The top must-sees are not your predictable, nice-and- easy kind of places. They may puzzle you, make you do double takes, even unsettle. But they are sights that will fulfill, change your perception, and make you appreciate why Montserrat is Off the Grid, an island of extremes and perhaps in the middle of your bucket list. So go boldly forward; we're already way ahead.
The Soufrière Hills Volcano is a composite volcano characterised by dome-building eruptions. Its last major eruption, prior to the current one, is thought to have been about 400 years ago. The current eruption began in 1995 and continues to the present day. In that time, there have been five distinct periods of lava extrusion and dome growth, and five distinct pauses. The periods of dome growth included explosive activity and frequent pyroclastic flows.
The deserted town of Plymouth is Montserrat’s star attraction – the only volcanic-buried town in the Americas. Its ghost town feel is attributed to its eerie quiet, the absence of animals and birds, the subtle usurping of the town by the volcanic ash, even in its resting phase. Most poignant are the belongings left behind: in businesses typewriters, invoices and stationery; in homes aging toys, cradles, books, clothing
The Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) is responsible for scientific monitoring of the Soufrière Hills Volcano. It was established in response to the current volcanic eruption which began in July 1995. A team of experienced scientists and technicians continually monitor the volcano using a variety of techniques, including seismology, ground deformation and gas emissions. A 20 minute video is shown about the eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano. There are educational kiosks and a souvenir shop.
Jack Boy Hill serves as the vantage point for panoramic viewing of the volcano, the hidden town of Trants, including what remains of the island’s old airport, and the Atlantic Ocean. Here the landscape is at its grittiest and harshest. An on-site telescope allows you to examine it close up. Although small, the park’s bountiful bougainvillea and seating throughout give it a romantic feel. Make a day of it by planning a picnic or a serenade.
The Centre Hills forest is home to several globally endangered bird, reptile and plant species. In some cases, the entire population can only be found within this small ecological system. Species near extinction include the Montserrat Oriole, Montserrat Galliwasp, the Mountain Chicken, the Forest Thrush and two bat species – the Yellow-shouldered Bat and White-lined Bat. Eight out of the nine hiking trails are found in the Centre Hills.
Yes, it serves coffee and baked goodies, but its gallery of photos, videos and art make for an absorbing collection of stories. You get the feeling that woven into owner David Lea’s easy going humour is a moral to each tale, whether about his own experiences or those of others on the island.
This new beach at Bottomless Ghaut is a marvelous creation, showing the force of nature. First, you have to find, and then clamber your way down the least steep part of the rocky slope leading to the beach. Once there, you will be enthralled by the deep black shade of the sand. Geologists will appreciate the rock formations and different types of rock in the looming cliff sides. Birders can watch the nesting of the Red-billed Tropicbird and the Caribbean Martin.
From Little Bay, you can either swim or take a 30 to 50 minute hilly hike to discover the island’s only white sand beach. There is rich coral and marine life that make for good snorkeling. From here, with a tour guide, you can access our colony of Antillean fruit-eating bats. Thousands of bats are on display, divided into two caves: one with females with their young, the other with males. Sounds like a romantic date.
The Montserrat National Trust’s botanical garden is dedicated to conserving indigenous plants and trees. These include Heliconia, the national flower; Epidendrum Montserratense, an endangered orchid; and Pribby, a flowering shrub. The latter two are native only to Montserrat.
Experience the perfect balance of adventure and relaxation as you sail Montserrat’s seas. Departing from Port Little Bay, the Montserrat Yachting Association crew offers sailing trips to Plymouth (about 4 hours) and Redonda (about 8 hours). En-route, be mesmerized by the beautiful dual green and gritty landscapes of the island or watch dolphins. US$100.00 per person (min. 2 persons; max. 4 persons). Bring along a light snack (e.g. sandwiches, chips or bottled drinks). No alcohol is permitted on the vessel.