Wish there was a thrill ride you could share with the kids? A submarine tour is the perfect family adventure. After all, it’s never too early to start marveling at the earth’s wonders, and the jaw-dropping underwater views off the coast of Guam are enough to get any 10-year-old’s heart pumping. Teens will also get a kick out of the James Bond–like act of covertly slinking through the Pacific Ocean in a real submarine.
From the shores of Tumon, Guam, your tour begins with a 15-minute boat ride to a fully submersible 20m-long (65 ft.) submarine that can carry up to 45 passengers. Each dive lasts about 45 minutes, and the kids’ faces will probably be pressed up against the custom-designed glass windows for most of it. Precise maneuvering allows the sub to get daringly close to coral reefs, teeming with tropical fish and other unique sea creatures. It’s not quite as exciting as scuba diving, but you’ll be able to go as deep as 45m (150 ft.) at times, and you don’t have to squeeze into a wetsuit.
Even better, the fun isn’t over once you get back on dry land. The far-flung tropical island of Guam, a U.S. territory in the Marina Islands of Micronesia, offers countless activities to keep the whole family amused for at least a week. To relax, you can hang out on the beach, or maybe sneak away for a round of golf at one of Guam’s seven world-class courses. When you’re ready to kick it back up a notch, choose from scuba diving (complete with underwater wrecks from World War II), snorkeling, jet-skiing, wind surfing, kayaking, parasailing, deep sea fishing, sky diving, eco tours, and hiking. Trekking through the undeveloped jungle and virgin beaches that cover a large part of this island is locally known as “boonie stomping,” a popular but demanding pastime among visitors and residents. The Department of Parks and Recreation offers public boonie stomps every Saturday. For more information, visit www.guam-online.com.
Although the weather in Guam is uniformly warm and humid year-round, the island is located in a part of the Pacific Ocean that’s ominously referred to as “typhoon alley.” Typhoons are said to hit the island once every 8 years, usually in October or November, so you might want to avoid visiting during those months. The last typhoon occurred in 2002 with winds reaching 180kmph (112 mph). Guam is also home to a large U.S. military base, and the U.S. plans to move another 8,000 marines plus 10,000 dependants here from the southern Japanese island of Okinawa by 2014. Because of its proximity to Japan, Guam is especially popular among Japanese tourists, and is sometimes called “America in Asia.” If you don’t plan to travel quite as far as Guam, but like the idea of taking your kids on a submarine, tours are also offered in Hawaii and the Caribbean.
Guam Visitors Bureau, 401 Pale San Vitores Rd., Tumon ( 671/646-5278; www.visitguam.org).
Tour: Atlantis Adventures, 319 Aqua World Marina Rd., Piti, Guam ( 671/649-5050; www.atlantisadventures.com).
When to Go: Jan–Apr.
A.B. Won Pat International Airport.