GALAPAGOS Day 9… Kicker Rock: Scuba diving San Cristobal

Leon Dormido is the local name, which translates to sleeping lion because apparently the shape of the two rocks resembles a lions face. So God only knows why they call it Kicker Rock… but it is regarded as one of the best spots off San Cristobal Island to dive with the big creatures in the Galapagos; namely hammerheads, galapagos sharks, sometimes sunfish, and once in a blue moon a whale shark might coast by.

We booked our 3rd day of diving through a company called Scuba Eden who’d come recommended and seemed to have good reviews on Tripadvisor.  On 1st impression the gear looked a bit worn but good, and while not as organised as Academy Bay on Santa Cruz the staff were nice. The boat left that morning with only 3 divers, 9 snorkelers, 1 naturalist guide, 1 dive master, 1 Capitan and his assistant. We took a slow trip up to Kicker Rock and the 3 of us divers wriggled into our gear along the way. When we arrived at Kicker Rock we had a short briefing, we were going to swim through the channel between the two rocks that sit next to each other, forming the sleeping lions head. We would probably go as deep as 18 or 20 metres.

The crew all ready for departure

As soon as we hit the water the freezing cold shocked me like an electric eel. From 21 degrees down to 17, and in a 5mm wetsuit instead of 7mm all made a huge difference to my level of comfort. Then add in lower visibility… things were going to be interesting. We spent some time near the surface checking our buoyancy, and once that was all ok we headed down to around 18 metres. To start off we were next to the rock wall which was covered in beautiful clusters of different types of coral in shades of gold, pink, maroon, grey and bronze. They must have an interior designer with a delightful taste in colour combinations down here!

Not long after we’d gone down the dive master made the hammerhead sign, and as I squinted off into the cloudy distance i saw the familiar outline of 2 hammerheads. Because vis was only about 10 metres it was only for a split second and I was so aware of my shaking bones I almost didn’t see them at all!

On our way down 3 very large and inquisitive sea lions zoomed down past us then flew back up for another look. It’s a very funny thing having two huge eyes staring into your mask and a bunch of ticklish whiskers bristling in your face. I looked over to Steve to see his reaction and he had a seal turned completely upside down, nose to nose with him. Just like the kiss from Spiderman. Unfortunately our dive master was off ahead so had no idea of the fun he was missing. He also had no idea when my tank fell out of my BCD, but lucky I have the best buddy in the world so he fixed me up.

Once we were on the bottom we floated along with the current, there didn’t really seem to be any animals down here. We were just being washed along on the white shelly bottom, watching sand being created as the vacated shells ground against one another. After 10 or so minutes of this we headed back to the wall and began our ascent. This is when I felt behind and realised my tank had come out again, luckily Steve noticed at the same time. It’s an unpleasant feeling knowing somethings not right but not knowing if it’s life threatening when your 20 metres under the sea. Thankfully it wasn’t at all.

On our way up I kept my attention to the rock wall and observed the impressive array of fish going about their daily lives, peeking out to see who this unknown creature making all the bubbles was.

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Kicker Rock, or Leon Dormido to the locals

Back on the surface I was a shivering mess. Thankfully the sun was out and the crew had hot cinnamon tea, chocolate scroll and bananas waiting for us. 40 minutes later I’d defrosted but it was time to go back down. I know this is incredibly soft but I found it really hard to enjoy our second dive. I was hugging myself for the entire time and couldn’t feel my feet. I kept my attention to the wall again because as strange as it sounds, looking out into the distance in hope of seeing a shark, but being met with murky nothingness was making me feel a bit claustrophobic. In spite of my mind, I still had an ok time and managed to see a Galapagos shark and a turtle. Steve saw lots of hammerheads and was much happier with the way the dive went. But for me, after having such a mind blowing experience off Santa Cruz, this dive was a bit disappointing.

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Cheeky beach stop

We stopped for lunch of fish and rice then pulled up to a lovely beach for a spot of sunbathing before we had to head back. All in all, I think the snorkelers may have seen more but it was still a fun day!

We booked our dive through Scuba Eden for $140 per person
Av. Teodoro Wolf | Intersection Av. Charles Darwin, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
Phone +593 5-252-0666


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