Almost three centuries ago, Port Royal, Jamaica, just south of Kingston, was a busy town, full of life and was known to many as "the wealthiest and wickedest city in the world". That was until a large portion of Port Royal was destroyed by an earthquake and a tsunami on June 7, 1692.
Port Royal, Jamaica has undergone a great deal of underwater excavations that have exposed some evidence of dishonesty and dissolution by the pirates that once inhabited this town. Among the many artifacts found during these underwater searches were items such as pewter plates, silver spoons, glass bottles and ceramic cups, which correspond with the pirates residing in Port Royal. Some believe that the spirits of Henry Morgan and his fellow buccaneers remain inhabitants of this once bustling town.
During the 17th century, the main city of the Jamaican English colony was Port Royal, Jamaica. The city was a huge attraction to pirates and merchants up until 1692 when the earthquake struck and submerged a portion of the town. After that, for 200 years, Port Royal was used as a British Royal Navy base.
Port Royal, Jamaica was founded in 1655, and by the 1680s, its population was already close to that of Boston, Massachusetts during that time, which was approximately 7,000 people. The reason its population grew so rapidly during the years of 1655 and the late 1660s... and that it was so appealing to the pirates, was because the location of Port Royal was so perfect for the pirates to carry out their not so good intentions since the island of Jamaica was located right in the middle of the Caribbean.
From the center of the Caribbean, in Port Royal, Jamaica, the pirates and buccaneers targeted and overtook the heavily loaded treasure fleets which had departed from Spain's Mainland and were headed toward the Americas and the Caribbean.
After 1670, England considered Port Royal and Jamaica to be very important for different reasons than did the pirates. England began becoming increasingly interested because of the amount of slave trade, as well as the trade of sugar, and other raw materials. Port Royal quickly became the business center of the Caribbean for merchants because of its enormous amounts of goods running in and out of the port due to the setup of an extensive network of trade.
Today, if you are interested in visiting Port Royal, Jamaica, you can take a ferry that runs twice a day from the main square of downtown Kingston to the small community that is today at Port Royal. If you are not keen on ferries, you can travel to Port Royal by road, which runs past the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.
The drive from Kingston to Port Royal is a scenic one, as it passes many other historic sites and remains, including some of the remains of old forts that are now practically overgrown with vegetation. You'll also pass an old naval cemetery which contains some pretty interesting and intriguing headstones.
Also, look out for the monument commemorating the first coconut tree, planted in Jamaica in 1863. There isn't a coconut tree growing in that spot anymore though... just lots of brush and cactus. The legendary 40 taverns no longer remain in operation in Port Royal, but there are two small pubs that are in operation.
When you're in Port Royal, be sure to check out the remarkable remains of Fort Charles, once the area's major garrison. It was built in 1662... and is the oldest surviving monument from the British occupation of Jamaica.
When you get to Jamaica, hopefully you'll get a chance to visit this little town with a lot of history!