“Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum, why have I cast my lot with this scum?” In their heyday, the bloodthirsty thieves of the Caribbean left their mark on many an island in the Caribbean Sea. A few port cities in particular were frequented by these sea dogs, where today, visitors can view the aging remains of a bygone era.
Piracy was as much a result of the political conflicts between the English, French, and Dutch versus the Spanish, as it was a method of cutting corners in a lucrative trade world. The Spanish ports with a weaker presence were often bribed by smugglers to look the other way as they bypassed the Spanish monopoly laws. The Golden Age of Piracy was a short, but famous, time in Caribbean history, lasting from 1650 until 1730. Queen Elizabeth herself was a patron supporter of the great pirate, Sir Francis Drake, who once captured and ransacked the Colombian port of Cartagena. As wars in Europe raged, Spain slowly lost its control of the Caribbean, and by the time the Royal Navy began to put an end to piracy, the pirates had already left a permanent mark on the islands and ports of the Caribbean Sea.
The Pirate Republic of Nassau
Now the commercial center for the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Nassau was once a self-declared pirate republic and home base to several famous pirates, including the infamous Edward Teach, also known as “Blackbeard.” During your stay in Nassau, feast your eyes on the blend of old and new, as Old World colonial architecture meets the modern day needs of a busy trade center and tourist destination.
See the relics, and learn the history at the Pirates of Nassau Museum. Tour the old pirate haunts, and if you feel a chilly sensation crawl up your arms, you may have bumped into a swashbuckling ghost! Gamble like a pirate at one of the many upscale casinos. Be sure to join us on New Year’s to experience the colorful festival of Junkaroo, a wildly energetic street parade of brightly-costumed people dancing with cowbells, drums and whistles. Enjoy your stay in the city Elizabeth Swann claimed Jack Sparrow raided without having to fire a single shot, from Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
The Alluring Piracy of Barbados
A relic of the Golden Age of Pirates, Barbados offers a unique story of piracy, having been the home base of Sam Lord and Stede Bonnet. By hanging lanterns in coconut palms, Sam Lord waited in his castle for ships to be lured by the appearance of city lights, and then plundered the wrecks which had hit the surrounding reefs. Today, divers can explore the colorful fish and coral reefs as they wander through these shipwreck remains.
If you are a fan of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, be sure to visit the beaches where filming took place on the nearby island of Dominica. You can even take a cruise to the island on a replica pirate ship aptly named the “Jolly Roger.” With the wind blowing gently in the trees, and the waves lapping at the shore, you will soon doze off and dream of the rip-roaring adventures of a departed era.
Yaar Facts About Pirates!
Hiram Beakes was a famous pirate from the island of Saba. He coined the term “dead men tell no tales.”
If capture was imminent, pirates often changed out of their fancy clothes in order to appear unimportant and as part of the crew.
Gold earrings worn by pirates were thought to improve eyesight.
On the island of St. Thomas you can tour Blackbeard’s castle.
There were even two famous women pirates, Anne Bonny and Mary Reed. Together they sailed with “Calico Jack.”
Pirate tribute and ransom was once 10% of the United States annual budget. In fact, the Navy was founded in order to ward off these pirate attacks.
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