Visit the City that Once was the Most Wicked and Sinful City in the World

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If you know anything about pirates you may have heard about a special place in the Caribbean that was once the dream destination of every pirate on the planet. 

Located on the southeast coast of Jamaica you can find the natural harbor of Port Royal, which in the days of the Buccaneers was the equivalent to a modern-day Las Vegas but with a much more sinister edge.

The small fishing town, which today is secluded from the rest of Jamaica was once known as one of the largest European cities of the new world, and the stomping ground for many English pirates.

This is a guest post by Daniel James of Layer Culture. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Port Royal Map

Where is Port Royal?

Did you know that Port Royal in Jamaica, was once known as the wickedest city in the world? The city had become the infamous home of pirates, prostitutes and drunken Englishmen on the prowl as they made their riches and did dealings in the slave trade.

Today it is a small local village that is located in the mouth of Kingston Harbor. At its peak, though, it was the epicenter of shipping and commerce in the Caribbean by the latter half of the 17th century.  

Outside of the main attraction itself, which is a fortress called Fort Charles, where you pay an admission fee to enter. You’ll be glad to know there is a handful of other landmarks and historical elements you can visit that help tell the story of how the area used to be in its heyday.

As the town is so close to Kingston and just minutes from the airport, you can easily get here via taxi. Either on your way to the airport or on the way back into Kingston. 

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To experience Port Royal to the full, be sure to check that the attraction is open before making any plans to visit.

What to do in Port Royal

So, now you have a better idea of where Port Royal is and why it is was branded as the wicked city in the world. Let’s take a look at what things you can get up to whilst visiting this interesting landmark.

It is worth noting that if you’d like to learn some inside knowledge and have as much information crammed into your visit as possible, getting yourself a tour guide which can be easily be found inside the attraction.

Now, let’s take a look at what else you can get up to on a visit to the fisherman’s town of Port Royal.

Walk Around Fort Charles

Fort Charles is the main attraction at Port Royal where you pay a small entrance fee of $15USD to be able to spend the day exploring the various artifacts on display. 

Expect to see narrow cobblestone street, huge forts, cannons, and red brick buildings. You’ll first be greeted a large fortress, most of which still remains today after surviving two earthquakes. Which as noted in many history books, caused a lot of damage to the local area. 

The museum that you can visit inside has a few relics that were recovered from the earthquake. Sadly, much of the artifacts of infamous pirates such as Captain Morgan, Calico Jack, and Charles Vaine are not to be found. 

However, you’ll not be disappointed, as you can find miscellaneous objects including cutlery, documents and old maps that will help you to piece together and understand the history of the wicked old city.  

The Giddy House

The giddy house does exactly what it says. It makes you giddy!

In 1692 there was a severe earthquake that caused the entire city to sink 3.5 feet into the ground which was the main undoing of Port Royal. In 1907, there was another major earthquake. 

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Not to mention, it caused what was once the Artillery store ‘Giddy House’ at Fort Charles, to sink into the floor but at an angle which is 10-feet at one side, and 8-feet at the other.

The giddy house gets its name from the feeling you get whilst stood inside the building trying to stand straight. 

It is such an unusual attraction because when you walk inside and move around a little you feel normal at first, but as you walk outside again, you immediately start to feel dizzy and even a little disoriented. Some people begin to feel dizzy just by standing outside and looking at the building.

Scuba Dive the Sunken City

Due to most of the original city and tons of shipwrecks lying only meters below the water, this is like the pirate’s modern-day version of a treasure trove. Archeologists, historians, and the just plain curious and fascinated love to explore what used to be the wickedest city in the world.

This dive requires special permission from the local authorities and can be organized through any licensed and reputable dive operator.

Admire the Streets of the Old Town  

The town of Port Royal itself is a small community that on arriving seems as though it has been forgotten about. 

Taking a walk around and having a chat with the locals is a great experience. You’ll find one or two unique souvenirs on sale made by local craftsmen that you can purchase.

Also, you will encounter other abandoned buildings that make up the cultural heritage of the town. There is only one road from Kingston to Port Royal, and even though upon arrival it may seem slightly eerie-looking, and deserted, the neighborhood is safe to walk around. 

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You should only need to carry the basic travel essentials with you on the day. Bear in mind that there are some amazing photo opportunities to be had, so you’ll definitely want to carry a camera.

Drink Like a Pirate at the Bar

Amongst the section of small buildings onsite at Fort Charles, you’ll find there is a small bar. Located across from the mini-museum and under a huge tree, you can enter the small bar which has a maritime feeling. 

A perfect spot to sit back and enjoy an ice-cold drink after your tour around the Fort. The Bar has some artifacts, including furniture, that gives you that sense of being on the set of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

This is your ideal opportunity to try one of Jamaica’s finest Rums if by this time you have not had the opportunity. The barman on site is very friendly and full of knowledge and wisdom about Port Royal and the surrounding area.

Overview of Port Royal, Jamaica

So, now you know what to do whilst in the wickedest city in the world, what’s stopping you from visiting? 

Any trip to Jamaica should include a stop at Port Royal. You only need half a day there to enjoy all the recommend activities mentioned above. 

It’s a great place to be able to sit back and imagine what life must have been like back in the pirate days.

Whenever you decide to visit this quaint town on the outskirts of the island, it’s people and interesting historical sites welcome you.


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port royal jamaica

Daniel James from Layer Culture is a cultural traveler from the United Kingdom. Daniel dedicates his time to exploring and learning about life in Latin America.

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