Destinations: Montserrat

With a new airport, Montserrat's simmering volcano and intriguing Pompeii in the Tropics are more accessible than ever. Long known as the Caribbean's Emerald Isle for its Irish heritage and lush rainforests, Montserrat welcomes visitors with a green shamrock-shaped stamp in their passport. Drive from the just-opened airport through the newly-built area of Brades and you might think a building boom had struck an improbable locale. In fact, Montserrat's former airport and capital are no longer accessible, laid to waste by pyroclastic flows that began erupting in 1995. Montserrat’s future is bright as major development will take place in the form of a new capital town at Carr’s and Little Bay. The master plan has been approved for work to commence which will be done in phases. There are plans to develop commercial, residential and leisure areas which will provide investors with a unique set of opportunities. Anchored by the development will be a new port at Carr’s Bay which will welcome ferries and small cruise vessels and cargo vessels, the town’s waterfront will overlook the port and marina, an elegant beach front hotel will command prime position on the adjacent hill, luxury villas and condominiums will also be ideally located, as will a marine village providing facilities. The Montserrat Development Corporation (MDC) is at the forefront of this new and exciting development. They can be reached at www.investmontserrat.com or on 664 491 4702 or email info@mdc.ms for more information. The activity has continued on and off, but Montserrat's northern third remains a safe landing, with the volcano monitored round-the-clock by a team of scientists tasked with keeping visitors and the island's current 4,700 residents aware of Mother Nature's inner rumblings. In sum, Montserrat makes for an unusual holiday. Of course, Montserrat offers many of the Caribbean's traditional activities. Most of the beaches are of the black-sand variety, but Rendezvous Bay, a strand of tawny-hued sand, can be reached by following a trail over a bluff or by hiring a boat. Lime Kiln Bay is a prime snorkeling location, and there's also good diving - the small infrastructure has minimized impact on sea life. Although the volcano is off limits to hikers, Centre Hills forms a dramatic backdrop for other adventures on foot - an expanding network of hiking trails accesses rain forests, old banana plantations and views from sea cliffs. Local forest rangers will help you track the threatened Montserrat oriole, the national bird, and other rare species like the forest thrush and bridled quail dove. Montserrat is the only Caribbean island that observes St. Patrick's Day as an official holiday, with musical concerts, masquerades and other traditional activities from around the second week in March until St. Patrick's Day. Montserrat celebrated 50 years of Festival in December 2012 which ended January 2 2013. This Festival is the largest one for the island which includes pageantry, calypso shows, jump ups, masquerade steel and string bands plus more. This year saw a huge number of returning residents as well as some first time visitors to the island who all came to enjoy the many activities and catch up with friends and family. Nature's Fireworks The volcano is the star attraction, most easily viewed from the Montserrat Volcano Observatory on the slopes of Centre Hills. Good views of the volcano are also possible from Jackboy Hill and from Garibaldi Hill. Both show different views of the volcano and surrounding environs. St. George's Hill is an even closer perch for a spectacular panorama of the crater and ash flows, however this area is currently off limits. Below are the ruins of Plymouth - today a ghost town under a blanket of ash. The Montserrat Tourist Board has published two maps for visitors: a road map and a map of nature trails. The road map includes information on stores, hotels, restaurants and taxis. On the nature map, travelers can learn safety tips and get details on each island trail, including the Katy Hill Trail System and The Cot. Tourism to the island is on the rise, thanks to the $18.5 million Gerald's Airport that debuted in 2005. Daily scheduled flights are available on SVG Air and on FlyMontserrat from Antigua which is a short 15 minutes away. Charter flights are also possible with both airlines. There is also a ferry service between Montserrat and Antigua usually three (3) days a week. For updated ferry schedule and airline information go to: www.visitmontserrat.com Sailing Trips from Antigua are possible with ONDECK a 65-footer Farr Ocean Racing Yacht. For reservations and other information Tel: 268 562 6696 Email: Antigua@ondeckracing.com Web: www.ondeckoceanracing.com/antigua/montserratadventure.html Nightlife There are some small nightclubs and a host of roadside bars, better known as 'rum shops', where people gather informally to hang out or 'lime', have a drink and perhaps relax over a game of dominoes, especially on Friday nights. With limited evening culture. There is no closing time and most bars stay open 'until...' Salem, St. John's, Cudjoe Head, Davy Hill and Festival Village in Little Bay are home to many of these bars. Airlines SVG ABM-Air and FlyMontserrat offer daily scheduled flights as well as Charter flights to Montserrat’s John A. Osborne Airport. For reservations and flight information for SVG Air contact Express Handlers (in Antigua) Tel: 268 562 7183 Email: expresshandlers@gmail.com MONAIR Travel Services (in Montserrat): 664 491 4200 For reservations and flight information for FlyMontserrat go to: http://www.flymontserrat.com or telephone 664 491 3434. From Europe, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, KLM, Air France and Lufthansa provide services from Europe to Antigua and St. Maarten. If you are coming from North America, Air Canada, American Airlines (via San Juan), Caribbean Airlines, United Airlines, Delta and US Airways (code share partner) offer direct flights to Antigua. From the Caribbean there are also daily scheduled inter-island Caribbean flights. Ferry Service: Available between Antigua and Montserrat usually three days a week. For the updated ferry schedule go to: www.vistmontserrat.com or contact Roosevelt Jemmotte on 664 496 9912 (in Montserrat) or Jennifer Burke 268 778 9786 (in Antigua). Helicopter Charters: The island can also be visited by helicopter charter from Antigua. This is also one of the best ways to do a flyover from Antigua to see the island and the awesome Soufriere Hills Volcano. To do so contact: Caribbean Helicopters PO Box 170 Jolly Harbour, Antigua, West Indies Tel: 268-460-5900 Fax: 268-460-5901 Email: helicopters@candw.ag Day Trips From Antigua A number of tour operators based in Antigua operate day trips to Montserrat that include volcano viewing, a tour of the island, lunch and transportation. To book one of these tours contact: Carib World Travel Woods Centre, St John's, Antigua Phone: (268) 480 2999 Email: info@carib-world.com Website: http://www.carib-world.com/ D&J Forwarders & Tours (Antigua) P.O. Box 2548 St. John's, Antigua Tel: (268) 773 9766/728 0773 Email: daved9090@hotmail.com Jenny Tours P.O.Box W471 Woods Centre, St. Johns, Antigua Phone: (268) 778 9786 Email: jennytours@hotmail.com Website: www.jennytours.webs.com RTT Travel & Tours P.O. Box 183 Brades, Montserrat Phone: (664) 491 4788 / 496 4788 Fax: (664) 491 2974 Email:rtttraveltours@hotmail.com Website:http://www.rtttravelandtours.com/ Runaway Travel, Ltd. P.O. Box 54 Brades, Montserrat Tel: (664) 491 2776/2800 Email: runaway@candw.ms Entry Requirements European Union, US and Canadian citizens need a valid passport only. Visa Requirements: Visit https://www.immigration.ms/guide for full information. Investment Information: For information on investing in Montserrat contact the Montserrat Development Corporation at 664 491 4700 or 4702, e-mail info@mdc.ms. Activities Volcano Viewing: The magnificent (and still active) Soufriere Hills Volcano is the island's stellar attraction, and the only live volcano in the Caribbean that you can observe at close quarters in safety. After centuries of lying dormant the volcano rumbled to life in 1995 and buried the capital of Plymouth lying in its foothills, reducing the once-vibrant city to a deserted shell- the Caribbean's own version of a modern day Pompeii. Diving/Snorkeling: For snorkelers and divers, the coral reefs on Montserrat's North West Coast offers a variety of tropical fish and other exotic undersea life. Among the more spectacular dive sites are Little Redonda, a rock that reaches the surface from a depth of about 80 feet; the Pinnacles on the northeast corner of the island; and Yellow Hole, south of the Pinnacles, where there is the wreck of 19th century steel schooner which sank in 1886. Nature and Adventure: The lush, forest Centre Hills is renowned for its biological diversity. The moist rainforest is home to many species of wildlife and most of the thirty-four species of resident land birds and migrant songbirds that inhabit the area. Birdwatchers will delight in a chance to spot Montserrat's rare national bird, the Montserrat oriole, as well as the forest thrush; the shy bridled quail dove, the mangrove cuckoo, the trembler and purple throated carib. Other regional endemic species that may be found are the mountain chicken, which is actually a type of frog, and the galliwasp, which is half-snake, half-lizard. Hiking: There are numerous hiking trails through the lush vegetation that offers stunning views of land, sea and coastline. Biking: Another great way to discover the island's hidden charms. Cycle along at your own pace, admiring the breathtaking views of the ocean, and the dramatic sweep of green hills, which many visitors say are very much like the Irish countryside. Marriage Requirements For visiting non-nationals a minimum stay of 3 working days in Montserrat is required before application can be made to obtain a special or Governor's Marriage License. Application for the License is made through the Human Resources Management Unit (HRMU) and persons wishing to marry should contact the HRMU soon after their arrival on island so that they can be properly advised. The following documents are required: - Birth certificate of each party - Affidavit of Identity (if applicable) - Deed Poll (if applicable) - A valid passport of each party - A copy of Decree Absolute, if either party is a divorcee - Copy of death certificate of deceased spouse if applicant is widowed - Certificate of non-marriage/affidavit confirming that applicant has never been married - Consent of the parent/s if any of the applicants is under eighteen (18) years - Postage stamps in the amount stipulated by law (the fee currently charge is EC$200.00) Contact: Human Resources Unit PO Box 292 Government Headquarters Brades Montserrat, B.W.I. Email: hrmu@gov.ms Tel: (664) 491-2365 Hours: Mon – Fri 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

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