24 Hours In: Montserrat
Spectacular views, crystal-clear waters, tropical beaches, great food - and lashings of rum
Sunday 29 October 2006
Rise and shine to volcanic views
08.00: Wake up to spectacular views of the Soufrière Hills volcano, the surrounding mountains and the ocean at the Vue Pointe Hotel (001 664 491 5210; vuepointe.com). Perched on a hillside in Old Towne, its 18 cottages and rooms are set within five acres of tropical gardens, right next to the beach. Work up an appetite with an early morning stroll along the beach. Doubles start at $142 (£78) per night without breakfast.
Go on tour, but mind the crater
09.45: For excellent views over ash-covered Plymouth, the hotel can arrange transport to Richmond Hill, however, this is subject to volcanic conditions. Contact the Montserrat Tourist Board (001 664 491 2230; visit montserrat.com). Tours can be arranged through Reuben Furloung (001 664 492 2790).
Observatory is worth a peek
11.00: Stop off at the Monserrat Volcano Observatory in Flemmings (001 664 491 5647; mvo.ms). Even if you miss one of the tours only offered on Tuesday and Thursday at 2pm, it's still worth a look. Tours cost €4 (£2.50) per person.
Jump to Jacks for seafood specials
12.00: Head back to Jumping Jack's Beach Bar and Restaurant (001 664 491 5645) at Old Road Bay near the hotel to feast on seafood. It specialises in fish caught by owner Danny Sweeney.
Time to cotton on to shopping
13.15: Take a stroll around Brades past Montserrat's new interim government buildings before hitting the shops. You won't find any chain stores or malls here, but look out for handwoven items from locally-grown sea island cotton, leather goods and volcanic rock souvenirs.
Rendezvous on the silver sands
14.30: Rendezvous Bay, Montserrat's only white-sand beach can be reached only by foot or by boat. The 45-minute trek from Little Bay takes you through the dramatic Silver Hills and past the ruins of the 17th-century Rendezvous Village - the first Irish settlement on the island. The walk is rewarded by a deserted beach, crystal clear water and an off-shore coral reef, which is ideal for snorkelling. Arrange a water-taxis service in advance through The Green Monkey Inn and Dive Shop (001 664 491 2960; divemont serrat.com) on Little Bay. It offers flexible snorkelling packages and scuba-diving.
Bring out the binoculars
18.00: En route to the northern tip of the island stop off at the Jack Boy Hill viewing facility at New Windward, East Coast Road, which is perfectly positioned to observe the volcano, the deserted airport and destroyed eastern villages. As night falls, it might be possible to see the glowing dome of the volcano. A telescope allows for closer inspection, but it's best to bring your own binoculars.
Chill out with a lobster burger
19.30: Close to the Brades main road in a pretty wooden building, Tina's Restaurant (001 664 491 3538) is a great place to watch the world go by. Choose from specials including pumpkin soup, shrimp dishes or lobster burgers.
Have a nightcap at the rum shop
22.00: You can't visit the Caribbean without sampling some rum. A favourite haunt of locals are small roadside bars, better known as "rum shops", where people hang out or "lime", and play dominoes.Gary Moore's Wide Awake Bar and the Green Monkey Inn are two popular spots to while the night away until everyone goes home.
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