The mountainous island offers some of the most dramatic landscapes in the Caribbean. Montserrat is not as visited as some of its neighbors probably due to darker colored beaches but it offers towering peaks, rainforest-covered slopes, and feisty volcanos (the late 1990s saw the Soufrière Hills Volcano eruption cause huge amounts of havoc. The island has plenty to offer including some spectacular cliff hikes, coral reefs, wonderful shoreline caves, and striking black-sand beaches. Here are the best and most beautiful places to visit in Montserrat…
Plymouth – the unique capital and one of the best places to visit in Montserrat
Often referred to as “Pompeii of the Caribbean,” Plymouth is the island’s former capital subsumed by the volcanic eruption. Once a pretty thriving town, today Plymouth stands still after the wrath of Madame Soufriere in 1995. Catch a glimpse of the ruins of stately buildings, belongings, and hillside homes covered in ash with just tops visible in this deserted city.
Intrepid visitors can take a tour led by trained guides from air, sea, or on the ground and explore the buried city, which resembles the lunar landscape. Though Plymouth and the surrounding towns remain in an exclusion zone, it’s a one-of-a-kind experience to witness the power of nature.
Rendezvous Bay – a secluded paradise backed by lush hills
Backed by lush hills, sparkling sands, and crystal clear waters, Rendezvous Beach remains the beloved coastal spot on the island. The only white sand beach of Montserrat, the bay can be reached only via sea or trekking over the Rendezvous Nature Trail.
Enjoy the island’s best features with dramatic views of the Caribbean Sea as you go paddle or snorkel. Swim, hike, sunbathe or relax on the peaceful beach; if you’re lucky, you can have the entire beach to yourself. Besides, you can also catch a glimpse of the native Antillean fruit-eating bats as you kayak along the famous Bat Cave.
Little Bay beach – a quiet family retreat with exceptional views
A photogenic black sand beach nestled between two rugged cliffs, Little Bay Beach one of the favorite beach spots on the island’s west coast. Intended to be the future capital in the peaceful town of Little Bay, this cozy cove remains a gem.
The gentle waters and the soft gray sand shore are great for swimming, snorkeling, and relaxing under the Caribbean sun. Besides gorgeous waters, Little Bay is a hub of several restaurants and bars to hang out for lunch or drinks while enjoying the view. Try some Caribbean cuisines at the famed Pont’s Beach View, watch the boats on the northern end, or picnic beside the lapping waves; this divine beach is the perfect spot to relax and unwind.
Woodlands beach – a tiny enclave on the island’s northwest coast
One of the charming beaches of Montserrat, Woodlands Bay Beach, is an easily accessible small black sand beach with contrasting turquoise waters. Backed by lush cliffs and rocks draping towards the frothing Caribbean waters, this secluded beach is best known for snorkeling and beachcombing along the dark volcanic sands.
Walk along the driftwood bob, enjoy a picnic, spot the turtle tracks or pods of migrating whales; this treasured beach is a fine place to settle down for a beautiful sunset in the serene nature.
Oriole Walkway Trail – a pretty rainforest walk
Discover the lush wilderness of Montserrat as you take a hike on the Oriole Walkway Trail. Weaving its way through rubber trees, banana plantations, green mountains, and abundant fruit trees, the 1.3 mile Oriole trail offers sweeping views of the island and the Caribbean Sea.
As you walk past the overgrown jungle and giant trees, catch a glimpse of the unique biodiversity in the rainforest and the national bird of Montserrat, the Oriole bird. A great way to spend the day in the lap of nature, this Caribbean hiking is a rewarding experience in the beautiful Montserrat landscape.
Jack Boy Hill Viewing Point – for gorgeous panoramic views
Traveling around the island, one of the best vantage points of past volcanic activities, the serene Jack Boy Hill should be on your bucket list. From sobering views of the active volcano, abandoned airport, ruined Eastern villages to the stunning ocean vistas, visitors can zoom in on the volcano from the on-site telescope.
Once you trek up to the serene hill, you can also spend some time relaxing under the shaded picnic tables and soak in the views from the cozy little park. Be a leisurely picnic or inspiring vistas; this well-maintained viewpoint offers the best views of the majestic nature of Montserrat.
Montserrat volcano observatory – an interesting must-see tourist attraction
A trip to Montserrat is incomplete without visiting the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO), which continuously monitors the Soufrière Hills Volcano. Located in Salem, the observatory is the best place to learn closely about the giant volcano & its impact on the island.
Attend the educational talks, watch the documentary on the island’s history or get a souvenir from the gift shop; you can also get live recordings of the volcano monitored by the scientists. Enjoy spectacular views of the volcano, Belham valley, and Plymouth from the Observatory deck and observe the smoky peak & the lava flow remnants & the surrounding exclusion zone.
Carr’s bay Beach – a pristine coastal hideaway along the Montserrat coast
While the volcanic action has fenced off many parts of the island to the visitors, you can still find unspoiled beaches away from the big tourist crowds. A remarkable stretch of the Caribbean Sea near Little Bay, Carr’s Bay beach is an ideal spot for history lovers and sunbathers.
With the swaying palm trees, inviting warm waters with a bit of black sands, the beach provides the most calming and leisurely experience. Beachgoers can explore the giant reefs and underwater boulders at the south end of the beach; explore the remains of a fort, a war memorial, and the replica of Plymouth Clock Tower.
Isles Bay Beach – a lovely natural beauty spot to explore
Another favorite black sand beach of the island, Isles Bay Beach, is nestled in the western part of Montserrat at the mouth of Belham River; the valley has been a recipient of volcanic debris of the active volcano. The rustic allure with tranquil waves, dark-hued sands backdropped by forested hills, and serene nature makes for a perfect swimming and sunbathing spot.
Go trekking from one end of the beach to the next, seep in the views of the Soufrière volcano, picnic around the shaded area or grab a drink at the famous beach bars; this quiet beach turns into a lively space during weekends.
Soufrière Hills – one of the most surreally beautiful places to explore
Fondly referred to as Madam Soufrière, the smoky peak of the Soufrière Hills volcano draws visitors from all over the globe. The mighty volcano, known for its sheer magnificence, is located on the island’s southern side. Notice the remnants of the lava flows and the erstwhile island capital with sobering views of the volcano.
Though the volcano is a part of the exclusion zone, visitors can take a guided tour and get the best views of the turbulent peak from several vantage points, including Garibaldi Hills, Jack Boy Hill, and Montserrat Volcano Observatory. If you’re looking for adventurous activity, touring this iconic mount gives an excellent overview of its impact on this beautiful island.
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Born and raised in Brazil, Gaby has always had a taste for the intriguing, the off-beat and the far flung. After travelling around most of South America, living in Spain and Italy and then moving to England, her feet have stayed continually twitchy. Studying for a degree in Spanish translation and then learning five more languages only poured more fuel onto her travelling ardor.
Gaby likes nothing better than discovering new destinations and meeting the locals, tasting the cuisine and hearing about the local stories. Her other indulgences include French cinema, boxing, photography, colourful manicures and soaking up the rays on a sun-infused beach. She counts Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Barcelona, Lisbon and Cornwall as her most favourite places in the world.