Montserrat, the Emerald Island of the Caribbean

Click here for map. Click here for NASA pictures.
[Last Revision: Dec., 2004]

Montserrat was always considered a special place. It was the island where successful people from all over the world built their luxurious retreats, where George Martin established his famous Air Studio which recorded music from the Beatles, Sting, Eric Clapton and many other celebrities. No high rise hotels , no casinos, not even traffic lights mar the beauty of Montserrat's rugged mountain slopes covered with lush tropical rain forest. The Air Studio closed in 1989 when Hurricane Hugo devastated the island.

.Montserrat had just recovered from Hurricane Hugo when the Souffriere Hill Volcano erupted in 1995. During this ordeal the population shrank from 11 000 to about 4 000. Nineteen people had died from the volcano and about seven thousand had left the island because their homes had been either devoured by the volcano or they are situated in the generous exclusion zone that the government has implemented. About 20 % of the surface of the island has been directly affected by the lava flows, and about two thirds of Montserrat's area is declared exclusion zone, to which access is strictly prohibited. The last and biggest dome collapse of the volcano happened in July 2003. Huge amounts of volcanic ash had been deposited all over the island. However, in a relatively short time the island recovered (details). The activity of the volcano has been at a very low level since than and many of the previous restrictions have been lifted. Large parts of the former exclusion zone are being re-occupied. The mountains are more lush than ever.

The northern part of the island remained untouched by the fury of the volcano. Here the mountains are still covered with lush vegetation that can be explored on rugged footpaths under the guidance of certified tour guides. Some ruins of old plantations overgrown by the tropical vegetation make you feel as if you stepped into an Indiana Jones movie.

When you decide to visit Montserrat you will be rewarded with a unique experience. You can spend a day on a beach, almost by yourself and swim in crystal clear water of the Caribbean Sea. No speed boats, no water scooters will disturb you. The next day you may explore the tropical rain forest in the center hills.You can spend another day watching the volcano. You may hire a Taxi for a trip to Garibaldi Hill. From here you can look down to Plymouth, the old capital, which had the bad fortune to be in the way of major lava flows. A large part of the city has been destroyed. Plymouth is still considered dangerous. Access is not allowed. However, from time to time, the Montserrat Tourist Board organizes site seeing tours into Plymouth for a fee.
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And you can go diving!

How to Get to Montserrat and where to Stay

Montserrat is reached from Antigua via a very comfortable ferry or by helicopter. Information on ferry and helicopter is provided in Antigua by MAS in the departure section of the Antiguan Airport
The ferry leaves Antigua from deep water harbor in St. John at 6:30 in the morning and at 4:30 in the evening. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the morning ferry is leaving at 9:00 AM. From Montserrat the ferry leaves at 7:30 AM (or 10:00 Tuesdays and Thursdays) and at 5:30 PM. There is no ferry service on Sundays. Travel time from the airport in Antigua to the ferry terminal is about 30 minutes. Check-in time is one hour before departure.

The helicopter is operated by the British Government and it takes on passengers, if seats are not needed by the authorities. The helicopter does not fly on Saturdays and Sundays. There are five flights on Sundays and Fridays and four flights on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.

If you need help in booking ferry or helicopter, please contact us.

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