This weekend’s hike is a triple treat for hikers who love the beach, snorkeling and ocean life! We explore the southeast coastline of Guam, from Ylig Bay to Turtle Cove and finally Taga’chang Beach in Yona, providing a lot to see and lots of water fun along the way.
Note in advance that it must be a calm, clear and sunny day on Guam to accomplish the whole hike. Otherwise, you may still safely hike from Ylig Bay to Turtle Cove and use your best judgment when moving forward thereafter.
On the ideal day, it’s a great family and beginner’s hike, with only a mile of flat walking along the coast, near the reef, and, at times, in the water. And, because you're moving straight down the coastline, there’s no chance of getting lost!
As for parking this weekend, it’s recommended that if you are hiking in a group to have two cars parked: one each at the beginning and end of this hike (there's ample parking space on either end). This makes it much easier and quicker to retrieve the car at your starting point.
Park one car at the end of the hike, Taga’chang Beach Park. To get there, coming from the southern end of the island, pass the Yona Mobile gas station and take the next right off the main road and down a jungle-lined road to the beach. Coming from the northern end of the island, take Route 4 into Yona, passing Pago Bay. As you prepare to pass the Pago Bay Lookout, prepare to turn at the first road on the left and follow it all the way down to the beach. Leave one car here.
Park the other car at the mouth of the Ylig River, at the other end of Yona. To get there, coming from the northern end of the island, take Route 4 into Yona, passing Pago Bay, and the 7-Day and Day Buy Day Supermarkets. Continue down the long, curving hill and pull off to the left shoulder of the road at the bottom of the hill, parking near a fenced-in culvert. Coming from the southern end of the island, take Route 4 en route to Yona. After passing the Ipan/Windward Hills traffic light, prepare to turn off the road onto the right shoulder side, beside a fenced-in culvert, which is also after the Ylig Bridge and across from the entrance to Manenggon. Park your other car here.
Stumbling through Ylig Bay
To begin the hike, walk along the inner part of the fence toward the Ylig River where you will soon find a well-beaten path into the jungle.
Enter the path and walk along the trail toward the bay, passing colorful flowers and interesting vegetation along the way. Look out for markers that may also serve as indicators.
After about five minutes, you should emerge from the jungle and find yourself at the first destination of the hike, Ylig Bay, a large southern bay lined with colorful plants.
While it’s not the best place to swim because it's polluted, the bay is still a southern marvel.
Continue to the next destination by heading to the western end of the bay, trudging through muddy, shallow water and sand. After a little struggle, you should reach beach sand again, and just around the corner is an even greater prize.
Past the remnants of a Japanese pillbox lies Turtle Cove!
Settle your belongings toward the end of this stretch of beach, near a rock wall and under a dense jungle canopy.
Jump off a turtle’s head!
Turtle Cove in 1969 was the site of a 60-unit A-frame campsite with water and recreational activities, according to Guampedia.
Although the complex was destroyed during Typhoon Pamela in 1976, the cove is still frequented for beach barbecues and hours of water fun.
Only visible from far out in the water, Turtle Cove gets its name not because of sea turtles, but because the rock cliff along the beach and the jungle around the cove combine to look a bit like a turtle.
At the end of this secluded cove is a giant limestone outcropping, recognized as the turtle’s nose. Find the rocky “staircase” at the end of the beach here and climb to the top of the turtle’s head!
From there, thrill-seekers can leap off the turtle’s nose for a 15-foot drop into the emerald waters below.
The cove is a place for great swimming and snorkeling in clear, deep waters among active sea life.
I recommend spending at least half an hour here to explore, snorkel and jump into the water.
A walk on the beach, literally
After you’ve had your fill of Turtle Cove, continue the hike by walking through the waist-deep water around the head of the turtle.
Use the overhanging rock as a handhold, and try to hand off belongings to those who've already reached the other side. One slight slip and you’ll probably land in the water.
Once you're there too, it’s an easy walk to Taga’chang Beach, just about 3/4ths of a mile away.
As you walk, you’ll likely notice many different species of crabs, small, zipping fish, and perhaps even a few resting birds.
And on a calm day at low tide, you can walk out to the reef's edge to explore several deep caverns and clear, shallow pools full of colorful fish, coral and sea anemones.
If, and only if, it’s a calm day at low to negative tide, these shallow pools by the edge of the reef can be safe and enjoyable for more snorkeling to see purple, pink and blue coral, and even matching fish!
Use your best judgment when exploring the reef’s edge.
After checking out these rocky wonders of the reef, head back to the shore and continue along the coast. You'll pass dozens of unique limestone formations (some great for pictures), as well as masses of seaweed and probably more coastal creatures.
The reef: pretty, but deadly
At some point, you'll arrive at flat portions of the coastal headland jutting out into the ocean – and the waves crashing along their edges may feel too close for any kind of comfort.
On a calm day, it is perfectly safe to travel over these “tables” and on to Taga’chang Beach just around the corner.
Just stay away from the crashing waves and avoid creeping close to the water at all points here: Strong currents can pull you out to the ocean.
After safely crossing the reef tables, which are dangerously beautiful, you'll arrive at Taga’chang Beach Park, which is covered with strong ironwood trees and bounded by towering green and limestone cliffs.
The beach is frequented by fishermen and picnickers, and is also the site of an ancient Chamorro settlement.
A little less groomed than Tumon Bay beaches, this remote beach is a hidden gem known mostly to locals – and it's great for more snorkeling and safe swimming in its shallow waters.
And with your second car parked just a few feet away, spend as much time as you want here! Play in the sand, try mounting some of the smaller limestone boulders nearby, and definitely go for a swim before heading back to your cars – luckily without having to retrace your steps this time. Happy hiking!