As with other Caribbean islands, Jamaica is a laid-back destination with idyllic beaches, crystal-clear water, waving palm trees and more. The island lives to the reggae beat of Bob Marley and is home to many colorful characters. However, for those who have done the normal tour of Jamaica, the island also features weird and wonderful locations that are worth visiting. Among them is a sunken pirate city, a rickety bar out on the water on stilts and the Blue Hole mineral spring.
1. Port Royal Sunken Pirate City
Port Royal in Jamaica was once dubbed the most wicked and sinful city in the world. Back in the day, it was renowned for its potent Kill Devil Rum, its sex workers and its pirates. However, this pirate city was destroyed by an earthquake and now lies under the water off Jamaica’s shore.
Nestling on the southeast coast of Jamaica, this natural harbor, at this stage held by the English, soon attracted a bad reputation. Not only were there pirates and sex workers, but people also made a living from the slave trade. However, Port Royal was at its worst in 1675 when the notorious pirate Henry Morgan became Lieutenant Governor.
The earthquake strikes
It was on June 7, 1692, that the massive earthquake struck and as the city was mostly built on sand, it was instantly destroyed. Buildings collapsed as the city was hit by tsunami waves and what had not yet been destroyed was quickly dragged into the water. Four of five forts in the city were submerged and an estimated 2,000 people died.
One survivor and eyewitness wrote about it in a letter from the safety of his ship in the harbor. Edmund Heath wrote that the earth opened and swallowed many people before his face. He added that the sea he saw “came mounting in over the wall, upon which I concluded it impossible to escape.”
These days, most of the ruins of this 17th-century city building lie beneath 40 feet of water. Since the 1950s, divers have explored and cataloged the submerged city. Divers need special access from the Jamaican government to explore the restricted Port Royal ruins, but many artifacts can be seen in the Museums of History and Ethnography at the Institute of Jamaica in Kingston.
However, wannabe divers can get an idea of an underwater pirate tavern from the video included above.
2. Floyd’s Pelican Bar, Jamaica
Admittedly, delicious and cooling cocktails can be found all over the island of Jamaica. However, those seeking something different should head to Parottee Bay and Floyd’s Pelican Bar. The bar stands on stilts above the water, roughly a mile off the coast and is waiting to serve you a “Pelican Perfection.”
Looking at the bar, it looks like something thrown together from driftwood, scrap wood, bric-a-brac and palm fronds and is only accessible by boat.
It seems the owner, Floyd Forbes, had a dream to build a bar rising from the sea on wooden stilts as an oasis in the ocean.
In 2001, Floyd started lugging wood out into the bay on his fishing boat, gradually building his dream bar. At first, it was a place for him and his fishermen friends to have a drink at the end of the busy day.
However, once the local tourism industry caught on to the bar, it became a famous drinking spot. At one stage, the bar was threatened with closure due to possible environmental impact and fire hazards. However, Floyd’s Pelican Bar has continued, albeit with extra fire extinguishers. Nowadays, the bar is lined with all kinds of memorabilia including flags and license plates from all over the world.
The only way to get there is on a 20-minute boat ride, where you can enjoy a drink, have a swim, or play some dominos with the locals. However, be warned that this drinking establishment has no bathroom. This means there is only one place to “go” – in the warm waters surrounding Floyd’s Pelican Bar.
3. Blue Hole Mineral Spring, Negril
Located in a remote area of Jamaica, the Blue Hole Mineral Spring has become a popular attraction. The water is accessed 25 feet below the surface and visitors can either dive into the water or climb down using a ladder. Meanwhile, the pool is completely surrounded by Karst limestone that filters the water, leaving it clear and clean.
It is said that the mud surrounding the pool is good for the skin. Meanwhile, the water itself is valued for its mineral properties. However, be aware of the sign that tells visitors that they swim at their own risk.
Make sure you visit these and other weird and wonderful locations in Jamaica on your next Caribbean trip.