The municipality of Talofofo is located in south-central Guam on the eastern coast of the island. The area extends from the shore and deep into the interior valleys along the Ugum and Talofofo Rivers.
The name of the ancient village of Talofofo probably has its origin from the phrase “entalo’ i fe’fo’,” which means “between the cliffs,” or even from the word “fo’fo’,” which means a bubbling stream.
Archeologists believe most of the pre-Spanish era inhabitants lived in settlements along the Ugum and Talofofo Rivers. Artifacts in the Talofofo Caves indicate these sites were occupied and used as well, if only seasonally or for short periods at a time.
After the Spanish reducción of the late 1600s which displaced the Chamorro natives from the northern villages and the other Mariana Islands, the residents of Talofofo were presumably shifted to Inarajan and the main village was abandoned.
Years before the first American administration of Guam in the early 1900s, people had already been moving back into the Talofofo area to farm and hunt. Small plantations had been set up along the valley of the Talofofo River. Latte sites, however, still were visible in different parts of the valley, but were largely avoided. In 1912, a chapel supposedly was built close to the mouth of the Talofofo River. By 1918, the Naval governor William Gilmer appointed a commissioner for Talofofo, and the residents decided to move their village up to the plateau.
Although Talofofo was previously considered part of Inarajan by January 1931, Inarajan was divided into two districts. Talofofo was designated north of the Talofofo, Ugum, As Mulato and Atate Rivers, while the district of Inarajan was to the south. However, the area remained largely unoccupied, with few houses, and used mostly as ranch land.
During World War II, Talofofo Bay was one of the landing points for the invading Japanese forces on 10 December 1941, although the original landing site was supposed to be Ylig Bay. By 1944, the Japanese had begun to fortify the island in anticipation of the arrival of American forces, and built gun placements and pillboxes in the cliffs near the bay.
After the war, the American military government built the new community of Talofofo in the hills where it now stands.
Tourist attractions in Talofofo include the jungle riverboat cruise which transports visitors inland from Talofofo Bay to a cultural village display and latte site. The inland hills are also popular for hiking and off-roading activities.