Before the eruption of the Soufrière Hills Volcano in 1995, Montserrat was a carefree island paradise with a thriving community. It was also an exclusive, and very private, holiday destination. It was famous as the birthplace of “Arrow”, creator of the soca hit ‘Hot, Hot, Hot’, and as the home of Air Montserrat, the recording studio founded by Beatles producer Sir George Martin. Sting, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, the Rolling Stones, Dire Straits and Lou Reed were among the many stars who recorded there.
Montserrat’s capital city, Plymouth, was submerged under the pyroclastic flow from the volcano and the island was faced with the immense challenge of rebuilding its infrastructure.
The volcano has been quiet for several years, but is still closely monitored. The designated “Exclusion Zone” is deceptive as access is now permitted and Plymouth can be viewed from nearby vantage points, as well as from the sea. A new town and port are being developed at Little Bay, on the northwest coast of the island.
Just to make it clear, Sea Song is entirely safe, even in the unlikely event of volcanic activity elsewhere on the island!
Although the population is now smaller, with many having emigrated to the UK or the US, the island community remains strong and is proud of its identity and culture. Montserratians are unfailingly welcoming to tourists.
There is little in the way of night life, except during festivals, but there are some charming restaurants and local bars. Some of the tucked-away beaches are delightful – Rendezvous Beach, Fox’s Bay, Isle’s Bay, Lime Kiln Beach and Bunkum Bay.
Like many isolated islands Montserrat is home to some very rare plant and animal species. The island’s coral reefs were affected by the ash fallout from the volcano but have now regenerated and are teeming with life.
The island today is a relaxed and friendly place. It is spectacularly beautiful. A hidden gem.