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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Expect geckos
They’re like squirrels in the Midwest. They’re everywhere, but harmless and will probably run away from you.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
The local currency of Guam is the US dollar.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.