Updated in April 2020!
Steve and I just got home from our second trip to Guam, and we might have loved it more the second time around than the first! This island in the Marianas is a real treasure, and those who visit very quickly adjust to passing showers and island time. So just for you, here are my freshly updated top tips for visiting beautiful Guam, USA!
So, where is Guam?
Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean! It’s 13 degrees north of the equator, due south of Tokyo, due east of the Philippines, and it’s the largest and southern-most of the Mariana Islands. Take a look!
How to get there:
There are a few ways to get to Guam from the U.S. and Asia. It’s located due south of Tokyo, Japan, and due west of the Philippines, 13 degrees above the equator. For U.S. travelers, United Airlines serves Guam from several places, including Tokyo, Honolulu, and several other Pacific islands. We came via Tokyo, which leads me to my next tip…
Do I need a passport if I’m a US citizen?
Well, it depends! If you come through Tokyo, you will need your passport. If you come via Honolulu, all you need is a valid, government-issued ID (like a driver’s license), not necessarily a passport. You will, however, have to go through customs like everyone else.
Need to know more? Here’s Your Ultimate Guide to Passports!
When should I go?
As soon as you can! We went to Guam for a winter time getaway, far from the inauguration madness and the D.C. winter. It’s a nice “shoulder season” for them, meaning the weather is nice, but it’s not quite the high season yet.
It will definitely rain while you’re there.
Here’s Your Guide to Guam on a Rainy Day!
Where should I stay?
The most popular place to stay is the Tumon Bay area. There’s a beautiful, calm bay, plenty of ocean-front hotel options, and high-end shopping if that’s your thing. If it’s not, there are also plenty of restaurants and things to do within walking distance of the many hotels in Tumon Bay! We stayed at the Hyatt Regency on our first trip, and the Westin for our latest visit. I can recommend both!
How do I get around Guam?
We highly recommend renting a car. It was not expensive, and to really see the whole island (including the scenic drive around the southern half and many hiking trails and waterfalls), you will be really glad you have a car! They drive on the right, just like in the United States.
What kind of history does Guam have?
Guam has plenty of World War II history around the island, but because people have been living there for so long, their history goes back a thousands of years. The Spanish came, the Portuguese came, the Japanese came. Everyone wanted Guam!
How exactly is Guam part of the US?
Guam is a territory of the United States. That means the people who live there are US citizens and are protected by the US laws. They do have a governor whom they elect, and they have a non-voting (except sometimes) member of Congress who speaks on their behalf in Washington, DC. Find out more here: Office of the Governor.
What do I call someone from Guam?
People who live in Guam are Guamanian, but the native people are called Chamorros.
What’s the time difference between Guam and the U.S. mainland?
Guam is 15 hours ahead of Eastern Time and 18 hours ahead of Pacific Time.
What’s there to do on Guam?
The beach! Hiking! Kayaking! Surfing! Snorkeling! But they are known in the SCUBA crowd for their amazing diving. They have beautiful coral reefs, interesting sea life (like blue starfish), and most uniquely, they have several submerged World War II era plane and ship wrecks where people can dive and explore!
Keep Reading: 10 Reasons to Visit Guam
Can I use my US power chargers in Guam?
Yes! Their power outlets are the same as in North America.
Can I use my US cell phone?
Only if you have exactly the right plan. Check with your carrier, but in most cases you will have huge roaming charges, even if your phone is from the mainland United States!
What should I pack?*
*The links below are Amazon affiliate links. When you shop with me through these links, you’re helping my small business at no additional cost to you! Simply click the image to shop.
There are a few things you should definitely pack that you may not think of until it’s too late. Here are the essentials!
This bug repellent lotion was recommended to me by a travel immunization nurse! It works really well, but the solid form works well, too. It all depends on how much room you have to spare in your quart-sized liquids bag.
Pro Tip: Any time you’re using bug repellent and sunscreen at the same time, put the sunscreen on first, allow 10-15 minutes for it to soak in, then apply bug repellent on top. That is the correct order according to an travel immunization nurse!
Solid and Reef-safe Sunscreen
Why take up space in your liquids bag if you don’t have to? Solid suncreen is amazing, and in fact, I have given up the liquid and cream versions altogether! It’s also very important, especially when visiting an island, to choose an effective reef-safe sunscreen to protect the beauty for everyone, including the fish!
One accidental step on pieces of broken coral or underwater rocks and you’ll be so glad you have a pair of these! I never go to a beach without water shoes.
Dry Bag and Waterproof Phone Case
Someone always has to watch the “stuff” on the beach while everyone else plays in the water, right? Well, now no one has to! You can take your valuables into the water, on a kayak, etc., without worrying about anything getting wet in the water or stolen on the beach! And you will definitely want to take photos in and under the water on Guam, so a waterproof phone case will be essential!
What currency do Guamanians use?
Guam is on the US dollar! If you want to know more, I wrote a whole blog post about where you can use the U.S. dollar abroad!
Can I drink the water on Guam?
Yes! Drink up because it’s hot here!
What kind of food does Guam have?
Guam’s cuisine reflects their history. They eat a mix of Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, Filipino, American, and Chamorro foods. Check out What to Eat on Guam! Oh, and lots of native taro!
Am I supposed to tip like I do Stateside?
Check your receipt! Because most of Guam’s tourism comes from Asia, where tips on meals are less common, often a service charge is included in the price of your meal. Bonus fact: some restaurants charge .50 cents or so per to-go item!
May I see your ID?
Because there are two military bases on Guam, we were often asked to show our ID when we paid for anything from meals to gas to tickets for the aquarium! This is for security purposes as well as a verification for military and United Airlines employee discounts (the two largest employers on the island).
Oh no! The forecast says rain every day!
Never fear! Lots of islands have a chance of rain almost every day of the year. We went to Guam in January, which most sources claim is the dry season, but there was rain in the forecast all 6 days we were there. The reality is that it might rain for a few minutes at varying rates (from light sprinkles to heavy downpours), but then it’ll stop as quickly and unpredictably as it started! Check out What to Do on Guam on a Rainy Day!
Are you thinking of a visit to Guam? I hope these tips are helpful to you! Don’t forget to read all my best Guam tips, planning resources, and recommendations on my Pacific Islands Page!
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