Port Royal, Jamaica was a major hub for buccaneers in the 16th and 17th centuries. Jamaica was an English colony surrounded on all sides by Spanish and Portuguese colonies. It was also located directly in the middle of an important trade route between Panama and Spain. Because England and Spain were mortal enemies, the British crown encouraged privateers and buccaneers to plunder these ships, which they did with stunning frequency. Before long Port Royal became full of stolen jewels, gold, and riches, taken from Spanish ships as they tried to return to Spain. The island quickly became a pirate’s paradise, with a plethora of gambling parlors, brothels, and taverns. Legitimate businesses such as blacksmith shops, gun shops, and jewelry stores did exist, as did houses of worship such as churches and temples. Nevertheless, Port Royal gained its infamous reputation for its resident pirates and their wild lifestyles.
Port Royal met its end on June 7, 1692 when a powerful earthquake caused the western portion of the town to slide into the ocean. A tidal wave followed which killed over 2,000 people. Soon, looters and disease destroyed what was left of Port Royal. Today, there is little more than a small museum in the town of Port Royal that celebrates its pirate past.