Access & Resources

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, May 1998

Access & Resources

Montserrat, minus the lava
By Katie Arnold                                                  Another Day Under the Black Volcano

Once you get over the fact that two-thirds of Montserrat is now buried under a thick layer of ash, it's possible to view the "Emerald Isle" as the ideal Caribbean destination. The 13-square-mile area stretching from St. Peter's to the rugged north coast is miraculously intact, and the weather is perpetually sunny (when the wind blows the ash out to sea). Crowds, needless to say, are not a problem: It's highly likely you'll have the beaches, trails, and lush river valleys virtually to yourself.

Around the Island
Montserrat's resorts may have closed their doors, but you can still find decent accommodations, guide services, and outdoor activities if you know where to look. In St. Peter's, David and Clover Lea have turned a wing of their house into Rose Hill, private guest quarters with spectacular mountain views (doubles, $55; 664-491-5812). Rendezvous Bay, the island's only white-sand beach, is reached via a winding, two-mile footpath from Little Bay over craggy Rendezvous Bluff; bring your mask and fins, as the reef offshore is ideal for snorkeling. Sea Wolf Diving School offers one-tank dives to 30-plus offshore reefs, as well as PADI instruction, snorkeling excursions, and equipment rental (dives, $40; 664-491-7807); and Danny's Watersports will take you deep-sea fishing for marlin ($250; 664-491-5645).

If you can't commit to a week's stay on Montserrat, sign on instead with an outfitter for a day of diving, hiking, and volcano viewing. Reuben T. Meade Double X Tours offers PADI-certified scuba diving, a trip to the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, and a hike up Jack Boy Hill for Soufriˆre views ($225, including ferry; 664-491-5470).

Getting There
Now that w. h. bramble international Airport is out of commission, your only option is to arrive via ferry or helicopter from neighboring Antigua. Carib World Travel operates a twice-daily ferry from Heritage Quay to Little Bay port on Montserrat ($60, round-trip; 268-460-6101). Montserrat Aviation Service's helicopter makes the 20-minute hop twice a day ($68, round-trip; 664-491-2362). The Montserrat Tourism Board will help arrange on-island transportation (664-491-2230).

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