The British Overseas Territory of Montserrat is an island in the Caribbean, south-east of Puerto Rico.
This island was a very popular tourist destination until Hurricane Hugo caused widespread damage in 1989 and then in 1995, the island's volcano, Soufrière Hills, became active. A large part of the island was evacuated as a result. There have been on-going volcanic eruptions in the southern half of the island since that time, and that part of the island (the exclusion zone) is now ash-strewn and inaccessible.
The northern half of the island is untouched, as beautiful as it ever was, green and lush; visiting it is perfectly safe. The active volcano (which can be viewed from a good distance) has become a tourist attraction in its own right. Montserrat is still well worth visiting, and the locals go out of their way to be encouraging and welcoming to tourists.
Colonisation dates to the 1600s; a gun battery was strategically placed at Carr’s Bay in 1624 to defend the island against approaching ships. Montserrat was initially an agricultural economy; plantations and sugar mills were common in the 1700s with sugar cane juice and molasses processed for local consumption and export. Later, the well-to-do built their estate houses on the island; an elaborate main house was often a landmark because of its size and numerous rooms. In 1857 Joseph Sturge established the Montserrat Company, which cultivated lime fruit for export and sold small plots of land to settlers. Various old churches date to the late 19th or early 20th century. The first air charter flights on the island began in 1956; an eleven-hole golf course (now defunct) opened in the Belham River Valley in response to growth in tourism in the 1960s. A well-equipped recording studio, established by Beatles producer George Martin in 1979, attracted a long list of popular musicians in its one decade of operation. Tiny Montserrat promoted itself as "the way the Caribbean used to be".
Montserrat has been hit hard by the four elements, both from without and from within. First the wind and waves of Hurricane Hugo swept through in 1989, damaging 90% of the island's structures. Then the earth and fire welled up in 1995, with the volcano of Soufrière Hills forcing the long-term evacuation of 2/3 of the island's population, and closing the old airport and seaport in June 1997.
The capital, Plymouth, is now covered by 40 feet of ash, earning its nickname "the new Pompeii", and much of the rest of the southern part of the island is now quite uninhabitable and unusable. Government offices have since been set up in Brades on the northwest shore of the island, out of harm's way. Much of the island's population has returned, with estimates ranging from 4,700 to 9,500, compared to the pre-Hugo/Soufrière high of over 12,000. A new town is being built at Little Bay and the new port there is being expanded.
Temperatures year-around average between 76-88°F (24-32°C), with constant cooling breezes. Rainfall is a little more common from July to November.
Montserrat is small, but getting larger. The erupting volcano is gradually extending the southern end of the island. The northern part of the island is mostly quite hilly.
Montserrat had traditionally been divided into three parishes; since the 1995 volcanic eruption, only one (Saint Peter, which is Northern Montserrat) is inhabited.
Villages in the northern part of the island include:
The northern zone of Montserrat has a number of different beaches. Each one has its own appeal and all are worth visiting.
The old capital town, Plymouth, was in the south and has been destroyed or buried by volcanic eruption. While the Soufrière Hills Volcano Hazard Zone in the south is (de-facto) never publicly accessible, the level of access to Central Montserrat Hazard Zones in the centre of the island is variable, based on current volcanic activity levels.
The Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) has divided the at-risk areas of the island into zones as part of a Hazard Level System. A map on MVO's website (mvo.ms) updates frequently to indicate the level of permitted access for each zone by one of four colours: green (unrestricted), yellow (daytime access or transit), orange (controlled access), and red (authorised access only).
Proof of citizenship is required. United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and CARICOM citizens may present a driver's licence or other government photo ID; all others require passports. Visitors from Cuba require visas, obtainable from British Consular offices. All visitors must have tickets for departure, proof of accommodation, and funds to cover their expenses while on Montserrat.
Several tour operators in Antigua offer day excursions to Montserrat, including observation of the Soufrière Hills volcano. Charter helicopters from Antigua offer another way to view the volcano.
Antigua-based day tours, such as Carib World Travel and Jenny Montserrat Tours, typically package existing scheduled flights or ferry runs to reach Montserrat. Any same-day boat tour will therefore be limited to days with more than one scheduled ferry run (Tue, Thu, sometimes Sat). Once in Montserrat, the tours typically offer a view of the volcano sites or a boat tour to Plymouth.
Antigua's customs departure taxes are EC$37.50/US$15.00 per person. Montserrat departure taxes are EC$10.00/US$4.00 per person for same-day trips, higher for an overnight stay. Many of the advertised package prices do not include this extra cost.
The primary transportation harbour (the new port) is at Little Bay, north of Brades. Since 2014, Little Bay has been the target of redevelopment. Regular ferry service from Antigua was interrupted in April 2016, but has returned under a new operator; check the schedule in advance. On some public holidays there may be boat tours with fantastic views of the volcano, pyroclastic flows, abandoned and destroyed towns as well as beautiful scenery.
Traffic drives on the left. Montserrat has one main two-lane road that winds along the coast on the east and west sides of the island. Cars can be rented from several businesses. Traffic is light (there are no traffic lights) but there are only two gas/petrol stations on the island. In 2011, a 4-door Suzuki Vitara (residents would call it a Jeep) rented for approx $250 US dollars per week.
A temporary Montserrat driver's license can be obtained at the police station in Brades or Salem, all that is required is a completed form, presentation of your home country/territory license, and a payment of US$20 or EC$50.
Bicycle rentals are also available. Taxis and buses run, mostly during the day. Hitch-hiking, during the day and early evening is safe and considered normal - just point your finger in the direction you are going.
Walking, while safe and possible to all points, is quite an arduous task, as the roads traverse very steep hills. Locals tend to walk within a local village or housing area, but find other transport from village to village.
The people of Montserrat all speak English (British variety), albeit with a local accent.
The volcano! An observation area on Jack Boy Hill on the eastern side gives a view of the ash flows covering the old airport. Huge boulders may sometimes be seen, crashing down the slope in a cloud of dust. Tours into the exclusion zone are sometimes possible, depending entirely on the official volcano risk level as assessed by the Montserrat Volcano Observatory staff. If you are able to go into the exclusion zone you will pass through a landscape of abandoned homes and fields, see the volcano close-up, and gaze down at the old capital of Plymouth, now buried in ash and mud. As of January 2012 no one other than government officials and scientists was permitted into what little remains of Plymouth.
Montserrat is blessed with natural beauty, with lush tropical forests crossed by trails of varying difficulty. Many can be enjoyed on your own, however, some require a guide to make the path clear. Stop by the National Trust or Tourist Information for a map.
Montserrat is known for its quiet beaches. Check out each one, they are all different. The island is surrounded by reefs; snorkelling and scuba diving can be enjoyed from shore or by boat. Redonda, a steep uninhabited island 15 miles to the Northwest of Montserrat, is a scuba destination with six-foot barrel sponges, Eagle Rays, Stingrays, and the occasional nurse shark.
Little Bay has a good solid pier where boats dock but no breakwater yet (as of 2014, one is proposed). As scuba and tour boats operate from this pier, tours may be cancelled for a day or two if there's a strong southerly wind with big swells. Once the weather changes, the boats can get out. Be prepared to go hiking, sightseeing, or just relaxing by the pool or at the beach while waiting for the seas to calm enough for the boats to be able to leave Little Bay.
Scuba Montserrat in Little Bay offers diving, snorkelling, daily diving, full courses, clear bottom kayaks, volcano boat tours and equipment. Green Monkey Dive Shop was closed (as of Jan 2014) as a hotel is to be built on their Little Bay site. The Tourist Board has listings of local guides for other boat tours or land excursions.
Carr’s Bay Gun Battery is now a picnic area; the ruins of the master's house at Carr’s Plantation remain visible at Little Bay.
Among radio amateurs, a confirmed country or island contact with a Montserrat VP2M callsign is a rare catch. Fewer than two dozen active "ham" operators live on the island. The Montserrat Amateur Radio Society can provide a local callsign to a visiting, foreign-licensed radio amateur on eight weeks notice. Over a busy ham radio contest weekend, CQ CQ CQ DE VP2M... might get a few thousand responses as hams worldwide seek a rare contact for the logbooks.
The currency of the country is the East Caribbean dollar, denoted by the symbol: "$" or "EC$" (ISO currency code: XCD), which is also used by seven other island nations in the Caribbean. The EC dollar is subdivided into 100 cents. It is pegged to the United States dollar at an exchange rate of US$1 = EC$2.70.
Coins circulate in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 25 cents and 1 dollar. Banknotes circulate in denominations of 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollars.
Often, accommodations are priced in the more valuable US dollar, so the designation EC$ is useful to distinguish the two.
Items for sale in shops are generally 'expensive' compared to US and European standards.
Shops take cash, and may not accept debit cards. Also as a bonus, the ferry service only takes cash!
There are only two ATMs on the island, but the Bank of Montserrat cannot withdraw from international accounts (not even UK). As with the rest of the Caribbean the Royal Bank of Canada charges a flat fee of US$4.50 to withdraw, so if you want to avoid fees or being in a cashless state, stock up in your previous ECD currency country!
Most establishments are casual. Some bars on the beach are okay with folks walking right in sand and all.
Most meal choices consist of chicken or seafood, with most having a red meat option, though the type of meat various greatly. Few places are open at night for dinner, and most of those that are require reservations (not because they're fancy or expensive, but because business is slower and they want to ensure they have fresh food available.)
There are no international fast-food chains on Montserrat.
Accommodation on Montserrat is a bargain compared to many of its less geologically active neighbours, as the island is anxious to re-establish its tourism industry. The tourism board has listings of private villas for as little as US$700/week. Beware of hidden "service charges", as a few properties have been known to tack on an extra 10% in addition to the room cost and taxes.
Prices do not include the 7-10% tax on accommodations unless otherwise indicated.
Like almost all Caribbean islands, Montserrat may experience a tropical storm or even a hurricane during the season from June to November.
Volcanic eruptions still pose some danger, though volcanic activity has been primarily on the level of a nuisance in recent years. Travel to the Soufrière Hills Volcano Hazard Zone on the south end of the island is generally not permitted, for safety reasons. The Montserrat Volcano Observatory (mvo.ms) publishes current risk assessments and exclusion zone limits.
Montserrat is generally a safe place, however in recent years, violent crime has increased. Assault is the most common form, with an annual rate of just over 10 assaults for every 1000 people. (By comparison, Canada's rate is about 7 per 1000). General safety precautions, including such as not walking in an alleyway at night, are advised.
No vaccinations are required to enter Montserrat unless coming from a country that has suffered a cholera, yellow fever, or small pox epidemic.
Antigua, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis offer perfect sandy beaches, rugged volcanic peaks and historical fortresses. Picturesque harbors and lively steel bands are the icing on the cake. Footprint's Handbook provides invaluable information on transport, accommodation, eating and entertainment to ensure that your trip includes the best of these beautiful islands.•Essentials section with useful advice on getting to and around Antigua & Barbuda, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis.•Comprehensive, up-to-date listings of where to eat, sleep and play.•Includes information on tour operators and activities, from enjoying palm-fringed beaches to hiking the volcanic peaks.•Detailed maps for the islands and their key destinations.•Slim enough to fit in your pocket.With detailed information on all the main sights, plus many lesser-known attractions, Footprint's Antigua, St Kitts & Nevis Handbook provides concise and comprehensive coverage of one of the Caribbean's most idyllic locations.
Hardcover: 141 pages Publisher: Triangle Postals , S.L (September 30, 1999) Language: Spanish ISBN-10: 8484780686 ISBN-13: 978-8484780687 Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 6.1 x 0.5 inches Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
This densely illustrated junior-friendly tour-book walks you through an enchanting Caribbean island of Montserrat and makes you feel what it's like to live side by side with an active volcano. From the history of Montserrat civilization, endemic fauna and flora, savvy accommodation, to education, sports and crime rate, this compact guide leaves you without a reason to guess about life in this distant paradise; instead it makes you witness its daily zest. Welcome to the Leeward Islands, the British Overseas !
Montserrat is a multi-peaked mountain located near the city of Barcelona, in Catalonia, Spain. It is well known as the site of the Benedictine abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat, which hosts the Virgin of Montserrat sanctuary and which is identified by some with the location of the Holy Grail in Arthurian myth. Montserrat, whose name means serrated mountain, is ideally located to play an important role in the cultural and spiritual life of Catalonia. It is Catalonia's most important religious retreat and groups of young people from Barcelona and all over Catalonia make overnight hikes at least once in their lives to watch the sunrise from the heights of Montserrat. Virgin of Montserrat (the black virgin), is Catalonia's favorite saint, and is located in the sanctuary of the Mare de Déu de Montserrat, next to the Benedictine monastery nestling in the towers and crags of the mountain. The Basilica houses a museum with works of art by many prominent painters and sculptors including works by El Greco, Dalí, Picasso and more. The Publicacions de l'Abadia de Montserrat, a publishing house, one of the oldest presses in the world still running, with its first book published in 1499.
Streets Guides are the result of his forty-four years of Caribbean experience his first guide to the Virgin Islands (1964) has been expanded over the years to cover the entire eastern Caribbean. These guides give the mariner all the information needed to safely cruise the area, not only piloting information but also interesting background information on people, places and history.
Beatrice Latimer moved to the island of Montserrat in the Caribbean with her two teen daughters in 1967 when her husband took a job managing construction there. Here she tells the island's story through the doings of the people of the small community of Bethel. In 1995 the towering Soufriere Hills volcano on this carefree little island paradise in the Caribbean, erupted violently spewing volcanic ash and mud over the lower half of the island. Over the next five years, it buried the capital city of Plymouth, the only airport and numerous small villages, including one named Bethel. It changed everything! Two thirds of the population, some 11,000 people, were forced to flee mainly to the United Kingdom. In Beewee Montserrat, the author describes this enchanting island and its people the way they were in the late 1960’s. It is a folksy account that records her keen observations and insightful commentaries about the community of Bethel and the islanders who befriended her and her family during their stay. The village and house where the Latimers lived no longer exist. This book, including 25 photographs taken by the author’s husband, is a charming record of a place and way of life that are gone forever.
Geographically, Cataluña, the region surrounding Barcelona, is not unlike Spain as a whole. The soaring Pyrenees Mountains in the north separating Spain from France yield to the Mediterranean's Costa Brava in the east. Were it not for the ungainly resorts that have diminished its natural beauty since the 1960s, this "wild coast" would be the loveliest, if not the most extreme Mediterranean coast of the peninsula. Still, its features – the dark, jagged rock outcroppings, the foreboding cliffs and the general angriness of it all – have not been completely buried in concrete, just harnessed for the ease of our enjoyment. There are the remarkable ruins of Empíries to explore, vestiges of the Greeks and the Romans who were truly the first to develop this coast, and a few of its coastal towns – Cadaques comes to mind – were never wrecked. We have the Pyrenees to thank for saving Cadaques, since to reach it one must ascend and wind around the lower reaches of these mountains for 45 minutes (on good roads) before making the descent toward this, Salvador Dalí's favored retreat. Developers tend to favor easier roads. Higher up in the Catalan Pyrenees, where the peaks top out at over 3,000 m (9,840 feet) and waterfalls cascade down their faces, there is more to be thankful for. A series of Romanesque churches, the product of Cataluña's medieval golden age, when its counts allied with neighboring Aragón to create a seafaring kingdom unrivaled in the Mediterranean at the time, are hidden in far flung valleys, set along crystalline streams away from the package tourists and even paved roads. With snowfall, the Catalan Pyrenees offer great cross-country and downhill skiing and, when it melts, great whitewater adventures. Throughout the year one can marvel at the secluded wilderness of the Aigüestortes National Park and wonder why they ever spent so much time in Barcelona. Barcelona is the stylistic capital of Spain, endowed with bold modernisme architecture, traditionally the seat of challenging art movements and, by and large, a truly modern, European city. To the west, the modest mountains surrounding the city, the champagne vineyards and beyond them the wild massif of holy Montserrat give way to the eastern realm of the barren plateau known as the Meseta, Cataluña's driest and most desolate expanse. As the region narrows out toward the south near its border with Valencia, the delta of the Río Ebro, Spain's longest river, fosters wetlands that attract clouds of migratory birds. Here, as throughout the coastal regions of Cataluña, the climate is strictly Mediterranean with generally mild winters and brutally humid and hot summers – a stark contrast to the dry air and snowy peaks of the Pyrenees. In its diverse landscapes Cataluña certainly looks like Spain, even if it doesn't act like Spain. But by its own measure Cataluña adds an element of sophistication and openness that serves to complement the rest of the country. Without it, Spain would have its wine, but no champagne. Barcelona is a city that immediately calls to mind great art and architecture (here one and the same), music, nightlife, walks, a great many things, as well as a great deal of misunderstanding. As a Catalan friend pointed out, "We are a complex people living in a thousand places at once." Such a maelstrom of commerce, culture and idealism is not easily correlated, often leaving visitors with the feeling that, while they may have seen a Gaudí façade, they were never invited inside to see what was holding it up. Here is the most detailed guide to Barcelona and the Cataluña region that surrounds it, loaded with maps, photos and complete information on where to stay, where to dine and what to see and do. Also included is an extensive general section on Spain as a whole.
In the late 1980s, all three territories remained British dependencies. British officials were responsible for defense and foreign relations, and local elected officials were responsible for most internal affairs except security. As mentioned, the British Virgin Islands and Montserrat were crown colonies, and Anguilla was an associated state. Because of their links to Britain, all three territories were part of the Commonwealth of Nations.A new constitution was introduced in the British Virgin Islands in April 1967. An amended Constitution took effect on June 1, 1977, giving local citizens more extensive self-government. Under its terms, the British-appointed governor is responsible for defense and internal security, external affairs, terms and conditions of service of public officers, and administration of the courts
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.
Petty crime occurs. Exercise normal precautions and ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.
The Belham Valley should be avoided during and after heavy rainfall due to the possibility of mudflows. Driving after dark and in the more mountainous regions should be done with caution due to steep, narrow and winding roads.
The ferry service from Antigua to Montserrat reopened on November 1, 2013, and currently operates five days per week. There are four daily flights to Antigua from the island airport. A helicopter service operates from V.C. Bird International Airport in Antigua to Gerald’s Heliport in Montserrat.
Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.
Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.
Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in the Caribbean, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in the Caribbean. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in some areas in the Caribbean, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
Practise safe sex while travelling, and don’t share needles, razors, or other objects which could transmit infection.
Remember that HIV can also be spread through the use of unsterile medical equipment during medical and dental procedures, tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture. Diseases can also be spread though blood transfusions and organ transplantation if the blood or organs are not screened for HIV or other blood-borne pathogens.
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and detention page for more information.
Canada and the United Kingdom are signatories to the European Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. This enables a Canadian imprisoned in the United Kingdom to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and British authorities.
Traffic drives on the left.
You need a local driving permit to drive in Montserrat. You can obtain a permit valid for three months at any police station upon presentation of a valid Canadian driver’s licence or an international driving permit.
Montserrat customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary import or export of items such as firearms, agricultural products, and currency.
The currency is the East Caribbean dollar (XCD). U.S. dollars are widely accepted. The territory has limited but modern banking facilities.
The hurricane season extends from June to the end of November. The National Hurricane Center provides additional information on weather conditions. Stay informed of regional weather forecasts, and follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.
The Soufrière Hills Volcano is still active. Local authorities constantly monitor seismic activity and assess alert levels. Access to certain zones is prohibited. An island-wide alert system is in place to warn the population of volcanic activity. If an alert is heard, immediately tune in Radio Montserrat ZJB 88.3 FM or 95.5 FM to obtain official information. You may also consult the Montserrat Volcano Observatory website for up-to-date information. Follow the advice of local authorities and review your security arrangements.