I also recommend hiking the 3,792-foot dormant volcano Mount Liamuiga. This is the tallest mountain in this archipelago and the top third often sits in a deliciously cool and calming cloud, which is a nice break from the Caribbean’s torch-like sun.
Our second evening in St. Kitts, we sailed over to a popular strip of beach bars at South Friar’s Bay. There is something very special about dropping an anchor in front of a bustling night scene, hopping in a dinghy, and driving right into the fray. It’s a bit of a James Bond moment. We had to substitute cheap local beer and greasy burgers for caviar and dry martinis, but it was all good.
We were both excited and a bit nervous about our next destination, Montserrat, which is well off the standard cruising map. The Sunsail guides didn’t exactly encourage us to go there. This is understandable given that the island’s Soufrière Hills volcano is active and could theoretically rain hot ash and rocks down on the boat if we happened to be there when the volcano got angry.
We were facing another long sail, but were looking forward to it. There’s nothing better after a night of guzzling beer and pounding burgers than a day at sea. Something about the wind, the salt spray, and the gentle surging of a boat under sail that cleanses the mind and spirit.
In the early afternoon, we began to see Montserrat’s luscious green peaks rising out of the horizon. Just north of the island’s tiny port, we dropped anchor in a beautiful little cove called Rendezvous Bay.
Sailing is unlike land-based holidays, where arrival often throws you into the stress of finding a hotel, checking in, searching for a good place to eat, etc., etc. The minute we pulled into Rendezvous, we uncorked cold white wine, had a snack, and went snorkeling … no hurry, no stress, no worries.
After a refreshing shower on the boat, we were ready to face civilization. We took the dinghy into the harbor, checked through customs, and hit the only spot in town, a bar/restaurant and scuba operation called the Green Monkey. There we got the lowdown what to see and do in Montserrat. Top on the list was a tour of the volcano and its destructive path.
During its heyday, Montserrat was a bustling little country boasting one of the Caribbean’s best medical schools and one of the world’s most famous recording studios. AIR studio was owned and operated by Sir George Martin (who made music with the Beatles). Over the years, Martin brought some of the world’s most famous and glamorous talents to this island to record, including Dire Straits, The Police, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John, Duran Duran, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Ultravox, The Rolling Stones, Lou Reed, Black Sabbath, and Eric Clapton.
In the 1990s a series of eruptions buried much of this island in hot ash and mud, destroying AIR Studios, the capital city of Plymouth, the airport, and the seaport. Luckily there were only a few casualties, but the island took a big hit and still hasn’t completely recovered.
On the Green Turtle’s recommendation, we signed up for a 4-wheel drive tour of areas devastated by the volcano. While much of the island is still off limits because of the threat of more volcanic activity, our driver got us pretty far in. We actually drove up a hardened mudflow that had buried a golf course, where we could still make out the remains of the old clubhouse.