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Guam Trip Tip: Ritidian refuge offers access to nature, Chamorro cultural sights

The Fish & Wildlife Services’ Guam National Wildlife Refuge (GNWR), Ritidian Unit, offers natural beauty to visitors, while protecting local animals and plant species as well as cultural artifacts. (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service by Ashley Riedel)

The Fish & Wildlife Services’ Guam National Wildlife Refuge (GNWR), Ritidian Unit, offers natural beauty to visitors, while protecting local animals and plant species as well as cultural artifacts. (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service by Ashley Riedel)

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- A short drive from Andersen AFB’s main gate, unbeknownst to many members of Team Andersen, lies one of Guam’s most hidden gems.

Below a large limestone cliff, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service operates the Guam National Wildlife Refuge (GNWR), Ritidian Unit, on the island’s northernmost coastal point. As an agency of the Department of the Interior, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service protects and manages both natural and cultural resources unique to Guam.

GNWR welcomes the public free of charge to explore nearly two miles of nature trails, its white-sand beach and remnants of ancient Chamorro cave and Latte Stone dwellings. Visitors can also experience what Guam may have looked and sounded like 500 years ago, by visiting the Nature Center display, where four, 16-foot murals depict Guam’s natural environment before European contact.

As anywhere on Guam, however, caution applies. There are no lifeguards on duty and ocean currents can be very strong. Stinging jelly fish are also occasionally found. In addition, access to certain jungle and beach areas is limited in order to protect cultural resources as well as endangered animal and plant life. Visitors are therefore asked to remain on established, signed paths – unless under guided supervision by refuge personnel.

For those who want to venture and explore the most hidden sights, such as a newly rediscovered ancient village or the pictograph caves found along the limestone cliff line, FWS staff offers free, guided tours Tuesday and Saturdays, on a space available basis.

The Wildlife Refuge is also an important nesting habitat for the endangered green sea turtle. On the first Saturday of the month, refuge staff invite volunteers to give back to the island and support vital conservation efforts, during guided beach clean-ups as part of the “Keep Guam Beautiful!” Campaign.

For scientifically-minded individuals, GNWR also welcomes volunteers to conduct surveys, participate in invasive plant removal, and engage in outreach and education activities, among other opportunities, and provides rewards for volunteers who contribute 10 or more hours of their time.

Visit the Events Calendar for more details regarding upcoming events, or the Get Involved page for volunteer opportunities.

Refuge Hours: 0730-1600; Nature Center: 0900-1500

To find out more and get updates on Refuge hours and Closures, visit https://www.fws.gov/refuge/guam/  

For other tips and safety suggestions, we recommend checking out the “Plan Your Visit” page https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Guam/visit/plan_your_visit.html.

Editor’s Note: Guam National Wildlife Refuge is owned and operated by the Department of Interior’s Fish & Wildlife Service and is not affiliated with the Department of Defense. GNWR is not DOD property and not part of Andersen AFB. Hours and unscheduled closures are subject to change without prior notice due to beachside safety conditions.