Opened in June of 2016, the Whydah Pirate Museum showcases the ruins of the Whydah ship and the only full pirate treasure ever discovered in the world. The Whydah, a slave ship eventually overtaken by pirates, was built in 1715 in London and sailed to West Africa before heading to America. Captured by Sam Bellamy and fellow pirates, a Nor’Easter sank the ship off the shores of Cape Cod during the early morning hours of April 27, 1717. Only 2 of the 146 men (130 pirates and 16 prisoners) on the ship survived.
In 1984, Barry Clifford discovered the wreckage off the coast of Wellsfleet, Massachusetts. Archaeologists and divers search through the wreckage between June and October each year searching for more treasures and bring artifacts back to the lab for cleaning, preservation, and display at the museum.
The museum is well organized and exhibits clearly explain how and where items were found. Placards provide hypotheses and predictions for questions no one can definitively answer. Kids of all ages will enjoy the museum- the museum is not scary or frightening and there are no loud noises or startling sounds..
Traveling with Kids:
Make sure each child grabs a treasure map and marker to find all the items listed- they can earn a prize at the end of the tour.
The museum is closed January through mid February- check here for hours and rates. Guests are able to leave and return same day.
The museum offers an audio, hand held tour for an additional cost.
The museum is handicap and stroller accessible, although a stroller is not necessary.
Restrooms and a gift shop are located at the end of the self guided tour.
Photographs are not allowed in the museum portion of the complex, but I was granted permission to take a few photographs to share.
Plan on 60-90 minutes to fully explore the museum. You may want to linger in the Sea Lab depending on the daily activities.
15 Must SEE and DO activities in the Whydah Pirate Museum:
1. The original bell of the ship
2. Silver coins from Spain
3. Firearms like a pistol and musket
4. Collection of grenades in various forms
5. Ten steps for firing a cannon, and three cannons used aboard the Whydah
6. Gold rings worn by pirates
7. Utensils used in the “galley” (kitchen) like a teapot, spoon, plate, and wine spigot
8. Carpenter tools like spikes, hammers, and chisels
9. Watch the 5 minute film that reenacts the history of the ship.
10. Hoist the Jolly Roger and look for various symbols on the flags.
11. Climb aboard a replica portion of the Whydah and walk through replica sleeping quarters.
12. Learn about the role of the Quartermaster, whose duties include settling disputes amongst the sailors, dispensing punishments, and leading the attack wen pirates boarded the ship. The Quartermaster was as important as the Captain, even if he didn’t get the same recognition.
13. Touch actual coins found in the wreckage in a display case.
14. Practice various knot tieing skills and master a sailor’s knot.
15. Check out the Sea Lab and Learning Center, where archaeologists are hard at work (almost) every day uncovering and preserving new treasures. Guests can touch various artifacts and see concretions which are meticulously cleaned. Every artifact in the museum was once part of a concretion.
Eating with the Locals: Located in front of the museum is the Captain Parker’s Pub, which has won so many awards for it’s chowder, rumor has it they can’t enter any more contests! Great kids menu, indoor and outdoor seating, and you must try the chowder!
More nearby pirate fun: Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf is located to the left of the museum; don’t walk- it’s a busy road. The complex has two 18 hole mini golf courses and a large gift shop and ice cream parlor. These aren’t your average mini golf courses: There are pirates peeking out of many places, tons of water features, and creative holes that will test your skills. Definitely worth a visit!
If you’re looking for more pirate fun, check out our adventures in Salem, Massachusetts.
Disclaimer: My family was provided a media pass to visit the Whydah Pirate Museum. All opinions expressed are my own.