Pirate Treasures Along the Massachusetts Coast
Arrgh! Is there a treasure-loving pirate in your midst? The islands of the Caribbean aren’t the only places to immerse yourself in pirate lore. The North and South shores of Massachusetts offer their own unique swashbuckling adventures for your buccaneers.
Tales and Tours
At the New England Pirate Museum in Salem, you’ll hear stories about some of New England’s most colorful pirates: one of the very first – a former fur trader named Dixie Bull, who disappeared in 1633 – and the unfortunate barmaid-turned-pirate Rachel Wall, who was executed in Boston in 1789.
As you take the 20- to 30-minute walking tour through a dimly lit colonial seaport, board a “ship,” and meander through a dark cave, you’ll see vignettes of life at sea, bloody battles and pirates dividing the booty. Led by a costumed tour guide, you’ll learn facts about local pirates and such legendary scourges of the sea as Blackbeard, Thomas Tew, Captain Kidd, and Jack Quelch, the first pirate hanged in Boston, in 1704. You’ll also hear secrets about treasure allegedly buried in the Lynn woods and along the New England shoreline, still waiting to be found. New England Pirate Museum, 274 Derby St., Salem, 978-741-2800; piratemuseum.com. Open daily, May 1 to Oct. 31, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; weekends in April and November.
In 1717, “Black Sam” Bellamy sailed the Whydah Galley to Massachusetts to show his ladylove his fully laden prize ship, only to have it sink during a storm, along with himself and most of his pirate crew. In 1984, underwater explorer Barry Clifford discovered the shipwreck off Cape Cod. The treasures recovered from the wreck are on display at the Expedition Whydah Sea Lab & Learning Center in Provincetown. Besides coins, jewels and treasures that Bellamy looted from more than 50 ships and transported on the Whydah’s final voyage, you’ll see clothing, pistols, cannons and utensils that the pirates used. Ongoing excavation of the site continues. It’s located deep in the sand less than half a mile from shore, which means that during the summer months you may see treasures being hauled in from the salvage boats. Expedition Whydah Sea Lab & Learning Center, MacMillan Wharf (off Commercial Street), Provincetown, 508-487-8899; whydah.com. Open daily, May 1 to Oct. 31.
For an interactive pirate adventure, sign on as a crew member at Lobster Tales Pirate Cruise in Plymouth. Designed for children ages 4 to 11, this one-hour pirate party features sea shanties, music, dance and hidden treasure. Wearing face paint and pirate hats, you’ll have an opportunity to attack an enemy pirate ship with water cannons and battle other pirates to keep the booty. Lobster Tales Pirate Cruise, 9 Town Wharf, Plymouth, 508-746-5342; piratefun.com. Operates May through October; call for dates and times.
At the theatrical Salem Pirate Faire, in September (dates TBA), you’re cordially invited to attend the wedding of Captain Hook. You’ll also meet the most infamous pirates in history and literature, with interactive scenes designed to make you part of the show. Spend your pieces of eight at the Tortuga Marketplace, eat grub at the galley, and take part in the children’s treasure hunt, costume contests and games. Salem Pirate Faire, Winter Island Park, 50 Winter Island Road, Salem; salemweb.com.