The swashbuckling world of pirates

From Hong Kong to North Carolina, check out the spots where these romanticized vagabonds left their mark

Topics: Trazzler, Slide Shows, Travel, slideshow,

What is it about pirates? For a society that radically alters its behavior and policies in reaction to the relatively remote threats of stranger-danger and random attacks, we sure do romanticize the lives of these criminal pillagers, enslavers, kidnappers and terrorists of the past.

Most of what draws us to pirates is clearly the product of fiction — their outsider status, odd stateless culture, unrepentant boozing and moral ambiguity have always been appealing to writers and poets who themselves feel marginalized. Pop culture has converted the whole phenomenon into costume-based kitsch, but there are real-world pirate hideaways, shipwrecks and sketchy legends of hidden treasures that give travelers a fun excuse to explore coastlines and remote islands and imagine a time when now-peaceful waters were violently menaced by freelance marauders (not to mention state-sponsored privateers). The Mediterranean is ringed by fortifications and lookout towers that attest to the drastic measures communities had to take to protect themselves from wave after wave of terror from the sea. Today, their remnants tend to be the sort of beautiful places where couples head on evening walks and postcard pictures are taken.

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    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

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    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

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    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

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    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

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    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

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    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

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    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

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    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

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    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

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    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

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    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

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    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

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    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

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    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

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    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

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    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

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    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

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    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

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