonstrating the technical way of smashing a coconut against rocks.
The trick is to not do it this way because eventually the coconut will leave the end of the 9 iron and go into the sea where you can’t get it back. Hypothesis- this will work. Findings- this doesn’t work at all. Science complete. Free spider-web-clearining-golf-club that we used for the rest of the trip.
Day The Next Day: it was a Friday
We had to give our rental car up because we were changing hotels from an isolated hotel to a hotel right on the beach. We figured we wouldn’t need the rental car after Thursday because we would be on the beach/downtown.
So we gave it up reluctantly and caught a shuttle downtown to our new hotel. The new hotel was called Holiday Resort and was mostly for Asian tourists – like everything else in Guam. It was almost alarming to be surrounded by Koreans, house slippers and ramen again.
This hotel was much more expensive but had this amazing balcony facing the should-be-sunsets. We had coffee on the balcony every morning and beer and coconut water every afternoon after hikes and adventures. On the weekend all the locals came out and basically lived in the gazebos on the beach blasting awesome reggae music from their cars and boomboxes. This really set the beach-y mood.
Our favorite part of this hotel was we were right next to Guam’s only zoo. Some people online said they hated this but we enjoyed the resident donkey braying. Some other bird who didn’t like to be challenged by the noise would go off screeching over the donkey (also if the reggae music got too loud he would screech). It was pleasant to us – the only animals we’ve seen in Korea are magpies and house centipedes.
We snorkeled and it was really weak compared to the amazing things we had seen at Ritidian. We felt hobbled without a car. So we rented one that night so we could get back to the adventuring. Time without a car: 30 hours.
We drove all the way back to Ritidian to see a big fat “closed” sign on the outside. From this day forward we were in a “high waves and small craft advisory”. There was a typhoon near us – so the waves were high and it was supposed to rain. So bad, in fact, that the weather channel advised against hiking . The waves were high and the water clarity never cleared up but it actually never did rain so we could keep hiking/driving.
We drove to Gun Beach where there is actually a big fat gun rusting away on the beach. If you walk behind the gun there’s a secret path to a more secret beach.
The waves were so high you had to time it to get across the bridge without having the water spray/hit you.
On the other side was a massive Asian tour group (surprise) but other than that the beach was secluded and beautiful
The thing at the top of the cliff is Two Lover’s Point. It’s $3 to go fight with tourists to take selfies at the top and read the myth of two lovers Chamorro and Spanish who couldn’t marry so they braided their long hair together and jumped into the sea. We didn’t go there. We walked to the base of it and can confirm that they certainly wouldn’t have landed in the sea as the romantic story goes.
The view from the other side
Some other day – Fonte Dam
We walked to Fonte Dam which was built in the 1910s-1920s. This is just in the middle of the jungle so it’s unexpected but pretty. Really mosquito heavy. Also some people think it’s not safe to swim in the water or even touch fresh water because of a bacterial disease called leptospirosis or swamp fever, sugar cane fever, mud fever, whatever fever. It has many names. We’d already been splashed by fresh water (apparently you can get it like this too) so we’ll have to see in mid September (symptoms don’t arrive immediately) if we caught it. Probably not.
1,001 Steps to Taguan Point and Fadian Cove
This was another hike everyone said was amazing – chance of dolphin sightings and wild coffee we didn’t see any of this but we met a guy trying to catch coconut crabs.
Still nice to go for a hike with fresh air and good company (not the coconut crab guy) just Chris.
Second to Last Day
We wanted to hike to an old radio tower that had been used just after the war. The directions were basically cross a bridge, go up the hill, walk through sword grass and into the jungle, you can’t miss it.
Which are the stupidest directions ever because there is sword grass and jungle everywhere. So after a lot of false starts hacking at sword grass with the 9 iron (we kept it) walking face first through massive spiderwebs almost landing face first in a wasp nest we said it’s not going to happen.
This was the first time directions had failed us/we had gotten lost so we were pretty lucky. We were disappointed we couldn’t find WW2 era stuff but we kept hiking around.
We don’t know what this is and no one had talked about it online. There had been a grass fire which revealed it and a bunch of random army looking stuff around it.
It was half buried under the earth and said “Mag 22” on the outside.
We kept walking along this road because it was a known road leading to the Korean Air Flight 801 memorial. On August 16 th 1997 KAL801 was on approach to Guam’s airport – the pilots were relying too heavily on equipment and some people speculate the Korean culture lead to the copilot not speaking up about problems. Regardless mechanical and pilot error lead to the plane crashing into Nimitz Hill about 3 miles from the airport. 228 out of 254 people died – it’s possible the sheer amount of duty free alcohols helped spread a massive fire that killed many people.
We were hiking around enjoying the view near the memorial but we also didn’t know where the memorial was. That’s when we started finding stuff.
Some of that stuff, when cleaned off with water or spit was a pretty distinguishable Korean-air turquoise blue. This was a huge surprise to us because we weren’t that close to the memorial. Upon further research we figured out the plane probably struck the hill we were on first before crashing/coming to a stop where the memorial is. I don’t know what airline debris looks like but the signs point to this being part of that plane. It was blue, there was lots of twisted metals and some of it had obviously been charred. We’re certainly sentimental- who wouldn’t be? Holding pieces of who knows what, was this part of a chair where someone died? Also to be holding this tiny little piece of what makes up a massive plane. Something so sturdy that doesn’t even look like it could be ripped into these tiny pieces. It didn’t help that we were only a couple days before getting on our own Korean Air flight back home.
The day we arrived on Guam was the 19th anniversary of the crash. Actually at the same time to the exact hour of when the plane crashed – August 6th at around 1 am. Because we were flying Korean Air and it’s the same route and times. We visited the memorial a week later -there were flowers and soju cups laid out.
After we visited the memorial we walked back and found some golf balls! What luck! Free 9 iron from the beach and about 5 balls (some damaged from a brush fire) from the golf gods.
Chris manufactured a tee out of sticks because we don’t care about the rules of golf plus we’re pretty sure the club was for a child because it was super short.
The Last Day
We had to check out of the hotel but we did get to keep the car until 6 pm. From there we had to give it up and kill time until 2 am (!!!!) when our flight left. We didn’t make the rules and couldn’t see anyway around this.
So we were just trying to kill time and enjoy the island for the last time.
We gave the 9 iron back to the earth – some other lucky hikers can use it. Then we just drove around.
I want to give a shoutout to my dad – we were actually able to play the license plate game! Our favorite game while driving. We imagine military families import their cars so we played heartily on the 30 mile island often seeing the same cars with the same plates. In the end we found 16 plates (Arkansas, Texas, Alabama, New Mexico, Idaho, South Dakota, Washington, Illinois, Florida, Georgia, California, South Carolina, Minnesota, Iowa, Louisiana and Virginia)
We gave up the rental car at 6 pm. Caught a taxi to do some waiting-drinking-and-eating at Chilis then waited until 2 am to get our flight back.