In the 17th and 18th centuries, dangerous pirates sailed the seas searching for booty from ships loaded with exotic spices, luxurious silks, and silver and gold from European trade with the East Indies. While these buccaneers roamed the open seas they needed a strategic spot where they could replenish their supplies before heading out to pillage again. The Ile of Saint Marie in Madagascar provided an ideal location with its secluded bays, quiet waters, proximity to the trade route, and abundant fresh fruit and water. The well-concealed inlets were the perfect place to hide the pirate ships and set up a base for the mischievous marauders. For a period of around a 100 years, about 1000 pirates were staying on the island.
In fact, the pirates became quite comfortable on this island paradise and many even stayed on once their pirating days were done, making their home in the lush jungle. They brokered allegiances with the warring tribes and married the local women (often more than one) and started family compounds. Today this pirate haven is a haven of a different sort, one for travellers looking for a tropical paradise that lies off the beaten track. Jenman Madagascar’s Ile aux Nattes Package is most suitable for these type of travellers, with a stay on a secluded (practically deserted) beach and a trip to Ile Saint Marie.
But what of the pirates? All that remains of these boisterous brigands is the world’s only pirate cemetery, known simply as The Pirate Cemetery of Madagascar, which is an absolute must see in Saint Marie. Set on a scenic hill overlooking the island, this unique and atmospheric graveyard is said to hold the bones of some pirating legends such as Captain Kidd and Thomas Tew. While it cannot be undeniably proven that this is indeed their final resting place, as they say “dead men tell no tales”, it’s worth a wander around to find the graves etched with skulls and crossbones and imagine what it was like living in a bygone era of looting and plundering.