About Montserrat

Montserrat, the island, is in a bit of a time warp, unassailed by a commercial tourist trade and with old-fashioned values of courtesy and honesty.

It is one of the long string of Leeward Islands, lying between the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Caribbean Sea to the west. It lies 30 miles south west of Antigua and is approximately 10 miles long and 7 miles wide.  It has been nicknamed The Emerald Isle because of its resemblance to coastal Ireland and because of the Irish ancestry of many of its inhabitants.  It is a British Overseas Territory and has a UK-appointed governor.

Before the eruption of the Soufrière Hills Volcano in 1995, Montserrat was a carefree island paradise with a thriving community. It was also an exclusive, and very private, holiday destination.  It was famous as the birthplace of “Arrow”, creator of the soca hit ‘Hot, Hot, Hot’, and as the home of Air Montserrat, the recording studio founded by Beatles producer Sir George Martin. Sting, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, the Rolling Stones, Dire Straits and Lou Reed were among the many stars who recorded there.

Montserrat’s capital city, Plymouth, was submerged under the pyroclastic flow from the volcano and the island was faced with the immense challenge of rebuilding its infrastructure.

The volcano has been quiet for several years, but is still closely monitored. The designated “Exclusion Zone” is deceptive as access is now permitted and Plymouth can be viewed from nearby vantage points, as well as from the sea.  A new town and port are being developed at Little Bay, on the northwest coast of the island.

Just to make it clear, Sea Song is entirely safe, even in the unlikely event of volcanic activity elsewhere on the island!

Although the population is now smaller, with many having emigrated to the UK or the US, the island community remains strong and is proud of its identity and culture. Montserratians are unfailingly welcoming to tourists.

There is little in the way of night life, except during festivals, but there are some charming restaurants and local bars.  Some of the tucked-away beaches are delightful – Rendezvous Beach, Fox’s Bay, Isle’s Bay, Lime Kiln Beach and Bunkum Bay.

Like many isolated islands Montserrat is home to some very rare plant and animal species.  The island’s coral reefs were affected by the ash fallout from the volcano but have now regenerated and are teeming with life.

The island today is a relaxed and friendly place. It is spectacularly beautiful. A hidden gem.

THINGS TO DO

Apart from simply enjoying the privacy of the house, the beauty of the island and the friendliness of the islanders, various other activities can be enjoyed including boat trips to see the volcano from the sea, fishing trips, diving, snorkelling and hiking. Please see the Montserrat Tourist Board website for more information.

For hiking, bird watching and nature excursions on Montserrat, we  recommend Scriber’s Adventure Tours.

CLIMATE

Montserrat has a tropical climate with little seasonal variation; temperatures range from 22 – 31°C (70 – 90°F). The heaviest rainfall occurs between July and November; however, the heavy cloudbursts serve to refresh the atmosphere and once they are over the sun reappears.

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SHOPPING

There are a few small supermarkets, which stock goods mainly imported from the US; fresh fruit and vegetables are sold at various roadside stalls with availability according to the season. Do not expect to be able to buy everything which is readily available in European or American supermarkets.

Essentials

TIME ZONE

Local time is 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time.

VISA

No special visas are required for visitors.

CURRENCY

Currency is the East Caribbean Dollar, which is linked to the US Dollar. Click here to find the latest exchange rates.
Credit cards are not widely accepted on the island but traveller cheques can be exchanged at banks and some shops. Many supermarkets accept US dollars and offer the current rate of exchange. There is an ATM at the Royal Bank of Scotland.

MEDICAL REQUIREMENTS

There is a hospital on island, plus doctors and dentists, but facilities are limited. If you need any special medication, do take it with you. Please ensure you have adequate medical insurance in case of emergency.

RESTAURANTS

There are many small casual eateries on Montserrat. The food is typically Caribbean in the main. For special occasions we recommend:

http://www.watermeloncottagemontserrat.com/

Watermelon Cottage is a delight. It is an owner-occupied restaurant and B & B, hosted by the always-entertaining and convivial Trevor Stephenson. A charming place to meet friends for dinner or sundown drinks. The imaginative décor reflects Trevor’s extensive world travels.

http://olvestonhouse.com/

George Martin’s Montserrat villa is a restaurant and B & B when he is not in residence. The food is reliably good and the house has an elegant colonial atmosphere.

http://www.ziggysrestaurant.com/

Marcia and John have created a secluded haven in the Montserrat hills. The food is very good and the service impeccable.