In 1493, after a visit to the Galapagos, Christopher Columbus stumbled upon a new island to claim in the name of Spain. Named after an abbey of the same name Montserrat, now known as the British West Indies, is home to a total of 5,000 residents, 100 ‘snowbirds’ and one active volcano. A wonderful mix of races and cultures, Montserrat welcomes visitors looking for some thrill. A perfectly temperate island, Monserrat averages about 81 degrees during peak hurricane season (August-October) and falls in to the mid 60’s during the winter months (December-April).
Photo courtesy | David Stanley
Montserrat is known for a few things. One, Beatles producer Sir George Martin made this place a music haven for artists looking to record in luxury. While Martin’s recording studio did not survive Hurricane Hugo, Dire Straits, The Police, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John, Duran Duran, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton all took the time to record on the small island of Montserrat. Two, Alphonsus Cassell called this island paradise home. He is of course the creator of the soca (Caribbean music genre) hit ‘Hot, Hot, Hot’ (Don’t pretend you didn’t already know).
Three, Montserrat is home to one active volcano, which is still in the troughs of its last eruption back in 1995. One of the main draws for tourists, Montserrat’s abandoned town of Plymouth offers the only abandoned and preserved town, post volcanic eruption, in the Americas. Tour guides offer tourists the opportunity to walk the buried streets of Plymouth or to make the trek up to Soufriere Hills to see the magnificent crater in the flesh. With such a stunning draw for visitors the island has it’s own Montserrat Volcano Observatory and a scenic stop for some jaw dropping panoramic views at Jack Boy Hill.
Photo courtesy | David Stanley
There are plenty of other destinations on the island to experience first hand. Hike eight of the nine island trails in the forests at Centre Hills and spot some endangered birds or reptiles and native plant life. Take a drive cross island and stop at Montserrat’s natural spring, Runway Ghaut, where locals say if you drink the water you are destined to return to the island. Take one of several boat and sailboat cruises and marvel at the breathtaking views while casting your line for some Caribbean fish. Visit The New Beach with dark black sand or take your pick to swim or hike out to two Bat Caves where your treated to some views of – you guessed it – bats, as well as snorkeling among the rich marine and coral life.
While your visiting Montserrat’s you’re going to want to sample some of its local color, i.e. the food. A colony of the United Kingdom, Montserrat of course, offers dining from the motherland, but there’s so much more than fish and chips. Tempt yourself with some seafood from Watermelon Cottage, or neo-Caribbean flavors at Ponts Beach View. If all else fails, there’s always JavaLava Coffee House and Wine Bar.
Photo courtesy | Chuck Stanley
When your eyes get heavy and the sun has set rest your head at one of the many bed and breakfasts, apartments, villas, hotels and guesthouses across the island. Fan favorites include: Gingerbread Hill, Turtle Bay Apartments, Crows Nest Villa, Olveston House. Come one, come all, and immerse yourself in the volcanic paradise that is Monserrat.