Hell Hath No Meaning As In Grand Cayman

Hell Hath No Meaning As In Grand Cayman

On the picturesque Caribbean island of Grand Cayman, there is place known as Hell. Just a short drive from five-star resorts and pristine beaches, rests an ominous field of brimstone with a fascinating geological history. There are certainly several versions to the story of how Hell got its name. Yet, most variations involve a local official seeing this strange limestone field for the first time and saying, “This is what Hell must look like.” Whatever you may think of this unique version of Hell, the surrounding West Bay area of Grand Cayman offers some of the best photo opportunities in the Caribbean, while Hell itself promises an unforgettable sightseeing opportunity.

At this point, you are probably wondering what is so hellish about this little Caribbean town. The story is interesting, but certainly nothing to fear.

Approximately 1.5 million years ago, the sea level was 15-20 higher than it is today. As a result, Grand Cayman and many other Caribbean islands were largely flooded. When the water receded, limestone-based coral formations were left behind. Scientists have recognized a large formation of such ancient coral – known as ironshore – covering most of the western half of Grand Cayman.

Ironshore is the central attraction of Hell. Yet, in Hell, the limestone deposits have taken on an ominous shape. In an area about the size of half a football field, you will see exposed black ironshore that has been uniquely weathered to resemble the fires of the netherworld. Though the formations may look like the result of volcanic activity, the limestone was in fact darkened by eroding algae after the sea waters receded. As the limestone was simultaneously exposed to acidic algae and the elements over many centuries, the field of Hell took on its devilish form.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to walk among the limestone formations. However, the viewing platforms grant you a bird’s eye view of the sharp, blackened ironshore. Beyond the rocks of Hell, you will see mangrove trees and the beautiful Caribbean scenery you expect of Grand Cayman.

There is also plenty of fun to be had with Hell’s secondary attractions. At the town’s small gift shop, you will be greeted by the devil himself (or perhaps just a man in costume) with such phrases as, “How the hell are you?” or “Where the hell are you from?” After picking up some “postcards from hell,” you can send your friends and family a unique message courtesy of Hell’s themed post office. Opened in 1962, the post office allows visitors the ability to postmark their Caribbean correspondence from Satan’s hometown.

Just south of Hell, you will find Seven Mile Beach, one of the island’s most famous beaches. Though the beach is only 5.5 miles long, it promises plenty of pristine, powdery sand. Many of the island’s most popular resorts are located along this stretch, as well, yet the beach is rarely overcrowded. At the south end of the beach, you will find more exposed ironshore – further evidence of the formations resting beneath the island’s surface. Though the limestone at Seven Mile Beach wasn’t weathered as dramatically as in Hell, it certainly gives you an idea of the island’s – and the entire Caribbean region’s – unique geological makeup.

The trip to Hell is a short one (the town, that is). Mini buses run throughout the island and Hell is a popular stop. It is even possible to walk to the site from many of Grand Cayman’s resorts – most being about 5-7 miles away. However you choose to get to Hell, the journey will definitely offer scenic views of the island’s West Bay region.

You probably won’t need to spend much time in Hell either. Offering a unique brand of fun, the town and its wicked rocks offer a simple, pleasant family activity. When planning your tour around beautiful Grand Cayman, plan an afternoon stop at the place no one wants to end up (but everyone seems to enjoy).