Saint: San Miguel
Former Mayor Tito Mantanona coined the name “God’s Country” for Talofofo, a nickname affectionately used by many residents and seen on signs throughout the village. At the heart of Talofofo is a four-way intersection recognized as the crossroads of this small village. Anyone giving directions to a location in this village inevitably starts with this intersection, which is also at the heart of economic activity in Talofofo, with three corner stores doing business near the four-way intersection. North from the intersection is the village’s Catholic church, San Miguel Church, as well as the mayor’s office and houses, most of them similar to homes in suburban communities.
East from the intersection is the Onward Talofofo Golf Course, after which the road intersects with Route 17, locally known as Cross Island Road.
West from the intersection are more houses and Talofofo Elementary School, a sports field, and the Talofofo gym.
South of the intersection is the Seventh-day Adventist Church and Notre Dame High School, and as the road heads downhill toward the Talofofo subcommunity of Ipan and Talofofo Bay, it passes the ancient Talofofo Caves.
Sitting below the hills of the main village is the coastal community of Ipan, Talofofo. A number of secluded beaches and a scattering of houses, along with a gas station, make up most of Ipan. The area also includes Ipan Beach Park, a popular spot for barbecues. Jeff’s Pirates Cove is located on the northern border of Ipan and has become an institution in the area. It is best known for its relaxed-atmosphere bar and grill, along with a small souvenir store and an outdoor area used for arts and craft fairs, concerts and other gatherings.
The southern boundary of Talofofo is marked by the Ugum River (joined by the Talofofo River), which flows into Talofofo Bay. But as the Talofofo Bay park facilities are on the southern side of the bay, the area most people visit in Talofofo Bay is actually part of the neighboring village, Inarajan.
The original pre-Spanish inhabitants of Talofofo lived mostly in settlements along the Talofofo and Ugum rivers, although artifacts have been found in the Talofofo Caves, perhaps suggesting that people used the caves for shelter during typhoons.
In 1672, Spanish Jesuit priest Father Diego Luis de San Vitores ordered a church to be constructed at the Pigpug settlement near Talofofo Bay, and this church became the center of the new Christian community.
The settlement never grew very large in size or prominence, although Talofofo Bay was the site of a few notable landings. One such landing was in 1788 of a large group of islanders from Lamotrek in the Caroline Islands, who arrived in canoes on a trading mission to obtain iron. It was the first such expedition since inter-island trade had come to a halt due to the Spanish-Chamorro Wars one hundred years before. The Spanish-Chamorro Wars were a series of rebellions by some of the Chamorros against Catholic indoctrination many years before.
After several months, the Carolinians departed for Lamotrek with iron and trade goods, but it later turned out that they never reached home and were probably hit by a storm. Don Luis de Torres, a Spanish-Chamorro military officer, travelled to Woleai in 1804 to reassure the Carolines that their peers had not died at the hands of the Spanish. Carolinians subsequently resumed their annual trading voyages to Guam.
Talofofo Bay was also the site of the eastern landing of Japanese forces during the invasion of Guam on December 10, 1941, when a detachment meant to land at Ylig Bay in Yona mistakenly landed at Talofofo Bay instead.