I had heard about the rugged shoreline of Ritidian since about a month into my move to Guam (last year).
But it wasn’t until yesterday I got the chance to experience the raw beauty of this beach in person. Truly, for anyone looking to get away from the tourists and hotels of Tumon or the busy humdrum of Hagåtña, Ritidian offers relief.
Ritidian Beach, adjacent to a wildlife preserve, is one of the more pristine beaches on Guam because it’s secluded, sitting on the edge of the Andersen Air Force Base. In fact, the military manages the beach and park proper, allowing residents access to it during daytime hours. However, landing one of the more scenic spots requires venturing off the path a bit through some wilder vegetation, but it’s well worth the “road not taken.” (Although, in all honesty, it’s still a road quite taken because people know making your own trail to the beach offers more privacy).
I went with two friends, one who was also new to the island, and another who’d been here for at least two years.
After splitting westward off of Marine Corps Drive towards Andersen, the second part of the drive was really rocky and the road was full of potholes, as if to prepare us for the jagged coral of Ritidian’s waters.
We finally stopped at the edge of a private property, where my friend said he’d gotten the the approval to cross in advance to get to the beach.
It was a slight bit of a climb down toward what seemed almost like mangroves. But before I could even emerge completely from this greenery, a blinding afternoon sun reflecting off the scorching sand met my eyes and, voila, I was at Ritidian Beach.
We walked along the beach to the remains of a shipwreck. Wood shards lay damp, splintered and worn, and metal fragments lay rusted. It was pretty cool.
But the sun convinced us to finally get into our snorkel gear and get into the water.
It was so beautiful. There were, of course, fish, but I think I was more awe-struck by the coral and just marveling at looking down and seeing the sandy bottom 30, 40, 50 feet below me and then far out in front of me.
It felt liberating. I have never in my life been able to do that: hover in the water just looking down at the technicolor reef below me and knowing the entire ocean is before me if I kept swimming. It’s amazing how those varieties of coral are really not even that far out from the beach. It’s the kind of stuff Discovery channel would capture, except it’s actually only a few yards from the shore.
There were outcroppings of corals, openings in the rocks that you could swim through.
When I’d finally grown exhausted and decided to swim back to the beach, I found what looked like oyster shell with the pearly interior. Since didn’t know how to go to the bottom of the water with my snorkel, I slipped off my boot and used my toes to pick up the thin flaky shell from the sand. It was so pretty. I couldn’t miss it because it had been shimmering in the sunlight.
The guys got out of the water and my friend suggested we go to a nearby cliff off the air force base that would lend us a great view.
On the way to our car we saw a monitor lizard in a tree, and on the short hike up to the cliff we saw wild boar.
When we reached the precipice, with the sun to the left of us and Rota to the right of us, very faint in the horizon, we could see storm clouds suspended over southern Guam and were thankful to be on the other side of the island.
As a boat glided in the water, we peered down at the various shades of blue highlighted by the sun, trying to guess what kinds of stuff might be there for us to explore next time.