Along a white, sandy stretch of 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.
This protective designation, along with the U.S. military's preservation efforts, helps keep invasive species out of the ancient area and aids in maintaining the secluded spot's serenity.
Haputo Beach is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the site of the ancient CHamoru village of Haputo, sometimes spelled "Apoto," according to Guampedia.
Though the landscape has been reclaimed by limestone forests over centuries past, the area was once a thriving village, ruled by CHamoru chiefs Aguarin and Ayihi in the late 1600s.
According to historic accounts from Spanish settlers, Haputo was significantly burned down by Spanish soldiers. Surviving residents of the village, as well as other northern villages, were then forced to relocate to Hagåtña.
Since the 17th century, the area never has been resettled, but was used briefly as a coconut tree farm for the copra trade in the early 1900s.
After World War II, the U.S. Navy took control of the land and established a communications station, presently known as the Naval Communications Station (NCS).
Haputo remains restricted to military personnel only, so you must have a military ID or special military authorization to enter.
Maintained and manicured by Mother Nature
To begin, 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 descend 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. The only way down the cliff is, well, down!
Soon you'll reach the last leg of the hike, a steep staircase that is a match for any man-made 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. Though the land has never been resettled, despite the military presence above the cliffs and a handful of hikers passing by, the area is seemingly untouched and preserved beyond belief.
With beds of soft, white sand and an abundance of shady trees, Haputo has been maintained and manicured by Mother Nature herself. Tumon Bay is no match!
Jungle adventure to an ancient latte stone
Take the time to soak in the secluded serenity of the scene, but be sure to take advantage of a couple of other must-do's while at Haputo.
Check out one of the island's only completely intact and originally placed ancient CHamoru latte stones, still standing in the jungles of Haputo.
Likely placed before the Spanish arrived in the 1600s, this historic latte stone is symbolic of those you see plastered across Guam tourism images. To find it, you'll have to do some boonie stomping!
Look for an entrance into the thick jungle lining the beach and find any string of colored markers attached to the trees. Follow these tags through the jungle, toward the cliffs.
The latte stone is closer to the cliffside, so you will venture in relatively deep, though you shouldn't be meandering for more than 10 to 15 minutes.
On your jungle adventure, you'll pass a variety of flora, including towering coconut trees, gargantuan bamboo groves and peculiar taro plants.
Hopefully you find the latte stone, the gem of the jungle! Refrain from touching the old remnant and respect the surrounding ancient settlement in general.
To return to the beach, retrace your footsteps. The shoreline is never too far away at Haputo!
Underwater utopia roars with reef life
Next, enjoy another gem, this time in the water! Haputo is situated near one of the most pristine, lively reefs accessible on Guam – an underwater utopia!
Take note of any weather hazards and the water condition before wading out to the edge of the reef.
Once you're there - dive in! Vibrant sea creatures immediately swim to life along the roaring reef. Gardens of brightly colored corals grow unabashed, and schools of a variety of sea life swim with spirit.
Be mindful of the preserve's regulations and leave the land as you found it. Don't step on or damage the corals, don't thrash through the jungle and don't blast the beach with trash. Let your goal be to leave Haputo as untouched as you discovered it.
To return to your car, retrace your footsteps up the staircase and cliff.