Primer on Chamorro History & Culture Pt. 2

Chamorro culture is unique in the pacific. They have their own myths and storytelling traditions. The Chamorro also have their own unique dancing and singing styles, different from other Polynesian cultures.

So before you head for Guam, read up on the Chamorro culture with part two of this primer.

 

  1. Storytelling

Storytelling is the traditional way of passing down knowledge from one generation to the next among the Chamorro. Storytellers are venerated members of Chamorro society and are viewed as educators.

Chamorro culture is filled with myths and legends that are passed down for entertainment and education purposes.

 

  1. Myths & Legends

Local legends are a very important part of Chamorro culture. The Chamorro even have their version of the Romeo and Juliet story.  The legend of Puntan Dos Amantes tells of two Chamorro who loved each other, but couldn’t be together because they were from different classes.

Want to know how it ends? Read the story here.

 

  1. Dancing

The Chamorro people, like the indigenous peoples of Polynesia, have a rich cultural history of dance. Unfortunately, descriptions of ancient Chamorro dances are vague.

However, there has been a resurgence of interest in Chamorro dancing on Guam in recent years. Dance troupes have formed and teach modern Chamorro the dances of their ancestors.

If you’re interested in seeing Chamorro style dancing, as well as other beautiful Polynesian styles, make time to see the TaoTao Tasi Beach Show when you’re in Guam. This show features Chamorro dancers, Samoan fire dancers and Polynesian dancers from Tahiti.

 

  1. Music

Music is an important part of the Chamorro culture and takes many forms. Chamorro music has undergone many changes over the years due to occupations by the Spain and the USA, however, traditional music still exists.

A traditional Chamorro instrument called the Belembaotuyan, made from a hollow gourd and strung with a taut wire, has seen resurgence in popularity in recent years.

Check out this video to see how they are made, or skip to 6:59 to hear one played.

 

  1. Kantan Singing

The Kantan style of singing was, and still is, a very popular type of entertainment for the Chamorro people of Guam. It was also used as a distraction during long hours of work.

A singer would begin the round with a four-line chant that might refer romantically or teasingly to another person in the group. This was a challenge, and the challenged person would then take up the song and so on

Primer on Chamorro History & Culture Pt. 1

The Chamorro, the indigenous people of Guam, have a history that isn’t widely known. And despite resurgence in interest, their culture is still not widely understood.  So before you visit Guam, brush up with part 1 of this primer.

  1. History

The Chamorro are the indigenous people of Guam. Archaeological evidence shows that the Chamorro people, linked by language and culture, have lived in the Marianas Islands, including Guam, for more than 4000 years.

The Spanish began colonization of Guam in the mid-16th century. During this period, Spanish customs and the language were imported to Guam. The Spanish also converted the native Chamorro population to Catholicism.

In 1898 the United States took Guam during the Spanish-American War. The island briefly came under Japanese occupation during WWII but was recaptured by U.S. forces.

After WWII, Chamorro leaders lobbied for greater autonomy for Guam from the US and were successful in getting the island a civilian government for the first time in 1950.

  1. Religion

Today, thanks to the Spanish occupation of Guam, most inhabitants of Guam are Catholic.  However, before they were converted, the Chamorro people worshipped the Taotaomo’na, the spirits of their ancestors.

Contact with the Spanish changed how these spirits were viewed, over time these spirits have become viewed as demons and ghosts.  However, ancestor worship was not completely erased by conversion to Catholicism, as many people still venerate their ancestors side-by-side with Catholic saints.

  1. Food

Guam’s modern food scene is the definition of international.  A visitor can find restaurants serving Japanese, Chinese, Korean, American, and many other types of food. But this is a more recent development.

Ancient Chamorro people lived off what they could grow on land and fish from the sea. They ate a diet heavy in seafood, edible seaweeds and coconut before the Spanish came.

  1. Architecture

As with other parts of Chamorro culture, their architecture was influenced by the Spanish occupation of the island. The remains of traditional Chamorro architecture can be seen in the latte stones that can be found throughout the island.

Latte stones are support pillars carved from basalt or limestone topped with a circular stone.

 

20 Things to Know Before You Travel to Guam

Guam is a small but beautiful island in the Pacific. It is a great vacation spot and has everything a traveler could want. But there are a few things you should know before you go.

  1. Do I need a passport to travel to Guam?

Despite the fact that Guam is a US territory, US citizens still need a passport to enter. In certain cases a photo id and proof of US citizenship might be accepted, but why risk it?

Non-US citizens also need a valid passport and, possibly, a Visa. Contact the closest US embassy to find out if you need a visa to enter US territory.

  1. Summer is the rainy season in Guam

Prepare for rain if you travel to Guam between June and December, but don’t let that deter you. Most tropical or sub-tropical areas experience rain in the summer.

However, because this is storm season, you should also be prepared for a typhoon anytime through mid-November.

There is less rain after that, but given Guam is a tropical area, you should always be prepared for wet weather with a rain coat.

  1. Don’t make Sunday plans

Guam is a predominantly Catholic country, which means most everything is closed on Sundays, including many restaurants. Plan to spend a quiet day at the beach, and call restaurants in advance to see if they will be open.

  1. Hit up the mom & pop shops

They’re definitely a cheaper way to eat than restaurants in Guam, and more authentic too. Check them out and pick up some eats for a picnic on the beach or in advance for your quiet Sunday lunch and dinner.

  1. Gratuity is included

Unlike mainland US, where gratuity is only included if you have a large dining party, a gratuity of 10% is usually added onto the bill at restaurants regardless of party size. You can ask your server if you’re not sure it was added though.

  1. You’ll probably want to rent a car

If you’re planning on leaving Tumon you’ll want to rent a car. Public transportation outside the big cities is non-existent. And believe me, there’s plenty to do in the hills.

  1. The legal drinking age is 21

The legal drinking age in Guam was raised from 18 to 21 in 2010, sorry spring breakers. This may be jarring for young visitors from other countries, who are used to the drinking age being 18. Remember to have a valid id with you.

  1. You only have to 18 to get into clubs

You may not be allowed to drink, but you can still dance and have fun at The Globe, the only multi level night club in Guam, at 18.

  1. Expect geckos

They’re like squirrels in the Midwest. They’re everywhere, but harmless and will probably run away from you.

  1. Beach attire isn’t (usually) acceptable

Except at the beach. Otherwise, restaurants and clubs expect you to wear real clothes. The exception is The Beach Bar & Grill, where beach attire is recommended.

  1. You’ll be directed by landmarks

This is partly because street signs get knocked over by typhoons, and outside Tumon the locals don’t see much need for them because they know the area. So be prepared to get directions the same way you do in small town America, local landmarks.

  1. Brown Tree Snakes

Yes, Guam has them. No, they don’t eat babies. They mostly live in the jungles, so it’s unlikely you’ll even see one. They are poisonous; however, a fatal bite is rare. If you do see one, please don’t touch it.

  1. Most people speak English

Guam is a US territory and hosts a US military base. Not to mention they experience quite a bit of tourism, so English is an important language there.

Due to the increasing number of Japanese and Korean tourists, some tour operators also speak Japanese and Korean.

  1. Shopping

Guam is great for shopping. Tourists can find many luxury brands in the malls and shopping centers of Guam for cheaper than they would at home.

  1. Currency

The local currency of Guam is the US dollar.

  1. Chomorro People

The indigenous people of Guam are known as the Chomorro. They have their own language, called Chomorro, not Chomorron. If you’re interested in learning more about their culture check out the page on Guam’s tourist site.

  1. Eating out

There are restaurants for every conceivable type of food you could want. There are restaurants featuring local cuisine, sushi, burger, pizza, Thai food, and more.

  1. Don’t expect to go fast

Guam doesn’t have any freeways or fast lanes, so be prepared if you’re driving somewhere. Be warned though, locals are known to blow through red lights, so keep your eyes open and learn to go with the flow.

  1. Beaches are generally free

With the exception of a few resorts, beaches around the island are free and open to the public.  Watch out for no trespassing signs though, some areas are part of private properties.

  1. Take it slow

Guam is a wonderful place, but as on many islands, things move a little slower than we’re used to. Take step back and relax. You’re there to have fun after all.

 

 

 

Beach Bar Summer Games

Guam beach bar summer games

Interested in spicing up your summer vacation with prizes, and maybe even some cash?  Then head to Guam and join us this summer for The Beach Bar’s Summer Games.

For 9 weeks, beginning July 8 and ending September 3, locals, vacationers and military personnel stationed on Guam will have the opportunity to compete for cash and other prizes provided by Baldyga Group.

Competitions are entered by teams of 4 every Saturday during the competition period.  The 4 categories of competitions include a physical challenge, an eating competition, games of chance, and brain challenges.

Not interested in competing in the games?  Spectators have a chance to win prizes through a raffle held every Saturday during the competition.  Raffle tickets are given out for every Bud product purchased.

So what can you win?

Every week $1000 cash is awarded, as is thousands of dollars worth of other prizes.

Every team that wins an individual event is automatically entered in the final competition. Why should you stick around for that? Well, the prize for winning the final even is $10,000.

Want to know more? Check out the official rules here. Then head over to our Facebook page for updates.

See you in Guam!

Guam Restaurant Guide

One of the best things about being on vacation is the opportunity to eat out and not worry about cooking. Guam is a great country for this. With so many people of different nationalities living there, the island has developed an international cuisine.

Here are our recommendations for where to eat while in Guam.

Dinner with a show

The TaoTao Tasi dinner show should definitely be on your list of things to do while you’re in Guam. This Polynesian dance and fire show is accompanied by an all-you-can-eat barbeque buffet. You’re not going to get a better deal than that.

*Note: It is closed on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Where to eat on Sundays

Guam is a predominantly Catholic country, meaning most places will be closed on Sunday. One place that is open on Sundays is Giovanni’s. This is an Italian restaurant located near Naval Base Guam. Their Sunday brunch comes highly recommended.

Where to get dessert

Most restaurants serve some kind of dessert, but the restaurants at the Hilton Guam Resort and Spa are worth visiting just to feed your sweet tooth.

If you like chocolate try the chocolate soufflé at Roy’s Lounge. If chocolate isn’t your thing, give the cheesecake at Caffe Cino a try, or for something fruity, try the Banana Drama at Fisherman’s Cove.

Dine on the sea

Interested in a dinner cruise? Take a night to enjoy the Big Sunset Dinner Cruise. The dinner includes an all-you-can-eat buffet and unlimited beer, wine and juice. Enjoy stargazing from the deck away from the city lights and maybe see some dolphins.

Local Cuisine

Interested in dining on local cuisine? Hit up Proa, which offers the traditional foods of Guam as well as fusion options. Call beforehand for a reservation though.

Asian Food

What would a trip to the Pacific be without some delicious Asian food? Luckily, Guam has several dining options.

For fancy dining, try the President Japanese restaurant in the Sheraton. They specialize in Kobe beef. Or, if you’re interested in a noodle house, try Mein Kui.

Sejong Korean Restaurant offers traditional, but delicious, Korean barbeque.

And if you have a taste for Chinese, check out Azhi, which is highly recommended for families.

American Food

Have a taste for good old-fashioned burger and fries? Or maybe you want a hot dog? The Spot food truck comes highly recommended by the sailors and marines stationed in Guam. The best part? They love it when you customize your orders.

On the beach

Don’t want to stray too far from the beach, or change out of your swimsuit? No worries, The Beach Bar and Grill has you covered. Right on the beach, this popular spot offers bbq platters and other casual dining options. They also offer volleyball during the day and live entertainment at night, so you don’t have to leave the surf and sand at all.

And if you’re in Guam for the summer season, check out the Beach Bar’s Summer Games. The prizes include thousands of dollars worth  of tickets, $1000 cash every week and $100,000 cash on the final week.

Vegetarian

You can probably get a vegetarian meal at most of the places listed here. But for a truly vegetarian restaurant, seek out Heavenly Veggies. They are only open for lunch on weekdays (11 am – 2 pm), but if you’re vegetarian or vegan they are a must.

The eclectic choice

As stated above, Guam has an amazingly varied restaurant selection for such a small island. But there are still cuisines you wouldn’t expect to find there, such as Middle Eastern food. And we’re not just talking falafel here.

The Pacific Star Cafe features grilled kebabs of beef, chicken and jumbo prawns interlaced with grilled onions, bell peppers and eggplant, as well as other favorites. It even features a hookah bar.

Vacations are all about trying new things, so check out some of these restaurants and enjoy something you’ve never had before.

 

10 Things You Must See & Do When Visiting Guam

Guam is a small island, only 32 miles long, so you might wonder how much there really is to see or do there. Well, the answer is a lot. Depending on how much time you have on the island, and how much of it you want to spend on the beach, you probably won’t have time to do everything. You may not want to do everything.

That said, here are 10 things you really should do and see while in Guam.

  1. TaoTao Tasi Dinner Show

Accompanied by an all you can eat buffet; the TaoTao Tasi dinner show is a gorgeous spectacle. This special show features performances of ancient Chamorro warriors, dancers from the Tahiti Islands and Samoan fire dancers.

It’s great for couples and families. The best part? It’s right on the beach in Tumon, so you won’t have too far to go.

  1. Shark’s Cove

Speaking of the beach, check out Shark’s Cove beach while you’re there. Because of the half mile hike it takes to get there, this beach is usually empty of other vacationers. That makes it worth the exercise in our book.

  1. Big Sunset Dinner Cruise

Enjoy a romantic evening or a fun family dinner on a multi-level catamaran. Enjoy a un-paralled view of Guam’s night sky away from the lights of Tumon. Maybe you’ll get lucky and see some dolphins.

  1. The Southern Hills

You could spend your entire vacation in the capital, or you could see the rest of the island nation. Rent a car and head south where you’ll find beautiful nature spots, historical and cultural sites, and sparkling beaches.

  1. SandCastle Guam

Love Vegas style shows? Then SandCastle Guam is for you. Enjoy Guam’s family friendly magic show as a casual show or as a formal night out with dinner. This show was rated as Guam’s best tourist attraction by the Guam Visitors’ Bureau and as a Traveler’s Choice on TripAdvisor.

Note: The dress code requests no beach wear.

  1. War in the Pacific Historical Park

For history and WWII enthusiasts we recommend a visit to the War in the Pacific Historical Park. Run by the U.S. National Park Service, this site commemorates the battles of the Pacific theater in WWII. Here you can tour battlefields, gun emplacements, trenches and historic structures.

  1. Fort Santa Agueda

Another must see for history lovers, Fort Santa Agueda is the only surviving Spanish fort in Hagåtña. Built in 1800, this fort occupied a strategic position that kept it in use through WWII.

  1. Injaran Pools Beach

A great spot for nature lovers, the natural pools at Injaran Beach are formed by the area’s unique geology. The clear water means that you can see tropical fish and other sea creatures in their natural habitat.

  1. Gun Beach

While this beach isn’t so off the beaten path, Gun beach is great for snorkelers and divers. But remember to bring beach shoes or diving booties to protect your feet from the corals.

      10) Ride the Ducks

A fun tour option for families and people who like amphibious landing crafts, the ducks are a unique sightseeing tour that takes place on land and in the water all in one vehicle.

Of course there are far more than 10 things to do and see in Guam. For more ideas on things to do on your Guam vacation check out this handy list.

How to Pack for Your Summer Vacation in Guam

Guam is a beautiful island country with plenty of beaches, sun and fun. But, as with any summer vacation, it can be difficult to know how to pack, especially if you’re going somewhere you’ve never been before. Here is a guide for packing for your Guam vacation.

  1. Pack for warm weather

Guam has a tropical climate and average summer temperatures range from 78–89°F (26-32°C). That means pack loose fitting, light-weight clothing. Natural fibers, such as cotton, are best. Don’t worry about being too casual; shorts and short-sleeve shirts are fine for both men and women in Guam.

  1. Don’t forget the nightlife

Guam has a fantastic club scene, and you’ll want to look your best. Remember to pack your dancing shoes for Guam’s only multi-level dance club.

  1. Prepare for rain

Guam’s rainy season runs from April to December, with the greatest amount falling between July and October. Umbrellas can be cumbersome to pack. I recommend a light weight rain coat or poncho.

  1. Remember the beach

Guam is an island, so you can expect beautiful beaches. Besides your swimsuit, remember to pack beach shoes or flip-flops and strong sunscreen. Water shoes are recommended for walking in the reefs. However, given the delicate, and endangered, nature of coral reefs, I advise against this activity.

  1. Dress for dinner

Dinner out can be casual or dressy, depending on your preferences. Just to be safe, I recommend a collared or polo shirt and flat front shorts for men and a sundress for women.

  1. Hats are your friend

When it’s not raining it’s nice and sunny, so remember to bring a wide brimmed hat to keep the sun off your face.

  1. Love nature? Bring sturdy shoes

Don’t be afraid to venture out from the city. Guam has lovely natural parks that any nature lover will want to make time for. Just remember to bring good walking or hiking  shoes.

  1. A sense of adventure and fun

There are many wonderful things to do and see in Guam, don’t let anything hold you back.