The Jamaica of Henry Morgan or Bob Marley?


Both these men made Jamaica famous. You won’t find anyone who has not heard about this island, and if you ask what is associated with it, the answers will be “pirates” or “reggae.” However, some may say Jamaican rum.

In my view, the Caribbean Sea today brings to mind thoughts of pirates, just as would have in the 17th century. Because of that piracy connection, a young man named Henry decided to leave England and his rich parents, to go to the Caribbean Sea to seek adventure, romance, and treasure. He had not even enough money for passage on a ship, so he sold himself into slavery. That was a very common practice in those times. If you could not buy a ticket to the West Indies, you pledged to work on the sugar plantations for several years. The price of a one-way ticket for Henry Morgan was ten years.

However, Henry turned out to be a very capable guy; he got his freedom in only seven years, joined a gang and started to steal. Two years later, he had stolen enough money to buy a ship. He continued to rob, kill, and rape. He was lucky to get away with it, as piracy was forbidden by the United Kingdom. The Royal Court could hang you from the yardarm for it, but only if you had no license.

Henry Morgan got this license, proclaimed himself admiral, raised the British flag, and suggested to his bandits that they rob not only the Spanish ships, but cities as well. It was an ingenious idea which made him a rich man for life. But in 1671 he made a mistake. Having robbed Panama, he returned with an enormous catch to Port Royal, his base on the island of Jamaica, but was arrested and sent to London to face justice. It appeared that Great Britain and Spain had concluded a truce during his robberies in Panama.

However, it seems, the king just wanted to ask him a very simple question: Where is the money, Captain? It appears that Henry gave the right answer. After his arrival in London, he was free under his own recognizance, and lived happily, waiting three years for his court case. At last, the court made a wise decision: Not guilty due lack of evidence. To their mind, during the robbery of Panama, Captain Henry Morgan did not know about the truce between Great Britain and Spain.

Henry Morgan was directed to the same Port Royal as vice-governor and Commander of the Navy. There he lived the rest of his life, successfully fighting piracy (yes, yes, successfully) and growing sugar cane. He died and was buried in the cathedral of Port Royal. Several years later the sea took the city. Port Royal plunged into the sea after a massive earthquake in 1692.

Today, you will find that only one part of Port Royal survived the earthquake: Fort Charles. An interesting fact is that this is the oldest building of Port Royal. In the 1650s-60s, the new city sprang up from this fort (in those times it was called Fort Cromwell). By the way, the future famous admiral Nelson served here too.

Fort Charles. Jamaica.

Bob Marley did not rob or kill anyone. He lived, smoked, and sang. In short, he did what he liked and was able to do, and glorified Jamaica to the whole world. He died of cancer at age 36. In his museum in Kingston you can see the bed of the famous musician or buy a T-shirt with his portrait on it.

Which man is more a symbol of this beautiful Caribbean island? Of which man are the locals prouder? Ask them yourself when you arrange your holidays to Jamaica to see … not the bed of Bob Marley and Fort Charles, but the wonderful tropical nature consisting of blue sea, golden beaches, green forests, picturesque waterfalls, and the Blue Mountains.

Blue Mountains. Jamaica.

The Blue Mountains were what Christopher Columbus saw first when approaching the island of Jamaica. They really are blue. Later, coffee beans were planted here, and this idea turned out to be so successful that now few people in the world don’t know the expensive coffee brand “Blue Mountain.” You can visit plantations located between two and five meters above sea level and even buy some coffee there, but keep in mind it will not be much cheaper than anywhere else on the island.

Jamaica has beautiful Luminous Lagoon in the town of Falmouth. Microorganisms in the water emit a flash of light when touched. If you run your hand over the surface of the water, it sparkles like rhinestones. Only four places in our planet can demonstrate that miracle. Take the excursion and swim in “diamonds.” Of course, the best time for this is at night.

Luminous Lagoon. Jamaica.

Luminous Lagoon. Jamaica.

Guides will offer you excursions to the waterfalls. Agree to them, but don’t expect anything breathtaking. The waterfalls of Jamaica are very small, but picturesque enough.

Waterfall. Jamaica.

Fans of snorkeling will not be disappointed by the local coral reef and will meet a few interesting underwater inhabitants.

These are short but as always useful tips on Jamaica from Nomadic Matt.

What about the cities of Kingston, Negril, and Montego Bay? After independence from the British Crown, Jamaica gradually lost all its industry and income. Today, there is little work here. People live mainly from tourism. According to a recent poll, more than 60% of the population wish to be part of the United Kingdom again. By the way, the penalty for smoking tobacco in public places of Jamaica is $5, but for smoking marijuana, it is only $0.50. This will give you an idea of the pace of life you may find here.

Local resident. Jamaica.

Stay in a comfortable and clean all-inclusive resort, drink, eat, and enjoy bright sun, golden beaches, and the azure sea. After all, that’s what tropical islands are intended for. Save studies of cities for Europe.

More about tropical islands:

Why You Should Visit Cuba Immediately
Koh Samui, Thailand. Not the Maldives, but Still Paradise!
Two Parts of Paradise: Vilamendhoo Island and Reethi Beach Resort

18 thoughts on “The Jamaica of Henry Morgan or Bob Marley?

  1. Reblogged this on closetoeighty and commented:
    We are on the way to Quenns to see blooming magnolias. I leave you with Victor Tribunsky and his famous pirate. Enjoy!
    By the way, we traveled the waterfalls on the photo below.


  2. Bob Marley’s impact reached the other end of the Pacific even to these days. He has such an impact that I personally would wish to see that land where he grew up. By the way, those diamonds on the water, there’s plenty of those in our own backyard, too. And I can tell, yes, they bring so much excitement just glittering on the water.


  3. Love all of the Caribbean with the US and British Virgin Islands and Jamaica at or near the top of the list, but funny that you would use a photo under the headline of your Jamaica article, that gives a panoramic view of beach and islands taken overlooking Trunk Bay on St. John, USVI. Even if it was related to Henry’s indenture, he was supposedly indentured to Barbados, not St. John’s …☺


  4. I love your photos and stories Victor especially Fort Charles and the waterfalls. It’s funny that when I think of Jamaica, I never have an image in my mind of water, just lush forests and small huts! I have never been to Jamaica. Although the island does it’s best to attract well-heeled tourists, I’m not sure that it’s a place for me. Far too quiet!


  5. Excellent piece, great photos, thank you.

    (I would just add, I have moved in circles, here in the UK, where it would be acknowledged that McVitie’s made Jamaica famous – with their delicious Jamaica Ginger Cake.)


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