Tiny Montserrat gave the world a glimpse of the raw power of nature in 1995 when tts volcano erupted. Find lush flora in the forests, woods and hills. Bird life is busy, with thrashers, cuckoos, bananaquits, heron, cattle egrets, kingfishers and three species of hummingbird. All but one of the beaches are black volcanic sand, and diving among coral reefs on the north coast is excellent. Nature trails supervised by Montserrat’s forest rangers reveal the diversity of the island’s tropical plant and animal life, and guides take visitors to see the impact of both ancient and recent volcanic eruptions. Known as the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean, Montserrat has some surprising links with Ireland – not a country known for its colonizing campaigns. Their legacies are the many Irish place-names, the public holiday on St Patrick’s Day, the faint echoes of an Irish accent in the local dialect and the Irish harp on the island’s postage stamps. The island continues to offer a serene contrast to more glitzy, crowded destinations, and the islanders offer visitors the friendliest welcome they will ever find.