Did you know it is possible to go to Hell? That’s what my momma told me when I was a little girl, so I had better listen to her! And that is exactly what I did! I went to Hell Grand Cayman! (And when I die I want to go to Heaven, just so you know!) I found out that Hell Grand Cayman is a massive limestone formation located in the West Bay on the island of Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. In case you haven’t been to Grand Cayman, this is what the downtown area looks like.
What is HELL Grand Cayman?
Hell Grand Cayman is a group of black jagged and spiky rocks that are almost the length of a soccer field. Apparently, it was formed over 24 million years and Scientists say it is a geological wonder! The formations are characterized by their jagged and spongy appearance.
The scientific name of this type of formation is phytokarst. These phytokarst turn the formations black when filamentous algae interact with the limestone, but here in Cayman, they call it the iron-shore formation. Thus the foundation of many places is this iron shore variety which makes it a unique feature of the islands. This is what helps to make Hell Grand Cayman so unusual. But more on that later.
Apparently Hell Grand Cayman is high on the most intriguing geological sites in the world! They even have a viewing platform. for you to get an idea of how big it is. While there, we were told there is nowhere else in the Caribbean – or indeed the world – where phytokarst and limestone have come together to form something as magnificent as Hell Grand Cayman. In fact, Hell Grand Cayman is one of the island’s most visited tourist attraction! So be sure and stop by!
Hell Grand Cayman: Where is Hell located?
Directions to Hell Grand Cayman:
Take Hell Road and drive about 100 yards past the Hell Gas Station. Then look for the Post Office sign and enter the Gates of HELL on the left from Hell Road.
There are various bus lines to get to Hell. Either Route 1 which is yellow or Route 2 which is green. When you get on, just tell the driver where you want to go. He will tell you where to get off. And just so you know, you pay the driver directly once you get off the bus. For you to return, you will need to get the minibus from the Hell Service Station.
Welcome to Hell Grand Cayman!
No visit to Grand Cayman is complete without a visit to Hell! The shop itself is red and yellow fire-themed building with the words “Hell Grand Cayman” painted on the side. It is also the only Hell post office. The owner, Ivan Farrington, greets people with phrases like “Welcome to Hell Grand Cayman”, How the Hell are you?” and “Where the Hell are you from?” Everything is said in jest and my kids got a crack out of listening to the guy speak! They knew it wasn’t OK to speak like that around Mom and Dad and so I would constantly hear them snickering! lol
What the Hell Kind of Rock is That?
As I said before, the rock formation is known as “ironshore”. It is an elevated fossil coral reef dating back more than a million years ago! This limestone composition is more commonly known as “karst”. To understand more, let us look into the Science, so according to a scuba diver and geologist from Chevron:
“The Ironshore karst is a special type, both in terms of its texture and origin. First, texture – it is a black, random sponge work of pits, jagged ridges, and pointed pinnacles. It is developed in a narrow strip just above the tide line on ancient limestone rocks. If you break off a piece, you will see that the black color is present near the surface and it grades to gray inside. Second, origin – it is being dissolved largely by algae, bacteria, and fungi so it is often called “biokarst.” These tiny (microscopic) organisms bore into the rock and dissolve the calcite crystals. They are most dense within a centimeter or so at the surface, causing the black color.”
“So, when you travel around the Caribbean, look at the rocky shoreline, if it is limestone, biokarst may be well developed. The most famous occurrence is at a place called Hell Grand Cayman.”
Kids think Hell is Funny!
So when you have two teenage boys and are traveling to Hell Grand Cayman, they just might think this is funny! We landed, grabbed our British style car, and headed out to the hotel, staying at the Westin Grand Cayman. I was trying to get us unpacked and situated and eventually I had noticed that they had disappeared. It didn’t take them long before they decided to take off on their own to explore the island on the local bus. They went to the very end stop. They had asked the front desk lady where Hell Grand Cayman was (snicker, snicker) and she whipped out a map and showed the local bus line.
Where the Hell are we?
To two teenage boys, this seemed like the perfect plan, even though they didn’t inform their parents where they were going. When they returned, they couldn’t wait to tell me and their Dad that they went to Hell Grand Cayman and they knew exactly where Hell Cayman Islands is located if we wanted to go see it!
Where the Hell did you go?
“Where did you go?” I said.
“We went to Hell.” (snicker, snicker!) they replied.
“No really, we went to Hell, Mom!” “And we want you to go there with us!” Tsk Tsk!
And so their Father and I packed them into the rental car and took off for Hell Grand Cayman. Thank God the boys didn’t decide to walk all over Hell while they were unsupervised, as it looks like a jagged rocky wasteland from the viewing platform. LOL! Honestly, I was surprised they went on their own without telling me and of course, was furious as Hell when I found out, but hey, we are on vacation and now they are safe, so I let it go.
They went to Hell!
When we arrived, one of the first things I saw was the fire-engine red and yellow hell-themed post office from which you can send postcards. The shop there also sells the typical “Postcards from Hell”. There is also a souvenir and gift shop with phrases like ‘How the Hell are you? and “Where the Hell are you from?” plastered on the walls and painted on the sides of the building. My son couldn’t resist getting himself a t-shirt with “Devil’s Hangout” and a collared shirt with “HELL, Grand Cayman” on it.
Reminds me of when I was a kid and got the t-shirt from the AC/DC concert HIGHWAY TO HELL, only my Father wouldn’t let me wear the shirt to school the next morning like all the other kids and he made me donate the shirt to charity! My how times have changed.
I told him I would prefer it if he got a shirt that said “University of Hell”!
The kids are still laughing and they think it is SO funny to get to use the word “Hell” this one time and that the parents can’t do anything about it! Welcome to teenage kid humor.
Do I Have To Pay to Go To Hell Grand Cayman?
Honestly, this is the best part! Hell Grand Cayman is free! But if you want to send a postcard that has HELL stamped cross the postage stamp, that will cost you $2. The most expensive part is that the kiddos will surely want to buy something in the souvenir shops!
When Can We Visit Hell Grand Cayman?
Hell Grand Cayman is open all year long and it is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The post office and gift shops are open between 8 am and 5 pm. The bar Club Inferno is open every day of the week except on Sundays! (Ha Ha!).
What Can I do in HELL Grand Cayman?
You can stand out on the platform and admire the geological formation from a number of viewing spots that are around the site. Try to see if you can spot the carved figures or statues that look like devils in the limestone landscape. You can also buy souvenirs at the three gift shops located on the premises.
Or send postcards that are stamped with “Hell” across the postage stamp! If you are thirsty, you can head over to the bar, Club Inferno. But I think the main reason people come here is to say “I have been to Hell Grand Cayman” or “I have been to HELL and BACK!” So you might as well buy a t-shirt that says it!
How Much Time do I need in Hell Grand Cayman?
I would say you only need about 30 minutes to an hour to see the whole entire thing! Hell Grand Cayman has a few spots for super cool photographs of this unique topography. Then a visit to the post office to send off your postcard, and then to look around the souvenir shops.
So, Where the Hell Did We Stay?
There are so many options I cannot even begin to tell you about all of them, but I will let you know that we stayed at the Westin Grand Cayman on 7 Mile Beach on our first visit to Grand Cayman and on that same trip, decided to go to the other end of the island and stayed at the Turtle Nest Inn.
How the Hell Did It Get Its Name?
I am not sure if it got its name because of how ugly, hot, and black it is or from the owner who set up a souvenir shop. But before you know it, Hell Grand Cayman has become a tourist attraction! I did receive an interesting note from a reader who claims to have a “mostly true, somewhat accurate, second-hand” knowledge of how Hell Grand Cayman got its name” by a gal named Kelli! But I couldn’t verify it. You can read it below and determine for yourself if you think it is true!
“I’ve been to Hell Grand Cayman and back again. I talked to the devil while I was there, and there was a very interesting story about how Hell came to be…
The township of Hell began as a bird hunting trip gone badly… A wealthy businessman struck a deal with a local to purchase the tract of land at said location. Being both an avid hunter and entrepreneur, he was determined that he would develop the land and create a unique and exotic gaming locale.
It seemed to be the perfect location, and after telling said local of his plans for the property that he purchased SIGHT UNSEEN, he was met with a deep belly laugh. The seller explained that it was not, in fact, an ideal location for hunting. That no one ever killed anything there. That it was, in fact, impossible. But the businessman would not be deterred.
If anyone could hunt there, it was him! He’d been to the Cayman Islands several times, and their overabundance of winged creatures made this venture perfect. People would travel the world over to hunt his birds, and he would be rich beyond his wildest dreams because he was the first to think of it AND had the perfect place for it.
The birds had other ideas though.
On his first expedition to this exotic location, he found the terrain to be quite different than expected. The jagged limestone formations made stalking his prey next to impossible. After landing himself in the hospital after a nasty fall, he decided that not even the devil himself would dare to hunt in Hell Grand Cayman, and thus the name stuck.
After a while, people began to come just to see “Hell” while they were on vacation, and the owner saw a new business prospect…..He applied for a township for his little slice of paradise and named it “Hell”—and declared himself the devil and mayor of Hell. He can be found most days wandering around his post office, all decked out in his devil’s costume complete with a pitchfork. Thus you have the mostly true, somewhat accurate second-hand version of the “History of Hell” – reader KELLI
While HELL Grand Cayman may not be big enough to keep you busy for the entire day, it is a light-hearted, fun visit and the kids will most likely truly enjoy it. I know our kids were happy we went back with them. Plus, getting to say that you have been to Hell and back? Who doesn’t want to say that?
What the Hell do I recommend to read before going to Hell, Grand Cayman?
Staying in the Caymans? What to Do for the Ultimate Experience
Want to visit other places in the Caribbean?