This weekend we travel up north along the low-lying western coast of Guam to find Hila'an Beach, Lost Pond, and Shark's Hole – three distinct and beautiful spots on the rock packed into one hike!
A way past Tanguisson Beach in Tumon lies Hila'an Beach, a stretch of pristine, white sand, coupled with unique mushroom rock formations, thousands of washed-up pieces of coral, colorful sea glass and scattered seashells by the seashore.
At the end of this long beach walk is another seaside gem. About 2.6 miles down Hila'an Beach and just a few feet into the nearby jungle, hikers can enjoy Lost Pond, a natural freshwater sinkhole ringed by green jungle and speckled by bright-green algae-covered rocks. The area is also the site of an ancient CHamoru village.
After visiting – and swimming in – Lost Pond, head back to the beach just outside the pond. See the light-blue patch of water in the lagoon? You've found Shark's Hole, a popular diving and snorkeling spot!
Whether coming from the south, central or north, getting to the parking spot for this hike is straightforward and simple. By Shell gas station and directly across from Wendy's in Upper Tumon, drive through the entrance to Two Lovers Point (Puntan Dos Amantes), turn left at the stop sign and proceed as if you were going to the popular destination.
Drive past the crowded tourist attraction, continue along the remote road, and pass a large facility on your right and natural vegetation to your left. Make your way down the steep and winding road, and you'll have reached Tanguisson Beach Park. Cross the pothole-studded park entrance, and find a parking spot beneath the towering trees by the beachside.
Hila'an Beach: Unique rock formations
To begin, walk toward the beach and find the path into the jungle at your right. The path runs roughly parallel to the coast. Follow the path for about five minutes to reach wide-open skies and open beach. This will be the scene for the next two miles with crystal blue waters, interesting rock plumes, white sand, and at times, rugged rocks.
Take some time to view the peculiar rock sculptures in the jungle. And don't forget to have your sunscreen, lots of water, snacks and a hat along for the trek.
Soon you'll see the first set of mushroom-shaped rocks, signifying the start of Hila'an Beach. These unique rock plumes are the result of clashing lava spews formed when the island of Guam was formed as well.
While they are just rocks, the geology is interesting, and topped by little bits of vegetation. Some of the smaller formations can be climbed for great vantage points and pictures.
While this area is nice on its own and a hot spot for beachgoers, the hike does not end here, continue past the rock formations along the beach on our trek to reach Lost Pond and Shark's Hole, which are more than worth the extra walk.
You'll spend the next 20 minutes or so walking through the water around ocean outcroppings or over the rugged coral rock terrain.
On a calm and at low-tide day, you can even try to walk around the next set of jutting rock formations, which cover some parts of Hila'an Beach. On a calm day, shallow water will rise just 1 or 2 feet above your footing.
However, on a hazardous day with rough waters, hikers may still continue the hike, although with less ease. Hikers might have to cross over the rock outcroppings to reach the sandy shore on the other side.
If you try it, watch your footing and handholds.
After this part of the hike, the rest of your trip back to Lost Pond and back is almost literally a walk on the beach.
Lost Pond: A hidden jungle oasis
Finding Lost Pond is not an easy feat, even with hiking directions or someone who has been there before, so the name is fitting. Walk along the beach for about 30 minutes and note that you'll pass about three large lagoons before reaching the undistinguished jungle entrance to Lost Pond.
In this remote and isolated part of the island, you might feel like a member of the cast of "Lost" or as Robinson Crusoe might have felt stranded on a deserted tropical island. And if you're lucky, you might have Lost Pond and Shark's Hole all to yourself, too.
As you walk along the shore, the thing you're looking for is an old and rusted metal cross.
This metal cross is not huge, but it is unmistakable along the hike. Taking some time to honor the fisherman and divers who might have perished in the outlying sea here, continue past the cross to the third and last lagoon.
Now comes the hard part. As you walk along the beach and toward the northern end of the lagoon, you'll see a slight opening into the jungle. Enter here to get to Lost Pond.
While it's unlikely you'll get lost in the jungle – since the ocean is always nearby on the other end – you still might not find the right path to Lost Pond.
After entering the jungle, find and follow the colorful markers tied to trees. The pond is no more than five to 10 minutes away. As you follow the markers along a beaten path, you should find a rope that has been added to the path in recent years, which makes finding Lost Pond much easier.
Hikers follow this rope all the way to the pond; so, really, finding the rope more so than the pond will be the feat. Once you reach Lost Pond, you might notice just how green it is. This is due to algae covering the isolated freshwater sinkhole and the reflections of the towering jungle and nearby vegetated cliff. Be sure to take a dip in the cool refreshing water here before venturing back to the beach for more fun.
Shark's Hole: Vibrant sea life, coral formations – and possibly sharks!
To get to Shark's Hole, retrace your footsteps out of the jungle and back out the lagoon.
This is a popular diving and snorkeling spot, so take some time here to enjoy the beach. Lounge under one of the shady trees, build a sand castle with the pristine white sand, and be sure to take advantage of the ocean by snorkeling, but only if the water is calm. Here, hikers can see unique and colorful coral rock as well as vibrant underwater sea life.
Now, the name "Shark's Hole" comes from the possible sightings of nurse sharks in the deep waters here. While this might thwart hikers from exploring the waters, rest assured that the sighting are not only rare, but that nurse sharks are harmless to humans unless provoked – they're even a part of some interactive marine exhibits worldwide.
After taking some time here to live life as a castaway, you may or may not want to return to your routine and normal life on Guam. If you choose to return to civilization, retrace the path along the long Hila'an Beach back to Tanguisson Beach Park to leave.