The Pirate City under the sea: Port Royal / Santiago Island:


This island was discovered by Columbus in 1494 on his second expedition to America. The Spaniards named it Santiago and colonised it in 1509. It remained a Spanish colony for many years before passing into English hands.

Inhabited by Arawak Indians, it was known as Xaymaca (land of waterfalls and forests). It is still one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean with an area of 240km in length and 80km in width.

Founded by the Spanish in 1518, it became an English domain in 1655. Situated at the end of long sandy tongue 18miles southeast of Jamaica, it became the most important trading point in the Caribbean due to its strategic position on trade routes between America and Spain. When England patented Corso to attack enemy ships on the Caribbean most of these, along with Pirate ships gathered at Port Royal. This port could accommodate a large number of ships and perform maintenance work on them.

Before the large earthquake and tsunami of June 7, 1692 the island had approximately 6500 inhabitants. This was cut by half on this date. A series of fires and hurricanes followed and of the four forts on the island, only one survived.

Later, Port Royal, became a British naval station and today all that remains is a small fishing village. The most important parts of Port Royal lie at the bottom of the ocean today at relatively shallow depths. It is considered to be one of the most important archaeological sites in the Western Hemisphere. Here lie objects dating as far back as the 16th and 17th centuries.