From Halloween costumes to Hollywood blockbusters, the swashing-buckling memory of Caribbean pirates lives on around the world. But how does the Caribbean remember these legendary figures, who once ruled the seas for over 300 years? Communities across the Caribbean have found ways to keep their rebel spirit alive, for locals and visitors alike. So if you want to get deeper into the Pirates of the Caribbean roots on your next vacation, these spots are definitely must-see. Happy sailing!
For the Hardcore History Buff: Port Royal, Jamaica
Get ready for a little history – once the pirate capital of the Caribbean, Port Royal lived in infamy as the wickedest city on earth, and the HQ of famed pirate (and former governor of Jamaica) Henry Morgan. That was before a major chunk of the city fell into the sea following a devastating earthquake in 1692. You can see much of the city’s remains along the sea floor, though special diving permission from the government is required. But you can still explore the sunken city’s unearthed archeological treasures on display at the Fort Charles Maritime Museum. Plus you can wander around the beautiful, historic colonial fort and get dizzy in the popular “Giddy House – a royal artillery bunk half sunk from the earthquake.
For the Family: Nassau, Bahamas
Today a booming capital, Nassau has rowdier historic roots. The city became a major pirating enclave in the early 1700s, building the largest concentration of pirates in the world. No wonder it’s outlaw residents declared the city a “republic of pirates,” separate from British colonial rule. The infamous Blackbeard would soon call Nassau home. The unofficial republic ended in 1717 after King George I offered pardons, but the city still celebrates this history today in proper fashion, with multiple historic spots and attractions for families to explore. Check out the interactive Pirates of Nassau Museum, which rebuilt a “moonlit” quayside circa 1716, complete with a replica of pirate ship, Revenge. Then tour the city’s historic colonial forts of Fincastle, Charlotte and Montagu.
For Those Just Looking to Party: Cayman Islands
As a safe hideout to quickly refill on vitals and repair boats, The Cayman Islands’ historical involvement in the age of buccaneers wasn’t perhaps as dramatic as their neighbors. But that hasn’t stopped them from going all out for the annual Pirates Week Festival, held across the three islands every November. Think of it as pirate-themed carnival – with grand parades, good food, parties, steel pan music, fireworks, and a generally great excuse to dress up in boots and fishnet stockings. The festivities conclude with a mock invasion of Georgetown Harbor, where the pirates get to run amok before being cast off for another year. If you miss the festivities, those itching to sail the seas can also board pirate tours yearlong on replicas of historic ships.