Travel Guide to Montserrat – How, Where & Frequently Asked Questions

By Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor August 22nd, 2021 Posted in Caribbean Travel Blog, Travel Blog No comments

This beautiful island is known as the ‘Emerald Isle’ of the Caribbean. To have a blast here, we provided you a travel guide to Montserrat.

Montserrat has Irish roots and is covered in lush, green rainforest. Nevertheless, it is a unique island and is renowned for the friendliness of the islanders. Furthermore, it also offers an excellent opportunity for nature lovers and sun-seekers alike.

Photo by Leonora (Ellie) Enking CC BY-SA 2.0

In the year 1995, the Soufriere Hills Volcano erupted, destroying the former capital of Plymouth and meaning that several inhabitants moved overseas or to the North of the island. At the moment, Montserrat is rising from the ashes and with the opening of a new airport at Geralds last year, tourists from all over the world are starting to consider the island as a serious tourist destination again.

Once the home of George Martin’s Air Studios, it has seen many famous including Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Sting, and others. As a matter of fact, it used to be known as the jet-set island of the Caribbean. The legacy continues and George Martin is currently involved in the development of a new cultural center on the island.

Whilst the golf course and marina were destroyed by the volcano, yachts are increasingly mooring at Little Bay Harbor and people are arriving to see this very special place. However, the volcano remains active; one of the most studied in the world and is a draw also for scientists, tourists and independent travelers alike.

Questions and answers about Montserrat

Where is Montserrat?

Ideally situated in the continent of the Caribbean, Montserrat covers 102 square kilometers of land, making it the 228th largest nation in terms of land area. The island is located about 27 miles (43 km) southwest of Antigua and about 30 miles (50 km) northwest of Guadeloupe. It is a dependent territory of the United Kingdom. The population of Montserrat is 5,164 (2012) and the nation has a density of 51 people per square kilometer.

Is it safe to travel to Montserrat?

For tourists’ safety, it is not permitted to have a tour to the Exclusion Zone on the south end of the island. The Island Volcano Observatory publishes current risk assessments and exclusion zone limits. Montserrat is generally a safe place. The Island has a very low crime rate and most visits are trouble-free. However, in recent years, violent crime has increased. Although there is no recent history of terrorism in the country, attacks cannot be ruled out.  Take the same common-sense precautions you would at home, such as locking doors and windows, not carrying carry too much cash or flaunting expensive jewelry. If the tourists’ hotel provides a safe, use it to stash their valuables and travel documents. The hurricane season runs from June to November but big storms are a possibility year-round.

Photo by Leonora (Ellie) Enking CC BY-SA 2.0

How to Change Money in Montserrat?

In Montserrat, you’ll find ATMs at Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Montserrat in Brades. Both dispense EC dollars 24/7. Tourists must bring traveler’s cheques, credit cards and about 2 days’ worth of Euros. Spanish auto banks will enable anyone with a visa-based card to withdraw cash from their home account. Tourists can also withdraw cash using most switch cards. In addition to that, most high street shops, restaurants, and hotels also accept credit cards, including AMEX. However many smaller restaurants and hostels still do not have credit card payment facilities.

What is Unique about Montserrat?

The Island is a unique place. It is known as the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean; and it has an abundance of unspoiled beaches and hiking trails, blue horizon and white beaches. Furthermore, it is also a favorite vacation hangs for jet setters, movie stars, and anyone who wished to escape in seclusion.

What is the culture of Montserrat?

The majority of Montserrat’s residents are descendants of people who arrived on the island against their will. Locals not only the African slaves brought to the Caribbean, but also Irish indentured servants who first came to Montserrat during the 16th century. As a result, Irish influence remains strong in Montserrat, which has celebrated St Patrick’s Day as an official public holiday since 1768, the year a failed slave uprising broke out during Ireland’s national holiday.

The Irish influence is also very much evident in Montserrat’s traditional music, especially the drumming and fife playing accompanying the standard Caribbean rhythms found elsewhere in the West Indies. The country’s music contains several African influences such as shak-shak instruments made from calabash gourds. The game of Cricket is Montserrat’s most popular sport and the British subjects are happy to welcome visitors to their casual and peaceful lifestyle.

What is the Geography of Montserrat?

Montserrat is currently increasing in size because of the buildup of volcanic deposits on the southeast coast. Montserrat is measured at 16 km (10 miles) long and 11 km (7 miles) wide, with rock cliffs rising 15 to 30 m (50–100 feet) above the sea and smooth bottomed sandy beaches scattered among coves on the west (Caribbean) side of the island. The country’s highest point is located in the Soufriere Hills, but a definitive height is unavailable due to the consistent eruptions of the volcano. Scattered small steam drains the northern reaches of the island.

Photo by Leonora (Ellie) Enking CC BY-SA 2.0

How to travel to Montserrat?

If you are planning to travel to Montserrat, here are some of the airlines that will take you to Montserrat from these countries.

  • London: United and Delta offer flights from London to Montserrat.
  • USA: Thomas Cook Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin Atlantic offer flights from the USA to Montserrat
  • Dubai: Air Canada and Delta offer flights from Dubai to Montserrat.
  • Singapore: Unfortunately, there are no direct flights and tourists can get connecting flights from Dubai or London.

How to travel in Montserrat-Transport in Montserrat

  • Trains: There is no rail system on the island.
  • Taxis: Plate numbers of the taxis in Montserrat are green and begin with the letter H.
  • Public buses: The main means of public transportation are minibusses, which have the same license plate as smaller cabs and do not travel on set schedules.
  • Montserrat Water Taxis: The main ferry service between Montserrat and Antigua sails between Little Bay and Deep Water Harbor.

What’s the food like in Montserrat?

Native-grown breadfruit, mango, pawpaw, and cashews are regarded by some locals as a less desirable food. The island’s national dish is goat water, a thick goat meat stew served with crusty bread rolls. However, diners can sample. Chicken and fish options far outnumber red meat on most menus and commonly served drinks include homemade ginger beer, sorrel and a variety of juices made from Montserrat’s exotic tropical fruits.

What is the weather like in Montserrat?

The island enjoys the same year-long hot tropical climate and cool trade winds as its eastern Caribbean neighbors. Montserrat’s two main seasons are rainy from July to November when most hurricanes strike, and dry, December to June. The average temperatures hover between 76°F and 88°F throughout the year, with constant sea and mountain breezes which help keep the country’s humidity among the lowest in the entire Caribbean.

The rainy season in Montserrat is between mid-July and mid-November. However, the country’s annual precipitation, which ranges from 50 to 80 inches, is fairly well distributed all months of the year. Although the island boasts some of the Caribbean’s cheapest accommodations, places to stay are also very limited, so advance booking is essential all times of the year.

Important things to pack for a trip to Montserrat

Clothes: In Montserrat, lightweight natural fabrics will work best – Montserrat is warm and sunny but not unbearably hot all year round (76 – 88F). For females, a wrap will dress up any outfit, and accessories or sparkly jewelry can make a great statement. For Males range of shirts, shorts, and polos. Smart casual; long pants and collared short-sleeved shirts (no t-shirts). Tailored shorts are acceptable.

Bring swimwear: It is good for the beach and pool, and cover up with a kaftan or sarong when walking around public areas.

Shoes: Bring some lightweight comfy shoes for walking. Women, save your high heels for the evenings.

Raincoat & Umbrella: A light raincoat or travel umbrella will come in handy.

Toiletries: Bring toiletry bag (and ziplock bag per TSA regulations for any liquids/soaps).

Health kit: We advise you to bring the first aid kit and essential medicines.

10 Amazing places to see and things to do in Montserrat

1. Rendezvous Bay

Tucked beneath towering cliffs. This peaceful beach at Rendezvous Bay is Montserrat’s only stretch of blond sand. Swimming, diving, and snorkeling are the ideal activities to do here.

2. Gawp at the great Soufriere Hills Volcano

Photo by Lauren Delizia CC BY-ND 2.0

Rising to a smoky peak on the southern side of the island, the mighty Soufriere Hills Volcano really is a breath-taking sight to behold.

3. Little Bay Beach

It is located on Montserrat’s west coast. Little Bay Beach is one of the most popular crescents of sand on the island.

Suggested Tour: Full-day guided tour of Montserrat

4. Hit the hiking trails

Photo by David Stanley CC BY 2.0

In spite of its southern haunch being almost entirely encompassed by a volcano exclusion zone, Montserrat remains a veritable mecca for hikers and trekkers.

5. Scuba Diving

Enthusiastic divers looking to escape the crowds and explore thriving coral reefs will love Montserrat. They can see everything from huge sponges and heads of brain coral to kaleidoscopic tropical fish, spotted eagle rays, sea turtles, and sharks.

6. Centre Hills

Photo by David Lounsbury CC BY-SA 2.0

Covered with tropical rainforest. The Centre Hills are renowned for their biological diversity and rich habitats. At the same time, the majority of Montserrat’s 34 species of land birds and large numbers of migrant songbirds make this area their home.

7. Montserrat National Trust

At the Montserrat National Trust headquarters, you can view permanent and rotating exhibits on the island’s history, arts and crafts, and the local way of life.

Suggested Tour: Full-day guided tour of Montserrat

8. Runaway Ghaut

One of Montserrat’s most famous ghauts (pronounced “guts”) is the Runaway Ghaut. These are steep ravines that carry rainwater to the sea from high in the mountains. On the other hand, hiking along Runaway Ghaut, you can see luxuriant vegetation and huge tropical trees. One of Montserrat’s most famous ghauts (pronounced “guts”) is the Runaway Ghaut.

9. Woodlands Bay

This stunning Woodlands Bay lies close to the villages at the southwestern end of the Northern Zone. It is ideal for relaxation, but the waters here are often rough, and swimming can be dangerous.

Suggested Tour: Full-day guided tour of Montserrat

10. Montserrat Cultural Centre

Photo by David Stanley CC BY 2.0

It is a multipurpose performing arts center inspired and funded by the ex-Beatles producer, Sir George Martin. Not only that, but this site also has a recording studio, and it can accommodate up to 500 people for conferences, weddings, and cultural events.

Final thoughts on Montserrat

Photo by Leonora (Ellie) Enking CC BY-SA 2.0

Known as the “Emerald Isle” of the Caribbean, magnificent Montserrat survives as a somber spectacle of nature’s awe-inspiring power. Rich in natural beauty, friendly Montserrat is a haven for those seeking a slow and peaceful slice of tropical island life and a humbling reminder of nature’s brute force. Furthermore, Montserrat Monastery means different things to different people and this is all reflected in its tourist attractions. For many pilgrims to Montserrat, it is an entirely spiritual experience – they come to see the Black Madonna, attend a mass or visit the cave of Santa Cova. However, if you are not a religious person you will still find that there is a great deal of interest at Montserrat Mountain and Monastery.

If you are an active person you can enjoy the climbs and walks that are available all over Montserrat Mountain. But if you are a nature enthusiast you can learn about and experience firsthand the flora and fauna in Montserrat’s natural park. And if you are a music lover you will not want to miss the country’s famous boy’s choir. Furthermore, fans of art will love the works of art that are on display in Montserrat’s museum. All in all, there is something for everybody in Montserrat.

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Written by Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor

Two Monkeys Travel Group – Community Travel Blog is a travel blog and website. We quickly grew into a valuable source of inspiring travel stories, advice, itineraries and travel guides, with the aim of demonstrating how to live a sustainable life of travel, whilst living your own definition of success. If you'd like to contribute and write a guest post, contact us at [email protected]