When you’re traveling to an unfamiliar destination (or researching a potential new home!) safety is often a top concern. Things like crime, health risks, and natural disasters can spoil a vacation. They can also make a long-term stay challenging—or downright unpleasant.
Here’s the good news: Guam is a perfectly safe destination to visit or move to. You’ll be welcomed by the warm spirit of Chamorro hospitality, whether you’re staying for a week, a few years, or a lifetime.
That said, it’s always a good idea to exercise common sense while on Guam, as you would in any destination. This, plus a little awareness, will help you steer clear of most potential issues you might encounter on Guam.
In the spirit of heightening that awareness, let’s take a deeper dive into health and safety considerations for those visiting, traveling around, and moving to Guam.
Guam: A Quick Overview
First, it’s useful to understand Guam’s political status, which impacts its justice and legal system.
Guam is an unincorporated U.S. territory. This means that most U.S. federal laws apply within Guam. Guam’s legislative body, established by the 1950 Organic Act of Guam, also issues its own laws. To enforce the law, Guam has its own police department, the Guam Police Department (GPD).
Additionally, Guam also has its own set of customs laws and procedures, which are enforced by its customs agency, the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency (CQA).
Finally, should you have the need to interact with the legal system in Guam, you’ll find it nearly the same as that on the mainland U.S. Although you’ll hear plenty of different languages spoken on Guam, the courts’ proceedings are in English, and Guam’s lawyers are overseen by the Guam Bar Association.
In an Emergency
We hope you don’t have to use this information, but just in case you need it:
In an emergency, dial 911—just as you would on the U.S. mainland.
To contact the nearest GPD precinct, use the phone numbers below:
Guam Police Department
Agat Precinct (South):
Tel: (671) 472-8915 / 8916
Sinajana Precinct (Central):
Tel: (671) 475-8541 / 8542
Tumon/Tamuning Precinct (Hotel Row):
Tel: (671) 649-6330 / 9526
Dededo Precinct (North):
Tel: (671) 632-9808 / 9811
Now that you have a basic understanding of the justice and legal system on Guam, let’s take a quick look at that system in action.
How Does Crime on Guam Compare to the Mainland?
Enough people have Googled “Is Guam safe?” for us to know that crime is something travelers and residents think about.
So although it’s not the most pleasant topic, let’s take a look at the crime rates on Guam. These numbers will give you a sense of what to expect during your time on the island. We’ve also gathered crime rates from the mainland U.S. to give you a good yardstick for comparison.
Unfortunately, some of Guam’s residents have been the victims of violent crime. However, the rate of violent crime is lower than the U.S. average by 11.6%, based on the most recent data available from the Guam Police Department. Additionally, when you compare the violent crime on Guam to that in the state of California, the rate on Guam is nearly a quarter less than that experienced by California residents.
Violent Crime Statistics
↓ 11.6% lower on Guam compared to U.S. average
↓ 23.9% lower on Guam compared to state of California
When it comes to property crimes, the rate on Guam is 13.5% higher than the U.S. average. However, when you compare Guam’s property crime rate to that of Hawaii—another Pacific destination—Guam comes out lower by 15.7%.
Property Crime Statistics
↑ 13.5% higher on Guam compared to U.S. average
↓ 15.7% lower on Guam compared to state of Hawaii
These numbers should give you a good sense of how crime on Guam stacks up in comparison to destinations on the U.S. mainland.
Next, let’s talk about a different aspect of your safety: health concerns.
Health Considerations for Visitors and Those Relocating to Guam
Given Guam’s tropical climate—and its isolated position in the Pacific—you might wonder whether the island has unique health considerations. We’ll hit the high points for you below. However, if you have specific concerns, talk to your doctor to get advice tailored to your medical history.
What Vaccinations Do I Need to Travel to Guam?
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends being up to date on your routine examinations before traveling to Guam.
Additionally, the CDC also suggest considering vaccinations for:
- Hepatitis A and B
Consult your doctor to put together the right plan for your trip (or move!) to Guam.
Do I Need to Worry About Mosquito-Borne Illnesses in Guam?
Like many other tropical destinations, Guam offers some risk for diseases spread via mosquito bites. However, by and large, mosquito-borne illnesses are not a major concern on Guam, especially when compared to other destinations.
- The first case of dengue fever in 75 years was reported on Guam in 2019. However, there were only a few cases reported, and dengue is not a major concern today.
- Malaria was last documented on Guam in 2008. However, all four of the reported infections were acquired off-island.
- The last significant outbreak of Japanese encephalitis hit Guam in 1947. The most recent case was recorded in 1990, although only one infection was reported.
- To date, Guam has zero confirmed cases of Zika.
- Although a Chikungunya outbreak occurred on nearby Yap, it doesn’t seem to be prevalent on Guam.
Despite Guam’s auspicious history, it’s always a good idea to protect yourself from mosquito bites, if only to prevent the unpleasant itchiness that accompanies bites. Long sleeves, long pants, and hats can help—especially if you’re boonie stomping (i.e., hiking). Insect repellant can also keep bugs at bay.
What About Drinking Water in Guam?
The tap water in Guam is safe for drinking. Thanks to the Guam Waterworks Authority, water is carefully collected, monitored, and treated as necessary to produce clean, safe, and potable water. If you’d prefer to drink bottled water, you’ll find it readily available on the island.
Where Can I Get Medical Treatment?
If you require emergency treatment, Guam has one civilian hospital, Guam Memorial Hospital. There are also clinics and doctors’ offices to assist you if you become ill.
Finally, let’s talk about one more important aspect of Guam living: weather and other natural occurrences.
What About the Weather on Guam?
Like any other Pacific island, Guam faces the possibility of a few extreme weather situations. Although these situations are less common, it’s important for visitors and potential residents to be aware of both the risks and the warning signs.
Typhoons and Tropical Storms
A direct hit from a tropical storm or typhoon can cause significant destruction, and both types of storms can technically affect Guam year-round. However, tropical storms and typhoons are most common from late June through December. By and large, meteorologists can track these storms as they advance toward the island, which gives residents and visitors time to prepare.
Along these lines, Guam Homeland Security developed a Condition of Readiness system to help prepare for the arrival of a storm. Read more about the Typhoon/Tropical Storm Conditions of Readiness so you know what to expect if the system gets activated while you’re on Guam.
Tsunamis—a massive wave of enormous power and breadth most commonly caused by distant earthquakes—are also a possibility on Guam. There are sirens located around the islands that will sound in case of a hazard like a tsunami. If you hear one, head for higher ground immediately. Look for evacuation route signs to guide your way.
Additionally, keep your eyes out for the warning signs of advancing tsunamis. These include a loud roaring sound and strange ocean behavior, such as the sudden draining of water from a bay or the sight of a wall of water.
As we mentioned, these kinds of emergencies are few and far between. However, recognizing the warning signs will help keep you safe and happy during your time on Guam.
Enjoying Your Time on Guam
As is true at almost every global destination, a little awareness, a little knowledge, and a little common sense will go a long way toward making your experience on Guam a delightful one. The vast majority of visitors and residents have nothing but pleasant things to say about their time on Guam—and we hope that’s the case for you, too! However, in the rare case you do end up needing assistance, you’ll have the resources above to guide you toward assistance.
Considering a move to Guam? Wondering what it’s really like to live here? Our team would be happy to answer your questions, including what’s involved with moving your household belongings to the island. Just reach out to start the conversation, and we’ll follow up with you within in one business day.