Event description

The Captain and crew of the Santa María have faced challenges not unlike what early explorers faced in their efforts to navigate and sail the coast of La Florida in the 16th century.

Traveling from Key West was hindered by nature. After a diversion to Cape Canaveral due to serious storms off the coast, the Santa María’s attempt to journey to Beaufort was met with volatile North winds in the gulf stream. After brave attempts to sail the 500-year-old replica vessel against these conditions, the ship sustained damage and the safety of the crew was at stake. Therefore, the Captain returned to Cape Canaveral for safe docking and ship repair. Steady efforts to share this experience with the Lowcountry brought them to Beaufort with only a one week delay.

The goal to provide an authentic, living history experience to visitors is only heightened by the trials of this journey. Imagine without today’s technology and weather forecasting what such voyages would be like. Bear in mind that the original Santa María, the flagship of Columbus, was shipwrecked in 1492 in the Caribbean.

The Nao Santa María is a full size replica of the ship Christopher Columbus sailed and was built to honor the 555th anniversary of his sailing to America from Spain. Visitors learn how the crew lived and the tasks they were responsible for on the ship. The visit consists of a self guided tour through the 5 decks of the Santa María, where you can find informative panels with the history of the ship, ornamental elements of the time, and talks with the crew to feel how the Spanish sailors lived 500 years ago.

Ages 4 and up must register to enter the ship.

You may like to follow your Ship Tour with a visit to the Santa Elena History Center. The Center opens at 10:30, and the regular price is $5 (child 7-17) and $10 (adult 18+).  There will be merchandise available for sale at the Ship.


Ticket Type Price Cart
Nao Santa Maria $10.00 $3.65

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