The tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat is a lively place although in part, for the wrong reasons. In 1995 its resident volcano rumbled into life.
The volcano continues to burble, adding an extra frisson of excitement to visiting Montserrat. And visiting is still very worthwhile. The island that once marketed itself as 'the way the Caribbean used to be' is still a fascinating, traditional, undeveloped spot.
As the south of the island remains an Exclusion Zone, sightseeing is restricted to the north (you can see the sights in a day, or take longer to just relax). Drive the rugged coast, take hikes into the rainforest (home to around 90 species of bird) and stop off at the Volcano Observatory, to watch the trouble-making peak rumble on.
Or take to the water: diving off the coast of Little Bay, the island's new main hub, you'll find virgin reefs and pristine waters rich in marine life.
Take local advice on the status of the volcano – the safety situation
can change quickly. Do not enter any off-limits areas.
Montserrat is warm year round. It is most pleasant in the winter, between December and April. Hurricane season is June-November.
John A Osborne, or Gerald’s, Airport (MNI)
There are no scheduled bus services; taxis and minibuses service the island – you simply hail them.
Tours run around the main sites, or you can hire a car from a local – a good way to get around.
Ferries run between Montserrat and Antigua.
Being a small island, most of which is off-limits, accommodation options aren’t plentiful, but there is a hotel, a few villas and B&Bs, and a campground. The tourist board website has a full list of what is available.
Fish is plentiful and fresh – everything from salted cod to grilled scallops to lobster burgers. The national dish is goat water, a thick goat stew eaten with hunks of bread.
Rum is the beverage of choice – visit the rum shops in Little Bay. Exotic fruit juices are good – try papaya, gooseberry and guava.
Montserrat’s small hospital has limited facilities.
Check the status of the volcano before visiting. Asthma sufferers may be affected by the volcanic ash and smoke in the air.
Dengue fever is a risk – take precautions against mosquito bites.
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