One of the most sought after sites in Galapagos, Kicker Rock, also known as León Dormido, is the remains of a volcanic cone, eroded by the sea across hundredths of years. It is the eroded cone of an extinct volcano in the shape of a sleeping lion which earned it the name, Leon Dormido. Above the water, the monolithic rock formation towers over 500 feet above the Pacific Ocean and is home to various Blue-Footed Boobies, Frigatebirds, California Sea Lions, Red-billed Tropicbirds. Ever wondered why this site is one of the most seeked after snorkeling hot spots in the Galapagos? Well, its locations and unique ecosystem makes it an underwater paradise.
If visting San Cristobal, here’s a short account on what to expect on a Kicker Rock Galapagos Snorkeling or Diving Day Trip.
Kicker Rock is located approximately 2 hours northwest from San Cristobal and northeast from Puerto Baquerizo. The site can only be visited by boat, and visitors must be accompanied by a guide at all times. One you arrive the location, you will find in front of tow walls of compacted volcanic ash, that towers up almost 500ft from the ocean floor. This spot is home to many birds, and you can often spot Nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds and tropicbirds. But the true magic and beauty occurs below the surface. The natural erosion of this ancient cone has formed a channel between the rocks that produces the perfect habitat for Galapagos Sharks, Whitetip Sharks, Large Rays, Pelagic and Reef Fish, Sea Turtles, Sea Lions. You can only wonder what a great snorkeling site such ecosystem makes.
Kicker Rock is mostly known for the white-tipped reef sharks that inhabit the area and swim across the small channel in between the two large remaining rocks of an old degraded lava cone. Sea turtles and rays are commonly seen in the channel. Do take in mind that visits to Kicker Rock are regulated by the Galapagos National Park, you cannot visit the spot on your own. You can choose to go either on a standard snorkeling day trip or a scuba diving day trip accompanied by a guide.
A standard snorkeling day trip to Kicker Rock
A standard day trip to Kicker Rock usually departs early in the morning (around 8 am) form Puerto Baqueirzo dock and ends in the afternoon (around 3 pm). Most multi-day hotel-based tours visiting San Cristobal will include a day-trip to this location. Travelers usually enjoy a lunch stop and swim at Manglesito Beach or Cerro Tijeretas. Do take in mind that this spot rquieres open water snorkeling skil, as there will no dry landing until the end of the tour. Some previous snorkeling experience might be useful. Common to the area are also flying rays, stingrays, green sea turtles, barracudas, reef fish, eagle rays, eels, as well as a variety of invertebrates including octopuses.
When you take part in a Kicker Rock Tour on San Cristobal Galapagos, you will visit one of these three nearby deserted beaches: Manglesito, Puerto Grande or Cerro Brujo. On the photo below, you may see Cerro Brujo Beach.
A scuba diving day trip to Kicker Rock
A diving day-trip to this location will slightly vary. Kicker Rock is one of the most popular diving spots in the Galapagos with depths of 30 to 130 feet. The difficulty level of snorkeling or scuba diving is moderate to strenuous due to open water snorkeling from a boat through a deep natural channel between the rocks. Currents in Kicker Rock are strong and usually cold, but the marine wonders are totaly worth it.
If you are a diving aficionado, a liveabord diving cruise will visit this site most of the time. If visiting Galapagos in a hotel-based tour, you will visit this location only in a diving tour based in San Cristobal Island. A diving tour here will usuallye depart around 7 am and will entail two immersion in different areas of Kicker Rock. The possibilites of observing marine life are inmense and delightful. I have not yet found one diver returing to Puerto Barqueizo even close to dissapointed.
So, either if you are just looking for a standard day tour or a diving adventrue, get you gear ready and submerge in one of the most bio-diverse spots in Galapagos.
What to bring when visiting Kicker Rock
– Hiking Sandals
– A change of clothes
– Bathing suit
– Hat, sunscreen
– Snorkel suiwsuit (mask and fins are usually provide by the tour operators)
– A light jacket for the return trip.