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Outnumbered, outgunned and surrounded, Captain Henry Morgan naturally did what any gentleman pirate would do. He offered his opponent a chance to surrender.


Marcaibo, Venezuela, 1669.


Captain Morgan and his men had ruthlessly sacked the city and spent several weeks celebrating and drinking, but it was time to leave. Upon departure, Morgan discovered that the only exit from the harbor to the Caribbean was guarded by three Spanish war galleons and a heavily armed fort.


The Spanish Admiral, Don Alonso del Campo, scoffed at Morgan’s offer of a chance to surrender and prepared for battle. Morgan sacrificed one of his ships by loading it with tar and gunpowder and turning it into the pirate equivalent of a car bomb, sending it into the Spanish blockade. The ship exploded, sinking two of the Spanish galleons and damaging the third: Morgan was able to capture it. As for the fort, he tricked them by faking a land assault, and when the defenders had turned their cannons landward, he simply sailed right past them and into the open sea.


Captain Morgan, the notorious pirate and privateer, had many bases in the Caribbean and off the Spanish Main. One of them was located on a small, sandy island off the coast of present-day Honduras: Roatán.


Today, Roatán is a tranquil island paradise and one of the premier scuba diving sites in the world. An easy flight from mainland Honduras, the island draws thousands of visitors every year to visit its sunny white sand beaches, dive resorts and laid-back small towns. Tourism is king on Roatán and the islanders are very friendly and helpful. One of the more affordable resort destinations in the Caribbean, Roatán has lodgings and services for all budget levels.


Scuba diving is probably what draws most visitors to Roatán. There are two good wrecks: El Aguila and the Prince Albert, both of which feature a lot of sea life and interesting formations. As an added bonus, not far from the Prince Albert is a submerged DC-3 airplane (don’t worry, it was brought out on a barge and sunk there for divers to enjoy: it didn’t crash). The most famous dive site is probably “Mary’s Place,” where some volcanic activity long ago caused the reef to crack and split, creating a maze of channels and tunnels, all of which are teeming with marine life. Or you can opt for the cara a cara (face to face) dive where specialist dive masters feed sharks for the enjoyment of visitors (don’t tell your insurance carrier about this one!).


Roatán also offers a number of other water and beach sports and activities, such as deep-sea fishing, kayaking, sailing and lounging around on the beach. There is also a butterfly garden, an iguana farm, horseback riding and tours of nearby mangroves and rainforests.


Captain Morgan is long gone, but not forgotten. Locals still believe that he left a large hoard of pirate treasure hidden somewhere on the island. So if you go, look around for pieces of eight—but don’t be disappointed if the treasure you bring home is fond memories and good photos.

Did you like this article? Then you'll like these: Tela, Copán Ruins and The Grave of William Walker.

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