It’s hard to imagine that this beautiful island was once a penal colony. It was the Brazilian version of Alcatraz, in California.

The prison was built in the 1930s and under an architectonic point of view is very interesting.


Some of the most vicious criminals from across the nation were imprisoned here.  The prison was deemed impossible to escape due to a fast moving current between the shore and the nearest town Ubatuba.  In June 1952, there was a big riot which resulted in the deaths of 118 people (110 inmates and 8 officers). Three years later, the prison was shut down.

Ilha Anchieta, Prison

Ilha Anchieta, old newspapers

Interestingly, during WWII this prison was also used to imprison 170 Japanese immigrants.  Just like Japanese prison camps in the States.  Perhaps more cruel.  It’s interesting to read about the life of these people.

Ilha Anchieta, Japanese WWII prisoners

Some of them were incredibly skillful:

Ilha Anchieta, fusatoshi

Ilha Anchieta, fusatoshi generator

The island today has a terrific beach were we anchored for a few days: