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Devil's Island in the Salvation Isles of French Guiana
Pictures from Famous Historic French Penal Colony in French Guiana
Devil's Island is one of three Salvation Islands used by the French as penal colonies from the mid-1800s until after World War II. Tourists are not allowed on Devil's Island, but instead can tour the old prison facilities on Isle Royale, which is just a short distance away.
Devil's Island may be an unusual port of call, but this old French penal colony is fascinating and was well-depicted in the Steve McQueen movie, "Papillon". Everyone on our South American cruise on the Seven Seas Mariner looked forward to our visit, and we were not disappointed. The day was very rainy, but that didn't stop many of us from taking the tender ashore to explore Isle Royale and get a close look at Devil's Island. Its look and history is as horrid as depicted in the movies.
Cruise ship passengers and other tourists are not allowed to visit Devil's Island, which is one of the three Salvation Islands, also known as Iles du Salut, of French Guiana off the coast of South America. The three Salvation Islands are named Devil's Island, St. Joseph Island, and Isle Royale, and are located about 10 miles from the mainland of South America.
Cruise ships sailing between the Caribbean and the Amazon River or between the Caribbean and Rio de Janeiro often stopover at the Salvation Islands so that their guests can learn about the history of the island group and see Devil's Island a short distance away.
It was a rainy morning when the Seven Seas Mariner anchored at Isle Royale in the Salvation Isles (Iles du Salut) off the coast of French Guiana. Devil's Island is just a short distance away.Continue to 2 of 24 below.
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Isle Royale Hotel near Devil's Island
Isle Royale is one of the three Salvation Islands, the most famous of which is Devil's Island.
Auberge des Îles du Salut is the Isle Royale Hotel.Continue to 3 of 24 below.
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Barracks Building near Devils Island
One of the barracks buildings on Isle Royale near Devil's Island.Continue to 4 of 24 below.
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Devils Island - South America Cruise Ship Port of Call
A look at Devil's Island from Isle Royale. The two Salvation Islands had different types of prisoners and were connected with a basket on a pulley system.Continue to 5 of 24 below.
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Isle Royale in the Salvation Islands Off the Coast of South America
The Salvation Islands are picturesque tropical islands today, but they were devoid of these lovely palm trees when the islands were used for prisoners.Continue to 6 of 24 below.
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Isle Royale - South America Cruise Ship Port of CallContinue to 7 of 24 below.
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Warden's Pool - Devils Island - South America Cruise Ship Port of Call
The waters surrounding the Devil's Island French penal colony are filled with sharks. The prison warden had the inmates dig this "swimming pool" near the shore so that his family could swim safely.Continue to 8 of 24 below.
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Isle Royale Swimming Pool and Devil's IslandContinue to 9 of 24 below.
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Isle Royale Water Reservoir - Devil's Island Port of Call
This fresh water reservoir was dug by the prisoners using teaspoons. Yes, this large pool was dug one small spoonful at a time.Continue to 10 of 24 below.
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Iguanas on Devil Island
For iguana lovers - here's another good iguana photo.Continue to 11 of 24 below.
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Devils Island Prison Cell
In the 100+ years the Salvation Isles were used as a French penal colony, about 80,000 prisoners were sent to the islands. Only 30,000 lived to tell about it.Continue to 12 of 24 below.
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Devil's Island Prison CellContinue to 13 of 24 below.
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Devil's Island Prisoner Restraints
Even the hospital had restraints to lock the prisoners down at night. This picture was particularly sobering for me.Continue to 14 of 24 below.
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Devils Island Hospital and Jail HouseContinue to 15 of 24 below.
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Devils Island - Prisoners' Toilets
These toilets certainly don't compare well with the bathrooms on the Seven Seas Mariner! We were happy to go back to the luxury of our cruise ship afterwards.Continue to 16 of 24 below.
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Devils Island Jail HouseContinue to 17 of 24 below.
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Hotel Cottages on Isle Royale Near Devil's IslandContinue to 18 of 24 below.
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Church on Isle Royale near Devils IslandContinue to 19 of 24 below.
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Devil's Island AgoutiContinue to 20 of 24 below.
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Devil's Island - South America Cruise Ship Port of CallContinue to 21 of 24 below.
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Devil's Island AgoutiContinue to 22 of 24 below.
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St. Joseph's Island in the Salvation IslandsContinue to 23 of 24 below.
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Rainy Day on Devil's Island
It was a very rainy day when the Seven Seas Mariner visited Devil's Island. We all had to use our blue and white ship's umbrellas.Continue to 24 of 24 below.
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Seven Seas Mariner Off the Coast of Devils Island
Seven Seas Mariner Off the Coast of Devils Island