Snorkeling and Diving on Guam – 5 Great Choices
January 14, 2018
The island of Guam is home to some of the finest snorkeling, skin-diving and SCUBA-diving on Earth. All ages and skill levels will be fascinated by our coral reefs and the multitude of colorful fishes and other wildlife (manta rays, sea turtles, and more) found just offshore.
While Guam is part of the United States, with all the amenities that implies, it is also remote enough that it remains an undisturbed tropical paradise, with gorgeous beaches and warm, sparkling clean waters, making it a destination diving location. Divers come here from all over the world, and there are literally dozens of dive-shops providing equipment, lessons, and certification all the way up to instructor level.
The very best time to go diving in Guam is coming up, from February to April, during the “dry” season when there are no storms to disturb the waters.
First, what is the difference between SCUBA diving and skin diving? SCUBA stands for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, and the intention is to “go deep and stay long.” On the other hand, skin diving, sometimes known as free diving, is done with a minimum of equipment, usually only a snorkel, mask, and fins. As with snorkeling, much time is spent on the surface, diving down only to get a closer look at the world below. Since most of the coral reefs on Guam are in less than 20 feet of water, skin divers experience no lack of underwater adventures.
If you are staying in Tumon you will most likely find yourself on the beach by Tumon Bay. This is the perfect location to get your feet wet with snorkeling and skin diving. The 1.5-mile beach fringes a large but shallow (2-4 feet) and calm lagoon, bordered by a coral reef with a steep drop-off on the ocean side for diving. Families with children will want to start here as it is close to the hotels, with bathrooms and restaurants for refreshment. This is the most accessible and busiest snorkeling spot on Guam.
Next, you’ll want to explore Gun Beach, a more secluded cove about a mile north of Tumon Bay. It is considered by many to have the best shore snorkeling on Guam, as well as one of the prettiest beaches. The lagoon has shallow areas protected by a coral reef hosting vibrant marine life, with channels to the open water where divers will find an even more diverse underwater environment.
There are no public bathrooms on Gun Beach but it is home to Guam’s fabulous Beach Bar and Grill. This is the perfect location to spend your days, in and out of the water, with excellent food, chaise lounges, volleyball and more. As days turn into night, you can watch a glorious sunset while eating burgers, Bar-B-Q, or local Chamorro cuisine. (Diving is hungry work!) Most nights there is also live entertainment.
Warning: Tables are often sold out due to Guam travelers’ feedback from FIT travelers and others, so reservations are highly recommended. There is also a sofa reservation available for larger groups or a romantic couple. You can book your table here — remember, once you come you won’t want to leave, so you might want to reserve a few days!
Another great diving spot is Gab Gab beach, though entry is restricted to those with passes to the US Naval Base. If you have a contact there it is worth the trouble because the waters are uncrowded and perfect for snorkeling and skin diving.
And if you have the inclination, try Ritidian Point at the northernmost part of the island. It’s a national wildlife refuge surrounded by jungle and limestone cliffs, making it incredibly pristine and remote. Not for beginners, here the reef line is prone to rip currents so be sure to take care when snorkeling.
SCUBA divers also have access to the deeper barrier reefs farther offshore, usually a 10- to 20-minute boat ride away. You will find many companies offering lessons for everyone from curious beginners to experienced divers, often also providing transportation to and from popular hotels. Ask your concierge for recommendations.
For more information, there is a wonderful book called Diving & Snorkeling Guide to Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, by esteemed local photographer and diver Tim Rock, available on Amazon.
Safe and happy diving to all!