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Kicker Rock (León Dormido – « the sleeping lion », in English) is a jagged rock that towers above San Cristóbal Island’s northern coast. It is one of the most iconic sceneries in the Galápagos archipelago. This mythical diving site, well-known for its schools of hammerhead sharks, can also be snorkeled. Along the cliffs, you might encounter green turtles, schools of angelfish, and several species of sharks.
Most visitors to the island get to Kicker Rock on a day trip from San Cristobal island. Two different boat tours are usually offered:
Both tours include fins, mask, snorkel, and swimsuit, as well as lunch onboard.
Water entrance is from a boat.
You must be accompanied by a guide of the National Park to snorkel at Kicker Rock. Located offshore, this spot is very exposed to waves and currents. Depending on sea conditions, your guide will decide which area to explore, favoring calmer parts of the site.
When the seas are calm, you can venture into a few-meter-wide channel (↕6m/20ft) through the rock, and even swim out to the other side. Visibility on this site varies a lot depending on currents and sea conditions.
Because the rock faces are practically vertical, the water level is very high around Kicker Rock (↕10-35m/32-115ft).
Stay close to the rocks. While snorkeling along them, you will notice colorful corals, sponges, and gorgonians encrusted on the walls (↕0-2m/0-6ft).
In the cracks, you will also spot pencil urchins, starfish, and purple sea anemones. Among the fish species frequently seen at Kicker Rock are the coral hawkfish and the giant hawkfish, the Mexican hogfish, and the razor surgeonfish.
All around the small island, you may encounter Galápagos green turtles, very common at this location. Scissortail damselfish, groupers, and dozens of king angelfish gather in the most sheltered areas.
Although Kicker Rock is famous for its schools of hammerhead, whitetip and blacktip sharks, spotting them from the surface is quite difficult due to a limited underwater visibility. The luckiest snorkelers may spot schools of sharks in the deep blue.
Due to variable sea conditions, limited visibility, and important depth, this spot is not recommended for children and beginners.
Day-tours to Kicker Rock include lunch served aboard with fresh fruits and beverages.
These spots are only recommended to good swimmers, in good physical conditions, and with excellent snorkeling skills. These spots can experience currents, moderate waves, important depths, tight or narrow passages, or tricky water entrance, and can be located near hazardous areas (channels, boat traffic, strong currents…). The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas can be important - up to 500 meters. The “advanced” category includes drift snorkeling (transported by currents) and snorkeling off the coast.This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell.You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
San Cristóbal Island
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Level: Free shore access
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Santa Cruz Island
Sandy beach with sea turtles, sharks and reef fish
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Rocky seabed with sharks, turtles and many fish
Rocky drop off with turtles, sea lions and many fish