Snorkeling at Kicker Rock (Leon Dormido, Galapagos Islands)

About Galapagos Islands, Galapagos Marine Life, Places to See, Things to Do

One of the most iconic places in the Galapagos is Kicker Rock. In Spanish it is called “Leon Dormido,” or Sleeping Lion, as many would say the dramatic rocks jutting out of the sea resemble a sleeping lion. Do you see the resemblance? A trip to Kicker Rock is an unforgettable part of a Galapagos tour. This is what you can expect…

Dramatic Landscapes

We first took a boat ride along the rocky cliff. From the distance it looked sandy tan and white, but as we got closer we realized that the white was actually mounds of guano (ewww!). But it also meant that famous birds of the Galapagos are close by. And sure enough, just around the turn we spoted blue-footed and Nazca boobies resting on the rocks, plus a couple of bonus sea lions.

Check out: Galapagos Marine Life Gallery

Snorkeling at Kicker Rock

After a turn around the rock, it was time to jump in the water. I was equally shocked by the cold and the amazing clarity of the water, which surrounded the fish in an intense shade of blue. The rocky cliffs extended underwater sharply, and we set out for the channel.

Turtles, Sharks, Fish, and More

A turtle glided past us! The cliffs were teeming with tropical fish, and a shark swam under our feet. Paradise!

And then the sea lions arrived, playfully twisting underwater and zooming all around us.

After emerging the channel safely, we encountered a huge school of thousands of salema fish, so thick that they appeared one silvery moving mass.

Our guides dove down at least 20 feet free diving, and a blue hole appeared in the middle of the silvery blob. Ramiro yelled “hammerhead!” and I swam over anxiously, wanting to see and photograph it, but also hoping it would not eat me alive. Unfortunately (or fortunately) it had left to go feed elsewhere.

So I am left with all limbs intact, but with a yearning nostalgia, to be able to go back and snorkel at Kicker rock again one day.

Have you been snorkeling at Kicker Rock? Let us know in comments!

Meet the Author

Lisa Cho is an expat living in Ecuador, originally from San Francisco, California. She writes about the Galapagos Islands on this site and about her mainland Ecuador adventures on

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