This week we take a different adventure, landlocked and into one of Guam’s most noteworthy cave systems. The Talofofo Caves hike leads to several caverns ranging in size from small to large, and it also features a couple of bright and breezy vista points.
For safety, be sure to travel in a group of more than two people. Use flashlights to guide your footing in the caves and over ledges, and, as always, use common sense and move forward at your own discretion.
Located in Talofofo, the parking spot and trailhead are along the cliffside going up to the main village area from the tri-intersection between Talofofo, Ipan and Inarajan.
Heading southbound from Yona into Ipan, coast along Route 4, passing the Ipan Public Beach, Mobil, Village Mart and First Beach. After the winding turns leaving Ipan, turn right at the three-way stop and drive up the hill for just a few seconds. Turn right off the road onto a small patch of grass beside a lone house on a hill. This is the trailhead and parking. Note, if there happens to be no parking available since the area is tight, park at the top of the hill along the side of the road and walk down cautiously to the trailhead.
From Santa Rita/Talofofo
If you are coming from the north or southwestern parts of the island, it might be faster to take Cross Island Road to reach Talofofo. Driving past the Our Lady of Peace Cemetery and the Windward Hills Apartments, you will soon reach a sharp curve and intersection that either continues along Cross Island Road or turns into Talofofo (pay attention to road signs). Turn right toward Talofofo village and stay on the road, passing the Onward Talofofo Golf Club, until you reach the four-way intersection in the heart of Talofofo. Turn right, passing two mom-and-pop stores and another stop sign. Drive up the steep hill, pass Notre Dame High School and once descending another steep hill, prepare to turn left off the road onto a small patch of grass beside a lone house on the hill. This is the trailhead and parking. Note, if there happens to be no parking available since the area is tight, park at the top of the hill along the side of the road and walk down cautiously to the trailhead.
From Inarajan/Talofofo Bay
Leaving the village of Inarajan through Malojloj on Route 4, pass Talofofo Bay and the valley of the Latte River Boat Cruise destination. Moving up the hill toward the three-way intersection, make the sharp left turn toward Talofofo. Winding up the hill for just a few seconds, prepare to turn right off the road onto a small patch of grass beside a lone house on a hill. This is the trailhead and parking. Note, if there happens to be no parking available since the area is tight, park at the top of the hill along the side of the road and walk down cautiously to the trailhead.
For the first half of this short hike, the path will be pretty straightforward. Start your ascent up the hill in front of you, through the jungle. Be sure to watch your footing: The ground for this first uphill climb is loose and unstable.
Atop this hill, follow the path to the right. Throughout the hike, glance up at the towering jungle canopy above you – you might get the same eerie but tranquil vibe I did.
Walking through the laid-out path, over small dips and climbs along the way, you soon will come to completely flat ground with what might look like a few splitting paths (look through and around vegetation for colored markers).
The left path leads to some unique and large rock formations with a leveled space and a decent, but blocked view of Ipan and southeastern Guam. This is still, however, a great place to have lunch and take a breather.
Traveling back to the initial split-off, up the path and to the right is the entrance to the biggest cave. Turn on your flashlights or headlamps as you enter.
After entering the mouth of the cave and into its cavern, you’re immediately delighted by some cool sparkling stalagmites. Beyond them are views of the large, open, deep cave.
To the right of the stalagmites, there is a long rope that descends about 30 feet into the rest of the cave. It requires some upper body strength and no fear of heights or tight spaces to make this long vertical descent.
If you're an inexperienced spelunker or rope-climber, you might want to skip it. But don't worry, there's plenty else to explore! If you do climb down, be sure to hold tightly onto handholds and to watch your footing. And don't forget you'll be climbing back UP.
Exploring the first cave for a while, exit when done, then travel back along the path. Climbing over, under and around scattered logs and jagged rocks, you will see a downward and rocky path that leads to the next cave.
Climb over the large boulders and through tight squeezes to get to the bottom of this descent. Here there are large rock formations with some big boulders to conquer for a perfect hiking picture.
You'll also find tiny, tight openings that lead into cool caverns with more beautiful stalagmites.
Southeast coast overlook
When satisfied exploring this area for a little bit, make your way back to the top of this hill, back onto the original path and continue traveling upward on the trail in order to reach one of the best vista points in Talofofo. It's more than worth the hassle of climbing up over larger and jagged rocks.
Following the rocky jungle trail and the colorful hiking markers along the way, you will soon reach the final climb to the top of the ridgeline.
At the top, hikers are treated to a vast view of the southeastern coastline, Ipan notably, and the Pacific Ocean. Compared to the “overlook” we previously traveled to, this viewpoint is majestic in every sense of the word. There also should be a great cooling breeze at any time of the day, another great reward of the hike.
However, be extremely careful, especially if traveling with kids, as the overlook stands over a cliff that drops at least 50 feet into the jungle. Be careful of your footing while standing on the jagged rock barrier and adjust your footing and stance to accommodate the strength of the wind.
Feel free, too, to explore the entire area for some time before retracing your steps back to your car along the original path – there's plenty to see.
For an added treat, stop by First Beach in Ipan or Talofofo Bay for a refreshing swim, and Ipan Mobil for some cool soft-serve ice cream afterward. Happy hiking!