Over a decade ago, the Soufriere Hills Volcano erupted and covered the southern half of the Caribbean island of Montserrat in ash. That area of the island, now known as the Exclusion Zone, is still uninhabitable. The silver lining of that thick black cloud is that much of the island’s landscape has been untouched by man since 1995. Volcano lovers and eco-enthusiasts get to take advantage of this rare Caribbean gem. This is the Ultimate Guide to Montserrat.
The Ultimate Place to Stay: For lodging, check out Gingerbread Hill, a secluded mountainside retreat in St. Peter’s. Quaint and cozy, the villas at Gingerbread Hill offer spectacular views and classic furnishings all at a very reasonable price. Visit them online at volcanic-island.com.
The Ultimate Place to Dine: For dining, visit the Vue Pointe Hotel Restaurant in Old Towne. Theme buffets and local specialties are sure to please. A pleasant all-around atmosphere is enhanced by the soft jazz music filtering through the speakers. Dress is casual but conservative. Call 664-491-5210 for reservations.
The Ultimate Beach: The beaches on Montserrat are rare beauties made up mostly of soft gray sand. The single white sand beach is known as Rendevous Bay, and it is located adjacent to Little Bay. Swimming here is excellent; the snorkeling is even better. You’ll have to get here with the help of a boat ride, but the payoff makes it well worthwhile.
The Ultimate Dive: Dive sites off the Caribbean island of Montserrat abound. Rendevous Bay is probably the best of them. The sheltered reef and lack of ash make diving conditions near perfect. Below the water’s surface you will find octopi, snake eels, spotted morays and more.
The Ultimate Nightlife: The Bunkum Bay Beach Bar in St. Peter’s serves as the island’s best nightlife. Since there is no mandatory closing time on Montserrat, the party could conceivably continue all night long. Such is often the case at Garry Moore’s Wide Awake Bar in Salem.
The Ultimate Attraction: Of course, if you are traveling to Montserrat, your must-see is the Montserrat Volcano Observatory. Visiting the observatory itself is free, but the $4 half hour tour is well worth the nominal fee. The staff will explain how the active volcano is monitored using sophisticated computerized equipment.
You can get to Montserrat by air from Antigua and St. Maarten. There are no non-stop flights from North America. Once there, you’d do well to rent a Jeep instead of relying on taxis.
I hope you enjoyed The Ultimate Guide to Montserrat. Enjoy your stay in the Caribbean!