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Diving in Guam… Where America’s Day Begins!

Posted on September 12 2020

Diving in Guam… Where America’s Day Begins!
                                                     Marina Inserra in “Blue Reflections” SlipIns DiveSkin

Ever since I earned my PADI Open Water Certification in 2013, I’ve had the privilege of diving in some of the most beautiful dive sites in the world. My favorite spots include the Red Sea of Egypt, the atolls of the Maldives and the exclusive island of Sipidan in Malaysia. After 7 years of diving in 7 different countries, it’s hard to choose what I would consider the best. When people ask me where they should go diving, there are so many things to take into consideration. Overall cost, quality of the environment, ease of access to the destination, safety & quality of dive operator and overall experience in a foreign country are all things I consider when rating my experience. Some of it may be subjective as every single dive can be different and make or break your experience. But as a wise diver once told me, a bad day of diving is still better than a day of NO diving!

WHY GUAM?

So how did I end up on a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? Well, it began with an invitation to a wedding! It was an opportunity to travel to someplace new with a good friend and I took it without thinking twice. At the time, I was living in Dubai working as a Marine Mammal Specialist (aka dolphin and sea lion trainer) for one of the top five-star resort’s in the Middle East, Atlantis The Palm. I not only got to live in an incredible country for two years, but I had tons of vacation time to travel the world!

As my two week vacation slot was approaching in the summer of 2018, I had no idea where I was going to go or who I would be able to travel with. I was convinced I would have to make a trip to Thailand solo {…which honestly wouldn’t have been that bad. I love adventuring solo! After all I’ve visited more than 6 countries by myself and made friends along the way. I highly recommend this way of travel!} …but luckily a friend from San Diego shared on Facebook that he’d be in Guam during the same time frame I had vacation. So I called him up and the plans we’re set!

ARRIVING TO THE ISLAND

The easiest way to get to Guam from the United States is through Hawaii, Japan or South Korea. It’s a pretty long flight as the small little island is literally smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Coming from Dubai, I looked to my trusty search engine Skyscanner.com to browse multiple routes and prices. I found that I could get from Dubai to Guam via Seoul while also turning it into a long layover. It was a place I’d never been to but knew it was one of my mother’s most favorite cities on the planet. (She was a military wife who traveled a lot, so I trusted her judgement.)

After an 8-hour flight to Seoul, I traversed in the rain to a hostel where I immediately made friends and headed out to the local bar. I’m not a die-hard fan of watching soccer, but it just so happened that the World Cup Semi-Finals match between South Korea and Germany was on that night. Let me tell you, that was the politest, friendliest and cleanest sports bar I have ever been to! Moments after celebrating S. Korea’s underdog victory over Germany, my new friends surprised me by getting the entire bar to sing me Happy Birthday just after midnight. It was a birthday celebration I will never forget!

There are few times in my life I have pulled an all-nighter, but this was the best one yet. After an incredible 35 hours in Seoul, I headed back to the airport and caught my 4.5-hour flight to Guam. (Which was delayed, of course!)

Arriving on the island, on a very short runway to a tiny little airport, I was ready for the second leg of vacation. The beautiful blue waters and the gorgeous green hills were breathtaking. The weather was also a perfect 80* with just a little bit a humidity. Luckily, my friend’s family lived on the island so I was welcomed with a back yard BBQ full of Chamorro favorites.

DIVING THE BLUE HOLE

So you’re probably dying to know how the diving is on this island paradise. Well in short, it was beautiful! I choose to dive with MDA Guam on the East side of the island near Asan Beach by recommendation of a friend. They were wonderful! It was a Holiday weekend, so unfortunately they were booked up for their special 4th of July dives to the American Tankers wreck. We did however manage to catch a boat out to the most popular dive spot on the island, The Blue Hole.

A short boat ride from the dock at Cabras Marina, The Blue Hole is an underwater crater in the reef that allows you to dive to a depth of 130ft+ (for Advanced Divers only.) About 50ft down is the opening of the crater and as you descend and look back up you notice the heart shaped opening of the crater above you. At 125ft you can “Shoot the Hole” by exiting the crater through a hole in the wall to the ocean. You finish your dive by drifting along the reef wall looking for lobsters, sea turtles, Black Tip sharks and anemone fish. The water was warm enough to wear nothing but my Slipins Surfskins in “Blue Reflections” print. Even though there were stormy conditions at the surface, the water was calm down below.

BOAT OR SHORE?

The great thing about Guam is that there are nearly 75 dives sites accessible by boat or shore, day or night. This small military island feels like you are still in the US as you can find all the popular fast food joints, buy American snacks in the markets and even send mail via the U.S Post Office. It was a very safe island that had a mix of fun local beach bars, nice resort hotels and peaceful secluded beaches.

During my trip, I completed 4 dives, three by boat and 1 by shore. One of the other memorable dive sites during my visit was Gab Gab II, a large reef mound in the harbor. There are feeding stations set up on the reef where thousands of fish come to hang out. If you are lucky you will feel the strange hum of the Atlantis Submarine as it passes by in a circle around the reef. It’s a strange feeling to wave at people in a submarine while you are diving on a reef!

This was my first time doing a shore dive via top-of-the-reef access. In Guam, they are very protective of their ocean environment, as they should be! There are specialized booties that you must wear in order to enter from atop the reef. They are just like regular dive boots but with a thick layer of felt to ensure you don’t crush the reef as you walk across. Being mindful of the tide and the weather, every day is basically a good day to dive in Guam!

FOURTH OF JULY IN GUAM

My week is Guam was topped off by a wonderful 4th of July celebration AND attending a beautiful wedding. The locals, called Chamorro’s, are very kind people and cherish their island lifestyle. Because of the huge military presence on the island, there is also a very American patriotic vibe. In between the tourists from South East Asia, you will see a wildly diverse group of people enjoying themselves around the island.

I loved celebrating the weekend with a wedding at a Golf Club on the highest hill overlooking the ocean. There were more than 500 guests, so I wasn’t concerned about fitting in or making friends. The best friends however were the three roast pigs on the spit! In addition to the local “kelaguen” chicken dish, I loved everything I ate while on the island. I even brought home some special lemon flavored cooking powder which mixes well with soy sauce and red chilies for rice dishes. My taste buds still dream of the food consumed that week!

HOW SMALL OF A WORLD IS IT?

Nearly 1 year after visiting Guam, I found out that my younger sister Bri would be stationed there during her service with the U.S. Air Force. She has been there through the pandemic serving as a medic in the island’s Naval Hospital. She tells me she loves the island and even got her PADI Open Water Certification with the same dive shop. So who wants to take a trip to Guam with me??

                             Happy Bubbles to all the Mermaids out there!

 

    

 

 

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