Guam? Really? Yup, the 212-square-mile island in the Philippine Sea about midway between Japan and Hawaii is sixth on the top 10 list of U.S. states/territories most favored by overseas visitors last year. In 2010, Guam had 1.3 million overseas visitors, according to a list compiled by the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries — which defines “overseas visitors” as tourists from beyond the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Tiny Guam beat out Massachusetts, Illinois, Texas and New Jersey, numbers 7 – 10 in the list. Not surprisingly, New York took the top spot with 8.6 million foreign visitors, followed by Florida, California, Nevada and Hawaii. Makes sense. But what about Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Alaska? Nowhere to be found. Yet there sits Guam, as smack in the middle of the list as it is in the ocean.
Sure, it has year-round tropical weather, lovely beaches and hospitable people. Its Chamorro culture is a stew of Spanish, Micronesian, Asian and Western influences — a heady mix you can taste in the island’s unique cuisine. And of course you’ll also find all the water sports, golfing and hiking you’d expect on an island.
So who’s going to Guam? According to the Guam Visitors Bureau, most tourists come from nearby Japan and South Korea (each just a three- to five-hour flight away). But you can get there from the continental U.S. too — though you’ll have to spend more than half a day on a plane and make at least one connection, typically in Honolulu. Once you get there, you can relax at a big-name resort (such as the Outrigger or the Westin), or stay at a more intimate property like the Guam Garden Villa, a B&B homestay.
You can also get to Guam by cruise ship. It’s a popular port for world cruises, with Princess and P&O among the lines visiting this year.
Have you been to Guam?
– written by Jodi Thompson