Locations mentioned in Acts 27

The map below list the various locations or names used in Acts 27.  Some are anchorages, some are just names, but all help us know the story, the voyage and the eyewitness, Luke, better.

Click on the map to enlarge

Caesarea Maritima

The starting point of this voyage was Caesarea or more precisely the harbor of Caesarea Maritima, which is on the Mediterranean coast of Israel. The harbor at Caesarea was constructed by Herod the Great, from about 25–13 BC and it is one of the greatest feats of engineering ever built by man.  Today, much of the ruins of Caesarea, still exist and a great deal of the above ground structure of the harbor is available for visitors to see.  In fact, there is even three different underwater tours of the submerged ruins.  There is a Hippodrome (horse and chariot stadium) at this location. Caesarea is a “must see” if you ever go to Israel.

27:1 – Italy and Rome

The text states they were sailing for Italy. Paul was actually going to Rome to stand trial before Caesar. However a trip from Caesarea could take hundreds of routes or combinations of routes to reach the final destination of the city of Rome.  So they were actually sailing to get to Italy, once there all roads lead to Rome.

27:2 – a Ship from Adramyttium

The NIV version states “We boarded a ship from Adramyttium”. The phrase translated here as ‘from’ generally means that this was the home port of this vessel or the vessel “belongs’ to this port.  Adramyttium was a port city, with a good harbor on the NW coast of modern Turkey. The group of soldiers and prisoners were not planning to go to Adramyttium, nor does the ship appear to be headed to Italy as it’s final destination.  All we are told is this ship was “about to sail along the coast”, so they were likely involved in commercial trade along the coast and probably planned to winter in its home port of Adramyttium.  It was common practice for Trading vessels to follow a regular route up and down the coast.

27:3 – Sidon

In verse 3, Luke records the first stop of the trip “the next day we landed at Sidon”. Sidon was a Phoenician town on the Mediterranean in north Palestine.  It was famous for industry and commerce (along with the city of Tyre) so it is a logical stop for any trading vessel. It is approximately 67 miles north of Caesarea which makes it a comfortable distance to make in a single day, especially if there are good winds. Today it is located in Lebanon.

27:4 – Cyprus

Luke states they left Sidon “and passed on the lee side of Cyprus”. The lee side of an island is the side away from the wind, so the lee side could be different depending on the direction of the wind.  On the lee side of an island, a ship is protected from the force of a strong wind by the island itself.  Cyprus is a large island and a predominant feature in the northwest corner of the Mediterranean.

27:5 – Cilicia and Pamphylia

Luke continues with his description of their route and adds two additional way points markers “When we had sailed across the open sea off the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia”. So the complete picture of their route was to sail north of Cyprus and South of Cilicia and Pamphylia.  The sea here is wide, there are very favorable currents and many port where a vessel could stop and trade or re-supply.

Acts 27:5 – Myra

The Passage states they landed in Myra.  Myra was a major port in the eastern empire Myra is due north of Alexandria Egypt.  By virtue of its location it was also important to the grain trade between Rome and Alexandria Egypt. Ships sailing from Alexandria to Rome could not go directly northwest to Rome at this time of year because the prevailing winds would be from the west.  Thus, many would have to follow an indirect route by first sailing north to Myra then southwest toward Italy.

Acts 27:6 – an Alexandrian ship

In Myra, the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy. “An Alexandrian ship” refers more to the business the ship was in than the location the ship used for home port.  These ship took grain from Alexandria Egypt to Italy. Since Myra was part of the normal trade route finding an Alexandrian Grain ship in this port was not unusual.

Acts 27:7 – Cnidus

As the ship left Myra they tried to make headway sailing into the wind but made slow headway.  Upon arriving near the island of Cnidus they were forced to turn South and take a southerly route around Crete.

Acts 27:7 – Salmone

The ship and crew passed near the most eastern point of Crete, Salmone point.  Once round this point they were then sailing under the lee side of Crete.

Acts 27:8 – Fairhaven

Once they were along the southern coast of Crete they were able to make it to a placed called Fairhaven.  The text says it was near the town of Lasea.

Our map show where Fairhaven may have been.  This cove does provide some protection from the winter winds. The name Fairhaven may not name a town but rather a generally location that provided fair haven.

Act 27:12 – Phoenix

Fairhaven was an unsuitable port to winter in so the crew decided to move the ship to a better place.  There existed a port farther west along the coast of Crete referred to in the text as Phoenix. The crew and the ship never made it this far.

Acts 27:16 – Cauda

As the ship was trying to reach the port of Phoenix the wind came down from the direction of Crete and began to blow the ship toward the west away from Crete.  The crew was able to pull behind the small island of Cauda. The island offered enough protection to give the crew time to make some preparation to survive the coming blow.

Acts 27:16 – Syrtis

Apparently the place that the crew feared most about this wind was the destination they were being pushed.  The ship was being blown in a west southwest direction toward the African coast and the sandbars and shallows of Sytris.

  1. Leslie
    June 3, 2012 at 11:30 am

    John, thank you for pointing out that the ship was only “from Adramyttium” rather than actually sailing from there. Otherwise, it does not make sense that it arrived in Sidon in only one day! While you say you are not a Bible scholar, I certainly appreciate your scholarship in this blog, and especially the tidy format you have here for the locations mentioned in Acts 27 and the explanation you give for the location of the Adriatic Sea (the Ionian Sea south of it confused me until I read your explanation). Here’s hoping that you might find this ship or at least an anchor someday. Many thanks!

    • June 11, 2012 at 8:27 pm

      Thanks Leslie,
      I especially appreciate your comments about finding the ship. We have progressed nicely in the last two years and hopefully, we will uncover the remains in the next couple of years.
      Thanks again,
      John

  2. Job E Taylor Jr
    November 5, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    I’m a substitute teacher and the scripture for next Sunday is Acts 27. I was OK with some of the places in the Scripture but lacked maps for most of them. Thank you very much for your information. Good stuff-thanks again.
    Job

    • November 11, 2012 at 7:59 pm

      Job,
      You are more than welcome. I am so glad you found it useful for teaching. Please feel free to check back any time or send me any questions you may have about Acts 27, especially where it concerns the shipwreck information.
      John

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