Pago is the largest and most beautiful bay at the eastern coast of Guam. Of the many dive sites teeming with different forms of marine life in the tiny island-nation of Guam, Pago Bay was chosen as the location of the University of Guam’s Marine Laboratory.
Established in 1970, the marine laboratory at the far end of Pago Bay conducts basic and applied biological research on the many tropical marine organisms teeming in the area. As the research unit of the largest university in the Pacific, the laboratory serves not only Guam’s marine wildlife but also of the Northern Mariana Islands, Republic of Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia.
It also aims to conserve and manage the diverse marine treasures that may be found off Pago Bay and throughout the Pacific area, as well as educate the people in marine life conservation. Guam is the biggest island in Micronesia. It is home to white-sand beaches, world-class dive sites, the friendly Chamorro natives, exotic culture, and a US military base, since the country is a US territory. The local currency is US dollars and official language is English and Chamoru.
Thousands of foreign tourists, especially the Japanese, come here every year to enjoy the natural beauty of Guam. Ironically, the Japanese bombed and devastated the country during the Second World War and now they are the most common group of visiting tourists. Other popular visitors are from the neighboring countries of China, Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Since Guam is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, travelers from the United States would have to take a long 11-hour flight to Japan and a connecting 3-hour flight to Guam just to reach the island. Guam’s total land area is only 210 square miles with a population of 175,000 (2008). Its capital is Hagatña City, and scattered around the island are 19 villages. One of these villages is Pago Village, one of the oldest Guam villages.
It was already established before the Spaniards came in 1521. The Chamorro people arrived in Guam in 3000 BCE and the first eastern settlers established their village along the mouth of the Pago River, which feeds into Pago Bay. Apparently, a wild hibiscus plant called “pagu” thrived along the riverside all the way to the bay, and therefore the place was called Pago. According to Chamorro legend, Pago Bay was formed when a giant fish bit off the island’s eastern coastline. The shape of Guam does show as though a part of it was been bitten off.
The legend continues that the giant fish was later caught by Chamorro women who wove a giant net using their hair. Today, tourists are treated to a magnificent view of the bay as one cruises along Route 4 near Yuna village. Pago Bay is a popular spot for picnicking, fishing, swimming and other recreational activities. Although modern housing projects are now being constructed along the bay, the ancient villages of Pago remain archeologically significant and continue to provide a glimpse into the ancient ways of the Chamorro people.