Guam – The largest island in Micronesia
Guam is one of the Mariana Islands and is the largest island in Micronesia. Its an immensely popular tourist destination for Japanese, Chinese and Koreans. In fact, you have far more Asian restaurants and tourists than Chamorrans or Westerners. With the historical ties to Micronesia and other parts on the western Pacific, the Japanese and Korean interest is understandable. The down side is of course the negative environmental impact in terms of pollution and inexperienced diver damaging corals.
My photo above from 4 January 2017 is from the pool area at my hotel. The contrast between Yap and Guam couldn't have been greater. Travelling from the sleepy and low key Yap to Guam, the hub of travelling and economy in Micronesia, is close to unreal. Guam receives a million or more Japanese visitors per year, as Yap gets some four thousand visitors in total per year. Guam is a part of the USA and all that comes with it: cars, restaurants, bars, shooting ranges, high-rise hotels, fashion and generally a higher living standard than average in Micronesia.
My second photo from 6 January is from the commercial centre of Guam, Tumon, where the shopping gallerias, restaurants and tourists are found. Having so many visitors from Japan, there are quite a few really good Japanese restaurants but also plenty of Korean and Chinese ones for their tourists. If Colonia in Yap is at best a sleepy village, a quick glance at my photo above lets you know what to expect of Guam and its capital Hagåtña. While being a part of the US, it felt more like being in an asian city due to all the asian restaurants, brochures and businesses in asian languages.
The historical Japanese connection with Guam is evident as they invaded the island during World War II, and traces of the war is found all over the Guam. Eventhough I find Saipan having a lot more easily accessible monuments and remnants from the war, but that's material for my next post. My photo above from 7 January pictures the Japanese World War II cannon found at Gun Beach. This historical site was only 15 minutes walk from my hotel. There is also a memorial park where the US troops initially landed on the north side of the Orote peninsula and Apra Harbor.
Diving is possible in Guam too, as in all of Micronesia. The water is warm and you don't really need a wetsuit in most cases. My photo above is from my dive at a dive location called the Shark Pit, less than an hour's boat ride from Apra Harbor. No sharks were seen on this dive though, but I did get some good pictures of a Moray Eel, as seen above. The photo is from 6 January 2017. There are quite a few dive sites not too far from Apra Harbor, and dive companies will let weather dictate locations sometimes, for safety reasons. Making dive arrangements before arrival is recommended.
itself has got some interesting locations for diving too. My photo above is
from a dive sit called Gab Gab 2, where the visibility is somewhat less than at
the Shark Pit. However, the coral reef here in the middle of Apra Harbor, is an
excellent one with plenty of soft corals and fishes. My photo from 6 January
2017 pictures some Batfishes at Gab Gab 2. Another popular dive in the harbour is
where you can touch a wreck from both World War I and World War II at the same
time! The World War I wreck is the SMS Cormoran and the one from World War II
is Tokai Maru.