Editor's Note: This is the second in a Spots on The Rock series exploring Guam's southwest, southeast, northwest and northeast coastlines.
The thrill of life lies on the edge of Guam's southeast coastline, where roaring waves crash onto rocky shores and stretches of beautiful, sandy beaches beckon.
The hike along Guam's southeast coast is largely level and includes rocky, limestone headlands by the reef and brief walks on the beach between Yona, Talofofo and Inarajan.
Note: This hike is not contiguous and is separated into three distinct coastal treks, including Taga'chang Beach to Turtle Cove in Yona, Ipan beaches and Talofofo Bay in Talofofo.
A few safety notes:
• Pack enough snacks and water to keep healthy and hydrated.
• Internet and phone service is scarce and spotty in this 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 three 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.
Turtle Cove to Taga'chang Beach
Amid crashing waves and crazy wind, robust ocean reefs roar to life between the coast of Taga'chang Beach and Turtle Cove.
Tour what's often called the "rainforest of the sea" with shallow coral reefs
While it's an easy beginner's hike with only a mile of flat walking along the coast, it's not recommended for pets or children due to the potentially hazardous surf nearby.
Starting at Turtle Cove, near the edge is a large limestone outcropping. Wade into the waist-deep water, around the "head" of the turtle, to the other side. Use the overhanging rock as support. From here, Taga'chang is less than a mile away.
On particularly calm days and with low tide, you can safely walk out to the reef's edge to explore several shallow caverns, clear enough to see schools of colorful fish, coral and anemones.
If the crashing waves are at bay, hop into these pretty pools to peer into an underwater utopia, home to purple, pink, red, orange and blue corals.
After cruising along the coast, you'll stumble onto the coastal headland, completely composed of wet limestone. Here, the waves thrash a little more violently nearby.
If the weather is welcoming, it's perfectly safe to travel over the reef bench, or "lamasa," to reach Taga'chang Beach, which is just around the corner. Avoid creeping close to the water, or swimming at all.
Once on the other side, after crossing the dangerously beautiful reef bench, Taga'chang Beach should be in sight. Walk though the few feet of shallow water to get there.
With towering ironwood trees, backdropped by gorgeous green cliffs, this southern locale is frequented by fishermen and picnickers.
While it's a little less groomed than Tumon Bay, Taga'chang is a hidden gem in its own right. Enjoy the soft, white sand beach and its inviting waters.
Starting at the Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, also known as Togcha Cemetery, burst into the jungle beyond the parking and find the established trail.
This part of the trip is mostly covered by a canopy of trees, providing a shady and breezy nature walk along your way, in addition to the variety of seabirds fluttering by the water nearby, or in the treetops.
Midway along this first leg, discover a World War II Japanese fortification located just off the path and by the beach.
After checking out the remnant, continue along the defined path for another 15 minutes until you reach a river, where two options lie.
You can either cross the river upstream where it is most shallow, or you can avoid the water for now by following the hiking path to a barrier, which leads to the main highway. If you choose the highway, cross the bridge and find your way back to the beach on the other side of the river, just before Jeff's Pirates Cove.
Once you've made it to the other side, continue along the beach, passing Jeff's Pirates Cove, and in 10 minutes you should reach the Ipan Beach Park, another nice rest stop along this unusual hike, complete with small pavilions and restrooms.
Just beyond the Ipan Beach Park, hikers will have to venture into shallow waters to go around a limestone outcropping in order to continue the trek.
Just around the corner lies the Tongan Beach Resort, a tiny southern resort that caters to tourists and is signified with its large concrete retaining wall.
The last leg of the hike, another nature walk, will lead hikers past a variety of island vegetation, as well as limestone rock formations before reaching First Beach.
A popular locale in Ipan, and southern Guam in general, this beautiful landscape is the final destination after enjoying miles of pristine beaches and several snorkeling and swimming sites – not to mention captivating WWII remnants.
To start, head to the southern end of the bay (the right side) and find the dirt path that leads to the water.
Carefully begin wading into the shallows along the coastline, heading north in the direction of the first limestone landing in front of you. This is one of two necessary water crossings along the hike.
Note that the water will get deeper, depending on your height, and may tread as high as your waist or chest. Stay close to the shoreline on your right, and anticipate hidden boulders submerged in the murky waters.
Additionally, be forewarned that the muddy ground is another obstacle along the brief 10-minute water trial. Wade across the water slowly, and feel around with your feet for hidden boulders or dips with each step.
Once you reach landfall on the limestone strip, under the shade of tropical leafs, you’ll begin the long reef walk along the coast. Look back every now and then for a unique perspective of Talofofo Bay.
For the next 20 to 30 minutes, you'll curve along the coast, passing a series of small coves, each with vibrant vines draped over limestone walls, and a variety of seaside caves, some dry and some wet.
Along the breathtaking bay walk, natural bridges abound to help you cross over shallow water in the coves. There are times you’ll have to look for handholds in the limestone wall to aid your walk around narrow passages.
Near to the first destination, there will be one last walk through water. The water here is about chest-deep. Carefully slouch down into the water with assistance and slowly wade across the small cove for only a minute.
One last roundabout skirting a small cove marks the end of the initial journey. Just around the corner, crossing over one last limestone terrace, is the mouth of Paicpouc Cove.
Head into the cove and continue along the rocky reef to finish the hike. Cross a shallow estuary near the beach and find the black sand shores of the cove.
Continue to Matåla Beach by heading into the limestone jungle along the coast to the right of Paicpouc Cove. With little to no trail, make your own path to the tip of the cove, climbing over limestone walls and walking through shallow water when necessary.
In a few minutes, you'll meet the reef flats of Matåla Point, where waves crash against the coast and shallow streams of saltwater wash onto the land. Carefully make your way across the reef flat, looking out for dips and ditches along the way.
Eventually, you'll reach a limestone shelf that borders the reef flats and Matåla Beach. Make your way around the shelf and hop onto a beaten path that will lead straight to the white, sandy beach nearby.