advertisement

Although the island has about 25km (16 miles) of surfaced roads, most of the island's vehicular traffic is limited to the route between Jack Boy Hill, on the island's northeasterly tip, and the village of Fleming, incorporating the island's airport and most points within the designated "northern safety zone" en route. The typical taxi fare from the airport to any of the hotels in the northern tier is $8 to $29.

The only regular buses are those running from Salem, near the island's southernmost tip, to Lookout, on the island's northern end -- passing through hamlets that include Brades, Sweeney's, and St. John's en route. (Sweeney's is the site of a government-funded residential community on the island's northern tip.) The fare is 75¢ between any two points along this route. Don't expect the conventional buses you find in large North American cities. These are usually 15-seater minivans, each individually painted. If you want the bus to make a reasonable detour from the designated route, the driver will usually do it for an additional, negotiable fee, pending the approval of the other passengers.

By Rental Car -- None of the major U.S.-based car rental companies operates on Montserrat, although you can find a handful of privately owned agencies. You are required to buy a local Montserrat driver's license for $19, which should accompany your own valid license. Rarely are these available directly from the rental agency. More often, you'll need to purchase a license from the immigration office at either the heliport or the ferryboat terminal, or from the island's Police Traffic Department in Salem (tel. 664/491-2555), which is open 24 hours a day.

Most island car rental agencies stock a battered roster of Toyota Corollas, Toyota RAV4s, Suzuki jeeps, or Mazdas, which rent for $48 and up a day, or from $213 per week, depending on the make and model, and the duration of your rental. A collision-damage waiver costs from $9 to $19 per day. Even if you buy it, you'll still be liable for the cost of some of the repairs to your vehicle if you damage it, for any reason, during your tenure.

Be-Beeps Car Rentals (tel. 664/491-3787) is in the hamlet of Olveston, near Salem, close to the Vue Pointe Hotel, recommended below. M.S. Osborne, Brades (tel. 664/491-2494), has a virtual monopoly on supplying most of the Nissans and Suzukis, including some SUVs, on the island.

Warning: Before you begin driving here, be aware that you must drive on the left and you should be careful of the steep, winding roads, which can be treacherous. In addition, volcanic ash on the roads, sometimes identified as "gray snow," can make for slippery driving conditions.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.