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Pirate Havens & Ninja Hideouts

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White flags mark pirate lairs and red flags note ninja dens. Pirate Lairs

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Aruba

This island was a pirate den from c. 1580 until c. 1650,
used primarily by the French and English. Known for its
many sea caves to bury treasure and for its proximity to
shipping routes leading from South America to the Old
World, Aruba quit harboring pirates when the Dutch
Pilgrims arrived on its shores.
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Barataria

This pirate colony was in operation from 1808 until 1817,
used primarily by the French and English. Barataria was
created by Jean Lafitte to provide greater opportunities
to smuggle goods into New Orleans, but he attracted
pirates as a means of defense. The small pirate town
thrived until the U.S. Navy cleared the island in 1817.
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Bath Town

The legendary home of Blackbeard, French and English
pirates made their way to this port since its founding in
1705 until c. 1720. Bath Town was known for trading
with pirates who sought refuge in Ocracoke Inlet and its
officials were easily bribed. However after Blackbeard’s
death in 1718, pirates were no longer welcomed.
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Bonaire

Once a plantation of the Dutch West India Company, from
c. 1800 to c. 1816 Bonaire was overrun with French and
English pirates. The island proved to be a mere refuge where
pirates could careen, plot, and divide loot. In 1816 the Dutch
regained control of the island and the pirates sought better
comforts.
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Boston

A pirate den like much of New England, Boston traded
with pirates from c. 1650 – c. 1720. While their bargain
prices brought out the Puritan shoppers, their high-end
wares were able to bribe them out of much legal trouble.
Changes made by the Admiralty in 1716 changed Boston
into a town that hanged pirates rather than harbor them.
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Burin

This smugglers’ cove was in operation from c. 1700 until
the 1760s. It was a favorite because of its many escape
routes and it offered pirates the chance to snag their
pursuers on the rocks. Captain Cook chased off the rum
runners on his stay here.
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Campeche

This pirate colony was in operation from 1817 until 1821
and used by outlaws of all nations. It was founded by Jean
Lafitte after his New Orleans colony was closed. The town
housed about 1000 people and provided every known sin.
In 1821the U.S. Navy swept the pirates off the island for
their attack on an American ship.
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Charles Town

Amenable to pirates since its founding in 1670, the King
of England was so heavily taxing this colony that they
preferred business with pirates instead of legitimate traders.
It wasn’t until pirates began attacking Charles Town ships
and blockading its harbor in the 1710s that the town started
hanging the villains.
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Dauphin

This pirate utopia was in operation from 1696 until c. 1730
and was built upon an abandoned French colony and fort.
Former Martinique-slave turned pirate, Abraham “Tolinor
Rex” Samuel retired to Dauphin after a magnificent haul
of pirate loot. He made himself king and ran a pirate town
until the Golden Age ended.
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Edo Castle

In 1590, Tokugawa Ieyasu assumed the throne of Edo Castle.
As he entered the city of Edo for the first time, he had
Hattori Hanzo and his Band of Iga with him. He created a
ninja quarter near the back gate that is to this day named
Hanzomon Gate. The ninjas were present at Edo Castle for at
least thirty years.
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Gasparilla

This pirate cove was made famous by the pirate of the same
name, although it was used by pirates generations before
him. Used as early as 1700 for careening and burying
treasure, Jose Gaspar used Gasparilla as his home base until
he was defeated in 1821. He was said to have taken female
prisoners to nearby Captiva Island.
RED
Iga

This inaccessible region is considered by many to be the birth-
place of ninjutsu. Surrounded by the Suzuka Mountains,
Chinese asceticism mixed with the local agrarian militarism to
create Iga Ryu Ninjutsu, c. 1065. The hills provided a safe
retreat from the armies of the outside world and a safe ward for
training. This thumbtack points to Hojiro, where Momochi
Sandayu trained Hattori Hanzo.
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Ile de la Vache

This pirate hideout was used by pirates of any nation
from c. 1650 – c. 1720. There were no towns to trade in,
so the pirates used the “Island of the Cow” as a hiding
place for sharing out treasure, as a place to maroon men,
and as a place to plot raids. It was never heavily used as a
base and fell out of use as piracy dried up in the Caribbean.
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Isle of Bourbon

First used by the French as a penal colony, when pirates
discovered the island in the 1660s it was good for little
more than careening and hunting. The moving in of
voluntary settlers got the pirates expelled in 1685, but
after the military force was gone they all returned. The
island fell out of use by pirates in the 1720s.
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Johanna Island

Forged into a pirates’ retreat when two French pirates
married the local queen’s relatives, Johanna Island
served pirates from 1695 until c. 1730. The island was
often used as a base for quick raids on passing ships,
but as the Golden Age ended so the pirate lair vanished.
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Kogagun

One of the earliest ninja regions, over the early 940s a Chinese
Buddhist monk and a warlord’s son gathered the local families
to train them in the early arts of combat and stealth. It proved
a safe haven for teaching and learning the secret arts of Koga
Ryu Ninjutsu until the 18th century, when all ninjutsu vanished.
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Kyoto

Kyoto was the capital of feudal Japan and as such it was a
consistent locale for ninjas who sought access to those in
power. Many of the rulers who commanded a castle in Kyoto
were paranoid of ninjas, and it is said that Goemon actually
entered the sleeping chambers of Toyotomi Hideyoshi while the
warlord slept. For that act Goemon was put to death on the
execution spot known as Sanjogawara (where this particular
thumbtack is pointing). Ninjas from various clans dwelt here
at various times from c. 1470 until c. 1640.
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Libertalia

The ultimate pirate utopia, Libertalia boasted the motto
“For God and liberty.” Formed c. 1695, this pirate
haven had democratic principles and was so enticing
that pirate captains lost their crews to the town. However,
as the Golden Age of Piracy ended so did Libertalia,
c. 1725.
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Más a Tierra

This remote island was a haven for pirates who had crossed
Cape Horn into the Pacific. It was used throughout the 17th
and 18th century as a place to careen, refit, and to hunt.
However, the island is most known as the location where
pirate Alexander Selkirk was marooned for over four years.
It is currently known as Robinson Crusoe Island.
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Mauritius

Really more of an emergency haven, from c. 1700 until
1710 with the proper bribe the governor of this Dutch
settlement would allow pirates into port. The island was
useful for refitting, supplying and marooning, but little else.
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Nazu

From the early 1560s until the 1580s, Nazu was home to
Lady Chiyome and her kunoichi (female ninja) training
camp. She recruited hard-luck girls to learn her secret arts
of espionage and seduction. It is said that another master
took over the school after Chiyome’s death, but it is
unknown how long this camp operated.
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New Providence

The last great pirate lair, New Providence had been pirate-
friendly since the 1670s, but it really became notorious
from c. 1704 to c. 1720. Abandoned by the English in 1704
due to French and Spanish attacks, the town was left to the
flourishing pirates. Most of the infamous Golden Age pirates
visited here for supplies and debauchery. In 1718, Woodes
Rogers was made Governor and he cleared the area of pirates,
fostering the end of the Golden Age of Piracy.
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New York City

Claimed by the British in 1664, it didn’t take long for New
York to become a welcome port to pirates. From c. 1675 until
c. 1730 the corrupt city officials in New York welcomed pirate
wealth, provided revolving doors on their pirate jails, and
gave pirates a degree of celebrity. By 1730, England had pretty
much replaced the officials who delighted in the company of
pirates.
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Newport

Known as “Rogues Island” for all its pirates, from the 1690s
to the 1720s this major American port was one of the most
reliable places to recruit a pirate crew. Piracy was considered
a valid form of commerce as all the local officials turned a
blind eye towards the practice. The end of the high times
came when England threatened to revoke Rhode Island’s
charter.
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Odawara Castle

The Fuma ninjas worked closely with the Hojo clan and from
1495 until 1590 the Hojos ruled this castle. They used ninjas
as guards and spies and even to demoralize a besieging army.
As long as Hojos controlled this castle, this region was replete
with practitioners of Fuma Ryu Ninjutsu.
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Petite Goâve

This port town was a haven to French buccaneers from c. 1670
until c. 1697. It replaced Tortuga as the main port for
French pirates, but its adherence to law and order never
allowed it to slump into a depraved pirate den. Petite Goâve
began turning away pirates around 1697 as it was vying to be
the capitol city on the island.
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Port Royal

The “Sodom of the New World,” Port Royal was the greatest
pirate haven of them all from 1655 until c. 1682. Port Royal
became the English home port after they were evicted from
Tortuga. Within only a couple of years, the town had grown
fat on pirates’ gold and catered to their every vice. However,
Sir Henry Morgan brought law and order to Port Royal in 1682
and the pirate haven departed.
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Puerto Bello

Known more as a target for pirate raids, the town hosted
an annual fair where even pirates were free to trade. Pirates
began attending the fair almost as soon as the arrived in the
Caribbean. However, in 1668 Henry Morgan razed the city,
ending their annual civility to pirates.
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Ranter Bay

Often confused with Libertalia, a small pirate fort existed
here from c. 1720 until 1728. Pirate James Plantain
claimed to be King of Madagascar, took many wives,
and “ruled” with cruelty. He fled for fear of a revolt
caused by selling his own “subjects” into slavery.
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Roatán

Situated just near the gold deposits in Honduras, the island
became a base for pirates of all nations when the gold was
discovered in 1570. Roatán was used by a variety of famous
pirates to stage raids against Spanish towns and treasure ships
over the course of nearly two centuries. The Spanish finally
cleared out the pirates in the 1740s.
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Sainte Marie Island

Located near two important trade routes and without a
hint of European authority, from c. 1680 until c. 1720
this island was certainly a pirate’s paradise. The main
pirate port was Ambodifotatra, where some pirates chose
to live out their lives in luxury. However, as Europe
clamped down on piracy, Sainte Marie Island became tame.
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Saint-Malo

Known by pirates as “Ville Corsaire,” this port was home to
French corsairs and pirates as soon as the 1590s and as late
as the 1730s. It was a base for sea raids, but it also
forced tribute from ships heading up the adjacent channel.
At one time this town was so overrun with pirates that it
was declared an independent republic. It wasn’t until the end
of the Golden Age that Saint-Malo became a more
respectable town.
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Savannah

Considered to be a pirate hideaway and a source of fresh
water, Tybee Island off the coast of Savannah knew French
and English sea dogs from the earliest days of Caribbean
piracy until the end of the Golden Age. Savannah’s first
European citizens were pirates! Savannah was later
founded in 1733.
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Seychelles

These pirate isles were infested with pirates from c. 1685
until c. 1730. Uninhabited with good food, water, and
beaches, it took pressure from the Great Mogul to get
England and France to clear the Seychelles of pirates.
Frégate, Moyenne, and Silhouette are the three islands
most thought to have buried treasure.
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Tap Hus

With a name that translates as “Beer Hall,” this Danish
town was a natural lure for pirates. Knowing the locals
would benefit from the open sale or trade of stolen booty,
in 1685 the governor opened the port to all pirates. The
pirate trade only tapered off as the Golden Age ended
around 1720. In 1691 Tap Hus was renamed Charlotte
Amalie.
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Togakushi

In 1184 a dishonored samurai made his way to the Iga
Province where he encountered a warrior monk. The two
trained together, and then the fallen samurai made his way
home to Togakushi. Once home, he founded Togakure
Ryu Ninjutsu (c. 1190) and trained willing pupils. The
remoteness of the region kept government eyes away and
the art prospered here from its founding until the 19th century.
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Tortuga

From 1625 until c. 1688 Tortuga was the greatest nest of
English and French pirates in the Caribbean. Tortuga is the
birthplace of both buccaneers and the Brethren of the Coast.
Its ports were as debauched as anyone can imagine. The
English were cleared off Tortuga by the Spanish around 1655
and the French made a truce with Spain in 1684, thus bringing
a decline to the island’s friendship to pirates.
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Trindade

This pirate hideout was used by the French from c. 1703
until c. 1715. The small town of Parati is just a stone’s
throw away, and when it became a major exporter of gold
the pirates became their neighbor. The Spanish eventually
changed the gold route and Trindade was abandoned.
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Wakayama

When Oda Nobunaga led his army into Iga on a mission to
destroy all ninjas, some of the survivors fled to Wakayama
to regroup and to let the heat die down. From 1581 until 1583
this region became a hideout for the shattered Iga ninjas.

Glossary of Terms:

  • American Main: the coastal lands of eastern North America

  • Antilles: the islands forming part of the West Indies in the Caribbean Sea; divided into the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, and Puerto Rico) and the Lesser Antilles (the Leeward Islands, the Windward Islands, and Venezuelan off-shore islands)

  • Bahamas, The: the archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean east of Florida and north of Cuba and the Caribbean; comprised of approximately 700 islands and cays

  • Barbary Coast: the coastal lands of northern Africa from Egypt to the Atlantic

  • Caribbean: the Caribbean Sea and its islands and surrounding coasts

  • East China Sea: the waters that separate Japan from the Asian continent

  • East Indies: the Malay archipelago and its surrounding waters; divided into the Sunda Islands, the Maluku Islands, and the Philippines; comprised of thousands of islands and reefs

  • Gold Coast: the coastal lands of western Africa from Cape Three Points to the Volta River

  • Hispaniola: the Antillean island that is currently the nation of Dominican Republic and Haiti

  • Hokkaido: the second largest island of the four main islands of Japan, it is north of Honshu and separated from it by the Tsugaru Strait

  • Honshu: the largest island of the four main islands of Japan, more commonly known as the “main land”

  • Kyushu: the third largest island of the four main islands of Japan, it is southwest of Honshu and separated from it by the Kanmon Strait

  • Leeward Islands: the northern islands of the Lesser Antilles, forming part of the barrier that divides the Atlantic Ocean from the Caribbean Sea; named for being on the “back side” of the Trade Winds; comprised of dozens of islands and cays

  • Province: in feudal Japan the land was divided into eight provinces, those being Hokurikudo, Kinai, Nankaido, Saikaido, San’indo, San’yodo, Tokaido, and Tosando. Each province was divided into counties known for their suffix of “-gun.” Ninja activity was mainly present in Tokaido

  • Ryukyu Kingdom: an independent island nation in the East China Sea. It was invaded by the Japanese under the Satsuma clan in 1609, who effectively controlled it until the Meiji Restoration in 1879 when it became Okinawa Prefecture.

  • Seven Seas, The: a nautical term denoting the collective bodies of water a European sailor might have sailed, specifically the North Pacific Ocean, the South Pacific Ocean, the North Atlantic Ocean, the South Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean and the Arctic Ocean

  • Shikoku: the smallest island of the four main islands of Japan, it is south of Honshu and separated from it by the Inland Sea

  • South China Sea: the waters north of the East Indies and south of China

  • South Seas: a synonym for the East Indies

  • Spanish Main: the coastal lands of eastern Central and northern South America

  • West Indies: the islands of Antilles and the Bahamas and their surrounding waters; comprised of approximately 1000 islands and cays

  • Windward Islands: the southern islands of the Lesser Antilles, forming part of the barrier that divides the Atlantic Ocean from the Caribbean Sea; named for being the first islands that traders would encounter when traveling with the Trade Winds; comprised of dozens of islands and cays


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