Many people come to Montserrat for ecotourism, including volcano viewing; the Soufrère Hills Volcano is one of the biggest draws, especially for day-trippers coming over from Antigua. For those willing to spend a bit more time on the island, there's surprisingly varied diving in amazingly pristine waters. Hiking through unspoiled rain forest is another attraction. The showcase beach is Rendezvous Bay, a cliff-shadowed cove accessible only by boat or vigorous hike. But you may come just to relax in a part of the Caribbean that feels as if it was picked up straight from the 1950s.
Banks and Exchange Services
Local currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$). US$1 is worth approximately EC$2.70. American dollars are readily accepted, although you usually receive change in EC$. If you decide to change money, you will get a slightly better exchange rate if you change your money in a bank than at your hotel (the exchange is sometimes rounded down to EC$2.50 in simpler transactions). Major credit cards are widely accepted. ATMs (dispensing EC$) are available at the Royal Bank of Canada and the Bank of Montserrat.
220 volts, 50 to 60 cycles, but most lodgings also use 110 volts, permitting use of small North American appliances such as electric shavers. Outlets may be either two- or three-pronged, so bring an adapter.
Airmail letters to North America and the United Kingdom cost EC$2.50; postcards, EC$2.25. The main post office is in the Government Headquarters in Brades. Note that there are no postal codes; when addressing letters to the island, you need only indicate the address and "Montserrat, West Indies."
All visitors need a valid passport. All visitors must present a return or ongoing ticket.
To place a local call, simply dial the local seven-digit number. To call Montserrat from the United States, dial 1 + 664 + the local seven-digit number. To call the United States and Canada from Montserrat, dial 1 + the area code + the seven-digit number. LIME phone cards are available at most hotels and post offices if you want to make an international call. LIME provides the island's cell-phone service.
Taxes and Service Charges
The departure–airport-security tax is US$21—cash only. Most flights come through Antigua, as it is the main hub; be sure to bring copies of your onward travel documents for check-in on both flight legs (you may also be asked to fill out a form upon check-in) to avoid the US$37.50 Antiguan airport tax, normally assessed each way. Day-trippers from Antigua spending less than 24 hours on Montserrat or people with onward connections to and from Montserrat within 24 hours pay only an EC$10 "security charge" and no departure tax on Antigua. Hotels collect a 10% government room tax, guesthouses and villas 7%. Hotels and restaurants also usually add a 10% service charge to your bill.
In restaurants, it's customary to leave 5% beyond the regular service charge added to your bill if you're pleased with the service. Taxi drivers expect a 10% tip; porters and bellmen, about $1 per bag; maids are not often tipped, but if you do, leave $2 to $3 per night.
Montserrat Tourist Board. The Montserrat Tourist Board keeps track of accommodations, restaurants, activities, car-rental agencies, and tours available on the island and will prove to be an invaluable resource for those traveling to Montserrat. Main Rd., Upstairs from Public Market, Little Bay. 664/491–2230. www.visitmontserrat.com. Montserrat Government Office, 180-186 King's Cross Rd., London, WC1X 9DE. 0207/031–0317 or 0207/520–2622.
Montserrat Tourist Board (Montserrat Government Office, 180-186 King's Cross Rd., London, WC1X 9DE. 0207/031–0317 or 0207/520–2622.)
Getting married on Montserrat is relatively easy. No blood test is required. For adults 18 years and over, the minimum residency is three days. Apply for a special or Governor's marriage license through the Department of Administration Human Resource Unit via email or by calling between 8 am and 4 pm weekdays. They will ask you to bring valid passports as proof of citizenship and, in the case of previous marriages, the original divorce or annulment decree; widows or widowers will need the original marriage and death certificates. Given the lack of on-island wedding planners and difficulty in transportation, most visitors choose to get married on Antigua and then take a honeymoon trip to Montserrat, which would certainly allow you to spend some quiet time together.
Department of Administration. You can reach the Department of Administration Human Resource Unit via email or or by calling between 8 am and 4 pm weekdays. 664/491–2365. firstname.lastname@example.org.
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