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8 real pirate havens worth a visit

Fort Fincastle

Photo: Ricymar Photography/Flickr

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Nassau, Bahamas

Another Caribbean hub during the 17th and 18th centuries, the island of New Providence, home to Nassau (the capital of the Bahamas), became a buccaneer base because of its proximity to the trade routes used by Spanish merchant ships. Pirates gained access to the ports here by bribing the local authorities. When this practice became too blatant, the British army stepped in to expel the pirates. Though a few famous individuals, including Edward “Blackbeard” Teach, fled before the British arrival, most pirates actually welcomed the change in power and remained in Nassau, taking up noncriminal professions.  

It can be hard to separate history from spectacle in Nassau. The touristy Pirates of Nassau Museum features animatronic pirates and a recreated ship. Plenty of local legends are based on myths and hearsay rather than facts, but you can still see historic fortresses and other buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries in the older sections of Nassau.