Monserrat is one of several countries that uses the East Caribbean dollar. As a result you might already be familiar with it, if you happen to have gone on holiday to one of the Eastern Caribbean States at some point. If not, you’ll find out all you need to know here.
The East Caribbean dollar is comprised of 100 cents, as you’d expect from any dollar currency around the world today. There are seven coins in circulation, starting with the one cent coin and moving up through the 2, 5, 10 and 25 cent coins as well. In addition you can also use a one or a two dollar coin, which you will probably see quite a bit during your travels.
You can also any of the five banknotes that are provided in circulation. These range from the smallest five dollar note through to the 10, 20 and 50 dollar notes and culminating in the 100 dollar note.
Montserrat is a British Overseas Territory so it is a little different from the independent states that are the biggest users of this currency. The advent of the East Caribbean Dollar was back in 1965. Nine states use the currency with the addition of Monserrat and also Anguilla, which is also a British Overseas Territory.
While some currencies are impossible to find until you get into the country you’re visiting, this shouldn’t be the case with the East Caribbean dollar. However you are not likely to be able to walk into any bureau de change and pick it up. Instead you will probably have to pre-order it, so you will know which bureaux de change do stock it and which ones don’t.
Perhaps of most use to you is the fact that Monserrat will also accept US dollars as payment. This may not apply wherever you go but it does mean you can get hold of some US dollars at the very least that you can take with you. Even if you don’t get any local dollars until you arrive in Montserrat it wouldn’t be the end of the world.
Another option is to take traveller’s cheques with you. These enable you to carry more cash but in a safer way. Do make sure you keep a note of all the serial numbers in a separate place so you can be sure you are able to replace them should they go missing. The best currency to get your traveller’s cheques in is once again the US dollar. This should make them cheaper to convert into the local currency.
You can also get cash from the cash machines you will find in the banks. Check with your own bank prior to travelling to determine how much you might be charged for doing this though. This is especially the case if you intend to use a credit card to withdraw cash with, since they tend to be pricier. Finally you can also use your credit card to pay for goods at many outlets, although it is by no means the case that all shops and restaurants will accept them. Check first just to be sure.
You can find out the latest rates by using a currency converter to get the figures you need. Try to find an updated one if you can – most update at least once a day but you may want one that updates more frequently, depending on how soon you are going to need to exchange your cash. In addition you might want to bear in mind bureaux de change will differ in the amounts they will charge when it comes to offering their services. This means the rates you see as being correct now are the literal exchange rates and not the ones you’ll pay if you actually exchange one currency for another.
If you want the latest information with regard to the situation in Montserrat (especially since this is a volcanic island) it is best to visit the UK government website at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/montserrat. This will ensure you have the latest updates on travel information for the island.
Montserrat is a pretty safe island to visit in terms of the levels of crime it experiences. You shouldn’t have any real trouble providing you take practical precautions. For example if you can, book into a hotel that provides you with a room safe you can use. This means you can tuck everything away that you do not need to keep with you for any length of time.
Be sensible in terms of what you take with you as well. For example, don’t carry around any more cash with you than is really necessary. Keep an eye on your valuables too, so you know where they are at all times. There is really very little chance of being targeted by a criminal in terms of pickpocketing or anything similar. However as you can imagine it is better not to provide too tempting a target for anyone than is really necessary!
Aside from that, you should ensure you keep abreast of any developments that could potentially occur in terms of the volcanic nature of the island. While you’d be unlucky to be affected, the Soufriere Hills volcano does rumble away so it’s best to be well-informed ahead of time.
Montserrat can be found in the Caribbean – obvious really since it uses the East Caribbean dollar! It is one of a string of islands that runs from Anguilla in the north round to Grenada in the south. The islands run on a gradual curve through the ocean. The closest ones to Montserrat are Guadeloupe to the south-east and Antigua to the north-east.
The official capital of the island used to be Plymouth, but this is now no more than a ghost town. It has a vibrant history but this history was all but wiped out, sadly, in the mid-Nineties. As you might guess, now you know about the volcanic history of the island, a series of violent eruptions put paid to Plymouth being the official capital. In 1995 the eruptions began to have a devastating effect on the city and some two years later the survivors fled and have not been able to go back.
Thus the islanders needed a new capital and so Brades was chosen. This is actually a village and it is located far away from Plymouth, which lay on the south-western side of the island. In contrast Brades can be found on the north-western side, close to the coast. This is unusually now known as a city but it remains anything but, even though many government buildings have been erected in order that business should go on as usual.
As you can see, this island has quite a history. If you wish to learn more about it you should head for the Espai Audio Visual museum. This provides a chance to learn more about the history of the island and to discover more about how it has changed throughout time. The other option you have to consider when wanting to see a museum is the art museum known simply as Montserrat Museum. This too is well worth a closer look.
As you might expect you cannot visit the Soufriere Hills volcano since it is deemed to be far too dangerous to do so. However you can see it from outside the exclusion zone that is now in place and covers almost the whole of the southern half of the island. Perhaps the best option here is to see the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, since this provides excellent views of the volcano itself from a point of safety. You can also learn about the eruptions and how they have had a devastating impact on Montserrat itself.
If you’d rather head for the coast, think about going to Rendezvous Bay. This is a great destination although you would be in for a long and demanding walk if you wanted to reach it on foot. The easier way to get there is to go by boat. It provides a chance to enjoy some lazy swimming and some even lazier sunbathing, although there are few amenities or facilities present. You’ll need to go prepared but it will definitely suit those who like a more rugged beach location to try out.
As you can see the island does have a lot to offer, even though the volcanic activity has rendered half the island off limits to everyone who sets foot on it. This is a shame but there is still plenty to enjoy in terms of appreciating the island if you visit the northern half of it. Indeed, Montserrat is beloved by many who see it and many who live there.