How To Tour The Caribbean Like Jack Sparrow
The release date is set for “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” the fifth installment of Disney’s ever-popular film franchise, and fans are thrilled. May 26, 2017 will bring costumed pirates to openings around the world as Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom return to assure parlay is honored, along with new pirate captain Javier Bardem and new damsel in distress Kaya Scodelario.
With almost 10 months to wait, why not get your “Pirates” fix by vacationing in the turquoise waters and white sandy beaches of the films’ locations? Captain Jack Sparrow can make several suggestions of where to go when you depart that cold northern home for the warm beaches of the Caribbean.
Port Royal, Kingston Harbour, Jamaica
The real Port Royal has quite a phenomenal history, both in terms of natural disasters and production of rum. Once called “the most wicked and sinful city in the world,” it began its history under Spanish control and later became the center of English life in Jamaica. It was the second largest European city in the new world by 1600, after Boston.
Just to give one an idea of its notoriety, the spiced rum’s namesake Captain Henry Morgan was once the Lieutenant Governor of the island before the first earthquake devastated it in 1692. An estimated 7.5-magnitude quake hit the island city, which was largely built on sand. It was destroyed almost instantly.
Jamaica is still obviously a brilliant vacation destination, and Port Royal still offers tourists quite a few museums exploring the island’s intriguing history including the Natural Museum of Historical Archeology. Most of the 17th century city lies beneath 40 feet or more of water. You can even dive in the restricted Port Royal ruins area with special permission from the government.
For the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series, a substitute was created on St. Vincent in the Grenadines, part of the Windward Island chain in the Caribbean. The harbor at Port Royal was recreated in Willilabou Bay on St. Vincent. The dock and a waterfront facade from the film still stands, however, the small town set was dismantled and recreated in Puerto Rico and Australia for the current filming.
“Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a pirate’s life for me!” Tortuga is a real Caribbean island that forms part of Haiti, off the northwest coast of Hispaniola. Our favorite POTC port was outside the jurisdiction of the Royal Navy, so it was historically a major center and haven for Caribbean piracy. It is no surprise that it is still known for its rum and Tortuga Rum Cakes.
You cannot visit Tortuga easily, as there is no public transportation or easy way to get there other than by a local’s boat. Tourism is not very promoted, as the rocky island is now lined with huge private mansions overlooking the ocean and the occasional beachside bar featuring fruity rum drinks and the traditional Bimini Ring game.
The Bimini Ring game is a staple in Caribbean bars, a fun trial of accuracy rumored to have been invented by none other than Ernest Hemingway. Local skill, board and card games are a great way to relax while on holiday. You will not find a bar in this territory without the famous ring tossing game nailed to the wall. The game consists of one hook, one ring and a string between them. Players toss the ring onto the hook, which of course becomes increasingly difficult, the more rum drinks you have.
Some may believe Hemingway invented the game during one of his regular fishing tours in the area, but we like to believe the pirates invented it while at port. Either way, it is an adventure in itself just to get to the beaches of Tortuga, and don’t plan on staying unless you meet a nice local.
Pelegosta or “Cannibal Island” (Dominica)
Dominica is a mountainous Caribbean island known for the best hiking and diving in the region. It is also the base of the tribe of cannibals in “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.” Some confuse it with the Dominican Republic, which is actually where some of the film crew’s luggage ended up.
It is actually a popular tourist destination with the island’s volcanoes creating boiling hot spring lakes. The scenes from “Dead Man’s Chest” were shot in the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, which encompasses rainforests, the twin Trafalgar Falls and the narrow Titou Gorge. It provided the ultimate backdrop for Johnny Depp’s frantic chase and eventual escape.
The most touristic of the Caribbean film locations, Dominica can be reached through the international hubs of Antigua, Barbados, St. Maarten and Martinique. It is one of the top five dive destinations in the world, with a submerged volcanic crater and calm tropical fish-filled waters. There is even an annual World Creole Music Festival held every October. It is also a destination for many of the cruise lines.
Strangely, many of the “Caribbean” scenes were shot nowhere near that tropical region. Davy Jones’ Locker was set in the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah and Fort Charles (of Port Royal) was built on the cliffs of Palos Verdes, California.
Isla de Muerta, where the cursed pirates of the Black Pearl hid the treasure of Cortez, is a fictional phantom island in the Caribbean that isn’t located on any map, as is Isla Cruces, where Davy Jones buried his heart. Regardless, the hundreds of Caribbean islands offer adventure, sailing and most importantly, rum for any traveling pirate.
This blog originally appeared on On Location Vacations' website.
More by Christine Bord
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