10 great places to swashbuckle down

Llandoger Trow PubBristol, England As the backdrop for much of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, Bristol is said to be the birthplace of Blackbeard, one of the era's most feared pirates. It also marks the spot of Llandoger Trow, a 17th-century pub with ceilings so low, you almost stoop — possible proof that pirates were short, Woodard says. Join "Pirate Pete" for the guided tour of the historic harborside, where you'll find a secret tunnel or two. Equally fascinating: "the home of pirate hunter Woodes Rogers and cathedrals where pirates and pirate hunters once rubbed shoulders," he says. visitbristol.co.uk

Pirates WeekCayman Islands From chowing down to dancing until the wee hours, pirates sure knew how to live it up. Escape to the islands Nov. 12-22 for an adventurous agenda filled with fireworks, dart tournaments and underwater treasure hunts. Adding to the mayhem is the cardboard boat regatta at George Town harbor. Afterward, hop over to the Trial of the Pirates for a street dance finale. www.piratesweekfestival.com

City That SankPort Royal, Jamaica "Once known as the 'wickedest city on Earth,' Port Royal was the primary base of the late 17th-century buccaneers," Woodard says. That is, until half the town slid into the sea in a violent 1692 earthquake. Today, the warm Caribbean waters are a diver's haven. With special permission, you can scuba near the submerged city's barnacle-covered wrecks, churches and forts. Or grab snorkel gear and nestle up to nurse sharks at nearby reefs. visitjamaica.com

Castillo de San MarcosSt. Augustine, Fla. This is hands-down one of the best spots in the USA to capture a glimpse of the pirate era, Woodard says. Here you'll see "the 17th-century fortress from which Spanish officials tried to confront the Bahamian pirates. Amazingly, it's still intact," he says. Back at street level is nearby Taberna del Gallo, a 1736 watering hole with no electricity, just flickering candles. Stick around: It is also the starting point for the city's nightly ghost tour. 800-653-2489; visitoldcity.com

Expedition Whydah Sea-Lab and Learning Center Provincetown, Mass. Off the peaceful Cape Cod coast and near the shipwrecked Whydah — a pirate vessel that sank in a storm in 1717 — is a small lab/museum displaying a mother lode of centuries-old loot, ranging from heaps of Spanish gold to pewter tableware to a surprisingly small man's boot. "Treasure hunters searched for the gold-laden wreck for centuries before it was found in the 1980s, yielding the greatest treasure-trove of pirate artifacts in the world," Woodard says. Another jewel: the area's undeveloped beaches, perfect for whale-watching. 508-487-8899; whydah.com

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