Apra Harbor is a deep-water port on the western side of the United States territory of Guam. The harbor is formed by Orote Peninsula in the south and Cabras Island in the north. To the south, the harbor narrows and then widens again to form an inner harbor. The southern end of the harbor is the location of Naval Base Guam. The northern end is the commercial port, which handles about two million tons of cargo a year. It is considered one of the best natural ports in the Pacific and attracts many tourists.
The biggest tourist attraction in Apra Harbor is the Asan Overlook. It is a part of the memorials and contributions of names of men and women who were a part of the World War II who underwent the hardships of the war. From the Overlook view you can see where the US marines stormed the beach to battle and liberate Guam on July 21, 1944, which is now known as Liberation Day for Guam.
Apra comes from the Chamorro word apapa, which means "low". Apapa is the original name for what is now Cabras Island. During the Spanish rule a saint’s name was added and the area became known as the port of San Luis de Apra.
Since 1898 ships that burned coal, later, and petroleum products utilized Guam's ports, mainly Apra. From 1941 to 1944 during World War II the Apra Harbor was under control and had full use by the Japanese military of development where their submarines and warships would get repaired and refuelled. The huge amounts of damage of the coastal environment increased levels of pollution due to the liberation of Guam in 1944. The Navy News noted that over 7,000 tons of explosives had been used that previous year in order to clear ship passages in Guam. 50 pounds of these explosives usually destroyed a volume of coral one hundred feet by three feet deep. The Glass Breakwater and inner Apra Harbor were built to support the US military after WWII. Apra Harbor served military, civilian shipping needs, and included facilities for ship and nuclear submarines. The harbor is also used for repair, supply, fuel transfer, nuclear and conventional weapon transfer. Fishers and tourists also utilize the harbor.
Apra Harbor was home to rich fishing grounds. It took the ports of Umatic and Central Hagatna's place during the 19th century when the ports of Piti and Sumay opened which was put into more frequent use. Piti was the main port for Hagatna while Sumay was used for a rest stop for whalers. As many as 60 whaling ships came through the harbor per year. While Hagatna was the capital of Guam, Sumay became the commercial and financial part of town.
During the whaling period, Apra was considered to be one of the best ports through the Pacific. As the whaling era came to an end Guam's economy was in decline. Guam's economy started to incline when Spain's reign came to an end.
US Naval Captain Henry Glass claimed Guam as a part of the US on June 20, 1898. Guam was reconnected with the rest of the world in 1903. It became the site of telegraph cable stations.
Today most of Apra Harbor belongs to the US Naval control, but some ports remain public such as Sasa Bay, the Piti Channel and parts of Glass Breakwater. The land where the commercial port was located was transferred to Guam's government in 1969.
Apra Harbor today is more than an important port to Guam. It is also a popular recreation area for personal watercraft user, boaters, and surfers. Apra Harbor is home to a couple shipwrecks that are popular with scuba divers. The most well known wrecks are the WW I-era German merchant ship, SMS Cormoran, and the WW II-era Japanese freighter, Tokai Maru which lie side by side on the ocean floor.