Explore the city where buccaneers and cutthroats once ruled. Learn about the earthquake that caused most of it to sink into the sea.
Wander around the sleepy fishing village of Port Royal and imagine it as it would have been in its heyday, with pirates, sailors and merchants crowding the streets and taverns. Visit Fort Charles and some of the other buildings that remain from the town’s former glory and eat the freshest fish in Jamaica at one of the town’s restaurants. Take a trip to the idyllic Lime Cay and spend an afternoon snorkeling or reading in the sun.
The town of Port Royal was founded in 1518. Used as a naval base by the Spanish and subsequently the English, it was once the New World’s busiest city. Traders from all regions used it as a stopover. It was also called the wickedest city in the world due to its high numbers of pirates, prostitutes and drunkards. Many of the buildings associated with this decadence sank under the ocean following an earthquake in 1692. Bring your dive gear to visit this world-renowned underwater archeological site.
Wander the quiet streets and enjoy the change of pace from bustling Kingston. Walk down Church Street to find St. Peter’s Church, which dates back to 1725, and see historic relics in its courtyard. Make your way to Fort Charles to discover how the English retained control of Port Royal for nearly 200 years. Two small museums also contain artifacts recovered from the 1692 earthquake.
Other attractions include the Old Gaol and the Old Naval Hospital. The inner ironworks of the latter building were actually constructed in Bradford, England, making the hospital one of the oldest pre-fabricated buildings in the world.
Hire a pilot to give you a boat ride to Lime Cay, a small, uninhabited island just off the coast. Spend an afternoon snorkeling, swimming and sunbathing. Return to Port Royal to have dinner at Jamaica’s best fish restaurants. To make your evening last longer, head to one of the town’s bars and nightclubs.
To reach Port Royal drive southeast 17 miles (27 kilometers) from Kingston or take the bus. You can find accommodation here, though most visit the port as a daytrip from Kingston.