Ile Sainte-Marie is a long, thin island off the coast of Madagascar with easy access to a popular maritime route between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. With numerous inlets and bays, the island was the perfect location to hide ships. Known as the Island of Pirates it was a base for an estimated 1,000 pirates who lived in the Bay of Rogues.
The Pirate Cemetery is perched on a hilltop which is reached by walking on a plank to cross an inlet! Cyclone and other weather related damage over the centuries has eroded much of the engravings on the stone markers. Palm trees overlook the 30 gravestones that remain mostly from the 1800s. It is said that the large black tomb in the center of the cemetery is the final resting place of Captain Kidd buried upright as a punishment for his sins. A nice story but he was actually buried in England.
The skull and cross bones, internationally recognized as a symbol of piracy is not very prevalent. The ancient symbol of death was adopted by pirates on their black flags. When it appears on tombstones it simply means, “He’s dead.”