Port Royal: An Underwater Pirate City With A Wicked Reputation

Beneath the surface of the ocean’s waves, the foreboding remains of a wicked city still linger. If you were ever curious about the real life of pirates of the Caribbean, you should learn more about Port Royal. This historic site has been the inspiration for countless pirate novels and films and even received a visit from the fictional Captain Jack Sparrow himself.

A Sleepy Fishing Port Transformed

Port Royal, Jamaica used to be the epicenter of commerce and shipping for the Caribbean. When the village was founded in 1518, it was under Spanish control. By the year 1655, Port Royal fell under the control of the English, and it soon cemented its reputation for being a wicked and sinful place.

Port Royal became a destination city in the new world and the home of infamous pirates and slave traders. The landmass had a strange twist of fate, transforming from a place that lacked any gold or wealth to exploit, into a pirate’s paradise. Today, what’s left of Port Royal’s pirate city seems tame in comparison.

Playground Of Pirates And Privateers

Seafarers of ill-repute and the Royal Navy of the Caribbean crossed paths within the curious pirate city. What was once a peaceful fishing port by the Taino people, became one of the wealthiest locales on the planet, replete with bars and brothels. Men who originally made their fortunes via vice began to profit from legitimate private ventures and started to crack down on competing pirates.

The increasing debauchery, slave trading, smuggling, and prostitution would soon come to a screeching halt. On June 7, 1692, a massive earthquake caused the sandy foundation of Port Royal to tumble into the sea. Thousands of people were sucked down to their doom, unable to escape, or perished from disease and injury following the disaster.

Efforts to rebuild the city failed after a fire in 1703, following more pummeling from earthquakes and hurricanes. The city that was labeled the ‘Sodom of the Caribbean’ had finally suffered the wrath of the divine according to many and was never to resurface.

Dive Underwater To A Devilish City

Few of the original buildings from Port Royal’s glorious days of buccaneers and pirates still stand. Visiting the quiet fishing village off the coast, one would find it hard to believe that notorious John “Calico Jack” Rackham or Charles Vane once made Port Royal their stomping grounds. When viewing the sunken city, many visitors leave with the eerie feeling that they have floated over rooftops.

Visitors must request special permission from the government, before diving off to explore the ruins of the infamous seaport. Archaeologists and divers continue to find artifacts dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, and earlier. Port Royal, Jamaica has been designated a World Heritage site and is a boon for historians who are eager to explore the well-preserved shipwrecks and structures under the ocean.

In 1969, a pocket watch dating back to 1686 was retrieved from underwater, with the time stopped at 11:43. There are also recovered relics from the underwater site displayed at Kingston’s Museum of History and Ethnography at the Institute of Jamaica.