With only about 4,700 residents, Montserrat may be the most intimate of all the islands on this list; you won't find crowds here, especially since large cruises don't visit the island. You'll catch hints of the island's Irish heritage from a bit of Irish brogue in the local English and the shamrock passport stamp. The island is constantly changing due to the presence of an active volcano, but don't worry—the volcano is viewable from one of the most modern observatories well within the designated safe area of the island.
Why It's a Good Value
Getting to Montserrat seems trickier than it is. Several airlines, including Air Canada, American, Continental, Delta, and US Airways, offer service to Antigua, the gateway island to Montserrat. From Antigua, short flights (about 15 minutes) are available from WinAir and Fly Montserrat for about $185 round-trip. Ferry service takes a bit longer (about 1 hour and 15 minutes) and costs around $100. Either way, you'll get plenty of photo-ops from the mountains and volcano on the island. Tours from Antigua also offer day trips to the island.
Hikers will love trails offering panoramic views, birding opportunities, and biological diversity, while visitors looking to stick to the water can kayak, swim, dive, fish, or take a boat ride to view the uninhabited parts of the island, including the buried town of Plymouth. Get around the island with a $25 per day bike rental, or car rentals from around $40 per day, plus a $19 license charge.
U.S. dollars are widely accepted alongside the East Caribbean dollar. With only one hotel on the island, villas are the most popular accommodations, offering fully furnished homes (often with a swimming pool) for around $700 per week. There are also guesthouses and bed and breakfast options that begin at around $35 per person per night.
For special vacation packages (including a five-night stay in a villa with boat tours, dinner at the Beatles' producer's house, car rental, hiking, kayaking, and snorkeling trips from $885 per person), visit the Montserrat Tourist Board website.
Rendezvous Bay is the only white-sand beach on Montserrat, and it rewards those willing to take the hike to get there with great swimming, snorkeling, and diving. You can also reach it by boat.
Woodlands Beach is more easily accessible and rarely crowded, but watch out for waves. It also has a covered picnic area overlooking the black-sand beach. You can find bars near Little Bay to quench your thirst, and seclusion at Lime Kiln Bay and Bunkum Bay.
(Photo: David MacGillivray)