Montserrat

Montserrat, Caribbean
Montserrat, Caribbean

This British territory is part of the Lesser Antilles chain located in the Leeward Islands. Montserrat is a very small island covering only 40 square miles in the vast Caribbean. The small island is home to many exotic and rare plants and animals. The island is a beautiful place to relax and enjoy a variety of water and land activities. Many visitors come to see Soufriere Hills, the volcano that erupted in 1995 wiping out Plymouth and the surrounding area. Due to its small size, major transportation is done from Antigua. Montserrat offers ferry and helicopter services between the islands.

  • Capital city - Brades
  • Language - English
The inhabited part of Montserrat
The inhabited part of Montserrat
Plymouth, former capital of Montserrat
View of the former capital of Plymouth blanketed in ash following the eruption of the Soufrière Hills volcano in 1995

Brades is the newly-built capital of Montserrat, a small island near Puerto Rico that is nicknamed The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean thanks to its verdant rainforests and Irish heritage. The former capital of Plymouth was blanketed in 40 feet of ash following the eruption of the Soufrière Hills volcano in 1995, and the city of Brades on the northwest shore now hosts government buildings out of harm's way.

Plymouth sinking into the lava flow in Montserrat
View of the old capital Plymouth sinking into the lava flow in Montserrat

The volcano is constantly monitored by a team of scientists dedicated to keeping locals and visitors safe from Mother Nature's inner rumblings. The northern third of the island, where Brades is located, remains a safe landing.

Soufriere Hills Volcano
The Soufriere Hills Volcano is the island's star attraction in the Montserrat island

The volcano is naturally the island's star attraction, and a short trip from Brades takes you to the Montserrat Volcano Observatory. The viewing deck affords incredible views of the volcano, and the Visitors' Center is filled with interactive kiosks detailing the eruption's history and impact. Visitors can even handle rocks and ash spewed from Soufrière Hills.

Astronaut photograph from the International Space Station (ISS) captures a white-to-gray ash and steam plume extending westwards from the volcano on October 11, 2009
The Belham River Valley and its upscale golf course was buried beneath volcanic debris

For more stunning views of the volcano, head up to Garibaldi Hill or Jackboy Hill. St. George's Hill is the best place to get a spectacular panorama of the crater and the ruins of Plymouth, but it is often off-limits due to the volcano's activity. Before you leave Brades, contact the Montserrat Volcano Observatory to determine if making the trek to St. George's Hill is worth it.

Montserrat Flora
Montserrat flora clockwise from the upper left: cashew, breadfruit, mango, Ylang ylang.

The island of Montserrat is blessed with extraordinary natural beauty. Lush tropical rainforests blanket the land, and trails of varying difficulty welcome hikers to explore nearly every corner of the island. Many originate in or around Brades, and Montserrat's Tourist Board maintains detailed maps of each trail, including the two most popular: The Cot and the Katy Hill Trail System.

Montserrat out of bounds
For security reasons, the surrounding access area to the volcano is forbidden to hikers...

The volcano is forbidden to hikers, but the backdrop of the Center Hills is the perfect place for on-foot adventures. The extensive network of hiking trails takes visitors through dense rain forests, past old banana plantations and finally to the dramatic sea cliffs. While exploring the area, be on the lookout for the national bird, the Montserrat oriole, and other rare species, including the bridled quail dove and the forest thrush.

March is the best time to visit Brades. St. Patrick's Day is a national holiday, and Montserrat is the only island in the Caribbean that officially observes the celebration. Masquerades, concerts, dances, feasts and parties fill the island's calendar from the second week in March through the big day on the 17th. The culmination of the celebration is a massive festival that includes calypso shows, plenty of pageantry, live bands and more.

Little Bay, Montserrat
Little Bay is the Montserrat area where we can find some bars and restaurants

Little Bay is the Montserrat area where we can find some bars and restaurants. It is in front of a nice bay where it is common to see some sailors anchored with their sailboats

Montserrat island map

map of Montserrat
Map of the island of Montserrat in the Caribbean
Caribbean Islands near Montserrat