Everyone says you have to walk in Blackbeard’s footsteps when you visit the North Carolina coast. But being a “must see” doesn’t mean it can’t surprise you. Learn more about this classically North Carolina activity, and then go beyond the guidebook with our insider tips.
Daring, crafty and frightful looking, he was the most infamous pirate of them all. Blackbeard stalked the shores of North Carolina for a brief period in the 18th century before meeting his end in the waters just off Ocracoke. 2018 marked the 300th anniversary of his death.
Formerly known as Edward Teach, Blackbeard was a sailor who earned a reputation for being bold and fearless – skills he parlayed into piracy after Queens Anne’s War.
He twisted and tied his long black beard into tails, stuffed lit cannon fuses into his beard and under his hat, and had supposedly made a pact with the devil. His reputation grew, and by late 1717, he captured a French slave ship, armed it with 40 guns, renamed it Queen Anne’s Revenge, and began a yearlong reign of terror across the Caribbean and the North Carolina coast.
He returned to Bath in 1718 to investigate word of pardon. Along the way, Queen Anne’s Revenge ran aground in the Beaufort Inlet, so he divided his loot, crew and ships, and settled briefly in Bath after accepting his pardon. But honest life didn’t last long.
This return to piracy was his last, and in November 1718, he met his fate at the hands of the crew of Robert Maynard. Blackbeard was reportedly shot five times, stabbed more than 20 times and nearly beheaded before he died. Maynard finished the job and mounted Blackbeard’s head on the bowsprit of his ship.
Plan Your Visit
See the remnants of the Queen Anne’s Revenge at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, where a third of the exhibit space is dedicated to the pirate who lived here. On display are relics from the wrecked ship, including plates, hull fragments, cannon, cannonballs, assorted weapons, a complete wine bottle, glass beads and other items.
On Ocracoke Island, take a look at Teach’s Hole, the inlet where Blackbeard met his fate in 1718, then visit the pirate-centric gift shop by the same name. Teach’s Hole has a life-sized display of Blackbeard as well as scale models of Queen Anne’s Revenge and impressive exhibits detailing Blackbeard’s life and the lives of other notable pirates.
Visit Bath to look for the ghost of Blackbeard near his old home site at Teach’s Point, better known as Plum Point. Rumor has it the ruins of a structure there are the remnants of his house. And be on the lookout for a ball of fire sailing back and forth across the bay at night. Many say it’s the ghost of Blackbeard searching for his head.
Go Beyond the Guidebook
Blackbeard was North Carolina’s most famous pirate, but he wasn’t the only one who plundered our shores. Here’s where you can find tales of four more:
This skilled, cunning, cruel captain was known to cheat his men of their share of booty.
Walk in his footsteps: Ocracoke
Jack Rackham, better known as Calico Jack for his colorful clothing, flew the famous Jolly Roger flag – a skull with two crossed swords – and counted Anne Bonny and Mary Read among his crew.
Walk in his footsteps: Ocracoke Inlet
One of the few pirates to actually bury treasure, he reportedly buried some on Money Island.
Walk in his footsteps: Money Island, near Wrightsville Beach