Guam National Wildlife Refuge

A hermit crab
A hermit crab

Guam National Wildlife Refuge was first established in 1993 at the Ritidian Unit on land that was "excessed" by the US Navy. Since then, the refuge has been expanded to about 22,500 acres as an "overlay" on properties held by the US Air Force and US Navy. The Ritidian Unit is comprised of about 400 acres of land and about 832 acres of submerged wonders. The Ritidian Unit is the only unit of the refuge that is open to the public. That said, the coral reef, beach and forest area east of Ritidian Cut and the Refuge Headquarters are also off-limits.

The brown tree snake was somehow transported to Guam and set free, some time after World War II. That was disastrous for much of the indigenous avian and mammalian life on the island as the snake has no natural enemies on the island and its population exploded. Many species have gone completely extinct since then and the refuge is one of the last protected places on Earth for several other species of bats and birds. Guam is also a home of Serianthes nelsonii, a tree that grows on only the limestone-derived soils the islands of Guam and Rota are composed of.

A tree crab A tree crab

At the Ritidian Unit is the Nature Center/Contact Station. The exhibits there offer a glimpse into what Guam was like 500+ years ago, before the European invaders arrived. The Nature Center is also the only environmental education facility on the island...

There are 16 picnic sites along the coast at the Ritidian Unit but camping overnight is not allowed. The ocean is beautiful and inviting but there are sea urchins and poisonous cone snails all through the beach area so you'll want some good shoes on before entering the water. The water is warm, the currents strong and there are no lifeguards. Fishing is allowed (Government of Guam regulations) but collecting live coral, shells or marine invertebrates is not. The Ritidian Unit and Nature Center are open seven days a week year round (except for federal holidays) from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm. Entry is free.

Ritidian Beach
A view of Ritidian Beach