Editor's Note: This is the fourth in a Spots on The Rock series exploring Guam's southwest, southeast, northwest and northeast coastlines.
If you like long walks on the beach and beautiful beds of white sand, look no further than the island's charming northwest coast.
Below dramatic greenery-draped cliffs and beside shining blue seas, the hike along the northwest coast unfolds like the chapters of a story detailing a shipwrecked crew on an isolated island – except this story has a happy ending!
Tuck your toes into soft sand beds that stretch for miles, soothe your soul with some salt water and sun and get some R&R under scattered shade, too.
The entire hike is not contiguous and is separated into two combined, continuous hikes and then two optional hike opportunities. The hikes are from Gun Beach to Tanguisson Beach in Tumon, and then from Hila'an Beach to Tanguisson Beach, and are coupled with optional treks to Haputo Beach and Double Reef Beach in NCS, Dededo.
A few safety notes:
• Pack enough snacks and water to keep healthy and hydrated.
• Internet and phone service may be scarce and spotty in the area. Make preparations and keep in mind options available in the event of emergencies.
• Check the National Weather Service website at www.prh.noaa.gov/guam and follow them on Facebook at @NWSGuam for weather updates and advisories. For up-to-date tide charts, visit www.tide-forecast.com/locations/Guam-Marianas/tides/latest.
• The weather and tide can change dramatically at any given time. Take shelter in inclement weather and avoid swimming or walking through water at high tide.
• This compartmentalized coastal trek is split into four hikes, though each takes place along a coastline. Stick to the shore and you're not likely to get lost.
• For more detailed directions, parking information and more on each destination, search the hike name on PostGuam.com.
Gun Beach to Tanguisson
Seaside trails along the island's northwestern coast, between Tumon's popular Gun Beach and Dededo's rugged Tanguisson Beach, sweep past pretty views of a rocky, wet wonderland.
To start, walk onto Gun Beach and trek east toward the jungle. Near the top of the beach and right by the jungle, you'll find the entrance to the first leg of the hike, as well as a World War II remnant.
Near an old, rusted Japanese 20 cm coastal defense gun – one of only two Japanese guns left in its original position on Guam – is the manicured trail that leads to our first stop, Fai Fai Beach. Continue on this jungle path, which grants breathtaking views of Tumon Bay along the way.
Soon the path will transition onto a wooden platform that includes a staircase and side rails for your use. Carefully climb down the short flight of stairs onto the next platform, a limestone shelf.
Continue walking along this shelf to reach Fai Fai Beach and the Two Lovers Point cliffs. By the end of the beach are a few unique limestone rock formations, characteristic of Guam's northwest coast.
Just around the corner is where you should find yourself below the cliffs, where Two Lovers Point towers 400 feet above.
Soon you will reach an area filled with nothing but huge, round boulders scattered along the beach, embracing the ocean's harsh tides.
Just around the next corner is the final leg of the hike with your destination less than 20 minutes away.
Safely make your way around the cliff, walking along its bottom shelf to get to the other side.
Carefully trek over the sharp limestone rocks and through slippery pathways.
Once you've reached the sand, it's a short walk to Tanguisson Beach, which lies a few minutes ahead.
Hila'an Beach to Shark's Hole
The hike to Hila'an Beach, Lost Pond and Shark's Hole seems straight out of Daniel Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe," which tells the story of a castaway living on a remote island in the Caribbean.
To start, hit the beach and find the jungle path to the right. Running parallel to Tanguisson Beach, follow the rocky jungle trail as it twists and turns around several trees.
In less than five minutes, you should break out on to the beach with wide-open skies and blissfully blue waters before you.
Just half a mile down the coast is Hila'an Beach, a hot spot for regular beachgoers. The area is characterized by its mushroom-like rock formations and surrounding tropical foliage lining the beach.
The next half hour to 45 minutes is literally a long walk on the beach to the next destination.
When it's low tide, you can easily walk through the shallow water – about 1 to 2 feet high – around the next few rocky outcroppings that block off the beach.
However, when the water's rough and waves are crashing, you'll have to walk directly over and through the rocky terrain. Look out for any foot and handholds that can assist you.
After close to 30 minutes of seaside strolling, passing two distinct lagoons, your next marker is an old, rusted metal cross.
Unmistakable, this weathered cross commemorates the souls lost at sea – dozens of fishermen and swimmers who have died in the nearby waters.
Just beyond the cross lies the last lagoon, home to the last destination.
For Shark's Hole, look out for the light blue patch of water out in the distance. This popular diving and snorkeling spot is a unique underwater utopia with roaring reef life and robust coral communities.
Along a white, sandy stretch of the beautiful beach bonanzas lining Guam's northeastern coast, one particular gem earns Spots on The Rock's top beach spot – Haputo Beach!
Designated as an ecological preserve in 1984, Haputo Beach covers a combined 252 acres of coral reef and limestone forest in the Finegayan area of Dededo. The hike, which is on a military base, requires that hikers have a military identification card or request access to the trailhead.
Enter the Naval Communications Station in Dededo and after passing the guard station, take the first left turn. Continue on that street for a few minutes until you reach a sign that reads "Haputo Ecological Preserve." Pull into the parking lot on the right side of the street, across the sign.
Cross the street and find the trailhead to Haputo Beach. See the Haputo Ecological Preserve signs for more information on the hike ahead.
Follow the trail to your right, down the first set of a series of 212 narrow, man-made steps that lead you 100 feet down the limestone cliff.
Note that these stairs will interchange with bare, loose ground, so be careful where you step! Beyond, you'll have breathtaking views of the shimmering Philippine Sea and its crystal-blue waters.
For the next half-mile or 20 minutes that it takes to make it to the bottom, continue down the straightforward jungle path.
Soon you'll reach the last leg of the hike, a steep staircase that is a match for any stair climber. Avail of the provided handrails as you make the final descent. At the bottom, simply walk the few feet toward the beach and you're there!
From here, you can see why Haputo earns our top beach Spots on The Rock. With beds of soft, white sand and an abundance of shady trees, Haputo has been maintained and manicured by Mother Nature herself.
Haputo is situated near one of the most pristine, lively reefs accessible on Guam – an underwater utopia!
Vibrant sea creatures immediately swim to life along the roaring reef. Gardens of brightly colored corals grow unabashed, and schools of sea life swim with spirit.
Double Reef Beach
A limestone forest, rocky coastline and white sandy beach hide the riveting Double Reef Beach.
Also located in NCS, the hike to Double Reef Beach requires that hikers have a military identification card or request access to the trailhead.
To begin, find the narrow path that enters a jungle by the signs. Follow this beaten trail over flat land for the first leg of the trip.
Passing dense brush, the trail will soon follow an abandoned dirt road. From here, the trail will begin to descend the limestone cliff line of northwestern Guam.
Soon the trail will split. To stay on the right track, follow the colorful hiking tags placed along trees.
Toward the bottom of the descent, you will come to a steep drop. Use the rope to climb down into a vast limestone forest with an abundance of moss-covered rocks.
As you proceed through the vibrant green jungle, follow the established trail and ignore the many smaller paths that lead away from it.
This last leg of the trip, for the most part, continues through the jungle, but remains flat and mostly follows an open trail.
With Double Reef Beach about 20 minutes from here, keep following the colorful tags to stay on track.
You will soon find the final drop down to the coast at what looks like a dead end in the jungle. Descend down a small hill and continue along the coast over slippery limestone.
Be sure to head out into the waters for some of the island's best snorkeling and diving. The outer reef along the coast here is a favorite spot during northwest swells, while the inner reef boasts a variety of fish species and vibrant coral for snorkelers to explore.