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A series of volcanic eruptions and crashing waves in 1980s and 1990s shook Montserrat to its core, devastating the lower half of the island and turning Plymouth, the capital, into a desolated wasteland. What was once depicted to exemplify the adage “the way the Caribbean used to be” has ironically turned into a nightmare, and this jolted awake the tiny British Overseas Colony in the Caribbean. Ever since the catastrophic accidents, government and business offices have been set up in Brades on the northwest shore of the island, out of harm’s way. Rising from the rubble, Montserrat morphed the catastrophic incident into tourist destination-worthy views, with much of the tourists flocking in the country to be awed with the aftermath of the destruction atop the Jack Boy Hill and Montserrat Volcano Observatory. Like a phoenix that always rises from the ashes, the rebirth of Montserrat is as legendary as it has always been.

What to see & do

Blessed with natural geographical attributes, you could say that Montserrat’s greatest asset also became its greatest downfall. But Montserrat has risen and has not looked back since. You can admire the Soufrière Hills Volcano from the observation area on Jack Boy Hill located on the eastern side. It is accessible via a three-mile drive on a battered road, south along the east coast. From here, you can see the ash and the mud flows to the south, in stark contrast with the flower-covered trees as part of the remnants of the old airport. While in here, you can even opt for a picnic while admiring the view. Its flowery grounds provide a nice setting.

Another observation deck on the southwest side gives you an up close and personal glimpse of what was left of Plymouth, the Belham Valley, and the volcano. The Montserrat Volcano Observatory also has a museum from which an 18-minute version of documentary Pride of Paradise depicts live footage of the eruptions for the tourists’ information. The said footage plays every 15 minutes past the hour. The museum is also surrounded with touchscreen terminal and displays which provide further information. Also, the headquarters of the scientists can be found here, which observes the volcanic activity every now and then, especially after its last volcanic activity in 2010 which totally covered the remains of the former airport.

One of the considered highlights as the pinnacle of development in the country would be the Montserrat Cultural Center in Little Bay, a brainchild of the ex-Beatles producer George Martin. It also houses a handprints wall of fame, gift shop, conference centre, recording studio, business offices, bar, and a fully equipped kitchen. It is built with state of the art facilities that cater to varying events such as conferences, concerts, pageants, banquets, weddings, and even funerals. There is also a large open area for open air performances. Visitors can enter the cultural centre free of charge.

How to get around within Montserrat

Montserrat has one main road, winging along the coast on both the east and west sides of the island. Hailing a taxi and boarding minibuses to get to and fro the country is relatively fast and easy. Surprisingly, hitch-hiking is also relatively safe here both in the morning and in the evening. If you want to feel the country side, you can opt to rent bicycles, which are abundant. You can walk within local villages but take note that when you need to go out, you have to find another means of transport, as walking from one place to another in this country is an arduous task with the roads traversing steep hills.

How to get there

You can reach Montserrat by flying in into the John A. Osborne Airport, a small airport located near the village of Gerald’s on the island, which replaced the W.H. Bramble Airport in Plymouth. Airlines such as FlyMontserrat and ABM Air transfers passengers and fly to Antigua.

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