Known as ‘the Emerald isle of the Caribbean’,
the tiny island of Montserrat is a lush and green island just 101
sq km in size. What is so unique about Montserrat today is that it
is home to one of the most active volcanoes in the West Indies. In
July 1995, the Soufriere Hills Volcano located on the southern end
of the island erupted and as a result, the capital and main town on
Montserrat, Plymouth was covered in volcanic ash and subsequently
After the eruption of 1995, Plymouth became a ghost town as most
residents were evacuated, many settling in nearby Antigua. At this
point tourism to the island was also halted as much of the area
nearest to the Soufriere Hills Volcano was declared an Exclusion
Zone. The area after it was made a daily light entry zone, which
means this area can be visited only during the daylight and the
northern end of the island formed a safe zone. Today this safe zone
is inhabited by a few thousand natives and scientists who are now
studying the volcano and its eruption patterns.
Unfortunately in June 1997, the Soufriere Hills Volcano erupted again
causing a number of deaths as well. Two months after this, a superheated
pyroclastic flow destroyed what was left of the town of Plymouth.
The Soufriere Hills Volcano erupted again in 2003 and if you do plan
on visiting Montserrat, you will get the opportunity to see molten
red volcanic rocks fall down the mountainside at night, albeit at
a safe distance.
Today, life on the northern end of the island has returned to normal
even though the Soufriere Hills Volcano does let off some steam
from time to time. Tourism on the island is restricted to the safe
zone only, but offers a wonderful quiet vacation destination especially
for those who are interested in nature. The people of Montserrat
are warm, welcoming and friendly, making vacationing here ideal
for those who want a getaway off the beaten path.