Kicker Rock: Larger-than-life aquarium


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Sometimes enthusiasm, wild enthusiasm, can transform into a kind of anxiety. Like when you’re queuing up for the first time to ride a rollercoaster, gazing at its twists and turns and drops that seem to defy physics, and then suddenly you’re at the front of the line… In our case, Kicker Rock was just a smudge on the horizon when we set out from the port. It grew bigger and ever-more imposing as we approached. Finally, we’re there, and it’s the same feeling at the rollercoaster ride: “So, this is it, no turning back!”

Kicker Rock is a dramatic pair of islets that lie to the northeast of San Cristóbal. They’re called León Dormido in Spanish, or sleeping lion, perhaps due to the tawny color of their flanks that jut out of the ocean. Not that many people who have visited Galápagos have actually seen the islands. You have to reach San Cristóbal Island and then take a boat tour out to them, or on a cruise, opt for an Eastern Islands Itinerary, not always the most promoted or popular. But Kicker Rock is, without a doubt, one of the archipelago’s most memorable natural monuments.

In the words of our guide: “Ducks! To the water”.

To get to swim at the foot of this great volcanic molar gives you a brief taste of what it is to be lost in the middle of the ocean. This is an unimaginable privilege. For many, the experience is one of the adrenaline-inducing experiences in their life and is, without doubt, one of the most intense moments of any visit to the Galápagos.

Snorkelling in the abyss

The snorkeling at this site, especially between February and April when the visibility underwater is best, is astonishing. And for SCUBA divers, the adventure is even more spectacular. One of the most fascinating aspects of Kicker Rock is the fact that, as you move away from the rock itself, you reach a point where a turquoise abyss opens up beneath you and you no longer see the bottom of the sea. It is perhaps the closest thing on Earth to floating in the middle of deep space. And the sensation can certainly create a lump in one’s throat. It is at this point, in the midst of this unfathomable abyss, that the creatures of the deep materialize. It is what we all came specifically to see: schools of hammerhead sharks… Of course, if you SCUBA dive, you’re much more likely to see them. Snorkeling at the surface, spotting these sculptural creatures depends on visibility and the depth at which they’re swimming. Sometimes they start spiraling upwards to the surface. On these occasions, the experience is especially moving — and intense — especially if you’re not accustomed to such close encounters with nature!

Hammerhead shark.

Apart from the fabulous hammerhead shark, you may see Galápagos sharks, White-tipped and Blacktip reef-sharks and beautiful fish such as King Angelfish, Barracuda, rays including the beautiful Spotted Eagle Ray or with luck, rarer fish species such as the Hieroglyph Hawkfish or the Harlequin Wrasse…

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