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“Great taxi tour”
Review of Montserrat

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Massachusetts
Level 6 Contributor
224 reviews
120 helpful votes
“Great taxi tour”
Reviewed April 20, 2011

We arrived at Montserrat airport after a 15 minute flight from Antigua. We talked to a cab driver at the airport and got a price. At the beginning of the trip, $100 US seemed steep, but after our tour, we realized that the beating the car took, the price of gas, the miles we drove and what we saw for the price was more than fair. We drove from 9 in the morning until 3:30 in the afternoon. I am sure we were on every paved road that was not in the restricted zone as well as a few that were unpaved. We drove up hills so steep that I know my own car would not have done the job.

Our driver was Thomas "Fumbo" Lee, an older man and a good safe driver. He was born on Montserrat and had lived there all his life. He really knew the history of the island and had pictures to show us prior to the 1995 eruption. We found him to be friendly and informative. I would certainly recommend him to anyone. He made our day trip well worth it.

I would like to give his phone, but TripAdvisor rules say I can't, but you can find the information on google or by emailing me.

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Thank thumper1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
2 reviews
2 helpful votes
“My new favourite island, Montserrat”
Reviewed September 21, 2010

I spent one week in Montserrat in August 2010. Although it is difficult to get there it was worth it. We were on a somewhat tight budget and found the island to be full of free experiences. It's refreshing to go to an island that is not commercializer or Americanized. The hike to Rendezvous beach was well worth it, and it is a fun goal to go to all of Montserrat's beaches while you're there. A car is a must and I recommend Beebeep's Car rental. As for food, while Gourmet Gardens provided a beautiful, romantic atmosphere and great service, it was a bit of a let down that there was very little or no local food on the menu.

We met the lovely Kathleen and Earl who are proprietors of Bunkum Bay Beach Bar, a casual and very friendly bar overlooking the beach. It's one of the only places on the island where one can get a meal/drink. Kathleen makes a killer vegetarian pizza which you can eat in the bar or on one of the picnic tables under the Caribbean sun, taking in the ocean breeze. You can also buy a cool drink and walk down to the beach with it (make sure not clean up after yourself!). We were lucky enough to be there when the turtles were laying their eggs at night and Earl walked us down to see them and was a most wonderful host. I also really liked supporting LOCAL Montserratians running a family business.

The natural life, flora and fauna are absolutely stunning on Montserrat. I have no words to describe it...

Swimming is lovely, you will be the only one on most of the beaches there.

A car is an absolute must on Montserrat and you can rent a 4x4 for about $30US a day which is totally worth it.

On Friday afternoons you can enjoy the national dish, goat water at a local restaurant where it is served straight out of a bubbling pot and served with a fresh warm roll.

I highly recommend Montserrat.!

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
harrisburg, PA
Level 6 Contributor
466 reviews
207 helpful votes
“Limin' in Montserrat - Trip Report - July 2010”
Reviewed August 5, 2010

This is my first Tripadvisor trip report...I wrote it while relaxing on a verandah of villa in Montserrat overlooking our Caribbean blue pool, the ocean, the island of Redondo and our grounds of huge frangiapani trees, palms, grapefruit trees, and lush greenery, and while listening to a rooster crowing, and will leave it in the first person as if you are reading it day to day as I was writing it.

saturday, July 17

Nothing like getting up at midnight after a short nap to start our vacation! We drove to Newark and flew through Charlotte to Antigua. It got cloudier and cloudier as we flew further south. Have you even been on an airplane where there were three bouts of people screaming? There was one harrowing minute of fear just before Antigua. Loved the pilot who came on the intercom afterwards and calmly said sorry for the little bumps! Hitting a wall and dropping out of the sky was more like it.

The airport at Antigua was crowded and we walked from the plane along the runway to the building, passing other planes and groups of people going the opposite direction on the same walkway as us. I'm not sure how everyone knew where they were going! Inside, the lines moved very slowly. There is a special line in the middle for people catching connecting flights, about 4 lines over from the far left line. If you are going, don't confuse it with the lines to the far right running perpendicular to the first lines that you see. Those are overflow lines for regular immigration lines and they don't seem to move at all. Just hope you don't arrive after a jumbo jet (which we did) and don't forget a pen - many forms to complete to get in and out of Antigua and into Montserrat. We were flying FlyMontserrat to our destination. It took about 1/2 hour to check in...and we were first on line. I've heard about the laid back attitude so took it in stride, despite the huge signs saying that if you didn't check in 60 minutes in advance, you couldn't check in, and another stating that if you are late for the plane, they'll take your luggage off and leave without you. We certainly passed the 60 minute mark, but no problem! I guess that fact that someone had already noticed us was good enough. Finally got our boarding passes (looked like they were typed into an adding machine onto the little strip of white register paper) and headed for the departure area, complete with gift shop. Loved the dry-erase white board announcing the flights!

Finally we were called and then we saw the plane. TINY! I thought of the winds and turbulence on the way down and tried not to get nervous. My thoughts took another turn though after I ended up sitting up front next to the pilot. What a seat! (My son is still kicking himself that he turned down the pilot's offer!) The flight was incredibly smooth despite it being so cloudy that the sky melted into the sea and we couldn't discern a horizon.

We were met at the airport and taken to our villa - Montserrat Breezes. In the meantime, my 20 year old son, who had left Newark just before us on different flights and who was to have arrived 1/2 hour before us, was no where to be seen. Turns out that WinAir canceled his ticket from Antigua to Montserrat! Despite having the online printout of his ticket, and despite him having the confirmation code in hand, they told him that since I hadn't sent in some form giving permission for them to charge my credit card, they canceled the ticket instead! So, they had my email address, they had my credit card number, they had my phone number, they didn't send me a form but did send me a confirmation code, and there's my son alone in Antigua with no plane ticket. Nice! Funnily enough, my son had been saying all along that he would have preferred to go by ferry, so he was happy! He took matters into his own hands. He found a taxi and paid double to get him to the ferry 'as fast as possible'...and the driver did. He just made it, and coincidentally ran into the caretaker of our villa while riding over, so he even got a ride to the villa! Amazing luck!

Our family: my husband and me and 3 of our kids, ages 20, 17 and 17. The kids were a bit nervous about coming to Montserrat because they heard there wasn't much to do. Once they got to the villa and saw the pool, all their reservations were swept away. This is a gorgeous place and I'll describe it a bit later!

Once we all arrived, an island chef brought us dinner. We had taken a family vote and had a wonderful king fish dinner which even the chicken-voters loved. We also had fried plantains (yum!) veggies, potatoes, salad and pie, and ate outside overlooking the water and listening to the thousands of crickets surrounding us. So peaceful!

Sunday July 18

Our car was dropped off this morning - $40 day day including taxes and insurance - a Toyota Rav 4. The kids were amazed to see we had to drive on the left. We're back from getting our driver's licenses ($20 US) and stopping at a foodstore. I'm sure we'll recover from the sticker shock of food soon. The roads are twisty but no one seems to drive fast and they beep a greeting at other cars. The driving, at least on a Sunday, isn't intimidating at all so far.

It's pouring now so it seems to be a good time to describe Montserrat Breezes. It's the most gorgeous place I've ever seen. 5 well-appointed large bedrooms, I think 4 of them have king size beds and one with 2 twins, each with a private bathroom. When you drive in, there is a beautiful vaulted car port. Descend about a dozen steps to a covered walkway along the back of the living room/dining room. The opposite side of this long room opens up entirely to a verandah and view out over the water out towards overlooking Nevis. On one end of this room, across a walkway, is the master bedroom with closets galore, TV and a private covered balcony overlooking the pool and view. There is a pass-through from the balcony into the kitchen. At the other end of the living room, across another walkway, there is the yellow bedroom with another private balcony and view. Two staircases lead downstairs at either end of the home. There are 3 bedrooms, one with twins beds and one with a king are connected, 3 bathrooms, a kitchenette, a laundry room and garage with ping pong table. Everything is tiled and in muted colors. And of course the pool. And everything with that view. Ahhhhhh! It's actually fun to watch the clouds coming across the ocean towards us - it all changes minute to minute despite the overcast conditions and rain. The rain is keeping us in today, but to be honest, it's just what we wanted. Nothing to do and a spectacular place to do it in!

For lunch today we went to Ponteen's Beach View Restaurant for his Sunday lunch barbeque, just to the left and slightly above the Green Monkey Dive Shop. It was hard to find it as it was partially camouflaged with plants, but once the Dive shop pointed it out, we climbed up the narrow path and were transported into a tiny Caribbean oasis. There were all sort of artifacts hanging from the ceiling and "walls" and most of the table tops were made from huge slabs of mahogany. Everyone receives a small bowl of baked coconut chips. Wow! They were yummy! (Baked in a bit of oil and salted) The restaurant was out of fish by the time we arrived mid-afternoon, so we had the rib and chicken meals. They make their own sauce and it was delicious. It was served with bread-fruit, similar to a potato, and rice with pumpkin flecks. Carrot cake was brought after the meal. It was all delicious and my kids once again enjoyed it all.

The best part though was talking to Pont! He shared the story of the building. In a nutshell, he started building this hut (at the time) by himself many years ago. His friends laughed at him and told him he was crazy to do this in an isolated area. He worked by himself and dragged all the materials in by hand. It took 10 years. The volcano erupted, people moved north, roads were built and now business is booming. He also spent time showing us some of his artifacts, which he has collected from small villages throughout the island. I'm hoping to fit in a trip back to try his pumpkin soup during the week.

Back at the house, we spent the rest of the day swimming and having wine with the sunset while the kids tried to knock coconuts out of a tree.

Monday, July 19

So my thoughts on Montserrat are this - the roads can be terrible! The people are wonderful! If you saw restaurants like the ones here back home, you'd never go in. The worst looking restaurants here serve the best food! Wine makes any enormous thunder storm a party!

So, Monday was spent going to different offices and shops before going on a hike. The tourism bureau in Brades was helpful in answering our questions. They have unlimited numbers pamphlets and maps for free, but when it came to a hiking guide, we had to buy it for 10EC (about $4 US). It's just one page but it describes every hike on the island so we thought it was a worthwhile purchase. Just nearby is the Stationery Store which does sell stationery, but moreso a variety of other items from cards to soap to toys to computer ink, all at outrageous prices. Next we went to Arrows Manshop for Montserrat T-shirts (25 EC each). They mostly sell clothes, but for some unknown reason, they also sell humungous boxes of cereal and cases of 50 packs of snack-size chips (which we bought since we have 3 ravenous kids with us)

We were still on our way to our chosen hike, but decided we needed ice cream to boost our energy supply so stopped at the Softee Freeze (to the left of the BBC complex in Brades). The owner John was there and he told us he makes everything himself. We started with some pastries filled with chicken, veggies, beef or cheese and they were tasty. The ice cream was wonderful, made in his home. But best of all, we ended up talking to John for over an hour and hearing what it was like to live in Plymouth just before the volcano became active in 1995 and erupted in 1997. He really has had quite a life from sleeping in his car once he had to evacuate his home, to watching his home burn from the pyroclastic flow, to starting up his new business in Brades. He's leaving on vacation Thursday so we're sad we can't go back to visit some more.

Next, since we were in Brades and knew we'd be hungry later, we finally found Ashoks food store. (we've passed it about 4 times since yesterday and missed it each time). Turns out they make Indian food there so we ordered some for later tonight (and we highly recommend it - it was delicious). We had been told that this store has fresher food than some of the other stores. They told us how they've lived in Montserrat for a long time and built and expanded the store over the years. On the way back, we stocked up on ice cream for the freezer.

I have to add here that it's been raining since I started writing this and it has gotten louder and louder!!! I can feel the thunder now and we just lost electricity. Better get more wine!

Back to the report...

On the way back, we decided to try to find the restaurant Ziggy's because we want to go there later this week. We drove way up a hill dotted with potholes and hairpin curves and had a lovely conversation with the owner. They won't open for just 2 people so tomorrow and Wednesday aren't looking good, but they do have some reservations for Thursday.

We took the food home and finally time for the hike! This part of our day deserves its own title...

"NOW I KNOW WHY THEY CALL IT A RAIN FOREST!"

We've been wanting to go on the 'easy' hike to the Cot. This path goes up a long hill and through a banana plantation and to the ruins of a cottage. We stopped at the National Trust for directions and they mentioned that it might rain. It had already misted a bit so we thought we'd be OK under the trees and set off. We drove up part way and it was amazing how many ruts were in that road. Finally we parked and set off. We met a man carrying a machete on the way up. You have to imagine that back home, we'd be scared to death, but here it was just another way to have a discussion. He turned off into a field to unleash his goat and took off. We started out across the field when we noticed a few rain drops. We looked the dark grey clouds coming in and decided to start back, but too late! The rain started...in buckets. We were soaked through by the time we got back to the car! Driving back down the hill, those ruts were filled with torrential waves of water. Moral - what a Montserratian tells you it might rain...TAKE THEIR ADVICE!

So we are back and having wine ( good in any weather!) and the rain during our hike seems like nothing compared to what is happening now...wave after wave of ever increasing torrential rain, the worst rain storm I have even seen in my life. Seriously, constant lightning, thunder shaking the house and hungry kids (don't they ever think of anything else??!!) Our Indian food was eaten at RT - no microwave. But you know, we wanted a vacation without pressures of being somewhere all the time, without schedules and this is affording us the time to sit at home and relax! We all ate dinner and played games by candle light tonight and sat on the verandah watching two distant lightening storms battle it out. Beautiful!

So signing off for now! I’ll post when the electricity comes back on!

Tuesday July 20

We decided to take a ride south today. We stopped at Lime Kiln Beach, a black sand beach with small waves at which we were the only people. We played in the water a bit and headed on south into Zone B.

The southern half of the island is called the Exclusion Zone and is permanently closed off due to the eruption in 1997. At the edges of this area are smaller areas denoted with letters: Zone A, Zone B, etc. There are big signs indicating which Zone you are entering. If there is serious volcanic activity, there may be evacuations of some of these various areas for safety of the inhabitants. All these areas are open now, and since we have reserved our villa, all have been open - we have been watching! Our villa is just outside of any of these zones; the closest food store is just within Zone A as are some restaurants we will be going to and many many other villas. For a more detailed explanation look up the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, www.mvo.ms

Anyway, as we entered Zone B and went further south we eventually encountered the Belham River Valley. The landscape became a bit more scrubby in places and the area seemed to be more isolated as we went further south. The Belham Valley is a wide swath of grey ash with dead trees in the middle. A sign at the side of the road stated that if the river was running, do not cross as serious flooding is possible. We turned around, not knowing if our car would get stuck in the mud or not after the tremendous rains of yesterday. It was our first taste of the fury of the volcano, especially when we noticed a seemingly pretty house across the other side of the valley. When we looked closer, we could see that the level of the ash flow was to the top of the roof of the verandah, with only the second floor visible. Reality set in. There was such devastation here and it was a sobering sight to see. It doesn't really hit you until you actually see it or talk to a resident, as the rest of the island seems so remote to this. I can't imagine what it would feel like to see the old capital, Plymouth, now covered with ash in the Exclusion Zone, or watch a house be engulfed by the pyroclastic flow. Anyway, we never did see a sign for Zone C.

We drove around this southern area for a bit, exploring, looking at other villas we had considered for our stay. Everyone we saw waved at us. Even other cars beeped out a greeting. Finally we headed for The Attic for lunch. It was wonderful as reviews promised. We had Roti, a curried chicken mixture in a folded up sort of thin tortilla, and a Quesidilla. Both were really good. My son had met someone on the ferry who recommended the Attic Burger and he spent the rest of the day raving about it. It was a burger with an egg, cucumber, bacon and it was big! If you are in Montserrat, try this place for lunch - you won't regret it!

We went back to the villa, spent the afternoon swimming (yea! a day with no rain), made dinner 'at home' and played games in the evening. As I drifted off to sleep, I was aware of a downpour once again, but it didn't drown out the crickets!

Wed July 21

Not much going on today...just relaxing and eating!

Lunch: People's Place - no menu. the server just told us there was fish, chicken, a rice dish and roti, so we ordered one of each. The chicken and fish came with potato salad, salad, cole slaw and rice and beans. The roti was much bigger than the one yesterday at the Attic. Everything was delicious. They serve goat water on Fri and Sat so we may be back

Dinner: Ziggy's - the highlight of the day! If you want a fancy dinner, this is the place. Marcias and John own it and are as nice as can be. To make it romantic, request the voodoo room. It's surrounded on 3 sides by open walls, but completely surrounded by the outside plants. Add many tiny candles and what atmosphere. I had butterfly shrimp, steak in a sauce with roasted potatoes and veg, and chocolate sludge (a rich choc tort with choc ice cream and choc sauce. Yum!) While the chocolate dessert was absolutely delicious, my husband's ginger honey ice cream was to die for. If anyone goes, and if you like the flavor of real ginger, you HAVE to have this if it's available. (The boat bringing cream only arrives every other week so they don't always have ice cream) I never tasted anything like it. As a matter of fact, they gave me a big container to go!!!! I'll eat a bit every day for the rest of the trip. The best anniversary dinner!

Thurs, July 22

We woked up early today so we walked over to Runaway Ghaut and walked up the short path through the palms and other Caribbean foliage. We drank some of the water since the legend is that if you do so you will return to Montserrat. Once we got back, and since the kids were still asleep, we decided to drive to check out some other villas in the area which we had considered. We saw Nice Diggs and Inis Ealu and they both looked beautiful. Nice Diggs appears to be out of the Zones and Inis in Zone A. We could imagine coming back without kids and if so, would need a smaller place, although I would give anythihng to stay here again - can't get much better than this villa. If anyone would like info on either, let me know.

All that driving makes one thirsty so we went on our first official "limin' " stop at Desert Storm. Limin' = drinkin' and chattin' with the locals. I had to twist my husband's arm since it was 9:30 am (!) I asked if we were the first drinkers of the day and Miga, the owner, laughed and said no way. He gave us some island tips, we bought a watermelon next door, which was more expensive than the drinks, stopped at the food store - no more milk coming in until next week - and went back to the villa.

The weather is improving - lots of blue sky for the first time!!!

We went to the Woodlands Beach to go snorkeling before lunch. It wasn't the best snorkeling, but we did see lots of small colorful fish anywhere where the coral was yellow. Guess why we left...it started pouring! We went to the villa, got changed and went for lunch at Wilson's Chicken. I don't know if they served anything but fried chicken and fries ("chips"), but it was fresh and delicious. (15 EC per plate, 5EC for a big glass of fruit punch or tamarind punch) The rain intensified so much that on the way back we noticed wash-outs, mud and rocks covering the roads. Be careful driving here - seeing large rocks on the edges of the roads is not unusual.

Christine - to answer the question about cost of food...Ziggy's was the most expensive place here so far. The steak was the most expensive meal at 90 EC, appetizers 20-30, desserts 20 EC and a glass of wine 20 EC. The meals at People's Place were 25 EC. At the Attic, burgers were about 12 - 16 EC, the quesadilla was the most expensive at 40. In the food stores, a box of cereal is about 12-15 EC, a loaf of bread is 5 EC , a small jar of PB is almost 11 EC. We're going through our money like water (excuse the pun!)

Friday, July 23

FINALLY! A sunny day! Give us some sun and we’ll make the most of it.

We left fairly early to go to the Green Monkey Dive Shop to rent kayaks for the 5 of us: 15 EC per hour for a double and 10 for a single. As promised, it took about 15 minutes to paddle around the promontory to Rendezvous Beach, the only white sand beach on the island. We were the only people on this beautiful long stretch of beach. We had brought enough snorkeling gear for 2 of us and rented for the 3rd (10 EC for the day) and set out for the rocks at the base of the cliffs. While our 2 youngest stayed on the beach to build wonderful coral and shell-decorated sand castles, the other 3 of us went snorkeling. We saw lots of pretty fish in yellow, black and /or white stripes, bright blues, aquas, dotted cube-shaped fish, and more. I saw a few clumps of coral just covered with sea urchins, but the most unusual for me was the huge loggerhead sea turtle. He watched me warily, then took off faster than I would have imagined possible. A great snorkel trip.

After that, of course we needed a drink so it was sodas for everyone at the Monkey Bar…except me. I had to try the rum punch – yum! Little Bay is where the new government buildings are being erected and the bad news is that the Green Monkey is being evicted January of next year to make way for more modern buildings. They are so upset about this and may just move back to the US as so far there is no where else for them to go. If so, what a loss for the island! They organize all sorts of water sports including boat trips to see the devastation of Plymouth, the old capital covered by volcanic ash, and dive trips.

Next it was lunch time, so we headed for the Food Fair of the Calabesh Festival held at the Lyme (a large bar). Island music and food booths around the bar were crowded with island people, kids hoola-hooping and some people dressed in some sort of old Montserrat dress covered with long bright ribbons. The kids got some chicken lunches, mango-banana smoothies and a coconut; my husband and I had pina coladas. We hoped to see some sort of dance demo, but other than them milling around for a long time, nothing seemed to be imminent so we finally left in search of some goat water, the national dish, which we finally found at the People’s Place.

Goat water is a goat meat stew in gravy. We couldn’t place the seasoning and were surprised to hear that it was clove and thyme along with what we would consider more typical ingredients. The goat meat was very good, while the sauce took some getting used to, but we’re glad we tried it.

After that, we went to the ATM and then took the long bumpy ride to Jack Boy Hill, a high point of the island perfect for viewing the old airport and surrounding area, all covered with ash, and the volcano. It was amazing that we saw so many goats on the way up – no houses, no people, just lots of goats mostly running around free, but on occasion tied up. Once at the viewing facility (amazingly modern and well-tended in the middle of all those broken up roads), the lush foliage around us was a stark contrast to the ash covered distant fields of what we thought were huge rocks in a field of grey. When we looked closer, we determined that most of the “rocks” were actually buildings. What a great loss for so many people. The old airport was covered up as well, but we had trouble making that out. We waited there for a while hoping that the clouds would move on and uncover the top of the volcano, but that was not to be. We could however, see many vents from which steam was exiting the volcano in bursts. The ride up had been rough with many enormous potholes and some small rock slides covering small parts of the roads in desolate terrain with some great views of the ocean (luckily we were the only car around as we weaved back and forth across the road to avoid destroying the car!), but the ride back was even more harrowing. We took the main road going through the center of the island instead of the northern road, wrapping around hills and through valleys and wondered how we could be on a two-way road when it was only about the width of our car. Thankfully we didn’t meet another car while winding through the jungle, as the right side of the road often plunged straight down from the road side. We finally got to “our’ side of the island and back on the road to our villa.

We sat on the verandah with wine and cheese, took a nap, and were called outside by our 20 year old who was intent on finding wildlife with his flashlight. And find it he did! We were called to witness his tarantula and 1 inch frog! (Guess which I preferred…ewwwww!) It was enough to drive my husband and me back to Little Bay for some limin’!

We went to Soca Cabana to listen to the music. It turned out to be a local band who played Calypso music to the (extremely loud) beat played by a keyboard. Despite not being able to hear what anyone was saying, and getting tequila shooters instead of the ordered rum punch (I told you it was loud!) we enjoyed ourselves. We tried to go to the Monkey Bar for a quieter drink, but it had just closed. Driving home on these dark, rock-strewn, twisty roads was something else!

Saturday, July 24

Wow! Another beautiful day (defined as partly cloudy with 30% chance of rain on 3 weather sites)

We've been wanting to go on a boat ride past Plymouth all week, but now that the weather has improved it seems that everyone else here has had the same idea. The Green Monkey trips were full for today, and we didn't want to chance waiting for Monday when they had room, but luckily, a couple of locals recommended a guy named Hubert (cell 492-1570 or 491-7585 in case anyone else is in this predicament). We contacted him and he said to be at the dock at 10:00. That must have been Caribbean time because at 10:20, he drove by in the front part of an 18-wheeler and said he'd be right back with the boat. We waited, a bit nervously I have to admit, but he came back with nice speed boat and quickly backed it down the boat ramp and off we went. "Buffy" (pronounced Boo-fee) and his 2 sons were very nice, told us all sorts of anecdotes about life on the island, and told us we could do whatever we liked for our tour...stop at any sight, swim, fish, go all the way around the island, whatever, for the same price as the Green Monkey trip. We went down the coast, passing our villa, and when we rounded the promontory at Plymouth, we could smell the sulfur from the vapors being vented from the volcano. Everything was a soft grey and he pointed out that a 3 story building we were looking at had actually been 5 stories. He also told us that an ice cream shop he used to work in was completely covered over. There were hundreds of homes on the hillsides on either side of the lahars (hot mudflows/pyroclastic flows) - all terrible losses for the previous owners. His father used to live in one of them that had been covered. We had no idea that it had been such a developed area.

We continued on to the southernmost point of the island, but the wind whipped up and the waves were huge so we couldn't go around the island. He did let out the lines to see if we could catch a barricuda, but no luck. (He was bummed!) We sped back up along the coast throwing up huge spray along the boat and bouncing across the tops of the waves until we approached a small fishing boat with 2 men fishing. They showed us the red snapper they had been catching and Buffy let out the lines again to see if we could catch anything. No luck again. We continued on to the northernmost point of the island where again it was too windy to go on around. The landscape up here was just ragged cliffs, but still pretty. We tried some more fishing to no avail and headed back south to Rendezvous Beach (no on was on the beautiful stretch of white sand), but we didn't have our bathing suits (terrible oversight) so we didn't swim.

We got back to the port after being out for 4 1/2 hours. I think the trip lasted longer than usual - he does take tourists out on a regular basis - because it was a matter of pride that he catch a fish, embarrassing in front of friends and family if he didn't. We could have stopped the fishing at any time, but didn't since we were enjoying the day on the boat. Even though we didn't catch any fish, this trip was quite the bargain. I had researched deep sea fishing trips out of Montserrat and they were about $400 for the day. We got that for free with our Plymouth trip (although we didn't go out as far out as the fishing trip would have). When we got back, Hubert said he'd arrange for us to get some of the fish from the fishermen, but we didn't think too much about that at that time.

For lunch, we stopped at Tina's for sandwiches, which were good, and yummy pumpkin soup - really delicious - and ordered some pizza to be picked up in the evening. Tina's seems to be known for her pizza so we looked forward to that. We went home, swam, rested, and then we were off to the Music Festival finishing up the Calabash Festival of this week. This concert turned out to be a talent show for the locals. There were some unprofessional acts, shall we say, in the beginning, but later some excellent acts took the stage. We particularly liked the steel drum band of about 20 people, and some singers, and other acts. We left after 2 hours, picked up our pizza and headed home.

The pizza was all I had hoped for - delicious crust, homemade sauce and a variety of toppings!

Random thoughts - there are goats, chickens, roosters, and lizards, some huge, everywhere on this island. The roosters cock-a-doodle-doo to each other all day. Each time that we get home, there is a big frog sitting in the middle of our driveway. My son has a little gecko who visits his patio each evening. Little green lizards sometimes visit us in our bedroom. Cats chase lizards for fun, boys chase iguanas! There are lots of hairpin curves here. The sides of the roads sometimes have deep cement gullies running along them to channel the torrents of rainwater - be careful driving so you don't run into one of them. You'd need a tow truck to get out! The tiniest shack selling vegetables could surprise you and have a computerized inventory system inside (we saw that once today and is shocked us) Flowers are everywhere, and the locals will always stop to chat if you are so inclined.

Sunday, July 25

I just realized we leave in 2 days so it's time for some serious down time.

However, we woke to honking outside so we went to see what the commotion was. It was Hubert from yesterday's boat trip bringing us the fresh red snapper he promised! Not only did he bring us fish, but he scaled, gutted and cut off the sharp fins for us. Hmmm...does this mean I have to cook???

Oh wait, laundry first! *sarcasm intended* (If I have to do laundry, I might as well do it in the Caribbean!) Clothing in, soap in, pull out the button, and...nothing! Power out again.

The kids were still asleep so my husband and I went on a run for money and Cokes. We found out that the electricity was scheduled to go out for a few hours for some maintenance. It was announced on the radio, but we're tourists - we swim and drink - no radio for us! Anyway, getting into our daily a.m. rum and Coke routine on our balcony wasn't too hard to do. A bit of swimming after that and the troops were hungry, so off we went to Gourmet Gardens.

We've tried to eat at Gourmet Gardens a few times because quite a few people have recommended it, but it's always been closed. Today we hit the jackpot, but since the power was out, the owner (from Holland) was a bit limited in what she could do for us because she couldn't defrost things quickly. We ordered salads and not only were they out of this world, they were beautiful. They had some slaw, potato salad, grapes, brie (!) and other things. I also ordered some pumpkin soup and it was the best I've ever had. We asked her about her wiener schnitzel - I had read some rave reviews about that too - and she said she sold her last one last night. She said that she only gets the ingredients in every so often and when the locals hear she has it, they all come buy it up.

If I had time, I would definitely go back to this restaurant, just south of the Attic on the other side of the road. It's a pretty pink building with a big porch set back off the street. If you go on a Sunday for lunch, be prepared to wait - the owner is the only one working there in the low season, but it was worth the wait. The kids were entertained by all the chickens, roosters and chicks running around, but it's there that we saw the biggest iguana of the trip saunter by. Cool striped tail!

More swimming, did the laundry (couldn't they leave the electricity off a bit longer?) and just relaxed until our red snapper dinner on the verandah.

Monday, July 26

Our last day :(

We finally made the time to go to the MVO - Montserrat Volcano Observatory
It cost 10EC per person and I highly recommend going just to see the documentary. (I also recommend asking if the movie is being shown - someone we talked to paid the price, but the movie wasn't working and the MVO wouldn't refund the money.) There are a few posters to look at, as well as a good view of the volcano from outside, but the movie is the best part - very informative!

Got home to start the birthday celebration with a bottle of champagne and a coconut tart (after all, my son did spend most of the vacation trying to get a coconut out of our tree!) Made lunch after that and spent the afternoon swimming and sunning.

We had reservations at the Olveston House for dinner and it was delicious. They remembered that we made the reservation not only to have a great last dinner, but also to celebrate #21 and they greeted my son with a rousing 'Happy Birthday' as soon as we arrived. Impressive that they would make a note of that without being asked. I have to say the food was delicious! We had rum punches, pina colada, and margueritas, pumpkin soup and garlic shrimp cocktail, and for the main courses, tilapia with orange ginger sauce, steak with onions and mushrooms and chicken with creamy blue cheese sauce and fettucini. All was sooooo good. The big surprise was that they brought my son a chocolate cake on the house - enough for all of us. He was so pleased! Definite recommendation for a nice dinner!

Tuesday, July 27

Hard to believe that it's all over. The good news is that all 3 of our flight had NO problems! As a matter of fact, they were all early! The view of the island was beautiful as we left, and true to form, the volcano summit was covered with that steam/cloud mixture. We were the only ones in immigration in Antigua - quite a change from 10 days ago when it was packed. That gave us some time eat lunch and check out the gift shop before our flight home.

What a shock to reach Newark...lights, airplanes, traffic, civilization! Got the car (there were 3 extra miles on the odometer, the seats were reclined and the A/C was turned all the way down - hmmmm - but no damage at least), and drove the 3 hours home. We couldn't have had a more relaxing...and unusual!...vacation than this! We drank the water from Runaway Ghaut so know we will be back someday!

Helpful?
7 Thank francetravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
1 review
4 helpful votes
“Montserrat: truly breathtaking”
Reviewed April 18, 2010

I was very fortunate to visit the island of Montserrat for the first time during the 2010 St. Patrick's week festivities. What a treat to see so many people enjoying themselves in local festivities which combined the Irish, as well as African heritages of the island population. I stayed with an old family friend, who was able to introduce me to a number of long term residents, as well as recent travellers to the island. Therefore I met a number of people who have lived on the island throughout the chaos of the 1989 hurricane damage and 1990's volcanic eruptions and who have reinvented themselves many times over in light of their circumstances.

The physical rugged beauty of the island is truly breathtaking and it is matched equally by the resilant beauty in the strength of the island's inhabitants. This is an island in the process of rebuilding itself from scratch and well worth a visit at this time! There are a number of things to do which are recommended by most travellers and worth the effort: Plymouth boat tour, snorkelling/diving (Green Monkey), kayaking, hiking, visiting the MVO, Rum Shops, as well as dining at a number of lovely small family run eateries and a few larger restaurants.

But in retrospect, for me the greatest pleasures were really the simplest ones: exploring the beaches which were sparsley inhabitated and checking out the change in the lighting, colour and texture of the plume of the volcano against a dazzling sunset in the early evening. As well simply having time to unwind without the commercialism and noise of most holiday spots. That was truly priceless! Montserrat was so relaxing, safe and so very unpretentious that I came back to work not just beautifully tanned, but with a radiant, relaxed smile ... My friends and collegueas said I had an inner glow! While there I checked out a number of small villas with pools, which I would highly recommend as the perfect way to enjoy Montserrat for a week or two of R & R...

Montserrat is rugged and a jeep is highly recommended as the best form of transportation to get around the island .. I would agree. I was driving alone all over the place within a few days and in future next year I will not hesitate to go off the beaten track! I have hiked for two weeks at a time in the high, rugged Sierra Nevada Mountains of Spain, as well as in the Bourdeaux hills and valleys of France and I think that Montserrat's terrain is equal to both for hiking, beauty and day tripping.

Helpful?
4 Thank Carole R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York New York
Level 4 Contributor
45 reviews
68 helpful votes
“It's you vs.the volcano”
Reviewed December 30, 2009

And expect the volcano to win. I am writing this while still on the island, trapped inside our rented villa, actually praying for rain.
You see, Soufriere is erupting, and has been erupting and spewing volcanic ash since I have been here, Christmas day. And for a long spell before that. Our house was covered with ash when we arrived and the lunar landscape effect was cool. For a while.
You get real tired of the stuff choking you and burning your eyes.
And you get real tired of spending your week sweeping and mopping. And not being able to use the pool. That's right! It's filled with ash! Oh, that and dead bugs. You see, the sulphuric acid in the ash kills them as well as all the plants. The ash coming down is the acid rain that causes acid rain.
Yeah, the stuff is sulphuric acid and silica. So it's like eating, breathing and blinking glass. NOT what the doctor ordered.
Yet under this attack is a beautiful island. Way more beautiful than and totally unlike any other in the Carribean. If someone kidnapped you and brought you here, once they took off your blind fold , you would think you in Greece, or Positano or even some quiet, unknown place on Mulholland drive. Even under its gray coat, there is a verdant, hilly, lush island deserves to call itself "Emerald". And the people are open, honest, hard working.welcoming and proud. And the ex-pats are a riot!
Will I be back? I hope so. Hopefully the volcano will tire of its battle and act like its distant cousin in Hawaii. Maybe I'll be lucky enough to get here before the droves of tourists come and try to possess it in a way no one who has never taken on the volcano at all deserves to. Let's just try to get through the rest of this week, first!

Helpful?
Thank MadameO
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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