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Places On Guam: The Guam National Wildlife Refuge

Basic Information

Picture from Ritidian Point, Guam

Narrative

One of the most scenic areas on all of Guam is Ritidian Point located on the extreme northwestern tip of the island:


Ritidian Point is part of the Guam National Wildlife Refuge which protects a large area of jungle, limestone cliffs and white sand beaches for visitors to enjoy.  The drive to the wildlife refuge features a lot of potholes on the road, but if driven carefully can be accessed by two wheel drive vehicles.  Of interest along the road is this World War II memorial:

Picture from Ritidian Point Lookout

The memorial commemorates the final bombing mission of World War II involving 143 B-29 aircraft to include from Northwest Field on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.  The bombers struck the Nippon Oil Fields in Akita, Japan on August 14, 1945, five days after the 2nd atomic bomb destroyed Nagasaki:

Picture from Ritidian Point Lookout

The heavily potholed section of the road ends at this lookout of Ritidian Point that has a number of signs about the wildlife refuge below:

World War II Memorial Near Ritidian Point

The views of Ritidian Point from the lookout are impressive:

World War II Memorial Near Ritidian Point

Here is a panorama I took of the view:

Picture from Ritidian Point Lookout

From the lookout the road is in great shape as it descends a steep 500 foot limestone cliff.  At the end of the road there is a small visitor center for the refuge that has plenty of parking:

Picture from Ritidian Point, Guam

After parking and exiting my vehicle I could not help, but be impressed by the giant limestone cliff of Mt. Machananao that towered over the refuge:

Picture from Ritidian Point, Guam

From the parking lot I went inside the visitor center where I found a number of informative displays about the various plants, wildlife and cultural history that can be found in the refuge:

Picture from Ritidian Point, Guam

After checking out the displays in the visitor center I then went back outside and walked over to a display they had for the brown tree snake which is responsible for killing much of the bird life on Guam:

Picture from Ritidian Point, Guam

There is an enclosure where a brown tree snake can be seen, but I could just barely make him out since he was hiding under a small log.  However, I have seen plenty of these snakes before and they are truly a menace to the wildlife on the island.  From the snake display I walked over to another display that showed the various trails in the park

Picture from Ritidian Point, Guam

The first trail I tried that started at the visitor center was to walk over to Ritidian Beach:

Picture from Ritidian Point, Guam

The walk to the beach is about a hundred yards long and along the way there is a marker pointing out where an old Spanish church was once located:

Picture from Ritidian Point, Guam

The church that once stood here was likely built around 1680 in an effort to convert the Chamorros in the area to Catholicism.  However, the Chamorros that lived around Ritidian were forcibly moved when they rebelled against the Spanish crown in 1684.  Today there is no building structure that can be seen; all there is a small field in the jungle to designate where the church once stood:

Picture from Ritidian Point, Guam

Here is the view the church would have had all those centuries ago looking back at Mt. Machananao which probably looks exactly the same today:

Picture from Ritidian Point, Guam

Just passed the church I walked out on to the white sands of Ritidian Beach.  The first thing I noticed was that there was once a structure of some kind built along the beach here:

Picture from Ritidian Point, Guam

I don’t know what the structure was, but visitors were using the old concrete blocks to sit on.  Looking south down the beach hardly anyone could be seen:

Picture from Ritidian Point, Guam

Ritidian Beach is considered one of the most beautiful in Guam and after seeing it for myself I can understand why:

Picture from Ritidian Point, Guam

Ritidian Beach may be considered one of the most beautiful in Guam, but it is also considered one of the most deadly.  Due to dangerous currents that can pull swimmers over the reef many people have died here.  One of the most recent and saddest examples was when two honeymooners from South Korea were killed on the reef.  I was not here to swim, but to hike, so after checking out the beach I retraced my steps back to the visitor center to check out the other trails in the refuge.

Conclusion

The Guam National Wildlife Refuge is a bit of a misnomer because there is actually very little wildlife to see outside of the sea life that can be seen when snorkeling.  However, the area is extremely scenic with beautiful cliffs, incredibly clear water and white sandy beaches.  This area is definitely worth checking out during any visit to Guam, just make sure to avoid all the potholes on the drive in.

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