Montserrat, the small lush green mountainous Caribbean Island, just 25 miles away from Antigua, can lay claim to the fact that it is the only country outside of Ireland to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as a national holiday!
However, revellers go beyond the custom of wearing green and drinking beer at their local pub. The festivities offer St. Patty’s Day, Caribbean-style, by infusing their African and Irish heritage into the yearly celebrations.
Residents and visitors take part in a week of feasts, costumed parades, concerts, cultural exhibitions to commemorate the planned slave uprising that occurred on the island during St. Patrick’s Day in 1768. Having said that, local bars and restaurants still do celebrate in the more traditional Irish way by serving Guinness and decorating with shamrocks and plenty of green.
Here are 10 other reasons to consider making Montserrat your next travel stop:
- Volcano Viewing – Characterized by dome-building materials, the Soufrière Hills Volcano holds an irresistible lure. The volcano, which has been active since July 1995, is continually monitored. On a clear day, visitors can stop by Garibaldi Hill or other designated safe points for a panoramic view of the volcano and, perhaps spot a thin plume of steam rise from the crater.
- Irish Heritage – Although a British Overseas Territory, the island was settled by Irish indentured labourers and boasts a strong Irish heritage. The Irish legacy is present in the folklore, surnames and even the local speech, which is laced with an Irish brogue. On arrival to the island, the immigration passport stamp is a shamrock.
- A Modern-Day Pompeii – Montserrat’s now- buried capital city, Plymouth, has been compared to a modern-day Pompeii, minus the fossilized bodies. As the only volcanic-buried city in the Americas, Plymouth offers visitors the rare chance to witness a city frozen in time. Visitors wishing to access the city may do so through a certified tour operator.
- Luxury Villa Vacations at Bed & Breakfast Prices – Montserrat offers a number of luxurious villas at rental rates that won’t burn a hole in visitors’ pockets.
- Birdwatching – The Centre Hills is a haven for birdwatchers and nature lovers alike, boasting over 34 species of birds and diverse flora and fauna. Visitors may also hear the distinctive single-note call of the Scaly-Breasted Thrasher, cheery song of the Caribbean Elaenia, peculiar tri-syllable-ending call of the Scaly-Naped Pigeon, and the sweet whistling call of the Yellow Warbler.
- World Class Trails — Montserrat’s mountainous vistas, curvy slopes, deep valleys and fertile fields make hiking a natural and popular activity. The island hosts several trails that allow visitors to explore the dramatic diversification of the landscape. “The Cot” trail provides visitors the opportunity to drink from the cool spring water at “Runaway Ghaut,” where legend has it that if anyone drinks here, he or she is guaranteed to be drawn to Montserrat repeatedly in their lifetime.
- Aquatic Adventures – The island’s coral reefs are teeming with exotic wildlife, some of which can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Visitors can swim from Little Bay toward Rendezvous Beach, the island’s only white sand beach, and go snorkelling to explore the rich coral and marine life. Divers can also access the two caves that house Montserrat’s colony of Antillean fruit-eating bats with a tour guide.
- No Fast-Food Chains, Traffic Jams or Noise Clutter – Unlike some of its Caribbean neighbours, Montserrat boasts the serenity that results from the lack of mega-resorts and crowded beaches. This is further exemplified by the fact that Montserrat has no fast-food chain restaurants. Instead, visitors can taste local delicacies and sumptuous island-style cuisine.
- Still Growing In Size – Volcanic activity has seen the island increase in size and even created a new beach. Bottomless Ghaut beach is the ideal spot to relax for a leisurely afternoon picnic.
- Festivals And Culture – In addition to the island’s week-long celebrations for St. Patrick’s Day, Montserrat invites visitors and locals alike to several key festivals that highlight the island’s rich heritage and cultural diversity throughout the year.