One of the most remarkable islands in the Caribbean is the little British Overseas Territory of Montserrat. It is one of the many islands and territories in the Caribbean still owned by other countries. One can book tours and browse accommodation options on the Visit Montserrat website.
Today two-thirds of the southern part of the island is part of the exclusion zone that is still too dangerous to inhabit for fear of Soufrière Hills Volcano re-erupting. Even the territory's capital, Plymouth, is abandoned and remains buried beneath thick layers of ash and mud - like Pompeii or the even older Minoan city of Akrotiri in on the Greek Islands thousands of years before Pompeii.
What To Know about Montserrat
Montserrat was first settled by the Tainos people in around 500 BC. They named the island "Alliouagana" meaning “Land of the Prickly Bush” and lived in settlements around the island. When visiting Montserrat, one can learn more about them at the National Museum.
In 1995 the tiny island was shaken and changed forever. The once dormant Soufrière Hills Volcano erupted for the first time in almost 400 years. Most of the people on the island were evacuated with the population dropping from around 14,000 before the eruption to a low of around 1,200. It has since recovered to around 5,000 inhabitants. Most have moved to the United Kingdom and North America.
- Pre-Eruption Population: Around 14,000
- Today's Population: Around 5,000
Today one can only visit the exclusion zone with an approved guide and with a permit. But even though two-thirds of the island is off-limits, there are still plenty of things to see and do in the northern half of the island. Montserrat’s landscape is of mysterious and startling contrasts, one can discover the rich history, wildlife, and people of this often glossed over Caribbean Island.
- Tip: Visit The Buried Capital of Plymouth
- Territory: It Is One Of The UK's 14 Overseas Territories
As one of the UK's 14 Overseas Territories, it is governed by a locally elected Premier and Parliament. The UK works with Montserrat to strengthen security, economic planning, and more. The UK-appointed governor on the island functions as an advisor.
- Population: 5,000 Residents
- Name: Montserratians Call Themselves “Stratians” (pronounced “Strashans”)
Of course, with such a low population, everyone knows everyone on the island. Most are immigrants from Dominica, Jamaica, Guyana, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti, who came to help rebuild the island after the first volcanic eruption. While English is official, it is not uncommon to hear Spanish and Haitian Creole.
Good To Know Things About Montserrat
The climate here enjoys an average temperature year-round of 27°C/81°F. The hottest time of year is between August and October while the coolest is from December to April when temperatures get as low as 17°C/63°F.
- Hurricane Season: The Peak Hurricane Season Is From Early August to the End of October
As the island is very small with only around 5,000 residents, very few places remain open past 7:00 pm or on Sundays. Government offices are open between 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Meanwhile, the banks (or rather the bank) are only open on weekdays from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm (3.00 pm Fridays).
Bank And Currencies:
The only bank in Montserrat is the Bank of Montserrat. One can exchange Pound Sterling, the US Dollar, the Canadian Dollar, and the Barbados Dollar on the island. The official currency is the EC Dollar.
- Official Currency: EC Dollar
Sports on the island reflect Montserrat being a Caribbean territory. Popular sports include cricket, football, and basketball.
Attractions and Things To Do
There are a number of things to see and do on the third of the island that one is free to roam around on, Additionally, there are special tours into the exclusion zone.
- Arts & Craft: While on The Island, Be Sure To Check Out Their Rich Tapestry of Art and Craft - See How The Island's Mix of African and Irish heritage Is Demonstrated
- Bar Hopping: Despite Being Small, There Are Enough Bars For A Great Bar Hopping Scene - And Enough Variety To Pick The Atmosphere that One Would Like
- Beaches: Of Course, No Caribbean Scene is Complete Without The Beaches. One of Montserrat's Beaches Boast an Unusual Color Palette That Ranges From Sparkling Black To Different Shades Gray
- Bird & Turtle Watching: This Tiny Territory Boasts A Wide Variety of Bird Habitats And More
- Boat Tours: Discover The Dramatic Coastline And Even An Exhilarating Volcano Boat Tour down to Plymouth, Montserrat’s Buried Capital
- Hiking: One of The Most Popular Activities On Montserrat And There Are Many Foot Paths Crisscrossing The Island
- Water Sports: Dive The Vibrant Coral Reef And Much More In the Tropical Paradise