Please note this blog post is sponsored by Real Pirates Salem. To read more about that, click here. If you are a Salem, MA or north shore based business interested in working with me, please click here.
Hi guys, happy Monday and welcome back to the blog!! Today I am super excited to talk to you about an experience I recently had at Real Pirates Salem. They were kind enough to open their doors to me and give me a personal tour of their new space on Forten Park. It was a pleasure to meet Bill Golden, founder of Real Pirates Salem, and he was the one that led me around their attraction. Before even entering, he brought me over to a photo op area that took a fun picture with Snapchat-like filters on it, so it appeared as though I was wearing a pirate’s hat. You are given a unique card with a QR code which is where you can download the photo from afterwards. You can see mine below!
Now, before I get into my experience once I got inside the attraction, let’s chat a bit about Real Pirates Salem and what it is.
Real Pirates Salem
“The adventures of pirates have been told for generations, capturing the imaginations of kids and adults alike.
Real Pirates Salem in Salem, MA, is an up close pirate experience unlike any other. Guests are invited to learn true stories about a few of the most famous New England pirates.
Our pirate museum mainly focuses on the true tale of Black Sam Bellamy – famous pirate from the early 1700s. Black Sam rose to fame as one of the youngest and richest pirates of all time. When Bellamy captured the slave ship the Whydah Gally, he became known as the “Prince of Pirates.” Over the course of his pirate career, Bellamy also captured over 50 ships and amassed the greatest treasure of all time.
The exhibition also focuses on Black Sam’s lover, Maria Hallett of Cape Cod. Rumor has it that Hallett turned to witchcraft believing that she’d been abandoned by her love. Some believe that she may have been responsible for the nor’easter that wrecked the Whydah Gally, bringing an end to Bellamy’s life. This earned Hallet the name, “The Witch of Wellfleet.”
When guests arrive at Real Pirates Salem, they are treated to the true stories of Black Sam Bellamy, Maria Hallett, and the rest of his crew. Here, visitors can immerse themselves within pirate history, gaining a factual understanding of what life was like during the Golden Age of Piracy.” [Source]
My experience at Real Pirates Salem
I absolutely love that this is an attraction that focuses on something else in Salem’s history besides the witch trials. The trials were a big part of Salem’s story and are the first thing that many people think of when they are visiting us, of course. However, Salem also has strong ties to the sea, trade, pirates, India, England and more. I love that Real Pirates Salem focuses on another aspect of Salem’s past.
Once you are through the main doors, you are seated on a bench to watch a quick film that goes over some background on the key players you are about to learn about. This film is a great primer and made it so that I was prepped for what I was about to see. After the film is finished, another set of doors open and you are officially in the exhibit. Let me tell you…I had no idea how large it is actually is inside of that building. It is very deceiving from the outside because the exhibit is quite expansive.
You are guided through many exhibits and hundreds of real artifacts. You get to try your hand at rope tying, see actual cannons and cannonballs, learn what the living conditions on the ship were like, hear the stories of those aboard, see and touch real pieces of treasure and more. I even signed the articles and became an actual pirate during my tour!
Bill and the staff behind Real Pirates Salem are extremely passionate about this aspect of Salem’s history. It was very clear while listening to Bill explain each artifact and its significance that this is something very close to his heart, which I loved seeing. It made the entire experience feel even more real to me.
Once you are through the main area, you are led into a room where you can see several items they are currently working on preserving. This is their Discovery Lab. There are artifacts submerged in water, an audio tour that you can enjoy and a large shark hanging from the ceiling above your head! Be sure to stop at the second photo op location here, scan your QR code and take another picture!
Once you exit the Discovery Lab you are in their gift shop where you can grab souvenirs and items to remember your visit to Real Pirates Salem. They have clothing, mugs, stickers, water bottles and tons of fun goodies. Before leaving the gift shop, make sure you pick up one of the post cards at the check out counter. This post card contains a link for continued information and an audio tour from underwater explorer Barry Clifford who discovered the sunken Whydah off of the coast of Cape Cod. This is a great way to take a piece of Salem home with you and continue your Real Pirates Salem experience.
Overall I had a fantastic experience walking around Real Pirates Salem with Bill. It took us about an hour and a half and once we were at the end I asked him how long visitors should plan for when coming to Real Pirates Salem. He said to allot an hour and a half to two hours to be able to enjoy everything they have to offer. I also asked Bill about the kid friendliness of this attraction. We know a pirate’s life is not all drinking rum and jumping from ship to ship…it can be quite intense and unsavory. Bill said that their guides are able to adjust how they tell the story of the Whydah and those aboard to accommodate for a younger crowd, so Real Pirates Salem is definitely suitable for families. There is nothing outwardly scary or frightening on display and the guides can cater their information to include little ears.
Real Pirates Salem is definitely an excellent “bang for your buck” and is an attraction I would happily recommend to you all. They can accommodate large groups, birthday parties, private events and more if you give them a call to arrange it. If the weather is not favorable (as it tends to happen, in New England) they are a great indoor option. Real Pirates Salem is open at 285 Derby St. (on Charlotte Forten Park) from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm with extended hours during October. You can visit them online to book your tickets in advance at realpiratessalem.com and follow them on Instagram @realpiratessalem. Be sure to tell them I sent you!