Situated at the end of Kingston Harbour, Port Royal is a small town dating back to 1518. Among the largest cities in the Caribbean during its prime, it was largely destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami in 1692, leading to its decline. Today, the area is best-known for its star attraction: the 17th-century Fort Charles.
Port Royal is a great place to visit if you've got an interest in history—after all, this city was once among the most important trading spots in the New World. Most people come to Port Royal to visit Fort Charles, and guided Fort Charles tours from Kingston generally include visits to the town, too (or, at the least, the chance to stop for lunch).
Things to Know Before You Go
Port Royal is a great place to visit if you’re interested in colonial or maritime history.
Bring cash as not all shops and restaurants in the area accept credit cards.
Remember to wear sun protection and comfortable footwear.
How to Get There
Port Royal is at the end of a long, narrow peninsula that stretches around the outside of Kingston Harbour, just west of the airport. To get there, take Norman Manley Highway to the end of the peninsula. Travelers without a rental car may find joining a tour from Kingston is the easiest way to get there.
When to Get There
Port Royal is generally visited in conjunction with Fort Charles, and because both are outdoors, it’s best to visit during one of the dryer times of year (i.e., November through March) and avoid the hurricane season of the summer months. Note that Fort Charles is closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day.
Captain Morgan and the Privateers
Port Royal once housed many privateers, independent soldiers who raided settlements and looted ships for profit under the protection of their monarchs. The English privateers of Port Royal were commissioned to protect the area from Spain, which was under Habsburg rule at the time. The most famous of these was Henry Morgan, lieutenant governor of Jamaica and the namesake of Captain Morgan rum.
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