'All the way out there'

Travel
The lush vegetation on Cocos Island near Guam.
From Stripes.com
The lush vegetation on Cocos Island near Guam.

'All the way out there'

by: Tim Wightman | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: May 09, 2012

Stars and Stripes delivers its newspaper to nearly every location on Guam.

But the paper's circulation manager there is quick to joke about the only spot that goes without coverage.

"We'll deliver all over the island," Henry Wood says. "Except on Cocos Island. I'm not paddling all the way out there."

During a recent work trip to Guam, I heard him use that same line repeatedly. Without fail, it produced chuckles. He explained that it showed local residents that we weren't outsiders who didn't know the area.

The only problem was that since I'm actually based in Tokyo, it made me feel like an outsider who didn't know the area.

So on my day off, I set out in search of the island with a friend.

As luck would have it, it was a scorcher, and I was very much in the mood for some sand and surf activity.

The Cocos Island Resort boat departs hourly. The cost is $40 for tourists, but only $25 for locals and military members. This includes the round-trip ride and lunch when you get there.

The 100-acre island lies roughly 2 miles off Guam's southern tip. The trip there was great and we enjoyed the wind and blue light from the overhead tarp shading our faces.

Walking along the long dock leading to the island, I couldn't help feeling a bit like a hooligan from Pinocchio on his way to Pleasure Island. But our intentions were purer.

We started with a buffet-style lunch offering curry and rice, chicken, noodles and salads. We decided that the rest of the experience would have to be somewhat of a train wreck for it not to be worth the price.

The resort consists of just three buildings: the restaurant, and two buildings that host the activity ticket counter, snack bar, small gift shop and beach rental equipment.

Before looking into the sports and other activities, we decided to explore and hiked down the shoreline and through the jungle. We covered most of the island in about an hour. My friend's mention of possible wild boar quickened our pace at the end.

Back on the main drag, we spent a few moments in the shade on a couple of hammocks before making our way to the ticket counter.

For such a tiny island, just about any water activity is available, including snorkeling, diving, wake boarding, jet skiing, fishing, boating and parasailing.

My fear of heights had kept me from parasailing in the past, but I was feeling adventurous. I bought a $60 ticket to give it a shot.

I was in a group of four and was the last to go. I'm horribly distrustful of safety equipment when I'm hundreds of feet up in the air, and that might have affected the amount of fun I had, but the water was beautiful and crystal clear even from that height.

I could hear my friend in the boat yell to the driver that I was in the U.S. Navy and that I loved the water. I wasn't sure why that was relevant until my line started to lower and I began skipping across the surface of the ocean.

This ended up being the highlight as the water was incredibly warm and refreshing.

Once back on shore, we learned that the last boat back left at 4 p.m., so we didn't have any time to hit the beach.

Despite the weird irony of parasailing being the only way I got in the water, we left satisfied and ready to recommend Cocos to others.

I also felt good knowing I could now take part in Henry's little inside joke.

wightmant@pstripes.osd.mil

Tags: Travel
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