Known as the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean, a tiny island with an Irish heritage is home to pristine volcanic black sandy beaches, lush rainforests and unspoiled dramatic landscape. Blessed with year-round sunshine, Montserrat Island with chill-out vibes and the emerald hills is a lower-key than its cruise-ships neighbour Antigua.
LIFE IN MONTSERRAT
Life on this idyllic island changed forever when the Soufriere Hills Volcano erupted and two-thirds of the island (including the former capital Plymouth) became devastated by cataclysmic eruptions of the volcano. The vast majority of the 12,000 population relocated either to the undeveloped north or overseas to the United Kingdom. The economy, tourism and people`s daily lives were affected with the loss of the ports both Plymouth and Bramble airport.
More than two decades later, Montserrat island is slowly recovering. Leveraging an abundance of naturally occurring geothermal resources, volcanic sand mining and volcano tourism could be the key to the island`s future.
What`s more, the volcano has become an iconic landmark attracting travellers who want to see two-thirds of the island covered by ashes as well as fly over an active volcano in a helicopter.
WHY TO VISIT MONTSERRAT ISLAND
Montserrat Island is an ideal getaway for Eco trekkers, nature lovers or anyone who want to see how the island has transformed after a major volcanic eruption.
With a vast network of hiking trails, the island`s diverse landscape is perfect for experienced hikers and beginners alike. An Eco tourist haven offers a unique adventure holidays in the Caribbean, more than just sun, sand and beaches. It`s a place for travellers and families who want to immerse and connect, whether with nature, or with each other.
Also, a little-visited Caribbean island is the prime destination for the dark tourism.
GOOD TO KNOW:
The best way to discover the Montserrat Island is on a guided tour with a tour guide who is allowed to access to Zone V. The main exclusion zone located in the south end of the island includes for example, the burried city of Plymouth, St George`s Hill and the Soufriere Hills in Montserrat island.
A visit to the main exclusion zone is an unmissable experience on the island, which allows the visitors to see Montserrat`s lost capital. Similarly, it also gives its visitor an opportunity to get a closer look at the active volcano.
As a result, the Montserrat island gets very busy for St. Patrick`s Day in March.
The pear-shaped island, located in the Caribbean Sea, is a part of the Leeward Islands. Its nearest neighbours are Antigua (55km), Guadaloupe (86km) and Nevis (62 km).
GETTING TO MONTSERRAT
If you plan trip to Montserrat island ahead, your arrival will be smooth and easy. Here are some information to help you with planning.
FLYING TO MONTSERRAT ISLAND
With a new airport, Montserrat is more accessible than ever. Unfortunately, due to the island`s small size, major transportation is done from Antigua. There are no direct international services, but same-day connecting flight via the island`s closest neighbour, Antigua.
TIP: Helicopter tours of the Soufrière Hills Volcano can also be arranged from Antigua
TIP: Don`t forget to take your passport with you as a 20- minute flight is considered international.
ARRIVE BY SEA
Alternatively, the crossing to Montserrat island can also be made by ferry that runs from the island of Antigua (Bryson’s Pier at Heritage Quay in St. John’s) to Little bay in Montserrat and back. A 90-minute ride operates five days a week (there might be the schedule changes depending on weather and sea conditions). The fares for the ferry are EC$300 return (EC$150 one way) for adults.
Additionally, those travelling by a private vessel may dock their boat at the Port of Little Bay.
Tip: Leaving Antigua by ferry can be a little bit of a hassle. Make sure you arrive early at the port of departure to allow time (at least one hour in advance of scheduled departure time) to get through immigration, customs and security requirements. Don`t forget to bring your passport!
GOOD TO KNOW
When you depart to Montserrat Island from Antigua, you will be required to pay the Antigua departure tax at the time of check in. Similarly, when leaving Montserrat, you will be required to pay the Montserrat departure tax (EC$45 per person) and the Antigua arrival tax.
SAFETY IN MONTSERRAT ISLAND
Although the level of volcanic activity is very low at the present, the volcano is still active and continually monitored for signs of increasing activity. As a result, the access to the restricted zone is strictly controlled and tours are only available via approved guides. The access to the volcano itself is strictly forbidden.
TIP: Nowadays, it is allowed to view the volcano from a safe distance of a few miles. The Hazard Level System in Montserrat controls the volcano`s activity and does let people know the level of risk in various areas and the amount of access allowed.
A modern Pompeii of the Caribbean can be visited only with police permission and accompanied by certified guide.
- East Caribbean Dollar is pegged to the US dollarat US$1 =EC$2.7.
Besides Montserrat, the EC$ is also the currency of:
- Antigua & Barbuda
- St. Kitts & Nevis
- St. Lucia
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines
In Montserrat you must drive on the left side of the road.
Thanks to the black sand beaches and mountain views, The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean has never been a typical Caribbean getaway. But Montserrat island, one of the best kept secrets, has so much to offer.
With the volcano, no longer a symbol of fear, it is without doubt an ideal destination for everyone who wants to experience the Caribbean the way it used to be unspoiled by mass tourism. Jaw-dropping landscape and an unpolluted night skies make Montserrat island an unforgettable holiday destination. No matter where your travels take you, you will be sure to go home with more experiences than souvenirs.
Have you ever been to Montserrat island? Or ever considered a visit? Hope we have inspired you to visit The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean. Please leave us a comment below!
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