31.05.2007 23 °C
Montserrat, at 12 miles long and almost 7 miles wide, was once known as a 'haven of tranquility'. The island was most appropriately named "the Emerald isle of the Caribbean ". It was a slice of the old Caribbean with a smattering of beaches and hotels, and a lush, mountainous interior that invited exploration.
The island's peaceful surroundings were shattered by the devastating eruption of the Soufriere (French for sulfur) Volcano, known by locals as Chance's Peak, in 1995.
As ash, rocks, and lava rained down from the newly reactivated volcano, two-thirds of the population of 12,000, the entire southern portion of the island, was evacuated.
In 1997, the increased volcanic activity destroyed the abandoned capital, Plymouth .
At the present time, volcanologists constantly monitor the activity, and though they can predict the activity, they have been unable to predict an end to it.
You can forget about the fabulous white Caribbean Beaches here. However, Montserrat offers a completely different opportunity for the adventuresome traveler in the "safe zone" of the island.
Lying just 27 miles southwest of Antigua , a ferry will transport you from Antigua to Montserrat in an hour, or a helicopter can do the same in about 20 minutes.
If pressed for time, you can take helicopter tours from Antigua and get an overhead view of the island, but I highly recommend actually visiting the island itself.
In my opinion, there is not another island like Montserrat, and to experience it firsthand is invaluable! For example, it is unbelievable to watch the glowing lava flow at nighttime! Absolutely gorgeous!
There are hotels for those wishing to stay on the island to do some hiking and diving, and there are a handful of restaurants.
If you get hungry while touring Montserrat, you should definitely try Tina's Restaurant. It is located right off of Brades Main Road.
Tina's is housed in an attractive wooden building painted leafy green and white. Dining tables are arranged inside and outside on the verandah.
Lunches include curried goat, fish, chicken, pork chops, lasagna, roast beef, and tuna casserole. I highly recommend the curried goat! No, it does not taste like chicken! Much much better!
Although I have not eaten dinner there, the dinner menu at Tina's looks fabulous! It includes dishes such as Parmesan Chicken, lobster, and shrimp.
The most incredible spot from which to view the volcano is the Montserrat Volcano Observatory. This is a definite "must see"! Volcanologists are there constantly studying the activity, but the Observatory is open for tours.
For the photographers out there, Montserrat is for you! The wonderful photo ops are endless!
I hope I have managed to give you just enough of a taste of both Barbuda and Montserrat to deepen your curiosity.
In my next entries, we will begin a fabulous tour of Anguilla! I just returned from this wonderful island, and I have all of the lastest scoop! You don't want to miss it!