X marks the spot for pirate adventures on the Texas coastline. The infamous pirate Jean Lafitte sailed the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Laguna Madre. He made a home for himself on Galveston Island and made port at Port Isabel. Local ranchers formed business alliances with Lafitte and other pirates who sailed their contraband (including human cargo) between the Rio Grande and Corpus Christi. Dotted along the Texas coastline there’s a variety of vacation and tourist spots rich with pirate history and legend.
The Black Dragon Pirate ship is a modern-day replica of a 17th century galleon that sets sail almost daily from South Padre Island for 1 ½ hour tours. The ship is manned by a gathering of thieves and cutthroats who entertain travelers with pirate stories, face painting, treasure hunts, water pistol battles, sword fighting, music, and dolphin watching.
1417 Harbor Side on Galveston Island was pirate Jean Lafitte’s home the Maison Rouge (the red mansion). He built it when he was chased out of New Orleans by the US government and filled it with the treasures he had plundered on the open seas. Eventually he was chased out of Galveston as well burning the Maison Rouge on his way out of town.
While in Galveston it is said Lafitte and his men kidnapped the only daughter of the chief of the Karankawa Indians native to the island. This lead to the battle of The Three Trees which ended in the natives being forced off the island and onto the mainland. On this site stands a haunted mansion; Stewart Mansion. (Yes, pirates and ghosts in one local!)
Some say it’s haunted by the natives that were slaughtered here prior to the mansion being built. Many feel the presence of children which could be due to the fact it was used as a home for cripples children for a while OR because Mr Stewart murdered his own children and entombed them in the walls.
Others report seeing a pack of 13 Campeche devil dogs said to be born in the eye of a hurricane with the assistance of a voodoo priestess hired by Lafitte. It is said the priestess died as the last pup was born and therefore she inhabits the pack to this day.
If you are looking for more touristy, less haunted pirate adventure there is a historical pirate movie available for viewing at pier 21; The Pirate Island of Jean Laffite.
Downtown Galveston also hosts an interactive pirate museum; Legends of the Coast.