Before its lower half became devastated by cataclysmic eruptions of the Soufrière Hills Volcano in 1995, Montserrat was a carefree little island paradise famous as the birthplace of the late Alphonsus Cassell, creator of the soca hit ‘Hot, Hot, Hot’, and as the home of Air Montserrat, the famous recording studio founded by Beatles producer Sir George Martin. Sting and Eric Clapton were among the stars who recorded here.
Life changed dramatically on 18 July 1995 when a series of ash falls, pyroclastic flows and mud flows buried the capital, Plymouth, and smaller settlements, farmland and forests. Around 11,000 residents were evacuated and resettled in the north or emigrated to Britain. Today, most tourists come for volcano-related day trips. Driving down the coast, you quickly get a feel for the island’s rich tropical life and take in jaw-dropping vistas of the destruction.
The volcano is always a wild card, but by and large, traveling to Montserrat is safe. The island is divided into a Daytime Entry Zone, an Exclusion Zone and a Safe Zone in the north where a new capital is slowly taking shape in Little Bay.
This enchanting and tiny island nation mixes volcanic devastation with pockets of tropical beauty.