Port Royal

Overview

Introduction

Located just across the harbor from Kingston, Port Royal was once Jamaica's richest city. The wealth came from renegades and pirates who, after the English took control of Jamaica, were allowed to use the town as a base for their raids on foreign ships. The buccaneers' wild ways earned Port Royal the title of "the wickedest city in Christendom." That changed on 7 June 1692, when an earthquake and tidal wave sank much of the town beneath the sea, killing thousands of people. What was left of the town was repaired, and though Port Royal never regained its prominence, it served as an important British naval base.

Today, you can visit several sites related to Port Royal's past. The small Port Royal Archaeological Museum, housed in the old Royal Navy Hospital building, displays items that have been recovered from underwater excavations of old Port Royal. The Fort Charles Maritime Museum, housed in a fortress erected by the English, examines Jamaica's seafaring past.


It's possible to hire a local boat captain to take you out to the beautiful white-sand beaches of one of the offshore cays for a relaxing day. This area is also one of the best spots in the country for scuba diving—its reefs are in better condition than others in Jamaica. The beaches are a popular picnic spot on weekends.

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