Guam

aka home to me. But likely the only reason your family would be paying $1,200 to $1,600 per person in coach (unless you’re taking a MAC flight) to Guam isn’t vacation, it’s relocation. And if you’re relocating, then you’ve probably done most of your homework about the island.

Here, then, are some tips from a local for families relocating to the island about areas off the military bases.

By far the cheapest entertainment will be aquatic in nature. If you don’t already have snorkel sets and watershoes, pick some up at the Exchange or at Kmart. You’ll need the watershoes because Guam’s shores aren’t rocky like mainland beaches, where you have small to large SMOOTH pebbles in the water. No, the limestone reefs make for really sharp outcroppings in some areas. The best beaches for families with little ones who want to stay relatively close to shore are in Tumon, the heart of the Japanese tourist district. The tourists mostly stick to the beaches in front of the hotels, so you’ll find locals at Ypao Beach next to the Hilton or at Matapang next to the Holiday Resort. If you have a 4×4 or a car you just don’t care about, you can go really local and drive to secluded Gun Beach, past the Nikko at the north end of the bay. “Drive” is a euphemism for what you’ll be doing on that  road, which is more than just unpaved, it’s littered with monstrous potholes that are just waiting to grind up your car’s axles. Once there, though, the snorkeling is great, just as it is throughout Tumon Bay, although you’ll have to go pretty far out from shore to catch the sea life.

My favorite beach on island, though, is Ritidian. It’s hardly ever crowded and is the epitome of tropical getaway. For first-timers, it’s best to park in the parking lot and make the short trek to the beach, but once you’ve got your bearings, the best spots are found by taking the road leading into the jungle and parking in one of the cleared areas that you’ll find along the road. Be aware that unlike at the Tumon beaches, there are no shower or restroom facilities, not that you’d want to use those in Tumon unless you had to anyway. In general, you’ll find that most public restrooms on Guam that aren’t attached to businesses are just downright nasty compared to what you’re used to on the mainland. It’s sad but true.

When the beaches fail to beckon, there are several waterparks, both standalone and attached to hotels. The best hotel waterparks are the Pacific Islands Club, which sometimes closes its waterpark to day guests; the Hyatt, which has a frequent guest program that offers free or discounted day passes; and the Onward Agana. Only Onward’s waterpark has an area specifically for toddlers, though.

For land-based pastimes, check out IgoUgo’s Guam Family Fun list. I’ll be going home for two weeks this summer and will have upates on more entertainment options for families.

Read about a mainland family’s adventures on Guam at Guam Moonies.

Buying a home on Guam and looking for a Realtor? We used Sandy Yow at Today’s Realty; she was really patient with us and gave us great tips about selling our home and the Guam real estate market in general.

If you have specific questions about Guam, feel free to e-mail me at supernovamom@gmail.com.

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