Monday, 2 August 2010

Montserrat is a gorgeous and tranquil island that measures 40 square miles. Mountainous and deep luscious green is its terrain and it sits in the Leeward Islands chain of the Eastern Caribbean. This island was not very prominent on the world scene until a major volcano known as Soufriàre Hills erupted in 1997 and displaced the south of the island. Most of the south of the island inhabitants had to leave the pretty Caribbean treasure because their homes and businesses had been crushed by volcanic ash.

The WH Bramble airport was abandoned and the capitol of Plymouth evacuated as it was also covered by layers of volcanic ash. This natural disaster negatively affected tourism in the area for several years until recently when interest in the mountain increased and its activity stabilized. Visitors can now witness a live volcano from a safe distance in the north of the island and the Soufriàre Hills volcano is under the constant supervision of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory or MVO. The Montserrat Volcano Observatory also runs educational programmes about the volcano and provides information to the public.

Diving holidays in Montserrat are ideal because the island and surroundings are so unspoilt. The locals live close to nature and there are not enough inhabitants to affect the environment in any serious way. Before the volcanic eruption forced half of the inhabitants to flee the island, there were only 12'000 people living on the island and there is now estimated to be under 6000 (2008 estimated figures).

Best Hotels in Montserrat

Gingerbread Hill

All reviews of this peaceful place speak of serenity and calm. With great views over the sea and a warm breeze perfect any time of day. The views or sunsets and rainbows are to die for and the simple luxury gorgeous. The whole environment is well balanced in a way that would impress the most die hard Feng Shui fans. There are rooms or villas available and freshly picked produce and eggs are always available (subject to hen cooperation).

Tropical mansion Suites

This 18 room boutique hotel leaves every guest feeling like a king. All of the staff, like most of the population, are friendly and could not be more helpful. The views of the sea are amazing and the food never disappoints. It is not as big as a lot of the hotels but the personal touch will leave you spoilt. It will be difficult to return to normal life after a stay at the Tropical Mansion Suites and that is why they are included in this article on Diving Holidays in Montserrat.

Turtle Bay Apartments

As an apartment complex you have to do your own cooking but it is probably the best value money can by in this gorgeous Caribbean island. With great views of the sea, the owner bends over backwards to arrange local visits and excursions for visitors. It is a short walk to the beach and a little longer walk to restaurants. It is located further away from the shops and most produce has to arrive from Dominica n Tuesdays. Turtle Bay Apartments is a tranquil place with a calm atmosphere.

Best Dive Sites in Montserrat

Woodlands Bay

Montserrat has amazing diving sites for the professional diver or the enthusiast. Woodlands Bay is the perfect place to reach the shallow coastal reef. It has some exhilarating underwater vistas and a small cave very near to the beach. You can peep into the cave and awe at the vibrantly coloured walls, the coral shrimp, and a multitude of copper sweepers.

Lime Kiln Bay

Lime Kiln Bay is the diving site southern most on the island and it has shallow ledges that stretch outwards from the shore to depth of roughly forty five feet deep. Here you can find ample sea life nestling on boulders along the ridge.

Bunkum Bay

Bunkum Bay is has a mainly sandy bottom with boulders scattered about the place. It ranges from 90 to 140 feet along the shelf slope which is a great location for snorkelers. Not far away, just under the cliffs of Virgin Islands a huge reef extends into the bay close to Soldiers Ghaut. This is reported to be one of the best snorkelling sites in Montserrat.

Potato Hill Reef

Hurricane Luis struck and destroyed a lot of shallow water coral, such as wire corals and a deep sea fan, but still, it grows back at a rapid rate. These are usually only found in deep water but were surviving in 20 feet of water. Colourful and vibrant colours are here everywhere. A bushy black coral stand and a large pillar coral survived through the worst of storms.

Rendezvous Bay

Rendezvous bay area is great for snorkelling and diving and is well known for the famous bat cave. Here thousands of bats greet you from the ceiling as you enter the cave. There is a rich reef community with boulders and ledges that are underneath 60 feet of water. Surges here are quite strong and the harsher climate encourages a different type of plant growth.

Best Dive Companies

Scuba Montserrat

The owners of this fantastic dive shop bring 17 years of experience with them and are also certified diving instructors. They can provide personalized diving and snorkelling sessions, volcano boat tours as well as beach picnics and parties.

The Green Monkey Inn and Dive Shop

The Green Monkey Inn and Dive Shop is authorized to provide PADI training courses with a dive operations and water sports rental facility. It is amongst the best dive companies on the island. Available to rent are inflatable dive kayaks, sea scooters, and snorkelling rafts, amongst other things. Offering scuba packages such as multiple day packages as well as discover scuba they also offer guided snorkelling tours to rendezvous bay and other sites. They even have the Monkey Bar, a beach side bar to relax, sip a nice cool drink and watch the sunset.