The scarred island of Montserrat has endured more volcanic eruptions than any other in the region in modern times.
A huge chunk on the southern edge of this small speck in the midst of the Lesser Antilles chain is still demarked by an exclusion zone, deemed too unsafe for both travelers and locals.
The cause? That ash-spewing dome on the horizon; the mighty Soufriere Hills volcano – dormant for hundreds of years but now an unpredictable source of frequent pyroclastic flows and smoke.
But Montserrat is also known as the Emerald Isle, both for its curious Irish-Carib inhabitants (yep, you’ll find Guinness in the pubs here!) and for its deep, lush green backcountry.
This still blooms with the rainforests and the jungles on the north side of the land, topping out on the cliffs around picture-perfect Little Bay Beach, blooming with lime trees and palms.
Today, the sleepy spot (only half-inhabited after many left in the wake of the most recent eruptions) beckons mainly hikers and adventure tourists, while a clutch of secluded coves and luxury beach hotels rounds off the action.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Montserrat:
1. Gawp at the great Soufriere Hills Volcano
The undisputed number one attraction of Montserrat is also – ironically – the thing that’s caused it so much devastation over the years.
Rising to a smoky peak on the southern side of the island, the mighty Soufriere Hills Volcano really is a breath-taking sight to behold.
It’s entirely encompassed by a seclusion zone these days, but travelers can scale to the lookout points of Jack Boy Hill, or make a beeline for the volcano observatory on Cedar Drive, to get front-row seats over the chipped and chiselled mount.
Notice the remnants of lava flows on the southern slopes – these are left from the destructive eruption of 1997, the one responsible for razing the erstwhile island capital, Plymouth.