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It’s tough to top the white sand fronting Tumon Bay, one of Guam’s many photogenic natural settings and the destination’s most popular visitor attraction. I felt like I was walking on powdered sugar during my first shoeless stroll along the beach there, and the windless evening made the water’s edge remarkably calm, with only the tiniest of little waves lapping rhythmically along the shore.
Lined with a number of high-rise hotels, Tumon Bay is protected by a barrier reef that sits several hundred yards offshore, making its beach a fabulous place for children because of the lack of large breaking waves. The bay’s interior is also a wonderful snorkeling spot, particularly for beginners, as the water isn’t deep, and adventurers don’t have to swim far to reach impressive coral formations and brightly colored fish.
During an underwater outing there last month, I saw all sorts of triggerfish, butterfly fish, yellow tangs and an incredible array of sea cucumbers — some covered in extraordinary, leopard-print-like patterns. There were also many purple starfish, some as large as Frisbees, and so much of the coral was in really wonderful condition, appearing remarkably healthy, given how close it sits to a relatively busy visitor beach.
“It’s one of the most beautiful beaches you could ever find,” said Steve Solberg, general manager of Outrigger Guam Beach Resort, which fronts Tumon Bay. “It’s also extremely family-friendly. If you have small children, they’ll fit right in here. We cater so much to children. We have such a friendly pool and beach environment for kids.”
Solberg certainly isn’t exaggerating about both his property and Tumon Bay attracting a great many families with children. Guam’s largest visitor market is Japan, in part due to the short, three-hour flight between the destinations. It seems Japanese travelers seek to bring their little ones to the tropical island paradise, looking to enjoy not only sand, surf and sunshine, but also elements of American culture in the U.S. territory.
Families can do more than just snorkel at Tumon Bay. Outrigger Guam Beach Resort partners with beach-based ISA Aqua Sport for a range of ocean activity options, including kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, paddle boats and Jet-Ski excursions, as well as beach umbrella and chair rentals for folks looking to stay a little drier.
“We offer them anything to do with the beach and water activities,” said Ed Cruz, co-owner of ISA.
The company will also take folks wakeboarding behind Jet Skis, Cruz says.
“It’s usually people who already have experience on a wakeboard that are interested,” Cruz said. “But any time the ocean is flat is a good time to go, and people who know how to snowboard can usually wakeboard. They’re really similar.”
Simeon Miranda, Outrigger’s Guam-based corporate director of operations for the Pacific, joined me on one of ISA’s short Jet-Ski tours beyond Tumon Bay’s barrier reef, where we also did a little snorkeling in deeper water with all sorts of colorful fish.
“It just reminds me of how Hawaii was,” said Miranda, a long-time Honolulu resident, in a later interview. “The water was just so clear, and Guam has some very natural, untouched little getaways that you go to, and they are absolutely beautiful.”
Outrigger has also been busy improving its Guam resort, tackling everything from repainting the building’s exterior to refurbishing its sprawling pool area and renovating bathrooms.
“We’ve updated all the guestroom bathrooms with new fixtures, tile, wall-coverings, mirrors and lighting,” Solberg said. “Both the large pool and the children’s pool have been resurfaced and look beautiful, and the reflection pool has been completely reworked with new tile and decorative fencing.”
Room rates start at $165 per night for the 600-guestroom Outrigger Guam Beach Resort. Travelers may, however, want to consider booking a room at the property’s Voyagers Club level, which includes not only spacious accommodations, but also an impressive morning buffet breakfast in the club lounge, as well as some of the nicest Tumon Bay views in the building.
Guam Visitors Bureauwww.visitguam.com
Outrigger Guam Beach Resortwww.outrigger.com