We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“It looks nice!”
Review of Devil's Island

Devil's Island
Ranked #2 of 23 things to do in Cayenne
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Winnipeg, Canada
Level Contributor
913 reviews
308 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 419 helpful votes
“It looks nice!”
Reviewed February 4, 2013

One can't actually land on Devil's Island, but it is but one of the three Isles du Salut that make a remarkable and fascinating day trip from Kourou.

In particular, the prison remnants on Isles Joseph are the most moving, but Isle Royale offers sustenance, an auberge and a rather fine museum.

The trip is simply a "must"

Visited February 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank MaxGlobetrotter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

158 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    84
    58
    12
    3
    1
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
106 reviews
51 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
“Devil's Island - not quite ready for Prime Time”
Reviewed October 14, 2012

Work is being done to make this historically fascinating site a tourist attraction. Its not there yet. Some restoration work is done but the focus is on the restaurant and hotel, not the grounds and original buildings. Limited interpretive signage is in place but most is only in French. A much better experience if your French is good. If you start in Cayenne, make sure you have transportation back and forth. Would be a nice 1/2 day tour but the only boat that takes people out doesn't depart the island until 4:30 PM. You are stuck. Until more restoration is completed or there are 1/2 day tours and you have limited time, go to the European Space Center instead.

Visited October 2012
Helpful?
2 Thank rgbob
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
67 reviews
21 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 114 helpful votes
“Amazing!”
Reviewed July 2, 2012

Technically you need to go to Kourou to get to here. Plus technically you dont actually set foot on Devil's Island!

This should be renamed Les Iles Du Salut. There are three islands located about 11km from the mainland (city of Kourou). The islands are called Royale, Saint Joseph and Devil's Island and used to be a French Penal Colony (made famous by the book Papillon).

You get to go on to Royale and Saint Joseph. Royale is the largest and I spent about 4 hrs walking alone through the ruins (do not miss the reclusion cells - amazing). Was fascinating and as a reader of Papillon I loved re-living bits from the book. There is also a path around the island which takes about 45mins to do the full circle.

There is a bit in the small musuem on Royale where it says which bits of Papillon were not 100% accurate (and there are lots!), although Papillon was only semi-autobiographical anyway.

There is also a small gift shop and restaurant on Royale. There is also a hostel where you can stay the night.

The boat then took us over to Saint Joseph. This was the most amazing bit of the trip but you will need to follow my instructions. Technically you are just supposed to walk on the small path around the island and sit on the beach, but the ruins on the top of the island are simply too good to miss. There will be signs that say access to the top of the island is prohibited but IGNORE them (at your own risk). From where the boat drops you off on Saint Joseph walk to the right and follow the path round a few mins. You will pass some houses on the right. From there keep looking in the jungle on the left and you make out a path. Follow this up to the centre of the island. the path is quite overgrown but is wide and other than a few fallen trees to step over is easy. didnt see any snakes, just lizards, spiders and ants.

You will then get to a fence which will say do not pass because of falling rocks from the ruins (jump it at your own risk!). You then get to some amazing ruins of an old cell block. Is huge. Walk around and just be amazed.

I bought my ticket in Cayenne from the tourist agency next door to the Best Western Amazonia Hotel, close by the Place des Palmistes.

The ticket cost 48 Euros and that was for a place on a Catamaran leaving the harbour in Kourou (by the Hotel des Roches). Takes about 1hr and 30mins to get there. Left at 7am and returned for 5pm.

I absolutely loved this trip and behind Angel Falls in Venezuela this was the best trip I have done in Latin America.

Visited June 2012
Helpful?
8 Thank NigelTufnell
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BRASILIA
Level Contributor
306 reviews
128 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 147 helpful votes
“Unique place. Read its history (including Papillon) before visiting.”
Reviewed March 18, 2012

This is a classic half day excursion from your cruise ship. Marvellous ruins of the old (now disbanded) French penal colony, oozing with the history of the time. Very pleasant to stroll among the palm trees, view the prison buildings, get some idea of how the prisoners must have lived in this wild and secluded island (including its arguably most famous inmate Dreyfuss and its successful escapee 'Papillon'). See the old chapel, painted by convicts. Worth reading everything about the place before your visit.

Visited April 2011
Helpful?
3 Thank John P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
marin county, CA
Level Contributor
31 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“See the movie, Papillion before you go”
Reviewed February 15, 2012

The tender was difficult, I got a sea shower trying to get on, but it was worth the effort. The place is erie, to think the French shipped mainly politcal prisoners here in the late 1800's to as late as the 1960's It is well kept and a step into the colonial past. There is a hotel on the island, but since is is so small, I am not sure how far away one would really want to get away from everything. It only has second growth trees as the French cut down everything so the prisoners couldn't hide, but it is very warm and tropical and lush. And the currents between the islands, there are several, are rough. Much hikings and lots of stairs to get around to see everything. Takes several hours, not including the beer.

Visited December 2011
Helpful?
3 Thank streakmarincounty_CA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Devil's Island also viewed

Cayenne, Arrondissement of Cayenne
Cayenne, Arrondissement of Cayenne
 
Cayenne, Arrondissement of Cayenne
 

Been to Devil's Island? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing