On a certain continent, nearly all kingdoms worship under the same pantheon. However, in the southern reaches the peoples take a much more...liberal stance on their Gods. Statues are nude, and very anatomically correct, and icons are often startlingly brazen. For instance, the icon of (insert name), the goddess of love, is an image of two nude twins embracing in a passionate kiss, signifying the love of both family and partner. This is a source of unending outrage and offense for the Northern churches, whose traditional and modest take on religion is constantly at odds with the near-blasphemous ideals of the Southerners. While this is not enough to provoke outright conflict, there is more than enough simmering discontent and long-held grudges between the two hemispheres.
Pirates' many bejeweled rings and piercings actually had a practical purpose - when the pirate or sailor died, the rings could be taken off as payment for a proper burial, saving him from a watery grave. This could be tied into regional culture, or made into a quest (The Pirate's Lost Rings, etc.). Also gives treasure-seeking divers another thing to look for besides crusty old chests.
By late afternoon, the sky starts to cloud over. The sun shines behind the fluffy clouds, gilding the edges and showing a Jacob's-ladder of rays streaming through the gaps...very pretty. Gradually the clouds shift into a new configuration: you realize with awe-struck, preternatural clarity that the clouds form a map of a coast-line that you know against the blue sky as ocean: surely it's a Sign! Suddenly, the golden beams coalesce into one long ray that strikes across the blue. A star-like gleam flashes under the ray: perhaps it is an island? But the charts show no island there...who would want to hide an island? Who could do it?