Guam's waters offer a wide range of recreational opportunities. Swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, water skiing, wind surfing and sailing on Guam are some of the best in the Pacific. Along with these recreational activities come certain precautions you must practice to avoid the hazards. When you and your family or your friends head out to enjoy Guam's beaches, maintain a constant, direct line of sight of your children and your fellow swimmers even if only a few feet into the water.
For swimming and snorkeling, the safest areas are those beaches protected from the ocean by a barrier reef. Inside this reef, the water is calm, shallow and with only a slight current, if any at all. But don't let this calm water fool you because many times people venture out near or onto the reef into deeper water in the pursuit of fish or just sight seeing. This can be extremely dangerous because of two primary dangers in swimming too close or onto the reef.
The first is caused by the waves breaking on the reef. Even in the calmest of conditions, it is difficult and dangerous to be near the reef. The coral itself is extremely sharp and can cause deep and painful cuts. There are also large cracks and holes in the coral, which can catch a foot or hand and trap a person. Naturally larger waves increase the danger and in the past have proven fatal to swimmers.
The other danger is the current caused by the waves. In almost all cases where the waves are consistently larger than one foot, a strong current runs along the reef. This current is created when water forced inside the reef by the waves is higher than the sea level outside the reef. The water will flow along the reef or shoreline until it finds a place to flow back to the sea. This current can be very strong. A person swimming too close to the reef's edge can become caught in the current and be swept onto or over the reef.
The waters of Guam need not be feared, just respected. We offer this information for you.
Always dive and snorkel with another person and use the proper equipment. If you are not an experienced swimmer, and snorkeling, wear a snorkel vest (this will help to keep you afloat and not tire yourself out). Ensure proper training and certification before diving. Always have a dive partner, the proper equipment, and plan your dive and dive your plan.
Know where you are going. Contact the local dive shops for information on areas you intend to visit. The National Weather Service (Dial, 811 - from an off-base line) has a recorded message on surf, winds, and tide conditions. Local TV, radio, and newspapers also publish this information.
Have fun, but use some situational awareness and a little risk management before venturing out. Be sure to observe any posted warnings and remain within the designated areas for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. Watch out for your children and your fellow Airman; know where to go to contact emergency help if needed.
If the water conditions for your chosen location are not safe, pick another beach!
Guam's waters offer outdoor sports enthusiasts a wide choice of recreational activities. Unfortunately, water-related activities sometimes lead to tragedy. A very real danger exists near, on and beyond the reef. For that reason, the reef is off limits to all DoD employees and their family members. That means no reef walking. The waves and current are often misleading and can sweep the unwary over the reef and they may drown.
Several Safety Tips:
- Swim only where lifeguards
are present or where it is safe for swimming.
- Never swim, snorkel or dive alone. Always have a buddy with you and keep an
eye on each other.
- While in the water, wear protective footwear to prevent painful coral cuts
or stepping on sea urchins. Wearing hand protection is a good idea too.
- Wear fins when you snorkel. There are some strong currents here especially
when the tide is going out. You may need the power fins can give you.
- When snorkeling, wear a snorkeler's vest. This will help you stay afloat if
you become tired or the current pulls you out to sea.
- Become familiar with the dangerous aquatic life in these waters. Treat all
shells as poisonous and don't handle them.
- Cancel snorkeling, diving or boating plans when weather forecasters have
issued hazardous surf or small craft warnings.
- Use extreme caution if snorkeling in areas with rip currents. Rip currents
usually occur in areas where there is a cut in the reef. Do not swim in these
areas when hazardous surf is likely.
- If a rip current catches you, don't panic. If you can't make any headway,
grab onto a coral formation and pull yourself to shore.
- Protective gloves are real assets here. If the water is too deep for
grabbing the coral, swim with the current away from the reef. This will prevent
the water from continually slamming you into the sharp coral. Once you have
cleared the reef, stay afloat and wait for a rescue team.
At Naval Base Guam, the Outdoor
Rec' program is offered for single and military family members.
The program features outdoor activities such as hiking (boonie
stomps), kayaking and paint ball. Outdoor Rec' also rents out
equipment such as kayaks and camping gear. Call Naval Base
Guam’s Outdoor Rec' at (671) 687-4725.
Make sure there is at least one
lifejacket on board for each person. All children and those who
are poor or non-swimmers must wear life jackets.
Ensure the boat is equipped with
the required visual distress signals such as flares and lights.
Being able to signal rescuers can mean the difference between
being found or not.
If operating the boat off shore,
make sure it is equipped with a working radio. Although CB
radios are popular, their power and range is limited to a
distance of three miles. The preferred radio to carry is the
VHF-FM radio all Coast Guard units monitor. It has a range of
more than 50 miles.
In addition to radio, many
commercial and recreational boats must carry an Emergency
Position Indicating Radio Beacon. The EPIRB is a small radio
transmitter designed to transmit the international distress
signal. Boats, airplanes and even satellites can pick up the
signal. Those receiving the signal relay it to the nearest
rescue agency, which uses the signal as a homing device to
pinpoint the location of the international distress signal.
File a float plan. Let someone on land know
where you'll be going, when you're leaving and
when you expect to return.
Carry extra fuel, food and water, and any
tools you may need to make repairs if a
mechanical difficulty arises. Make sure the boat
has an adequate anchor and line suitable for use
in the area; ocean floor drop off can be severe
and very deep.
The Navy Historical Exhibit - a
must-see place for newcomers to the island - is located on Naval
Base Guam and focuses on World War II and its impact on Guam.
Displays also follow U.S. history on Guam beginning in 1898,
during the Spanish-American War. The 1,500-square-foot museum is
open by appointment by calling (671) 339-5207.
The Navy operates three swimming
pools on island. At Naval Base Guam, the swimming pool is
located near South Tipalao Housing and the barracks area. Call
the pool at (671) 564-1822.
At Naval Communications Station,
the pool is located on the main drive of the base, next to the
laundromat. For more information, call (671) 355-5091.
At the Naval Hospital the pool is located
near the housing area. To reach the Naval
Hospital pool please call (671)
On Andersen cool off on a hot,
sunny day at Capehart Pool. The pool features a kiddie pool,
designated times for lap swimming, a diving board and a
children's slide. Capehart Pool offers a wide variety of swim
lessons for all ability levels. And Capehart's best feature is
that admission is FREE! Andersen's Capehart Pool is next door to
the youth center.
Capehart Pool is also a fun
place to throw your next squadron or birthday party. Whether
you'd like a private after hours event or your own reserved area
during pool hours the Capehart Pool has a plan for you. Two
party areas are for rent and each includes a 20x20 canopy, 4
picnic tables and a BBQ grill.
The Sumay Cove Marina is located
at Naval Base Guam. Boats are available for rent to those with
the proper qualifications. Mooring, slip spaces and trailer
parking are all available for private boats. For more
information, call (671) 564-1846. For off-base boating, the
Marianas Yacht Club stages weekend races and the Agana Marina is
the headquarters for many yachts and fishing vessels.
Fish from shore or go out on a
privately owned boat. Boats can also be chartered for deep-sea
sport fishing. Several off-base companies offer charter fishing.
Rec 'N Crew
Rec' N Crew at Naval Base Guam
has camping equipment, canopies, kayaks, bicycles and sports
equipment for rent. Tickets can be purchased through the Rec' N
Crew for local recreational and entertainment events. Rec' N
Crew also offers Sailors a chance to take advantage of the
L.I.B.E.R.T.Y. (Life Is Better Everywhere Recreation Takes You)
Program. The program offers “boonie stomps” and kayaking to
historical and scenic areas on Guam for single Sailors and
geographical bachelors. For information, call Rec' N Crew at