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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.

Angelfish at Kicker Rock, Galapagos
Hundreds of fish, including king angelfish, shelter near the island.

How to go snorkeling in Kicker Rock?

Most visitors to the island get to Kicker Rock on a day trip from San Cristobal island. Two different boat tours are usually offered:

  1. The first tour includes only a boat ride and snorkeling stop around Kicker Rock, followed by a walk/relaxing moment on a nearby beach (Puerto Grande, Cerro Brujo or Manglecito depending on the day and the authorization given by the National Park). The price ranges from $140 to $150 per person.
  2. The second tour, called the “Tour 360”, includes several stops all around San Cristobal Island, including Kicker Rock, for about $180 per person.

Both tours include fins, mask, snorkel, and swimsuit, as well as lunch onboard.

Kicker rock snorkeling map, San Cristobal

Entering the water to snorkel Kicker Rock

Water entrance is from a boat.

Kicker Rock snorkeling tips and recommendations

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).

Orange cup coral al Kicker Rock, Galapagos snorkeling
Kiker Rock cliffs support a diversity of coral, including orange cup corals.

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.

The Kicker Rock split, Galapagos snorkeling
Kicker Rock split.

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.

Restaurants & accommodation nearby

Day-tours to Kicker Rock include lunch served aboard with fresh fruits and beverages.


  • Level required Advanced
  • Protected areaParque Nacional Galápagos
  • Maximum depth65ft/20m
  • Water entranceFrom a boat
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersMedium to high
  • Access costsTour or cruise price
  • Restaurants nearbyNo
  • Public toilets & showersNo

MAP Spot

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.