I’m a travel reporter who hasn’t left the mainland US in 9 months. Here’s the trip to Guam I’m going to book as soon as it’s safe.

  • The last long-distance adventure I took before the pandemic was to Guam, and it'll be my first big trip once it's safe to travel there again.
  • Guam's rich culture and adventure-friendly terrain make it one of the most underrated travel destinations in America and the perfect place to visit if you're wondering where to go after the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The indigenous people of Guam are CHamoru. I'm half CHamoru, and most of my CHamoru family lives on Guam.
  • Here's what I'll do during my next trip to my favorite island, from surfing to drinking beer.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends avoiding all nonessential travel to Guam at this time. If you decide to travel, follow the CDC's recommendations in the Global COVID-19 Pandemic Notice. 
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Guam's slogan is "Where America's day begins" because it is — literally.

Source: Guampedia

Since it's a US territory west of the International Date Line, it's the first place in America that sees each new day.

Source: Guampedia

Guam is the largest and southern-most island of the Mariana Islands archipelago …

Source: CIA World Fact Book

… which is in the northern Pacific Ocean.

It's actually closer to Japan than any US state. It takes less than four hours to fly there from Tokyo, but almost eight from Honolulu.

When I've visited my family on Guam in the past, I flew from the contiguous US by connecting through Honolulu, Hawaii, or Tokyo.

But I haven't been able to visit in over 9 months. During the coronavirus pandemic, the CDC recommends avoiding all nonessential travel to Guam. The island is a high-risk area with limited medical resources.

Source: CDC

I went to Guam at the end of 2019 to spend New Year's with my family. As soon as it's safe to travel there, I hope to book a trip to go back.

Surrounded by family, I feel more love on Guam than anywhere else, but that's not the only reason the island is the first place on my post-pandemic travel list.

Guam is naturally beautiful. It has a tropical marine climate.

There are only two seasons: dry from January to June and rainy from July to December.

Source: CIA World Fact Book

The temperature stays around 80 degrees all the time and is perfect for swimming.

Source: CIA World Fact Book

The island is surrounded by coral reefs and has five protected marine preserves to visit and explore.

Source: CIA World Fact Book

With nearly 900 species of fish and clear waters with deep visibility, Guam is ideal for snorkeling.

Source: USA Today

When I go back to Guam, I'll go to Talofofo Bay, where I tried surfing for the first time.

Talofofo is a village in southern Guam known for its volcanic terrain and stunning views.

Source: Guampedia

With soft, dark sand and various board types allowed, it's also the perfect spot for beginners to learn to ride waves, Surfer Today reported, and I plan on coming back here to practice.

Source: Surfer Today

On the eastern coast back towards northern Guam, there is an easy hike to a swimming hole underground.

Source: Pacific Daily News

To get to the water, you'll have to climb down these rocks, which are sometimes slippery.

Source: Pacific Daily News

Inside Marbo Cave, a freshwater pool has a turquoise glow. The last time I was here, I didn't have time to swim. Next time, I'll prioritize it.

Source: Pacific Daily News

On the northern tip of Guam in a village called Yigo, there's another hike I'd like to do again: Ritidian Point.

Source: Guampedia

With 832 acres of land and 371 acres of coral reefs, Ritidian is home to snails, lizards, fruit bats, and sea life.

Source: Guampedia

The wildlife refuge there used to be an ancient CHamoru village.

Source: Guampedia

Archaeological studies suggest that the first CHamoru people settled on Guam about 4,000 years ago.

Source: Guampedia

Ritidian is untouched land. Many CHamoru people believe that Taotaomo'na — the spirits of the "people before" — still reside in Ritidian. When I hiked the area, my mom warned me to be extra careful not to disturb the land in any way.

Source: Guampedia

When I'm not adventuring with family, one of my favorite things to do on Guam is to drink beer with my aunts and uncles. The island's burgeoning craft brewing scene is worth checking out.

Source: The Guam Daily Post

My family brews beer, and they love sampling the local variety at Carabao Brewing. IPAs are my favorite, and the brewery's Dr. Buzz is a triple IPA. When I go back, I want another one.

My favorite restaurant on Guam is Poke Fry, which serves bowls of sushi ingredients. After trying these Poke bowls, the mainland's versions no longer satisfy my cravings.

After Poke, I love a snow cone. Hafaloha has the best shaved ice I've ever had — and it's as big as your head.

More than anything, I can't wait to see my family again. But everything this tropical paradise has to offer is a big part of why I want to go back.

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