I've been to Hell and well, liked it. It's just so dang pretty there. It has loads of brain coral and some huge purple stovepipe as well as brown, encrusting and orange elephant ear sponges. I don't know who decorated the place, but they sure made this steep, sloping reef appealing to divers. OK, I didn't actually make it all the way to Hell, but I did dive Hell's Corner, and it was certainly full of enough temptations that I had to go back and taste the fruit, as it were, again. And in case you're wondering, this stepping-off point to the fiery pits waits in plain view right off the West End coast of Curaçao, which has some of the Caribbean's best diving.
So how the heck did this place get its name? It seems those silvery, slicked-back minions of the dark place - barracudas, to be specific - hang out here. Along with its slimy cousins, green, goldentail and moray eels, reveal themselves in the shadows beneath large gorgonians and that most hellish of coral, pillar coral, which proliferates here. You'll also find the other bad boy of Beelzebub that helped give this site its moniker, the Caribbean spiny lobster. (Honestly, have you ever really looked at one of these guys? It's no wonder they're hanging out on the wrong corner, with the wrong crowd!) At least, that's how the story goes.
Once I started prowling and poking around among the hard corals, I found all kinds of clever underlings, none of which (to my observation) had forked tails or hooved feet.
Just under dive boat was a trio of juvenile spotted drums. As I watched them dart around like tiny black-and-white semaphores, a lettuce leaf nudibranch just sort of materialized on the coral above them. Within three fin kicks (literally) I found a lovely chain moray - ensconced, appropriately, in the folds of a substantial chunk of fire coral. Later, while communing with a devilishly orange seahorse, a gold-spotted eel passed under my belly as if I weren't there.
All in all, my time in Hell's Corner was too fleeting. Although the site apparently gets some occasional currents and interesting wave action, the days I visited saw none of that. If the corner is any indication, I'd love to see the rest of Hell.