Iles du Salut - Lazing Away the Day

Arriving in the dark of night provides no indication of what to expect in the morning. We'd never seen pictures of these islands, but had certainly read about Ile du Diable, Devil's Island, and its neighbors, Royale and St. Joseph. All were part of the infamous French penal colony. We remember Steve McQueen portraying Henri Chattière in Papillon, a man sentenced to life on Devil's Island for a murder he did not commit. So when we popped our heads up first thing in the morning, what a surprise! ile royale

I had been expecting three rather large, dark, grey, sinister-looking islands, with rocky, forbidding shores. Instead, a tropical green paradise lay before us. Palm trees swayed; errant coconuts floated past in turquoise green water.


A few empty commercial moorings dotted the shore of Ile St. Joseph and Ile Royale. Ile du Diable was out of sight. A couple of fishing boats could be seen in the distance, bobbing gently in the swell. We could hear the distant hum of a generator. Welcome swallows and terns darted past the boat. It's hard to imagine what inhumanities had occurred here in the 19th and 20th centuries, when looking from our vantage point today.

ile st. joseph

As is our typical modus operandi when arriving at a new place, we talked about going in, got involved in boat chores, and by midday, lost our ambition for launching the dinghy and heading into shore. We hadn't slept well, ...still in “watch” mode and it was hot and humid. We contented ourselves with cleaning and maintenance and small repairs and then sitting in the cockpit watching the catamarans full of tourists from Kourou motor in and deposit their visitors ashore. David put up a canvas tarp to keep the sun off the cockpit and we enjoyed a peaceful day aboard. Sorry to disappoint you, but there's always tomorrow for exploring.