If you think about it, Pirate Travel is a completely sensible topic for posting about. It’s always good to get back to our (ancestral??) roots and remember that they were the original pioneers of the randomised, inquisitive and adventurous ideals of travel. Plundering their way around the world cove to cove, finding the unexpected and bathing in the riches on offer sounds faintly familiar. Many a traveller will bounce from hostel to hostel, enriching their lives, perhaps not through treasure but more through experiences and photo shots. So here’s to tracing the footsteps (or peg steps!) of history by outlining a few treasures of pirateyness left unplundered around the world.
Ancient Pirate Locations:
Many people instantly think of the Caribbean when talking about pirates. However, if this location is a little too far or out of budget for you, then harking back to the period of Ancient Piracy in the Mediterranean is a different option.
The rocky coastline and low population densities in sporadic villages throughout the Med fostered the birth of piracy. Barbary Corsairs attacked locations in the Mediterranean, using North Africa, particularly Algiers (in Algeria), Morocco, and Tunis (in Tunisia) as safe havens. These are well known to today’s modern tourist and therefore seeking out the bloodthirsty past can add a new twist to well-trodden tourist hotspots.
The Romans and Greeks became accustomed and weary of these pirate attacks. A trip to Crete or the Lipari Islands can make for a fun filled holiday that many a pirate from this period enjoyed. Alternatively, for fans of Barbarossa, or Red Beard, then consider a trip to Turkey. The resort town of Kuşadasi in the Aydin province is picturesque and some historical architecture is still around.
The Far East:
As the world’s third largest island and full of dense, lush jungle, Borneo is already on the tourist map. However, for fans of Eastern Pirates who raided the seas of Singapore and Hong Kong, a holiday to Borneo will take you to one of their safe havens. This was one of the more recent pirate locations, lasting up until the 19th century. With plenty of caves and being located in a region of the world rich in Islands, it is very easy to get into the pirate spirit here!
Moving a little Westward brings us to Madagascar. Like Borneo, this is a country known for its dense jungles and rich biodiversity. However, toward the end of the 17th century this too became a location for piracy, as lawless seamen attacked the ships of the Indian Moguls and exploited European trade in the area.
North America and the Caribbean:
This well-known location for piracy spoils the pirate enthusiast for its wealth of locations. Starting off in the Caribbean we have the much popularised destinations of Port Royal (a former British seaport in Jamaica), and Tortuga (a former French settlement). These experienced degrees of lawlessness and therefore piracy thrived at the beginning of the 18th Century. Tortuga is an entire Island in the Caribbean and offers undeveloped and isolated bays. Port Royal has greatly diminished in size and due to an Earthquake and other local disasters it is known as the city that sank. You can still visit it though and there are a number of forts and churches still in existence. Fort Charles is a definite highlight, built at the end of the 17th century it was once briefly home to Lord Nelson. As well as the remnants of Royal Navy Forts and defences, there is also an old jail, all of which contribute to a great walking tour of the area.
Moving over to mainland America the states of North and South Carolina have seen their fair share of piracy. Charles Town in South Carolina flirted briefly with the smuggling aspects of Piracy, and North Carolina’s Bath Town was where Blackbeard sold his booty. For a picturesque location visit Ocracoke Island, steeped in Maritime history it is the location of the naval battle that brought about Blackbeard’s death.
So there ye have it. Piracy spanned and plundered the world. However, like many travellers these days, pirates sought out warm climates, locations with plenty of secluded and hidden spots, and the odd tavern. This all still makes for a great holiday, cutlass or not!