In the third instalment of our “Spotlight On” series, we're delving into Hell...yes, you read that correctly. A top Cayman tourist attraction, this colourfully-named community can be found just north-west of Seven Mile Beach, in West Bay, Grand Cayman. It is known for its “Ironshore” stone formations, which are quite ominous and fantastic in appearance.
“Ironshore” rocks are made up of a mixture of limestone and dolomite which, consistently eroded by algae, began producing the distinct landform phytokarst. The algae attacked the calcium in the limestone, leaving behind the “spikes” of dolomite seen in Hell today. There is no longer any water among the rocks and erosion is no longer a concern.
The naming of Hell has long been debated in Cayman Islands history. While some claim the area was named after a visiting U.S. President's exclamation that it was “hot as Hell,” still others remain committed to the notion that an English commissioner, upon missing a shot while hunting birds, loudly swore “oh Hell!” The name may also be derived from the sound a stone makes when it is thrown into the rocks...which do you believe?
Though you may wish to walk among them, visitors and locals are permitted to view the stone formations from observation platforms only. Hell is also home to a Post Office, gas station and gift shop. While postcards stamped “Hell” are perhaps the most popular souvenir, you can also pick up a mug, shot glass, bumper sticker, t-shirt, license plate or similar item to commemorate your visit.