Pirate Islands in the Caribbean

With the success of all four Pirates of the Caribbean and possibly a fifth on the way in 2017 with the working title Dead Men Tell No Tales, people have become fascinated with pirates. Here is a closer look at three of the most popular Caribbean islands both well represented in the movies and in history as being pirate havens that might appeal as your next holiday destination.

    Loozrboy - Wikimedia

After Columbus' great discovery of the New World in 1492, the Spanish arrived and settled in the Caribbean making it one of the major European trading areas. From the 1660s through to the 1730s, pirates were extremely successful after making a lucrative career choice. One of the most important islands for pirates was Port Royal in southeastern Jamaica. This area was ideal due to being home to a large harbor that was perfect for repairing there sea-hardened vessels.

In the 1660s, Port Royal became known as the Sodom of the New World as it was filled with booze, loose morals, prostitutes and pirates of course . Money flowed through the city due to English and Dutch sponsored pirateers who became wealthy through the looting of Spanish ships. Locals actively participated in the slave trade and lots of money came through the selling of slave labour. Eventually locals became less dependent on the pirates and took ownership of their city. In 1687, when the anti-piracy law was passed, this city became a central place of pirate executions. Famous hangings include Charles Vane and Calico Jack in 1720 along with the death of Mary Read while in prison.

Nassau in the Bahamas was another well-known island for pirates. From 1703 to 1718 there was no governor in the colony and it was home to over 1000 pirates. This is where the famous female pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read as well as Blackbeard, Calico Jack and many other notorious pirates were based. Eventually, a "Privateer's Republic" was established and Blackbeard was appointed Nassau's self-appointed magistrate. That lasted until 1718 when English Governor Woodes Rogers took over with the motto "Expulsis Piratis - Resituta Commercia" which translates as Expel Pirates - Restore Commerce.

Tortuga Island, near Hispaniola, is an island off the north west coast of Haiti. French and English colonists made their way to Tortuga Island in 1625 to challenge Spanish supremacy. There were numerous battles between the Spanish and the French and English colonists, but the Spanish never fully regained their foothold for very long. This is the location where Captain Jack Sparrow and Will Turner tried to recruit a crew. Similar to Port Royal, this place was known for its lawlessness, rogues, outlaws and pirates. It is claimed though to have been an even less civilised place than Port Royal if that is even possible.

If the history and documented shenanigans from these islands appeal to you then you might want to look into a Caribbean cruise where you can stop off at a number of islands. The area is ideal for island hopping and you will make some special memories in places where pirates were terrorising and looting all those years ago.

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