The secretive island that Rainsford is sailing by while smoking his pipe on the deck of a ship is called Ship Trap Island. The island is cloaked in dark mystery, and Whitney, Rainsford’s companion, tells Rainsford that “sailors have a curious dread of the place.” Whitney also describes the island as having “a reputation—a bad one” and says that even cannibals wouldn’t live there when Rainsford asks if there are cannibals on the island. Whitney further explains that the island is an “evil place,” and he will be happy when they sail past it and on to Rio. It is called Ship Trap Island because many ships have wrecked or run aground on the rocky coast or reef of the island.
Later, Rainsford falls overboard while trying to catch his dropped pipe, and he swims to the island where he finds Zaroff, a fellow big game hunter, in his castle. That meeting touches off Rainsford’s fight for his life as Zaroff hunts him on the island and hopes that, by killing Rainsford, he will bag the ultimate big game prize, a human being.