Best time to visit Madagascar

Pirates' Cemetery in Madagascar 2024

30 pirates’ graves, a goblet of coco rum and the odour of dried cloves will enchant everyone.

Best time: November

Pirates' Cemetery
Pirates' Cemetery

What could be more romantic than drinking coco rum beside a pirate grave, inhaling a savoury smell of cloves? Apart from humpback whales, the biggest attraction on Saint Marie Island is undoubtedly the world’s only pirate graveyard, situated not far from the town of Ambodifotatra. Madagascar used to be a notorious stronghold for thousands pirates between 1680 and 1725. Previously the graveyard numbered hundreds of tombs, nowadays only 30 of them are left. All of them date back to 18th century, yet only a single one has a traditional pirate image engraved: a scull with crossed bones. The cemetery is surrounded with coconut palms. The island is also renowned for its large cloves crops. The best time to visit the graveyard is November, the time of cloves harvest. At this time they emanate incredible scent while being dried in the sun.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit the Pirates' Cemetery in Madagascar?

November is the ideal time to visit the Pirates' Cemetery in Madagascar. This is during the cloves harvest season when the cloves are sun-dried, creating a captivating scent that complements the cemetery experience. Visitors also get to learn about unique local traditions, which stress the significance of this spice in the area's culture, as well as its significant role in the local economy over time. Show more

Where is the Pirates' Cemetery located on Saint Marie Island in Madagascar?

The Pirates' Cemetery is close to Ambodifotatra, a town on Saint Marie Island in Madagascar. It is set amidst coconut palms and serves as a critical historical site in the area. Visitors who tour the area can gain a great deal of insight into the region's pirating past while also showing their respects to those pirates who were buried in that cemetery long ago. Show more

What kind of image is engraved on the pirate tombstones at the cemetery?

Most tombstones that date back to the 18th-century in Madagascar's Pirates' Cemetery lack any engraving other than a few symbols. Typically, these are found on skulls and bones-in-cross formation on only one stone. This iconic symbol, although grim, is a haunting reminder of the fearsome reputation that pirates have earned throughout history and the type of culture that developed in the region during those times. Show more

What is the significance of cloves in the vicinity of the Pirates' Cemetery?

Cloves have played a critical role in the culture and economy of the region around the Pirates' Cemetery. There are numerous clove crops on the island, and visiting the cemetery can give visitors a unique experience in learning about the delicate process of sun-drying these spices. Moreover, the enticing aroma that earthily emanates from the dried cloves adds to the cemetery's feeling of mystique, even to the point of enhancing one's overall sensory experience. Show more

How many tombstones are left in the Pirates' Cemetery out of the original hundreds, and from what century do they date back to?

The Pirates' Cemetery in Madagascar once had hundreds of grave sites, but only around 30 tombs remain today, all of which date back to the 18th century. Their engravings and symbols provide insight into the local region's pirating history. Today the cemetery serves as a poignant reminder of Madagascar's unique history and the role that piracy played in shaping the region in the past. Show more

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