Trip Planner:   South America  /  French Guiana  /  Arrondissement of Cayenne  /  Cayenne  /  Devil's Island

Devil's Island, Cayenne

4.1
#1 of 9 in Nature in French Guiana
Must see · Island · Nature / Park
Create an itinerary including Devil's Island
The penal colony of Cayenne (French: Bagne de Cayenne), commonly known as Devil's Island (Île du Diable), was a French penal colony that operated for 100 years, from 1852 to 1952, and officially closed in 1953 in the Salvation Islands of French Guiana.

Opened in 1852, the Devil's Island system received convicts from the Prison of St-Laurent-du-Maroni, who had been deported from all parts of the Second French Empire. It was notorious both for the staff's harsh treatment of detainees and the tropical climate and diseases that contributed to high mortality. The prison system had a death rate of 75% at its worst, and was finally closed down in 1953.
Devil's Island was also notorious for being used for the exile of French political prisoners, with the most famous being Captain Alfred Dreyfus, accused of spying for Germany. The Dreyfus affair was a scandal extending for several years in late 19th and early 20th century France, exposing antisemitism and corruption in the French military.
Put Devil's Island and other Cayenne attractions into our Cayenne online holiday planner, and watch your holiday take shape.
Source
Create a full itinerary - for free!

Devil's Island reviews

Rate this attraction
TripAdvisor traveler rating
TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
252 reviews
Google
4.0
TripAdvisor
  • A must-see destination. This is where France sent its prisoners it wanted to severely punish. Dreyfus was sent here, but he was later released when it was determined that he was wrongfully convicted.....  more
    A must-see destination. This is where France sent its prisoners it wanted to severely punish. Dreyfus was sent here, but he was later released when it was determined that he was wrongfully convicted.....  more »
  • Hot as Hades, but well worth the sweat. Tried to walk the whole way around Isla but just to darn hot. Isla Royal was the closeted I could get to Devils Island, but it was just a bit over the water. I....  more
    Hot as Hades, but well worth the sweat. Tried to walk the whole way around Isla but just to darn hot. Isla Royal was the closeted I could get to Devils Island, but it was just a bit over the water. I....  more »
Google
  • These islands made a big impression on me. Climbing the long pathway leading up to the prison compound on St Joseph Island, I couldn't help but think about the effort that had gone into lugging and positioning those stones. The cells themselves are nightmarish, with the remains of bunk-bed brackets clearly apparent in what was a tiny floor area even for one prisoner. Row upon row of these would have been in almost total darkness, in sweltering heat.
  • It was super cool to see and learn all the history in person. The island is beautiful and the monkeys are adorable.

Plan your trip to Cayenne

  • Get a personalized trip
    A full day by day itinerary based on your preferences
  • Customize it
    Refine your trip. We'll find the
    best routes and schedules
  • Book it
    Choose from the best hotels and activities. Up to 50% off
  • Manage it
    Everything in one place. Everyone on the same page.