Montserrat is a mountainous island in the Caribbean. It is a British Overseas Territory and home to the Soufrière Hills volcano, which erupted in the 1990s and caused much damage to the southern portion of the island. The northern part was largely unaffected, however, and the island is a favorite tourist destination that features black-sand beaches, coral reefs, and shoreline caves. The island is known as the “Emerald Isle” of the region and offers awe-inspiring examples of nature’s power. A perfect ecotourism site, it features rainforest trails and opportunities to view many bird species, to dive and snorkel, and to sunbathe on its excellent beaches. Here are 10 Things to See in Montserrat
1. Soufrière Hills Volcano
The Soufrière Hills Volcano erupted in the 1990s and is currently part of an exclusion zone. However, guided tours are available to visitors who want to see the effects of the volcano’s power for themselves. Visitors can also experience a view of the volcano on their own from vantage points like Bay Hill, the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, and Garibaldi Hill.
2. Rendezvous Bay
This peaceful bay is located beneath high cliffs and features the island’s only stretch of blond sand. The bay is perfect for swimming, diving, and snorkeling. It can be accessed by boat or kayak. Caves carved into the cliffs provide homes for large colonies of Antillean fruit-eating bats, which can sometimes be viewed from the bay.
3. Montserrat Volcano Observatory
The observatory offers exhibits and information about the volcanic eruptions that have devastated the island, as well as excellent views of the Soufrière Hills Volcano. From here, scientists monitor the volcano’s activity and share their live recordings with visitors. Lectures and field trips are also offered at the observatory.
4. Little Bay Beach
Located on the west coast of the island, this is one of the most popular beaches in Montserrat. It has calm waters for swimming, and its gray-sand shore is perfect for sunbathing and watching boats at the bay’s northern port. Restaurants can be found beachside and offer local seafood and refreshments. Dive shops and water sports rental equipment agencies are located here as well.
5. Redonda Island Scuba Diving
The thriving coral reefs of this bay are popular with divers. The volcanic eruption created a renaissance in sea life, and populations are booming. Divers may see huge sponges, brain coral, colorful tropical fish, spotted eagle rays, sea turtles, and sharks. This small island environment is known for its green moray eels and visiting nurse sharks. The Montserrat Island Dive Center and Scuba Montserrat at Little Bay are the most popular dive shops.
6. Blackwood Allen Trail
Hiking has become an increasingly popular activity on Montserrat, with this trail one of the more difficult yet worthwhile sites. It offers great views and a chance to see some of the island’s most unique vegetation. It leads past the Blackwood Allen stream to overlook the ocean and villages to the south. The Oriole Walkway is also popular and provides sightings of rainforest life and a chance to see the island’s national bird, the oriole.
7. Centre Hills
These hills are covered with tropical rainforest and known for their biological diversity and rich habitat areas. Most of the island’s 34 bird species and many migrant songbirds can be found here, including the threatened Montserrat oriole, forest thrush, bridled quail dove, and the mangrove cuckoo. There are also many types of reptiles and amphibians that make their homes here.
8. Woodlands Bay
This peaceful bay is near villages in the southwest of the Northern Zone. It has a small beach that is perfect for relaxing, but its waters are sometimes too rough for easy swimming. The cliffs above the beach offer great places for picnics and a viewpoint for watching migrating whales.
9. Montserrat National Trust Headquarters
At the headquarters, visitors can see permanent and rotating exhibits about the island’s history, arts and crafts, and the local way of life. A walk through its botanical gardens and nature trails is recommended, as indigenous medicinal herbs, orchids, and plants can be seen here. There is also a gift shop that offers locally crafted souvenirs.
10. Runaway Ghaut
This is one of Montserrat’s most famous ghauts, or steep ravines that carry rainwater to the sea from high up in the mountains. Hikers here can see luxuriant tropical vegetation, and huge tropical trees. A local legend states that people who drink the spring water at the drinking fountain are destined to make a return visit to the island.
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