Talofofo Cave

Useful Information

Location: Route 1/Marine Corps Drive south, turn right on Route 4A to Talofofo. Talofofo caves on right-hand side signposted.
Open: No restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: bring torch
Guided tours: D=40min
Bibliography: Lawrence J. Cunningham (1997): Ancient Chamorro Society, Bess Pr Inc; Reissue edition (1997), ISBN-13: 978-1880188057
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.



Talofofo Caves is named after nearby Talofofo village in southern Guam. The name is probably derived from the Chamorro phrase "entalo' i fe'fo'", which means "between the cliffs", or from "fo'fo'", which means a "bubbling spring". The Talofofo River and the Talofofo Falls are both located close to the village, so some translate the name "between the bubbling springs".

Here the plural is justified, there are actually six caves located in the Mariana Reef limestone. All caves are labyrinths of chambers connected by narrow and high passages. An there is the Eye of the Needle, a natural bridge. The caves are rather easy to visit, but a guide which is mediated at Talofofo Mayors Office, is recommended. Bring sturdy boots, lamps and insect repellent, a helmet with headlamp if you have.

The Talofo Caves are famous for remains of the indigneous Chamorro. There are petroglyphs and paintings on the walls. Most cave floors are littered with potsherds, charcoal in cave sediment and walls blackened by soot indicate that fires were built in the caves. While most caves on Guam were used only a temporary shelters, at Talofofo Caves lusong (mortars) cut into the bedrock in front of the cave entrances and suni patches, fields were taro was grown, indicate a more permanent inhabitation. Petroglyphs can be found at the main cave and the second cave on the left towards the Eye of the Needle. On the Talofofo River side of the natural bridge is a very small cave with petroglyps. To see the petryglyphs a flashlight is necessary.

The petroglyphs were peinted mostly in white, some of them are black. The white pigment seems to be dfok (quicklime) which was made by fireing and slaking coral. It was always available to the Chamorro, as each adult had an ample supply of pugua (betel nut), pupulu (betel pepper leaf), and dfok. Betel and quicklime were chewed together. Some of the white petroglyphs are engravings filled with this dfok. The black paintings were probably drawn with the sharp point of a charred stick. Those petroglyphs are rarer and simpler in design. Archaeologists were able to determin the authenticity of the petroglyphs, but not their age.