Frequent Flyers have a lot to thank the Spanish for, including making Guam their only Pacific port east of the Philippines from about 1565. Thanks to the spoils of winning the American Spanish War in the 1890s, America was granted control over Puerto Rico & Guam, making them territories of the United States. While the benefits of flying to Puerto Rico as a frequent flyer are best left to another time, Guam’s key lies in the fact its the western most territory of the United States in the Pacific.
United States carriers have long since had a presence in Asia and the Pacific. The now defunct Northwest Airlines used to operate hubs in Japan. The equally defunct Continental setup a “Micronesia” subsidiary in Guam, servicing various US territories throughout the region. As a result, “Pacific Islands” is often treated as its own destination on redemption charts for the US carriers. This creates an interesting quirk in many programs – while most of the islands are only three hours from Australia, with that distance being used to calculate the reward level required, actual flights go via Asia. So, bottom line – if you want to go to Asia, it can be significantly cheaper to go to Guam via a stopover!
One of our members found themselves in this position. While we have many Asian trip reports, the oddity of Guam is rarely covered, probably because it’s not on our tourist map as a destination. Guam is however, very much on the map when it comes to the Japanese, for whom it’s a taste of America that’s not far away. For the Japanese it’s also a beach holiday that’s half as far as the Gold Coast. When you have a country that relies on Japanese Tourism and the US Military for most of its income, Australian tourists must stand out:
The bar tender was a really, really lovely young woman – a theme that would continue with all the locals we met. She also asked us why on earth we were visiting Guam – a question we would be asked many many times over the week.
Being a duty free island, thanks to the Japanese, the shopping is one of the main attractions. But also being an island in the Pacific, the beach can be just as an inviting attraction, especially when combined with the shopping:
After spending the entire afternoon at Tumon Beach we headed back to our hotel room with a slab of very cheap Bud to enjoy on the balcony and watch the sun. It really is a great view – the Bayview really earnt its name that day!
It seems Guam just isn’t about Beaches, Bars and B52s, so why not take a wonder over to our intrepid correspondents report?
Sometimes the destination is not the destination at all, but an interesting and different side trip. Read the Report HERE.