In the summer months - starting with mid-June till the end of August - Hel changes from a nice quiet seaside town to a noisy crowded place hard to reach and hard to leave as the only road leading to it is one enormous traffic jam. All the seasonal eateries now open and the existing ones put up marquees or just put tables out in the street, which can be great for people watching. This year (2010) we visited Hel in early June for a day and couldn't believe our eyes so full it was. And the season was only starting...
We wanted to take a stroll along the port as is our habit but couldn't bear the loud bump bump bump coming from the stage at the entrance, reverberating all over the port. I don't really know why they think everybody loves this kind of music, which was not even live.
So visit Hel in the summer only if you like crowds and noise. Don't say I haven't warned you!
You certainly won't step on an unexploded shell if you walk along the beaten tracks to the beach or around it, but the woods around Hel may hide unwelcome surprises. When sappers were checking the area for mines and bombs after the war, their instruments could only detect them down to the depth of no more than 30 cm, or so we have been told by a former sapper. And in fact, last year one of the hidden blind shells exploded, causing a fire in the wood. I suspect that is the reason why so few local people can be seen roaming in the wood looking for mushrooms, a favourite pastime of many Poles. Pay special attention to what your children are doing and don't let them stray into the woods, or they might find a dangerous 'toy' to play with and bring it to their Mom and Dad, basking on the beach.
This is a Polish resort town that is very much unexplored by foreign tourists. Therefore, watch out. You might have a difficult time communicating if you come any time other than summer. In the summer, there's plenty of young people vacationing here, and they all know English, provided that you speak clearly and slowly. You can always nicely ask one of them to help you out (for example to buy tickets for the ferry - there is a very old, very grumpy woman sitting in the booth and yelling at you if you don't know exactly what you want).