On your Montserrat Yacht Charter vacation explore the “Emerald Isle of the Caribbean”. The name references not only the resemblance to coastal Ireland but the Irish ancestry of many of its inhabitants as well. Montserrat is located in the Leeward Island chain. Plymouth used to be the capital city of this island until the volcanic eruption in 1995. But now Brades is the newly-built capital of Montserrat. Stepping ashore on this island is like stepping back in time to ‘The Caribbean as it used to be’. The southern half of Montserrat is an exclusion zone, due to The Soufrière Hills volcano. The north of the island is largely unaffected. Black-sand beaches, coral reefs, cliffs, and shoreline caves wait for your exploration. Also a new town and port are in the process of being developed at Little Bay. On the northwest coast of Montserrat.
History of Montserrat
In 1632 a number of Irish settled on Montserrat. Most arrived here from Saint Kitts. France claimed the island in 1666, followed by the British. The colonists began to employ Sub-Saharan African slaves. By the late 18th century, many rum and sugar plantations had been developed on the island. As well as sea island cotton plantations. Slavery was abolished in 1834. Most of the Irish were indentured servants, merchants, or plantation owners. In fact, African slaves and Irish indentured servants of all classes created a population of mixed descent. Montserrat is now an internally self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom.
The Soufrière Hills is an active, complex stratovolcano with many lava domes. This volcano is located in the southern part of Montserrat. After a long period of dormancy, it erupted on July 18, 1995. And quickly buried the island’s capital, Plymouth. It was buried under more than 39 feet of mud. Meanwhile, the volcanic activity continues, mostly affecting the vicinity of Plymouth. Soufrière Hills erupted again explosively between July 12-14, 2003. This eruption caused the collapse of portions of the volcanic dome. As well as creating huge pyroclastic flows. Remnants of the former airport were buried by yet another volcanic activity on 11 February 2010. The volcano is presently closely monitored by the Montserrat Volcano Observatory.
Weather Montserrat Yacht Charter
The most appealing time to visit this Caribbean island is during the winter months. A time when it is the coldest in the Northern Hemisphere. Montserrat greets you with constant temperatures throughout the year. The average temperatures are 73F to 86F. A relatively cool and dry season is from January to mid-April. Most of the time northeast trade winds mitigate higher temperatures. A hot and humid rainy season extends from mid-June to mid-November. Between July to the end of November is hurricane season, even for Montserrat. The driest month however is February. But the rest of the year you can expect abundant rainfall. However, the rain occurs in the form of downpours or thunderstorms. Not lasting long but they could be intense.
Places to See
The Soufrière Hills Volcano – The site that caused so much devastation over the years, is ironically also the number one attraction. The smoky peak on the southern part of the island is a breath-taking sight to see. It is in fact entirely encompassed by a seclusion zone. Police-escorted sightseeing tours take tourists into the zone. And several hilltop vantage points provide breathtaking views of the former capital of Plymouth. Some of the vantage points to see this part of the exclusion zone from are: Jack Boy Hill and Garibaldi Hill.
Montserrat Volcano Observatory – Above all a highly recommended site on Montserrat. Best enjoyed on a tour with a local knowledgable guide. An excellent video on the Soufrière Hills Volcano shows how the eruptions have impacted the island. Also, the observatory offers lectures and field trips.
Plymouth – The Pompeii of Montserrat. Destroyed by the same geological forces that destroyed the Italian city centuries ago. The entire town lies in ruins. Layers of ash and mud consequently letting only the tops of historic Georgian and Victorian mansions be visible. Even though it is set deep into the exclusion zone, it is open for fly-in visits by tourists.
Montserrat National Trust Center – The place to visit when you first arrive on the island. Ideal to get a feel for the island’s unique and natural history. An exhibition space shows mysterious petroglyphs and various changing collections. As well as a gift shop to bring back some colorful Caribbean souvenirs.
Montserrat National Museum – Little Bay. It offers visitors a glimpse at the long and interesting history of the island. Informative exhibits from pre-historic Amerindian tribes to the colonial struggle between the French and British. In addition to a very interesting section dedicated to the destructive eruptions of the Soufriere Hills volcano.
Things to Do while on your Montserrat Yacht Charter
Hiking – Montserrat is a mecca for hikers and trekkers. Many come over from Antigua each day to hike the Oriole Walkway Trail. A trail that weaves through rubber tree groves besides overgrown banana plantations. The Blackwood AllenTrail offers a more challenging terrain. The beautiful Rendezvous Nature Trail rewards with amazing panoramas over the Caribbean sea. And access to one of the island’s few white-sand beaches. A simply beautiful hike is the Runaway Ghaut Trail . According to legend, if you drink from the spring waters of the Runaway Ghaut, it will enchant you. And therefore persuade you to return to the island one day. The Silver Hills Trail takes hikers past the extinct Silver Hill Volcano. You will find amazing scenic views and a great area for birding.
Birding – The tropical rainforest in the highlands of Montserrat is one of the most biodiverse birding areas in the Caribbean. Dwarf forests, and evergreen valleys are home to the national bird, the Montserrat oriole. As well as the elegant Antillean crested hummingbird and mangrove cuckoos. In addition to purple-throated Caribs, and a large selection of reptiles in the undergrowth.
More Things to Do
Swimming – Little Bay Beach remains one of the most popular seaside spots on Montserrat. The soft sand and shallow sea are perfect for swimming. Beachside restaurants sell local seafood and refreshments.
Dive and snorkel– The mighty Soufriere Hills volcano has been depositing mineral-rich ash and magma over the last decades. Creating some of the Caribbean’s best up-and-coming coral reefs. The northern and leeward shores are home to more developed coral gardens. See kaleidoscopic tropical fish and spotted eagle rays. Sea turtles, and the occasional shark can be also be seen. At Rendezvous Bay you will look for colorful parrotfish, great sea sponges, and a medley of exotic marine life. The crew on your chartered yacht will provide you with diving and snorkeling equipment. Or arrange a rendezvous dive with a local provider.
Walk Woodlands Bay Beach – You will find pieces of washed-out driftwood while walking on the black sand on this beach. Migrating whales often visit this secluded and serene shoreline. It also is a nesting ground for sea turtles. And of course a nice place to watch the sunset. But at times strong rip currents do not invite you to swim here.
Participate in St Patrick’s Day activities – Most certainly an unusual Caribbean festivity. In reality this tiny island hosts some of the most lively Irish celebrations. If your Montserrat Yacht Charter takes place in March, you should dress in green and participate. Locals sell arts and crafts with a Gaelic theme. And of course, sip plenty of Guinness. Other popular festivals include the Calabash Festival, held in July. Not to forget Carnival which takes place two weeks long in December. Music, parades, and colorful costume competitions are something you do not want to miss should you be there during the holidays.,
The national dish of Montserrat is Goat Water. A stew that is made with goat meat and has traditionally a very special flavor. A flavor that is enhanced by cooking it in a special pot on a wood fire. This communal dish is often served at family get-togethers. And for lunch at most local Montserrat restaurants on Fridays.
Duckna – Sweet potatoes with spices and coconut, wrapped in a banana leaf or chainy bush.
Cassava Bread – A flatbread made with cassava, a root vegetable similar to potatoes.
Saltfish -A traditional dish made from salted, dried cod soaked overnight. Then boiled with lots of onion,s peppers, tomatoes.
Ponts Beach View – Local cuisine. A rustic restaurant bar located on Little Bay. With fabulous views of the beach and cliffside. The Sunday BBQ is a wonderful way to taste sizzling shrimp and fresh seafood.
The Attic – Olveston. Caribbean food. A family run restaurant with very friendly staff. And tasty fish and roti.
The Peoples Place – Caribbean cuisine. Great goat water, roti and coconut tart. The owner John makes everybody feel like family. Sit on the veranda and enjoy the incredible views while sipping on a cold beer.
Olveston House – Olveston. Scrumptious fusion of international and English cuisine with a Caribbean flair. Famous for its Wednesday night buffet.
Vue Point Restaurant – Located in Old Towne. Stunning views of the majestic Soufriere Hills Volcano and the sea. An eclectic mix of dishes, and furthermore try the Vue Pointe Rum punch.
Marinas and Anchorages
Montserrat does not offer a marina. Little Bay is the only port of entry. Customs and Immigration clearance facilities for yachts and small craft are currently only available here. It is however within easy day cruising distance of both Antigua and Guadeloupe.
Little Bay offers reasonably protected anchorages for visiting yachts. The most protected spot for anchoring seems to be north of the dock in front of the small fishing fleet.
Rendezvous Bay (10 slips), just to the north of Little Bay is another possibility.
Redonda – Rendezvous, Parish of Saint Peter. 5 slips.
Little Bat and Cars Bay – Rendezvous, Parish of Saint Peter. 20 slips.
Old Road Bay – Salem. Rendezvous, Parish of Saint Peter. 20 slips