As a thrill-seeking backpacker, one of the tours I was most excited about joining while in the Galapagos (San Cristobal Island, specifically) was Kicker Rock. There are two ways to explore Kicker Rock: diving or snorkeling.
I opted for both 🙂
Let’s start from the top of the day.
9:30am – Meet at Pier, to take a water taxi to the boat.
10am – Hop on the boat for a ~20 minute journey to Manglesito Beach, a dazzling beautiful beach (but beware the sand flies!), where our naturalist guide leads us through the mangroves to a surprise swamp, and hence where the name “Manglesito” comes from. After a 30 minute tour around the island, the snorkelers spend ~45 minutes snorkeling and lying on the beach, while the divers do a small test dive to make sure they still remember how to dive 😉
11:30am – Lunch is served! Chicken and rice, avocado/tomato/cucumber salad, plantains, coke/water, fruit, and cake. Delicious and nutritious!
12pm – To the rock! Once we’ve arrived, the divers get pushed hop in the water, and begin dive #1 – a 20m/60ft descent going around the shelf of Kicker Rock. When I dove, I saw a hammerhead shark (albeit, from a distance), nearly 100 small Galapagos sharks, 5+ tortoises, 3 eels, and countless colorful fish!
While the divers are diving, the boat does a loop around the rock, while the naturalist guide takes the opportunity to point out aquatic birds like pelicans and blue footed boobies, while also explaining to the snorkelers what kicker rock is, and how it came to be formed.
1pm – Snorkelers dive in! For the first 30 minutes, we swim with colorful fish, sea lions, and tortoises. First time in my life I ever saw a sea lion chasing a shark! Speaking of sharks… AND THEN came the sharks! The first few sharks were baby Galapagos Sharks, but once we rounded the corner to the channel, the real wildlife comes out, in the most incredible way you could possibly imagine. From the depths below us, we saw several packs of 2+m/6+ft silk sharks…definitely enough to get the ‘ol heart thumping. As we’re circling around frantically pointing out the many different sharks swimming around, we get a delightful surprise: a giant eagle ray, calmly floating through the water. Incredible!
The 3 snorkelers who withstood the entire 1.5 hours in the chilly water head towards the boat, excitedly chatting about all the wildlife witnessed on the tour.
Meanwhile…the divers are on Dive #2 – a 10m/30ft descent through the channel. While the snorkelers were looking down at the sharks, the divers were looking up at them 🙂
2:30pm – Greeted by towels, hot tea/coffee, fruit, and sweet crackers to dry off and warm up. 20 minutes later, the divers join us, all smiles (and some shivers!)
To the sun deck we go to catch the rays on the 30 minute trip back to town.
3:30pm – Return to the pier, return our gear, and load our pictures!