Around 1506, Portuguese navigators discovered the island the Assumption day, escaping a shipwreck. As it was the tradition, they gave to the place the name of the Saint of the day: “Santa Maria”.


Near waterways with ships returning from the Indies, the holds full of goods, abundant food and fresh water, with bays and coves protected from storm, Sainte-Marie Island became the perfect base for pirates from 1680 to 1720. Legendary pirates stayed there such as John Avery, William Kidd or Olivier Le Vasseur known as “La Buse”.


In 1750, the Queen Betty donated her island to Louis XV. Sainte-Marie island became French before colonization.


In 1903, General Galliéni decided to make a penal colony in Sainte-Marie island, it will be the “Island convicts” until 1957.


Today, we can still see the remains of the old military fort, on the heights of the town.