Hiking Montserrat - Montserrat Tourism Division (2024)

The island of Montserrat is sometimes referred to as the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean thanks to its unique colonial ties to Ireland. But long before those new arrivals from Europe projected their heritage on the island, it was already a lush green wonder. Thankfully, it remains a hiker’s paradise to this day.

What to know about Hiking Montserrat

As with almost every aspect of Montserratian life, the exceptional hiking here pays at least some homage to the ever-active Soufriere Hills Volcano and the island’s volcanic past. All that activity over the millennia has left the land vibrant and fertile.

It also left the island marvelously mountainous. Montserrat’s volcanic origins spawned as concentrated a collection of dramatic peaks and valleys as found anywhere in the Caribbean. This dynamic topography harbors a multitude of microclimates that ensure rainfall needed for the forest reserves of the Centre Hills, one of the prime hiking areas.

And then, of course, there is the latest volcanic activity ongoing since the mid-90s. During this time, the creation of the exclusion zone around Soufriere Hills and the displacement of formerly burgeoning population centers in and around the now destroyed old capital of Plymouth allowed nature to strengthen its hold across the southern portion of the island. Naturally, this has yielded even more stellar hiking opportunities.

One more thing to consider when going for a hike on the island of Montserrat is the people. That’s because it’s one of the safest islands in the Caribbean! Should you run into anyone else deep in the forests of the Centre Hills or elsewhere, you should only expect a hearty “good afternoon” and a little encouragement that you’re “almost there!”

Taken together, the volcanic history, old and new, plus the friendly population, Montserrat is one of my favorite hiking destinations in the West Indies.

Hiking Montserrat - Montserrat Tourism Division (1)

Do you need a guide?

There are signs across the island marking trailheads. Unfortunately, they’re about 10 years old and, as a result, have weathered a bit. However, the trail markings are also generally well done, and the trails are cleared regularly.

All that is to say that you should be fine if you want to tackle any of the hikes alone. But that doesn’t mean you should.

Scriber has been leading nature walks, hikes, and other educational excursions across Montserrat for years, describing anything and everything you might run across during your time in the forest. His name, Scriber, is even short for “Describer,” a nod to his comprehensive knowledge and desire to share it all with visitors.

I’ve gone on several treks with him. I’ve even sent my young children off into the wilds under his care. Each time, he always delivers new and exciting insights into the many reasons why Montserrat is our volcano paradise.

So, alone or under Scriber’s wing, don’t miss hiking Montserrat. It’s easily the best way to the rich green heart of the Caribbean’s Emerald Isle.

Our Favorite Hiking Trails

OK, you’re convinced. You want to try some of the many hikes on offer but aren’t sure which to tackle. Well, here are my top three trails to consider when hiking Montserrat in the Caribbean.

Rendezvous Beach Trail

The first thing to know is that this trail could be completed in an hour and a half or less, roundtrip. But you’ll never want to do it that fast. Why? Well, it’s in the name.

Starting at the far end of Little Bay, this hike takes you up and over a promontory before depositing you on Montserrat’s one and only white sand beach.

Rendezvous Beach is long, brilliantly white (depending on the time of year), and blessed with radiant turquoise waters. The soaring cliffs on one side add to the mystique. There’s simply no way you’ll want to turn around and immediately finish this hike!

Depending on the time of year that you do this hike, your windswept surroundings will either be green or tan. But either way, the landscape will stay true to the island’s original name Alliouagana or “Land of the Prickly Bush.” So, keep that in mind when tackling this moderately difficult trail.

Hiking Montserrat - Montserrat Tourism Division (2)

Oriole Walkway

The first hike I ever went on was along Oriole Walkway with the aforementioned Scriber. Starting behind The People’s Place and Hilltop Cafe, expect this hike to deliver the quintessential Montserrat hiking experience.

Lush, vibrant tropical forests? Check.

Paths lined with vibrant clutches of the national flower of Monserrat, the red heliconia? Check. There are yellow varieties here as well. (Admire them from a distance, though, because Jack Spaniard wasps love building their hives below their beautiful broad leaves!)

And then, of course, there’s the namesake of the trail and the main event: the Montserrat Oriole—a blazing yellow streak against the green canopy.

While some Montserratians I’ve chatted with can’t remember the last time they’ve seen one of these elusive birds, if you hike this trail with Scriber at your side, you can guarantee a glimpse. Why? He speaks fluent Oriole.

Seriously, he knows every bird’s calls (even the migratory ones) in the forest. With a quick bit of chatter, they’ll simply come to you so you can admire them up close!

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Dry Waterfall Petroglyphs

Last but certainly not least is the Dry Waterfall trail with a detour to reach ancient stone carvings the likes of which satisfy the Indiana Jones in all of us.

Discovered about seven years ago after a storm had exposed a portion of a hillside, these stone carvings are between 1,000 and 1,500 years old.

The Dry Waterfall trail is moderately challenging, and the easy-to-miss detour to the petroglyphs takes you bouldering along dry river beds, so again, your best bet is to secure a guide for this one.

But the trip back in time when taking in these ancient carvings is well worth the effort.

The Bottom Line on Hiking Montserrat

The bottom line is that the island of Montserrat sports some of the most accessible trails into the heart of West Indian rain forests found anywhere in our islands. Bird songs carry you along past titanic plant life, waterfalls, an impressive variety of plant life, and even back in time to the island’s pristine pre-colonial splendor.

It’s one of the many experiences on offer that make our volcano paradise so unique.

Hiking Montserrat - Montserrat Tourism Division (2024)

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