Bargaining

Prices on Montserrat are fixed.

Dangers & Annoyances

Montserrat has a very low crime rate and most visits are trouble-free.

  • 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 your hotel provides a safe, use it to stash your valuables and travel documents.
  • The hurricane season runs from June to November but big storms are a possibility year-round.

Soufrière Hills Volcano

The Soufrière Hills Volcano has been active since 1995, but there's been no major volcanic activity since February 2010. Still, about two-thirds of Montserrat are still vulnerable. The former capital of Plymouth and the entire south belong to the so-called 'Exclusion Zone.' Visits here are subject to current threat levels and only possible with a licensed tour guide, who needs to obtain prior authorization from police. Note that there's a US$100 fee per entry in addition to any tour charges.

On occasion, southern winds blow ash and volcanic gases across the entire island, which can lead to flight cancellations. The situation is constantly monitored by Montserrat Volcano Observatory staff. Sirens warning of impending volcanic activity are tested at noon daily. If they go off at other times, immediately turn your radio to 88.3 FM or 95.5 FM and follow instructions.

Electricity

Most places have dual 220/110 voltage; North American two-pin sockets are prevalent but three-pins are around too, so bring an adapter.

Emergency & Important Numbers

Fire911
Police999

Entry & Exit Formalities

Customs Regulations

Aside from personal effects, visitors aged 17 or older are permitted to bring 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 0.5lb (250g) of tobacco, plus 40oz (1.14L) of alcoholic beverages to Montserrat without paying duty. In addition, travelers of any age may import bring 6oz (168g) of perfume and gift articles worth EC$500 duty free.

Passports

Visitors must have a passport valid for the duration of their stay as well as a return ticket to their home country (although this is rarely checked).

Visas

Generally not required by citizens of the US, Commonwealth countries and most EU countries for tourist visits under 90 days.

Etiquette

  • Greetings Greet people when entering a shop or business – if not, expect slow service or being ignored.
  • Adjust to the pace Life moves slowly on Montserrat, so leave your urge to rush things and people at home.
  • Photographs Don't take photographs of people without asking their permission first.

LGBT Travellers

Homosexuality is legal under Montserrat law, but most people are quite conservative and don't approve of public displays of affection between same-sex couples. There's no problem for same-sex couples sharing a hotel room.

Internet Access

Hotels, restaurants and cafes provide free wi-fi for their guests, although you may need to request a password for access.

Media

  • Newspapers & Magazines The weekly Montserrat Reporter (www.themontserratreporter.com) is the main newspaper.
  • Radio Catch local news, tunes and eruption alerts on ZJB Radio, 91.9FM.

Money

There are ATMs at Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Montserrat in Brades; both dispense EC dollars 24/7. Few shops, hotels and restaurants accept credit cards.

Exchange Rates

AustraliaA$1EC$1.93
CanadaC$1EC$1.98
Euro Zone€1EC$2.81
Japan¥100EC$2.30
New ZealandNZ$1EC$1.86
UKUK£1EC$3.29
USUS$1EC$2.68

For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.

Tipping

Restaurants If the service charge is not automatically included in the bill, tip 10% to 15%; if it is, it's up to you to leave a small additional tip.

Taxi Tip 10% to 15% of the fare.

Opening Hours

Local businesses, including most restaurants and bars, are closed on Sundays, although some mini-marts may open for a few hours in the morning and afternoon. In most cases, the following are guidelines only.

Banks 8am–2pm Monday to Thursday, to 3pm Friday

Bars noon–11pm or midnight

Businesses 8am–4pm Monday to Friday

Restaurants breakfast 7:30–10am, lunch noon–2:30pm, dinner 6–9:30pm

Shops 9am–5pm Monday to Saturday, some close at noon on Wednesday, grocery stores later and on Sunday

Post

Public Holidays

In addition to holidays observed throughout the region, Montserrat celebrates the following public holidays:

New Year's Day January 1

St Patrick’s Day March 17

Good Friday/Easter Monday March or April

Labor Day May 1

Pentecost/Whit Monday 40 days after Easter

Queen’s Birthday First, second or third weekend in June

Emancipation Day First Monday in August

Christmas/Boxing Day December 25/26

Smoking

  • Smoking There is no official smoking ban in force on Montserrat.

Taxes & Refunds

Hotels add 10% accommodation tax (7% at guesthouses) to the final bill. There is no sales tax or value-added tax (VAT).

Visitors are not eligible to reclaim VAT paid during their trip.

Telephone

  • Montserrat’s country code is 664.
  • To call from North America, dial 011 + 1 + 664 + local number. From elsewhere, dial your country’s international access code + 1 + 664 + local number.
  • To call abroad from Montserrat, dial 011 + country code + area code + local number.

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Mobile Phones

GSM cell phones are compatible with local SIM cards.

Time

Clocks in Montserrat are set to Eastern Caribbean Time (Atlantic Time), which is four hours behind GMT. The island does not observe daylight saving time, but since other countries do, the following times are indicative only:

Auckland

Noon in Montserrat

5am + 1 day

Frankfurt/Milan

Noon in Montserrat

5pm

London

Noon in Montserrat

4pm

Los Angeles

Noon in Montserrat

8am

New York

Noon in Montserrat

11am

Sydney

Noon in Montserrat

3am + 1 day

Toilets

Toilets are Western-style sit-down affairs. Public toilets are rare but where they exist, they are free.

Tourist Information

Travel with Children

Montserrat is very laid-back and part of its charm is that there just isn't that much to do. Consider taking the older ones to the Montserrat Volcano Observatory and on hikes, take a boat ride out to Plymouth or rent a kayak. The four beaches are small but offer good swimming and snorkeling (bring equipment).

Accessible Travel

Not much is done on Montserrat to aid mobility-impaired and other disabled persons. Access to buildings and transportation is very difficult, sidewalks (where they exist) are uneven, curbs high and ramps rare.

Accessible Travel Online Resources

Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel Guide from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.

Volunteering

Coral Cay Conservation (www.coralcay.org) This UK-based nongovernmental environmental organization needs volunteers for its scientific surveys to collect data from tropical forest and coral reefs and to run community education programs about conservation skills and sustainability.

Turtle Conservation Montserrat (http://ccoleby2001.wixsite.com/turtlesmontserrat) Volunteers working with local turtle conservationist John Jeffers help monitor the annual arrival of leatherback, loggerhead, hawksbill and green turtles who come to nest in Montserrat, and assist with the release of hatchlings at the beach.

Weights & Measures

  • Weights & Measures The imperial system is used.

Work

Working in Montserrat requires first obtaining a work permit, which is only granted if no local citizen is qualified to fill the position. If your prospective employer has advertised the position and no qualified candidate has been found, it is up to them to apply for your work permit with the local government.