Guam is not usually at the top of many peoples’ bucket lists, but this often-overlooked holiday destination is in fact a scuba diving hot spot with incredible beaches and crystal clear waters jam-packed with unique underwater life. Guam boasts an impressive amount of coral that comes in all shapes and sizes, with around 375 species having been recorded as well as over 1000 species of colourful reef fish. As the second-largest island in Micronesia but still only 48 kilometres long and 19 kilometres wide, Guam is situated in the calm North western Pacific waters surrounding the Marianas Archipelago. It can be reached via aeroplane from a number of international destinations, one of the closest being Japan.
Having played a vital role in both World Wars, Guam is well-known for having a number of great wreck dives to explore as well as shore and reef dives. Guam has over 60 different dive locations and these are all easily explored either from the shore or with dive operators scattered around the island.
Best Diving Destinations in Guam
Diving is possible all around the island of Guam, and warm waters and calm conditions make for pleasant diving at any time of year. There are also many easily accessible shore dives, making diving a breeze.
Gun Beach is one such shore dive which is located in the highly popular touristic area of Tumon. Rays, turtles and multi-coloured reef fish are all sure sightings.
Wreck diving is spectacular in Guam, and the island boasts the one-in-a-lifetime chance for divers to see a World War One and World War Two ship wreck in one dive. The first ship from WWI was the SMS Cormoran, a German merchant ship and the second from WWII was a Japanese freighter, the Tokai Maru. The wrecks even touch underwater, making this a truly brilliant log book entry. As if this wasn’t enough sunken treasure action, the Apara harbour that holds both these World War wrecks is also home to a Japanese Val bomber as well as the Kitsugawa Maru which is in extremely good condition and lies in an upright position.
Fish Eye Marine Park is a worthwhile attraction for the whole family – divers and non-divers alike. The park has an observatory that lies semi-submerged in the water, allowing non-divers to experience a glimpse of the underwater paradise that Guam has to offer. For divers, it is worth diving at this Fish Eye site due to its easy shore entry and its large populations of reef fish.
If you’re looking to explore some oddly named dive sites, try Gab Gab 1 and Gab Gab 2. Although technically accessible from the shore, you’d need access to the military base in order to do so, but many dive shops in the area take boats out to these two pristine dive sites. Gab Gab 1 is famous for placid green turtle sightings and Gab Gab 2, located slightly more offshore, is home to white tip reef sharks, groupers and giant trevallies.
Cocos Island is a small island at the southern tip of Guam that is surrounded by a barrier reef. The deep walls and drift dives in this area are simply magical and are definitely a must-see. Many species of pelagic fish, hammerhead sharks, rays and turtles can all be sighted on these dives.
When to Visit Guam
Guam offers pleasant scuba diving conditions all throughout the year, simply adding to the reasons why it is a fantastic option for divers and non-divers to enjoy a great tropical beach holiday. The water is generally calmest in the summer and can reach temperatures of 28°C during these summer months. Guam experiences a very mild rainy season from September through December and wind significantly increases from around December to April, however scuba diving is still possible and pleasant. On average, air temperatures in Guam are fairly consistent at 26°C but if high humidity is not desirable for you on your holiday, the peak summer months of XXX are to be avoided.
Getting to Guam
Perhaps the only reason that Guam is overlooked as a hassle-free holiday destination is that its remote location does require some effort in terms of travel. However, many would agree that the travel time is entirely worth it. Flights from certain major US cities such as Los Angeles are fairly common, as are a few Asian destinations such as Japan. These flights and others from Australia all land at the International Airport in Guam.
International visitors should take note that as Guam is a United States territory, a travel visa will be required before travelling should your passport require you to obtain a visa when visiting the United States. This is in compliance with United States law. Once settled in Guam, exploring the island is easy to do with well-maintained roads and affordable rental cars.
Nearby Micronesian diving hot spots such as Chuuk and Palau are easy to reach from Guam and the island can be used as a worthwhile stopover between diving hubs.
Where to Stay in Guam
Although there are not formal dive resorts in Guam, there are a number of dive operators that tend to be evenly dispersed in the areas where diving is very popular. These dive shops will cater for tourists and should be able to communicate in both Japanese and English. Many of these shops will offer more than just transportation to the dive sites and often cater for the visiting diver’s every need with equipment hire, training opportunities, daily boat trips and even tours that cater to non-divers.
An interesting angle to consider is that many of the divers in Guam will be local rather than visiting divers. Due to the large presence of American military in Guam, divers often find themselves accompanied by ex-pats who have learned to dive in Guam and continue to explore the many beautiful sites even though they live in the location year-round.