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Haunted History: St. Thomas’s Most Infamous Pirate

Torturer. Murderer. Pirate. These are just some of the words used to describe Jean Hamlin, one of the most legendary real pirates of the Caribbean. This swashbuckling scoundrel terrorized the West Indies for years until his ship met its fiery end in 1683, right here in St. Thomas. We’re partnering with our friends at Tropical Treasure Hunt to bring you the true story of Hamlin and his mysterious treasure. Read to the end to learn how you can join them on a hunt for your own pirate gold.

Pirate flag flying over St. Thomas

Onboard his ship, La Trompeuse (French for “The Trickster”), Hamlin and his band of pirates captured ships across the Atlantic, torturing and plundering as they went. After Hamlin’s crew looted 18 Jamaican ships, Governor Thomas Lynch sent two of his best crews to hunt them down. Both were quickly defeated, and other pirate hunters were too scared of Hamlin’s reputation to take on the job.

The crew of La Trompeuse took refuge in Charlotte Amalie’s harbor under the protection of the island’s Danish governor, Adolph Esmit, who was known to shelter pirates in exchange for gold and goods. Even with the governor’s support, Hamlin’s luck finally ran out. On July 31, 1683, the British Navy discovered La Trompeuse. They fired on the ship - only to be shocked when Danish troops joined with the pirate and fought back on Hamlin’s behalf! Despite this unexpected partnership, the La Trompeuse burned and sank in the harbor. More than 24,000 pounds of silver, along with gold and jewels, were believed to have gone down with the ship. Hamlin and his men escaped into the narrow alleys of Charlotte Amalie and never paid for their crimes.

That’s where the story ends - officially, at least. Rumors of Hamlin’s treasure, lost somewhere in the waters off St. Thomas, have persisted for hundreds of years. No one has found it…yet.


Anthony Schultz at Tropical Treasure Hunt loves the legends surrounding the Virgin Islands and wants to make sure this unique history lives on. He and his team have designed treasure hunts based on pirate adventures of Jean Hamlin and others that will take you across the island in search of “treasure” you get to keep. Explore pirate haunts, kayak mangrove forests by moonlight, or take to the seas for a day of island hopping - you can choose from several different adventures based on your group’s age and interests.

Tropical Treasure Hunt is offering Island Luxury blog readers a 10 percent discount on any of his tours through the month of October 2022.

To redeem this offer:

  1. Follow and @tropicaltreasurehunt on Instagram

  2. Call Anthony at Tropical Treasure Hunt, 786-296-8800, to book, and ask for the Island Luxury discount. The discount is not available when booking online, so make sure to call to receive 10 percent off.

Big thanks to Anthony and his team for sharing Jean Hamlin’s story and offering this exclusive discount!

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