Grand Cayman–the largest island in the Cayman Islands–has all the qualities typical of tropical islands, immaculate white-sand beaches, sunshine in spades, and stunning turquoise water. Families and couples flock here because it’s a haven for romantic getaways and action-packed adventures including snorkeling and diving, but this heavenly place has one thing that other Caribbean islands do not.
It has Hell.
Hell on Earth (or Grand Cayman Island)
Hell is the name given to a half-of-a-football-field sized area of jagged black limestone in West Bay that has become a kitschy tourist attraction, complete with a gift shop selling satanic souvenirs, including t-shirts, coffee mugs and other items proclaiming “I’ve been to Hell and back!” and “I survived Hell!” Men who walk around dressed as the devil may greet you with “How the hell are you?” There is even a mail drop in the gift shop so you can send your friends a postcard…from Hell.
How hot is hell? Now we finally know. It can be 90+ degrees in the summer. Okay, that’s not fire-and-brimstone, plead-for-mercy heat, but it’s enough that you’ll want to slake your thirst, and you can do so at the local watering hole, appropriately named Club Inferno. Oddly–or appropriately–it is closed only on Sundays.
What to Expect in Hell
Scientists and historians tell us that Hell was created by salt and lime deposits millions of years ago. The limestone interacted with attacking filamentous algae and created the spiky black formations.
The site creates quite a contrast with the lush greenery of its surroundings. Walking on the black limestone is prohibited–to do so would be, well, a sin–but there are two observation platforms where you can take pictures and gaze into the place of eternal damnation before you go take a swim or munch on conch at a nearby beachfront concession. Pick up a souvenir from the Hell Gift Shop, where you can buy everything from hot sauce and Caribbean spices, to coffee mugs and candy.
Getting to Hell
To go to Hell, it’s about 20 minutes from George Town (who knew?). You’ll find Hell directly on Hell Road, surrounded by ironically named shops, gas stations and a post office. It’s a light-hearted trip well worth the photo.
While heaven has its pearly gates, Hell is always open, and admission is free. Paying for your sins, well, that’s another story. Guided tours are available for a fee, and the gift shops and amenities are open from 8 am to 5 pm. It’s quite a popular tourist attraction, so be prepared for crowds, especially during peak tourist times.
Turns out, more people want to go to Hell than you’d think.
Where Did Hell Get Its Name From?
No one really knows how Hell got its name, but there are several theories. Locals thought the landscape resembled that of its underworld counterpart. The black, jagged rocks probably aren’t that comfortable, it doesn’t seem that bad. Another is that while a British general was hunting in the area, shot at a bird, missed, and “Oh, hell.” Just think: it missed being called “Bloody Hell” by just a hairsbreadth.
Tags: Grand Cayman Island