This weekend we head down to Inalåhan, where adventurers can explore and enjoy a couple of cool waterfalls nestled within a vast southern valley.
Laolao and Fintasa falls are located along the same river system but are separated by quite a distance. Each of the unique waterfalls provides a different experience for hikers, too.
Fintasa is reached after trekking through the valley hills perpendicular to the Badlands, and is more of a waterfall than Laolao with gushing showers of water.
Laolao is more of a continuation of the Fintasa River flowing over a valley hillside than a proper waterfall. However, the "waterfall" has multiple, miniature swimming holes great for cooling off while enjoying valley views up ahead.
For parking, head to Inarajan Middle School by driving south on Route 4 through Yona and Talofofo if you're coming from the north, or through Merizo if coming from the south.
In the center of Inalåhan, you will come to a four-way intersection with a fenced-in house by Inalåhan Bay on one side and the Inalåhan Papa Niyok store on the other.
Proceed up the hill on Belen Avenue, opposite to the bay, to reach the middle school. Note the IMS sign designating the school's direction.
At the top of this winding hill, Inarajan Middle School will be seen fenced in on the left-hand side. Park just outside the fence, along the shoulder of the road, or on the grass across the street.
Fantastic views at Fintasa Falls
To start, begin walking north past the school. Follow the paved road all the while, passing a small housing area as you near the jungle ahead.
At the end of the road, the path will venture on to a very overgrown, grassy trail that enters a jungle. Soon, the trail will curve past a large, fenced-in radio tower.
Make your way around the tower to find the hiking trail and your first grand views of the Inalåhan Valley, which include sights of the winding Inalåhan and Fintasa rivers, as well as the Badlands in the distance.
While gazing over the vast valley, you'll also be able to see Fintasa Falls far away. It's a good idea to keep the falls as a marker, as it will be our first destination.
To the east, or right-hand side, find the tiny, tin shack sitting atop a hill, just beyond a construction site. Just below and to the left of that shack is Fintasa Falls!
While it appears as a small dot of trickling water from your current standing, the waterfall will enlarge as you approach. Be sure to keep it as your mark!
Proceed down the first hill with caution, as Guam's rainy season creates slippery pathways and the possibility of treacherous slips along the descent.
At the base of the hill, you will reach a small ranch site belonging to a private landowner. Please refrain from exploring or otherwise tampering with the structure and surrounding property.
Keep the tin structure here in mind, as well, because you'll later return to this point en route to Laolao Falls.
To the right of the structure, you will find the rushing Fintasa River flowing with water, again due to the wet season. Feel free to cool off in the small pools or lay above the shallow riverbed for a quick refresh.
Slowly cross over to the other side, and be careful! The riverbed is extremely slippery and slimy due to a mixture of red dirt and grime.
Once on the other side, continue through the yellow wildflower path into open grassland with some familiar Guam friends grazing before you.
While harmless, the carabao here are not fully domesticated and are under the care of the landowner. Taking photos from afar is fine, but do not disturb these free-ranging animals.
Retrace your steps back to the river and follow the babbling water upstream to find the faint, overgrown path that continues toward Fintasa Falls. Passing responsibly through another ranch area, adhere to the path that climbs a hill with more great views of the valley.
From here, continue along the Jeep trails that lean to the left, passing rustic, red clay hills. Veering slightly downhill, hikers will soon run into Fintasa River, which feeds the rushing waterfall.
Once you make it to the river, the waterfall is just a few minutes away! Follow the river downstream until you find yourself atop Fintasa Falls. Use the firm rope beside the falls to carefully climb down the rock face.
While there isn't much room or a pool to swim and float around in, cool off underneath the cascading falls, which are usually full during the rainy season.
Lounge in leisure at Laolao Falls
After you've had a splash of fun and are feeling refreshed, retrace your steps back up the rock face via the rope, and over the hills until you reach the first tin structure/ranch area you stopped at after the hike's initial descent.
From the ranch, hike to the east (left) on the well-traveled trail past a bunch of banana trees and overgrown sword grass. In a matter of minutes, you will see the diverging trail to the top of Laolao Falls.
Carefully make your way to the summit, where you will find several freshwater pools ranging in size. For the most part, the excitement of these falls lies in its pools. Take a dip in the water holes seemingly made just for you, or the larger ones with fellow hikers!
If you're feeling extra adventurous, carefully make your way straight down the rock face of the waterfall, along the drier side, to reach the bottom. At its base, there is a small swimming pool and a greater vantage point of the falls.
To return to the top of the falls and back to your car, simply retrace your steps, ending a good day of exploring two unique waterfalls and the all-inclusive Inalåhan Valley.