Snorkeling in Guam
It’s no wonder Guam receives more than a million visitors a year. White sandy beaches, clear turquoise waters, and a gentle ocean breeze welcome visitors from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, Russia, China, and the U.S. And with all the first world amenities Guam offers, it’s surprisingly mellow. What has coalesced at 13 degrees North is pretty much the best of both worlds — old and new. From centuries-old Spanish forts to multi-level Louis Vuitton stores, Guam is the crossroads of ancient culture and modern commerce. Refusing to be pigeonholed, the island with a population of only 156,000 has become all things to everyone — the shopper, the adventure lover, the spa goer, the beach bum, and the culture enthusiast, to name a few.
Guam may be better known for its world-class dive sites, but there are plenty of great underwater adventures to be had without a tank — if you know where to go. Grab your mask, snorkel and fins and hit up these favorite spots, which rank in the top 10 for their ease of accessibility, excellent visibility, and diversity of reef life.
Gun Beach – The northernmost point in Tumon is home to one of Guam’s prettiest beaches and most accessible snorkeling spots. Exploring the sea life here is easiest when it’s calm, but if there’s light surf in your way, follow the pipe out and back where it creates an opening through the reef.
Gab Gab Beach – Located on Naval Base Guam, Gab Gab is a beginner snorkeler’s paradise. Combine the easy entrance/exit with an impressive variety of fish, plenty of colorful corals, and strong chance of spotting a sea turtle, and you’ve got a guaranteed seaside adventure.
Ypao Beach – This easy-to-access site at the southern end of Tumon Bay is one of Guam’s five marine preserves. The restriction of fishing activity means there’s even more fish to spot in this natural aquarium of sea life.
Piti Bomb Holes – Another of Guam’s marine preserves, Piti Bomb Holes is easy to get to and promises an abundance of sea life. Park just south of the Fish Eye Marine Park in Piti and follow the pier out to deeper waters. You’re sure to see trumpet fish, sergeant majors and barracuda. Go at high tide for the easiest swim past the eel grass.
Cabras Island – Park at Family Beach (also decent snorkeling) and hike over the breakwater to explore the shallow seas north of Cabras Island, the northern boundary of Apra Harbor. A less popular site due to its more difficult accessibility, this area is home to some of Guam’s largest and most impressive coral heads, some of which reach the size of a car. Make note of where you entered the water, as there is usually a steady current pulling west, and climbing back up the rocks can be tricky.
Anae Island – While only accessible by boat or kayak, Anae Island makes the list of top snorkeling spots because of its abundant sea life and interesting rock formations. This is a great place to discover colorful crabs, shrimp, and snails hanging out on shallow rock cliffs. Your best views will be at high or rising tide.
Coral Gardens – This site, best accessed via boat or kayak, is marked by the mooring buoys just south of Agat Marina. Here you’ll run across the fascinating underwater coral formations that make up Coral Gardens. Not all dive sites double as great snorkeling sites, but this one features corals that stretch upward toward the waterline, so there’s plenty of beautiful things to see close to the surface, as well as interesting structures to free dive down for a closer look.
Spanish Steps – Located at the very tip of Orote Peninsula, Spanish Steps is one of the most breathtaking spots on Guam. Surrounded by tall cliffs and protected by the high walls of Orote Island, this shallow cove is a haven for clownfish, jacks, octopus, and even small black tip reef sharks.
Haputo – If you like free diving through tunnels and underwater passageways, make the short hike down to beautiful Haputo Beach. Poke around the coral formations and look for all sorts of fish, crab and eels. Take a picture with the signature mushroom-shaped rock formation. It’s a steep hike back up, but well worth it to explore this beautiful cove for an afternoon.
Double Reef – Double the reef, double the fun! If your goal is to really get away, Double Reef is the perfect destination. Getting there is an hour-plus hike each way (half of which is over a trail of sharp limestone), but once you’re there, chances are you will have the whole place to yourself. And the name does not disappoint… there are, in fact, two rows of impressive reef to explore.
Note: Double Reef, Haputo, and Spanish Steps are located on U.S. military installations and have limited accessibility via shore. Contact base security for more information
Snorkeling Tips for Guam
- Only snorkel within your comfort zone. If the surf is too big or currents are too strong, come back another day.
- It’s always recommended to try out a new site accompanied by someone who has already been there, done that, and knows the way back to the car.
- Protect Guam’s reef life. The beautiful underwater gardens surrounding the island take hundreds of years to grow. Don’t destroy their beauty by standing on them or taking things from the reef.