Montserrat is one of the Caribbean's most dramatic islands, not only in terms of its soaring peaks and rainforest-covered hillsides, but also due to the cataclysmic eruptions of the Soufrière Hills Volcano that took place in the late 1990s. Hundreds of successive eruptions devastated the tiny island, leading to the abandonment of the capital Plymouth and the removal of the entire population from the island's lower two-thirds, the repercussions of which are still felt today.
Two decades later, this modern-day Pompeii is slowly recovering. The population is growing, and sand-mining and geothermal energy provide new sources of income. Tourists are returning too, a trickle to be sure and mostly for volcano-related day trips, but those who stay are drawn by the slow rhythm of life, friendly locals, fabulous hiking and birdwatching, and the blessedly tranquil ambience of the old Caribbean, where gated communities and cruise ships are yet to arrive.