This Stunning Island Is Called the 'Emerald Isle of the Caribbean' — and Has an Active Volcano and Black-sand Beaches

Here's where to eat, stay, and play on the beautiful Caribbean island of Montserrat.

View of volcano on Montserrat

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Montserrat is an ideal location for travelers looking to commune with nature instead of tourist crowds. The tiny volcanic island in the Caribbean is home to lush slopes brimming with flora and fauna, an active volcano called Soufrière Hills, remote black-sand beaches, and welcoming, proud people with a distinctive heritage.

It's also known as the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean because of its resemblance to the coast of Ireland. Many of Montserrat’s residents even have Irish ancestry, and it's the only country outside of Ireland to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as a national holiday. This celebration includes honoring an attempted rebellion by enslaved Africans against European colonizers in 1768.

Though often remembered for a devastating volcanic eruption in 1997 that buried the capital of Plymouth, Montserrat remains a thriving, wildlife-rich island that has rebuilt and restored itself based on its strong cultural traditions. Here are just a few ways to explore.

Getting to Montserrat 

Aerial view of Montserrat

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Montserrat is located in the Eastern Caribbean. There are no nonstop flights from the U.S., so most international passengers fly into neighboring islands Antigua and Barbuda (V.C. Bird International Airport). From Antigua, there are two airlines that offer flights to Montserrat: FlyMontserrat and SVG Air. The flight takes about 20 minutes. 

Best Time to Visit Montserrat 

For sunny weather and near perfect beach days, plan to visit between mid-December and mid-April. The late season between August and October can often provide cheaper flights and accommodation options, but the weather can be quite humid during this time, with an increased risk for tropical storms. 

Best Things to Do on Montserrat

Woodlands beach, Montserrat, Caribbean.

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Hikers can enjoy nine hiking trails in the northern part of the island, mainly in Centre Hills. Rewards along the way include spotting 34 species of birds that inhabit the island, including Montserrat’s endemic oriole, the endangered mountain chicken (a type of frog), and the rare galliwasp, a half-snake, half-lizard creature. During May to December, turtles migrate onto the island’s black-sand beaches to nest. A number of PADI-trained dive operators offer snorkeling excursions through the island’s vivid coral reefs. Visitors can also see the island’s active volcano, Soufrière Hills, from various points, including Garibaldi Hill, Jack Boy Hill, and the Montserrat Volcano Observatory. And during the Buried City tour, you can view buildings that were buried by volcanic material due to the 1995 eruption.

At the end of July, the Cudjoe Head Fest celebrates the island’s African ancestry with a steel band performance, carnival events, local performances, and a display of goods produced in the village. Book lovers, meanwhile, can enjoy the annual Alliouagana Festival of the Word, a literary event that draws award-winning writers and readers from around the globe. 

Best Places to Stay on Montserrat

Exerior view of Tropical Mansion Suites, Montserrat

Courtesy of Visit Montserrat

Forget the typical all-inclusive hotel on Montserrat. What you’ll find here instead are intimate bed-and-breakfasts, boutique hotels, and villas with sweeping ocean views. Located on a foliage-filled hilltop and just a five-minute drive from the airport, Tropical Mansion Suites has 16 rooms, each with their own private balcony and ocean views. Or, witness the majestic Soufrière Hills volcano from Olveston House, once owned by famed Beatles producer, the late Sir George Martin. Guests here can also have a glass of wine on the spacious veranda and admire the kaleidoscopic garden surroundings.

Set on three acres on a secluded mountainside, Gingerbread Hill is all about self-sufficiency and sustainability, including the use of recycled materials, hydroponic gardens, and trees where guests can pick their own fruit. Four self-serving acommodation types feature hand-painted tiles and wraparound verandas. For more private accommodations, Montserrat has a number of villa options, too. Many include concierge services, daily cleaning, and in-house cooks. 

Best Places to Eat and Drink on Montserrat 

If you have a chance to try Montserrat’s traditional national dish, goat water, don’t miss it. The hearty stew consists of goat meat chunks, eaten hot with a crusty bread roll. There are also a number of fruits found on the island that make for delicious juices, including soursop, mango, blackberry, guava, tamarind, gooseberry, and West Indian cherry, which has a similar taste to apples. 

Exterior of Olveston House, Montserrat

Courtesy of Visit Montserrat

Olveston House offers an international menu created by award-winning chef Sarah Sweeney. Caribbean-infused British dishes like pork tenderloin are served in a tropical garden setting on a wraparound porch. A popular dessert on the menu is the Eton Mess, made of meringue, whipped cream, and fresh berries. On Friday, enjoy the lively pub night, and on Wednesday, a BBQ feast — both great for rubbing elbows with islanders.

Aerial view of Little Bay, Montserrat

Michael Runkel/Getty Images

Overlooking Little Bay Beach, Summer Breeze features a variety of curries and other fusion dishes alongside rotis and paninis, all best accompanied by a strong rum punch. The garlic shrimp and king fish with curry are house favorites.

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