This weekend we venture off into Guam’s central valley to find one of Guam’s best swimming holes. Home to most of the island’s well-known and hidden hiking spots, the island’s central valley is a hot spot for hikers. This time, we go to Tarzan Swim Hole, which is ideal for families with kids and dogs, too.
Along the Ylig River, this large and isolated freshwater swim hole offers a lot of fun activities for hikers, including jumping off ledges, swinging from a rope and exploring miniature freshwater pools and the continuing river.
While this hike is not difficult, it’s suggested that hikers who haven't been here before go with with someone who has – just to stay on track. The numerous overlapping and winding paths might prove confusing for some hikers unfamiliar with the area.
The hike starts on Cross Island Road, so residents from elsewhere will have to travel through either Santa Rita or Talofofo/Yona to get to the parking spot, which is at the same exact location as the Tarzan Falls trailhead.
• From Santa Rita: Coming from Santa Rita, after passing residential homes and winding turns entering Cross Island Road on Rt. 17, you will soon pass the big “Santa Rita” village sign on your left-hand side. You will also be entering a section of the highway lined with tall trees covering both sides, unique to the Tarzan area.
Coming up, you'll see a fence walling off Guam Power Authority's giant wind turbine. Make a left immediately after that onto a clearing below a power line adorned with old running shoes. There should also be a chained barricade and a “Tarzan Falls” sign. Park here.
• From Yona/Talofofo: Coming from Yona or Talofofo, on Rt. 17 you will pass the Guam Adventist Academy, Onward Talofofo Golf Club and Our Lady of Peace Memorial Gardens en route to the parking spot.
Passing the cemetery. About a mile afterwards, turn right onto a clearing below a power line adorned with old running shoes. There should also be a chained barricade and a “Tarzan Falls” sign. Park here.
Walk left through a small pathway around the chained barricade, entering the jungle area. Immediately, you come to a fork. The left path goes to Tarzan Falls, but we will travel on the path to the right to get to the swim hole.
Follow this path through the jungle for a few minutes until you leave the jungle, which opens up to red dirt terrain. Before you are claylike mesas, which are beautiful in their varying colors, but which may also prove confusing.
Take a moment here to view what will probably be an unclear part of the hike. Due to numerous trails created by off-roading jeeps throughout the years, there are an endless amount of paths to be taken that could very well take you back to where you started or even farther off your mark.
Generally, hikers should take paths to the left, slowly descending toward the grassland in the distance. Be sure to look out for the picturesque and colorful clay along your travel here, as the ground will have hues of purple, blue, pink, and turquoise among the red dirt.
Grassland and open air
Hopefully without much complexity, you should reach grassland in about 15 to 25 minutes of traveling through the badlands. Follow the clear trail through the grassland for a while.
As if lifted from a scene of “The Sound of Music,” this wide-open grassland is usually breezy and you’ll be traveling alongside fields of purple and white wild hibiscus, among other ferns and vegetation.
After about 10 to 15 minutes on this path, you should be seeing some small hills ahead, where the path will remain straightforward.
After you've traversed a few small hills, there will be a point where the path splits again, but this time all of the paths will lead to the same spot, so no worry here.
Descending from one of the last hills, you will come to a point with a steep drop (the only difficult part of the hike). You should also be able to see and hear the nearby Ylig River here.
Make your way down this steep portion – butt-scooting is acceptable! – to reach the rest of the path along the river. This steep section is extra challenging if it's wet from rain.
Riveting river walk
Once you get to the river, the Tarzan Swim Hole is only about 10 minutes downstream and just around the river bend. Follow the carved path along the side of the river, watching your footing for stable ground.
About halfway to the swim hole, you'll have to cross he river via a large limestone boulder to continue the path. Hop over other nearby rocks to make your way over.
At this point, you'll have to start walking through the river, as the land path is completely overgrown. The river is about 2 feet deep here and you should only be hiking through it for five minutes or so.
After you follow the river around a left turn, Tarzan Swim Hole will be visible and just steps away. Amazing white limestone, characteristic of this area, surrounds the swim hole.
Traverse this rocky and slippery area carefully to get to the swim hole, exploring the multiple little freshwater pools along the way.
The swim hole
Your journey ends here at the end of this short rocky walk, the remote Tarzan Swim Hole before you.
To the left of the swim hole is a rope for swinging attached to a sturdy tree, check it out for a thrilling plunge. Across from the limestone platform you're on is another slanted rock ledge perfect for jumping off at heights of 4 to 12 feet. After some swimming, you might even opt to sunbathe against the cool white rock.
However, you can also further explore the surrounding area with its several little pools and the continuing river.
To return to your car after a day of mesa, grassland and river adventuring, just retrace your steps. Happy hiking!