Montserrat


Overview

The tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat is a lively place � in part, for the wrong reasons. In 1995 its resident volcano rumbled into life; by 1997, capital Ply

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.

Wanderlust recommends

  1. Go diving – Due to low visitor numbers and various restrictions, Montserrat’s reefs remain pristine, and offer some of the best diving in the Caribbean.
  2. Turtle watch – In August and September, green, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles come ashore to lay their eggs on Montserrat’s black-sand beaches; join a trek with the local National Trust to see them.
  3. Take in the view from Jack Boy Hill – This look-out on the east coast offers fascinating views south across the lush interior to the mud flows and ash-covered remains of the volcano-devastated island below.
  4. Visit the volcano – The Montserrat Observatory continues to monitor the island’s volcano (and volcanic activity across the Caribbean). Experts are on hand to explain it all, while lookouts give good views.
  5. Sip rum in Little Bay – The island’s new hub is developing apace. Wander around the busy market, pier and local rum shops.

Wanderlust tips

 

Take local advice on the status of the volcano – the safety situation
can change quickly. Do not enter any off-limits areas.

Further Reading

Montserrat – vital statistics

  • Capital of Montserrat: Plymouth
  • Population of Montserrat: 5,100
  • Languages in Montserrat: English
  • Time in Montserrat: GMT-4
  • International dialling code in Montserrat: +664
  • Voltage in Montserrat: 230V 60Hz
  • Visa information for Montserrat: Montserrat visa
  • Money in Montserrat: Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$). US dollars are also regularly accepted. The small town of Brades has an ATM and a small bank.
  • Montserrat travel advice: Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • Montserrat tourist board: Montserrat Tourist Board

 

When to go to Montserrat

 

Montserrat is warm year round. It is most pleasant in the winter, between December and April. Hurricane season is June-November.

International airports in Montserrat

John A Osborne, or Gerald’s, Airport (MNI)

Getting around Montserrat

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.

Montserrat accommodation

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.

Montserrat food & drink

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.

Health & safety in Montserrat

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.