This pristine island’s first inhabitants were the Arawak and Carib Indians. Columbus claimed Montserrat for Spain in 1493, but in 1632 it was colonised by Britain, and it remains a British Overseas Territory. English remains the official language.
If you’re there in March, Montserrat is the only place outside Ireland that makes St Patrick’s Day a public holiday! It celebrates its Irish heritage and the slave rebellion of March 1768. Meanwhile in mid-July a festival celebrates the calabash fruit.
Take a boat to Rendezvous Bay and the island’s only white sand beach – others are volcanic and so may be grey or black. The colourful reefs are incredible diving and snorkelling places, while the hiking trails are also superb. You could birdwatch, too, preferably on the East Coats’s Pelican Point, or take a boat ride around the whole island. Hire a boat and try your luck at fishing. See the Soufrière Hills volcano which became active 20 years ago, or tour the Montserrat Volcano Observatory.
Shop for locally produced leather goods, handwoven crafts and delicacies like guava jelly.
Nightlife is relaxed rather than wild, outside main festive periods. Try a roadside bar, or maybe catch a live bar on a weekend evening.
Food is varied, with international cuisine available. Salt fish, mountain chicken and pumpkin soup are specialities, and the local punch liqueur is Montserrat rum punch.
The roads are good, car and quad bike hire is available, as are cabs. The buses are minivans, with no bus stops or timetables – just hail one and it should stop for you.
With two main hotels, there are also several guest houses and a hostel, alongside self-catering apartments and villas.
While crime is low, take the same common sense precautions you would at home.