It’s been more than 300 years since the demise of Blackbeard, a.k.a. Edward Teach, and the tales of this infamous pirate’s life continue to be among our state’s most intriguing treasures. Explore his legacy with a four-day trip to the North Carolina coast to visit pirate hideouts, skulk around the town he called home, see the waters where his sunken ship is still submerged and explore the bloody shoals where he met his end.
Day 1: North Carolina Maritime Museum & All-Ages Pirate Tours
Start your voyage at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort. Here, you’ll find a fascinating exhibit that includes artifacts from Blackbeard’s flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, and learn about the efforts to locate it. The wreckage was found in Beaufort Inlet by a private group Nov. 21, 1996, and confirmed the next day on the 278th anniversary of Blackbeard’s death. The site of the wreck is under about 20 feet of water just offshore from Fort Macon State Park in Atlantic Beach.
For kids of all ages, the Beaufort Ghost Walk brings pirate stories to life on the waterfront district of downtown Beaufort.
Day 2: Bath, Blackbeard’s Final Home
Head out to historic Bath, North Carolina’s first established town.
Blackbeard arrived here in June 1718 and immediately received the “gracious pardon” of the Royal Proclamation from colonial Governor Charles Eden. It is widely believed that Blackbeard took up residence in a home on Plum’s Point, visible across the bay from the Bonner House. Members of the Bonner family told of a ghostly phenomenon called “Blackbeard’s Lights.” During violent storms, they would see a ball of fire as large as or larger than a man’s head sail back and forth from Plum Point to Archbell Point all night.
A room at the Bath State Historic Site is dedicated to Blackbeard and his men, many of whom may have been Bath residents. The historic Van der Veer House also has a room dedicated to Blackbeard that includes a graphite vase – rumored to be the famous pirate’s money pot. Accounts say the people of colonial Bath treated their infamous pardoned pirate as somewhat of a celebrity. When Blackbeard and his crew were in town, they threw lavish dinners and wild parties.
Today visitors to Bath can party like a pirate at a pizzeria called Blackbeard's Tavern on Main Street or at the Old Town Country Kitchen for favorites such as locally caught fish. Blackbeard’s features live entertainment Friday and Saturday evenings during the warm months.
Day 3: Ocracoke, Site of Blackbeard’s Last Stand
The North Carolina State Ferry System offers a leisurely trip for you and your vehicle from Swan Quarter to the Outer Banks village of Ocracoke, the site of Blackbeard’s last battle. Look for dolphins in the surf, and see if you can spot any shipwrecks along the way.
Ocracoke Inlet was one of Blackbeard’s hideouts, and it was here that two small sloops hired by Virginia governor Alexander Spotswood found and cornered Blackbeard on the inner side of the island. Blackbeard was killed in the battle that ensued Nov. 22, 1718. His headless body is believed to be buried in a mass grave somewhere on the island.
Today, take a break from your pirate trail to enjoy Ocracoke’s charming village and pristine beaches. The Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach has been named “Best Beach in America” by Dr. Beach. It was the first beach outside of Hawaii or Florida to be given the honor.
Day 4: Graveyard Museum & National Seashore
Head north on North Carolina Highway 12, the National Scenic Byway that runs the length of the Outer Banks. Take the free ferry to Hatteras Island and explore the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum. The popular shipping lanes off the Outer Banks made piracy and warfare an integral aspect of the region’s maritime history. The museum has displays of shipwrecks related to piracy and warfare off the coast from the late 17th century through 1945.
History buffs will want to take in the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, America’s tallest lighthouse. Please note: The lighthouse will likely be closed for climbing through 2023 due to ongoing restoration efforts.
You’ll find vacation rental homes are the most popular places to stay on the Outer Banks, or try the Inn on Pamlico Sound, a full-service inn offering a casually elegant lodging and culinary experience in the midst of the natural beauty of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.