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Pirate Themed Treasure Hunts

Although any theme can be incorporated with a treasure hunt, one can argue that a pirate theme is perhaps the most traditional and classic. What's more iconic than pirates searching uncharted islands for lost Spanish gold? Here you'll find resources for creating and setting up treasure hunts specific to a piratical theme. If you are looking to plan a treasure hunt based on swashbuckling pirates, we hope that you'll find these ideas and resources useful!

What you'll find here:

Storyline ideas specifically for your pirate treasure hunt back story
Ideas for your actual pirate's treasure
Pirate Treasure Hunt Puzzles
Pirate Treasure Hunt location decorating ideas
Ideas for finding locations specific to a piratical theme
…and other misc. resources you might find helpful!




Storyline Ideas

Although it's not necessary to incorporate a storyline into your treasure hunt, the benefits far outweigh the minimal effort it takes to do so. What do we mean by storyline? Basically, we mean weaving a back story into your hunt, typically about the treasure itself. Answer such questions as: Where did the treasure come from? Who originally owned it? Is it lost or was it stolen? Is there a curse associated with it? You get the idea. Your participants will be much more eager to engage in your treasure hunt if you give them a fun story to become a part of! Here are some possible storylines that can help boost the fun of your pirate themed treasure hunt:

1. A ship went down at sea, taking with it all of the crew and the loot they collected/stole. Find the coordinates of where the ship went down and you'll find the treasure!

2. The captain of a pirate ship tricked his crew and made off with the treasure they looted from a Spanish galleon. Find the captain and you'll find the treasure.

3. The crew of the Black Shore hid their treasure in a cave…find the cave and you'll find the treasure! (This storyline would work best by incorporating the ideas found below regarding constructing pirate caves…)

4. A local mistress was kidnapped aboard a pirate vessel. The treasure hunt could be more about saving her!

5. There are several possible islands that a pirate could have buried his treasure on. The treasure hunt could lead to finding the exact coordinates on a map that will detail which island the treasure was buried!

Pirate Treasure Ideas

Although we have a whole section on our site devoted to treasure hunt treasure, we thought that we would offer some specific ideas that are unique to pirate's treasure.

1. Of course we'd have to mention a treasure chest. However, a common problem is the filling of the chest. Some solutions include the following: throwing in any brass vessel that you can find (flower pot containers, etc.), shimmering fabrics of all kinds, simple statues painted gold (spray paint) and for something special…add colored Christmas lights (one strand should do the trick…you might find that one strand is too much and that it's necessary to cover up some of the lights). If your chest is especially large, consider stuffing half of it with cardboard boxes (on the bottom) and laying some fabric over them to add some needed volume.

2. This one may sound strange, but go with us on this one. Put in some real bones in your chest! Save the larger bones from your next chicken bag fryers or T-bones. Boil them very well until all of the 'non-bone' material is gone. Allow them to dry and voila! It's a great effect!

3. For some added fun - instead of having a large chest of fake treasure, consider offering some REAL treasure! Depending on the number of the participants and their ages (and your budget…) look on ebay for 'pirate dabloons'. A lot of 100 is typically in the $35 range. They aren't authentic, but they do LOOK it! These can be great fun to divide up into smaller portions and tie them off in small fabric bags!

4. Our realistic treasure gems. Yep - a plug for what we offer…but it's only because they are SOOOO very cool! They are made from solid plastic (which gives them a nice weight) and are brilliant in color. The most amazing quality is their ability to be realistic from every angle. That's right…NO mirrored back! They look and feel amazing and we offer them in several different color combinations - each set of 30 gems is only $5.95. Click the image below to see all of our treasure gem collections.

Pirate Treasure Hunt Puzzles

Including puzzles into your treasure hunt is perhaps the most difficult part of creating a treasure hunt - and typically the least fun. Many treasure hunts were begun but never finished over the issue of overwhelmed feelings when coming up with the specific clues and puzzles. We currently offer a set of five different pirate themed treasure hunt puzzles, with a bonus sixth puzzle that incorporates the answers to the other five (a great final puzzle for your treasure hunt.) Consider them the 'legos' of treasure hunt creating! To read more and download now, click the image below:

Decorating Your Locations

There are a lot of ideas out there for creating small vignettes for your pirate themed treasure hunt. Depending on the amount of time you have to plan, 'dressing up' some of your treasure hunt locations could mean for a lot more fun for your treasure hunters. Here are some simple ideas to decorate some of your treasure hunt locations so that your treasure hunters actually FEEL like they are searching for pirate's treasure!

1. Mapmaker's Shop - Nab a bunch of images online or check out some books at the library on old maps and print them out on parchment paper. Set up a small table with the maps strewn around, a quill and some ink as well as a lantern (or candle) and a mug of rum. Have the clue on one of the maps - the treasure hunters will have fun looking through the maps for the clue!

2. Shipwreck / Driftwood scene - Set up a small scene that looks like a shipwreck site. Get your hands on some old, rotted out wood planks (ask around to friends and family - SOMEONE has some pieces that are in their backyard weeds.) The more rotted out, the better. Now, lay these about in a random pattern. On one of the planks, paint the name of the ship that went down. Among the debris of the ship, hide your treasure hunt clue!

3. Pirate's Cave - Definitely a more ambitious addition…but one that is WELL worth the effort! There are any number of ways to create one - use the resources that you have available to you. The trick isn't to make it large, but rather fun and interesting. It could be a simple tunnel made out of large boxes (pvc pipes with connecting joints also work great when covered with black painter's tarp!) There's something about having to crawl through something that makes for an exciting experience! Do what you can to have at least one bend in the tunnel so that when they begin their crawl they can't see where it's headed. In this light, it's also a very good idea to do what you can to hide where the tunnel leads when you are standing outside by blocking the line of sight with fabric or other natural surroundings. Inside the tunnel you can utilize all of the fun haunted house techniques that we all grew up with - fog machines, purple lights, spider webs, etc. At the end of the tunnel (or on the wall if your tunnel empties into another room) write a message that is your next treasure hunt clue. This also makes for a GREAT finale to your treasure hunt as a place to hide your treasure!

4. Tavern - In a very dimly lit corner or room (lit with candles), set up a few tables similar to that in an old pirate's tavern. Set up a few mugs of rum and some pie tins for plates. If you are using a picnic table (which is a great idea since they are made of wood) - use a sharp knife to pin down the next clue into the table with the blade (point down, handle up - sticking into the table.) It will add a sense of drama to your treasure hunt. Make sure to add a sign with the name of the tavern close by to help your treasure hunters know where they are.

5. Colony Dungeon - Pirates were all too familiar with the gallows. Create your own by using black painted pvc pipes and the joints that you can purchase. You won't need many (depending on the look you are shooting for.) For $10, you should be able to get enough poles and connectors for a simple bar set. In a dimly lit room, lean the bars up against a corner - with the treasure hunt clue on the OTHER side of the bars on a small table. Light the room with candles and you'll have a great looking scene!

Finding Treasure Hunt Locations

Sometimes you'll want to plan a pirate themed treasure hunt spread over a larger area such as a city. Consider these types of locations for your treasure hunt stops.

1. Any place with a waterfall…parks, schools, malls, etc. Hide the clue IN the water - tied to a string if you need to.
2. Know anyone with a pool? Hide the clue at the bottom of the pool!
3. Know any parks with a jungle like setting? Perfect for a deserted island!
4. Long John Silver's restaurant (a bit cheesy…but fun)
5. In a book about maps, the Caribbean or pirates in your local library
6. A playground or volleyball court with sand - hide the clue IN the sand (where they have to dig it up)
7. For adults, consider an older 'pub' where there is a lot of dark wood. In your clues refer to it as a tavern in Tortuga!

Other Ideas and Resources

Here are some other ideas and resources to help with the planning process:

Free Pirate Theme Party Downloadable Invitations - If your pirate themed treasure hunt is a part of a larger pirate themed pirate and you need some quick invites, you're only a quick click away. Click here: Free Pirate Theme Party Invitations

Incorporating Bingo into your pirate treasure hunt format. Although there are several ways to utilize Bingo cards in a treasure hunt, we'll only detail a couple to help give the main idea. Both examples involve providing a Bingo board to each of the teams on the treasure hunt before they set out. In the first scenario, the teams will be collecting cut out squares to put on their Bingo boards (the N8, O72, etc.) They will find these squares all throughout your treasure hunt. Bonus points are awarded for any teams that get Bingo before the final location of the treasure hunt! The second scenario involves hiding just one of each square in different places along the route of the treasure hunt. On each square, write a unique number. When the teams find one of the squares, they write the unique number associated with that call space on their boards in the appropriate space. For example, if they find the square that says "SHIP 56? and they have the SHIP space on their board, they write the word 56 on their board in that space. Using this number system ensures that the teams actually do find the spaces along the way! You can create your own pirate themed Bingo sets, or you can download one of our tested combination themed packages by clicking the image below:

Antiqued Paper

Aged paper is perhaps one of the most fun components when working with a pirate theme. Creating your own with coffee or tea can achieve a great look - but you're left with the smell of the coffee/tea. With our one of kind paper aging process, we achieve an aged look like no other. Check out our current aged paper selections by clicking the image below:

Other Treasure Hunt Hub Articles on Pirate Treasure Hunts:

6 Creative Ways To Kick Off Your Pirate Themed Treasure Hunt - Try one of these exciting treasure hunt launchers!

Four Exciting Pirate Treasure Hunt Back Stories - Help your treasure hunters know exactly what it is that they're looking for!

Creating Your Pirate Treasure Scene - You've created an amazing treasure hunt…but how do you make that final treasure scene look just as amazing?

Creating a Pirate Dungeon Scene For Your Treasure Hunt - This single addition to your pirate treasure hunt could thrust the whole activity into awesomeness!

Five Creative Ways To Form Teams For A Pirate Treasure Hunt - forming teams for larger groups is sometimes a necessity. With this five ideas you'll be able to keep the fun going while you do!

Planning A Pirate Ghost Ship Treasure Hunt - A new spin on a traditional pirate themed treasure hunt!