Destinations - Monserrat

Long known as the Caribbean’s Emerald Isle for its Irish heritage and lush rainforests, Montserrat welcomes visitors with a green shamrock-shaped stamp in their passport. In fact Montserrat is the only Caribbean island that observes St. Patrick’s Day as an official holiday, with musical concerts, masquerades and other traditional activities.

The volcano is the star attraction, most easily viewed from the Montserrat Volcano Observatory. Tours are conducted by scientists several days a week. The ruins of Plymouth are today a ghost town under a blanket of ash. Daytime access to the former capital is possible with a police escort, arranged through hotels or the tourist office.

Volcanic activity continues on and off, but Montserrat’s northern third remains a safe landing, with the volcano monitored round-the-clock by a team of scientists that keep the island’s current 4,700 residents aware of Mother Nature’s inner rumblings. In summary, Montserrat makes for an unusual holiday.

Montserrat also offers many of the Caribbean’s traditional activities. Most of the beaches are of the blacksand variety, but tawny Rendezvous Bay can be reached by a trail over a bluff or by hiring a boat. Lime Kiln Bay is a prime snorkeling location, and there’s also good diving. An expanding network of hiking trails accesses rainforests, old banana plantations and views from sea cliffs. Local forest rangers help visitors track the threatened Montserrat oriole, the national bird, and other rare species.

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