Kangaroo Island is, without the shadow of a doubt, Australia’s best-kept secret!
Located in South Australia, KI, as it’s affectionately nicknamed, is a diamond in the rough!
Kangaroo Island is everything you expect Australia to be! Red dirt roads, koalas, kangaroos, beautiful white sanded beaches… it has it! It’s a mix between all Australian states but concentrated on one island.
In this Kangaroo Island travel guide, you will discover everything you need to know about this stunning hidden gem!
I’ve lived on KI for a few months and got to explore the island extensively. You will find plenty of recommendations and things to do on Kangaroo Island!
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost for you!
Where is Kangaroo Island?
Kangaroo Island is in South Australia. Located south of Adelaide, it’s the perfect destination for a holiday!
Visitors always wonder how big Kangaroo Island actually is and don’t get fooled, it is pretty big! It’s the third biggest island in Australia and is 160 km long. It’s very rural and preserved but it’s not considered as a small island. If you’ve been to Magnetic Island or Fraser Island, don’t compare them!
Map of Kangaroo Island
To make your travels a bit easier, here is a map of Kangaroo Island with all the best sights!
Things to do in Kangaroo Island
KI is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Australia. Visitors love it! If you are wondering what to do on Kangaroo Island, you won’t be disappointed! Whether you love beaches, national parks or animals, you will be spoilt with choice!
This mini version of Australia is ideal for a road trip! The roads are beautiful and there are many hidden gems.
Here are some ideas of things to do in Kangaroo Island.
Flinders Chase National Park
There is only one national park on Kangaroo Island. Located on the west end of the island, Flinders Chase is one of the most national parks in Australia. There are so many things to do in Flinders Chase NP!
If you love outdoor activities, you are going to love it! It’s one of my favourite Kangaroo Island attractions and I can’t recommend it enough!
The remarkable rocks are the most famous landmark on Kangaroo Island. This odd geological formation is definitely a sight to see! As you get to Flinders Chase National Park, follow the signs to Remarkable rocks. You will find a car park where you can leave your car and then go on a short walk to the rocks.
Once you’re there, you will be amazed by the wonderful views over the cliffs and of course the rocks themselves!
Nobody really knows why these rocks are shaped like this and how they got there so up to you to come up with your own theory.
You can climb on the rocks to go a bit higher. Be careful with this, they can be quite slippery!
They are also one of the best photo spots on Kangaroo Island!
If you want to get more beautiful views of the Cape du Couedic, take the Lighthouse heritage walk. It will take you up to the lighthouse.
Admirals Arch is another fascinating rock formation on Kangaroo Island. Don’t expect to see anything alike Remarkable Rocks though. It’s very different.
Admirals Arch is a stunning natural arch. One of the most unusual landmarks in Australia! There are even stalactites coming down from the ceiling.
To get there, you can leave your vehicle in the car park and go on the Admirals Arch walk. It’s 0.8 km and takes about 15 mins. You will also get to stop at the Fur Seal lookout and observe the seals on the cliffs! Quite a thing to see as well!
The best time to go is during the day when the sun is out but I must say it’s quite an interesting place to be at dusk as well. You won’t catch the sunset as you would in other places on the island but it has some kind of unexplainable charm!
Best beaches on Kangaroo Island
Stokes Bay is located on the north coast of the island. It is a beautiful beach with thin and white sand (although nowhere as white as Vivonne or Hanson Bay!). The beach itself is not that wide so you need to make sure the tide is not too high when you are going. You can work on your tan and relax, it’s a pretty quiet beach.
The best time to go (in my opinion) is for sunset. It’s breathtaking! You will get the entire beach for yourself and get to enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets you’ve ever seen!
It’s also a great place to go for a walk as it is quite long!
If you are looking for a big and beautiful beach, Emu Bay will be perfect for you! It’s 4 km long!
This white sandy beach is perfect to go for a walk and enjoy the beauty of the place. You can, of course, lay your towel and relax but I think there are some better places for that (see the next ones!). The beach is unpatrolled. You are allowed to swim but it’s at your own risk.
Another thing I would recommend is going horse riding! Just picture it, on the back of a horse, walking in these crystal blue waters, bordered by white sand! It’s beautiful!
It’s also a great place to go boating or fishing!
Last but not the least, you can drive on Emu Bay! If you have a 4WD it’s obviously better but you are also allowed to do it with a 2WD. Just make sure you stay on the hard sand!
Pennington Bay is a good place for those who want to hit two birds with one stone. Once you reach the car park you can go on a walk up to the Prospect Hill Lookout and get wonderful views of the Pennington Peninsula.
After that, head to the beach! Pennington Bay is quite a long beach but yet very quiet. There are many rocks and cliffs, perfect for explorers! As usual, though, be careful with the tides!
If you are looking for a beach straight out of a Caribbean island, Hanson Bay will be the one! This beach is stunning! The sand is so white and the water so blue!
It’s a great place to go in the afternoon to relax. Just take a book and your camera and enjoy!
In the evening, it becomes a very good sunset spot as well. You can climb up on the dunes and rocks and look at the sun going down in the sea. The colours are amazing!
Vivonne Bay is my favourite beach on Kangaroo Island. It’s quiet and absolutely stunning! The sand is very white and the water crystal blue. If you are lucky you will even catch a glimpse of dolphins!
Animals on Kangaroo Island
If you want to see Australian animals, Kangaroo Island will be your paradise! The island is full of wild animals such as wallabies, koalas, seals and birds. You have to be a bit careful when you are driving as you will encounter some of these beautiful creatures.
Seal Bay is also one of the main attractions on Kangaroo Island. As the name might suggest, there are many seals! Hundreds of them actually! It’s the perfect opportunity to get to see seals in their natural environment. It’s pretty impressive to see so many everywhere!
Kangaroo Island wildlife park
Located near Pardana, in the centre of the island, Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park is perfect if you want to discover the native-Australian wildlife.
You will definitely get to see a lot of wild animals on the island but I must say the wildlife park is worth stopping by. They take really good care of the animals. It’s genuinely a good place. They help to preserve the wildlife on the island and have been so devoted during the fires in 2020!
They will give you a bit of food so you can go with the wallabies and feed them if you want to! They even have albinos! They are very friendly and cute!
You will also get to see kangaroos, platypus, echidnas, Kookaburras…
It’s also perfect if you want to make sure you see koalas on Kangaroo Island.
Towns on Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island is not famous for its towns. As a matter of fact, you will only find a few of them. You may hear of Penneshaw as it’s where the ferry terminal is. There is not much to see there, so you can just keep going without double thinking it. American River and Kingscote, on the other hand, have a bit more to offer!
Located between Penneshaw and Kingscote, American River is one of the island’s best-kept secrets. This cute town is perfect for all the foodies out there. You will find a lot of producers of oysters, cheese and wine… perfect to taste high-quality products.
As you drive by, you will have several occasions to stop on the side and admire the beautiful views on the bay.
Kingscote is the main town on Kangaroo Island. That’s where you will find the only supermarket on the island but also pubs and restaurants.
You can walk around the town and head to the port to walk along the jetty.
Wineries on Kangaroo Island
You may not know this one but Kangaroo Island is quite a renowned wine region too! There are many vineyards in South Australia and the temperate climate on KI makes it the perfect place for agriculture!
Part of the Fleurieu zone, Kangaroo Island is home to 12 wineries.
The amazing thing about the wineries on Kangaroo Island is that they kept the traditions going. Most wines are hand pruned and grapes handpicked. They mainly produced Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon but also a bit of Chardonnay.
Here are the wineries you can visit:
- Dudley Wines (one of the original wineries, they serve amazing sparkling rose)
- Bay of Shoals
- The Islander Estate Vineyard
- False Cape Wines (biggest vineyard on KI)
- Kangaroo Island Estate Wines
- Springs Road
If you like spirits more, you are in luck! You will also find places that make gin on Kangaroo Island! You can head to Kangaroo Island Spirits for a vodka and gin tasting.
Kangaroo Island accommodation
In terms of accommodation on Kangaroo Island, you will get plenty of options to choose from.
There are all sorts of hotels, campsites and rentals on Kangaroo Island. The thing you have to be careful with though is the location. Kangaroo Island is quite a big island. You will need to make your way around if you want to get the best of the experience. This means that in order to choose the best place to stay on Kangaroo Island, you need to consider two things: will you be driving (your own car or a rental) or will you want to go on a tour.
If you will be driving, you will have access to everything. I would particularly recommend the northern part of the island as it’s a good starting point to explore everything. If you can, avoid Penneshaw area. There is nothing particularly wrong with it but you won’t be staying there during the day so there is no point in staying there.
If you are not driving, you definitely will want to stay in either Penneshaw or Kingscote. There are plenty of tours from these two towns every day. It will be the best place to stay on Kangaroo Island as you will get access to everything very easily.
If you are looking for the best accommodation on Kangaroo Island, here you go!
Luxury accommodation on Kangaroo Island: When it comes to accommodation type, the best place to stay on Kangaroo Island is a holiday home. There are a lot of gorgeous villas on KI and they are perfect for family holidays!
Here are some recommendations per areas:
– Near Emu Bay: The Emu Bay Holiday Homes is an adorable cottage located right by the beach. You can check the latest prices here.
– In Penneshaw: Millpond is a beautiful house with garden and BBQ. It’s also well located. Information and prices are available here.
– In the centre of the island: Ecopia Retreat is a great option if you are looking for a central location. Even though this house is not located near anything specific, it is at the centre of everything. Perfect for people driving! Most of all, it’s absolutely gorgeous! For more information and prices, click here.
If you prefer staying in a hotel on Kangaroo Island, here is a good option: Aurora Ozone Hotel.
Mid-range accommodation on Kangaroo Island: There a few studios and cottages on the island which gives you plenty of options! It’s perfect to get something nice without breaking the bank!
If you want to stay near Emu Bay, you can opt for a studio by the beach. Perfect to enjoy a relaxing holiday. If you want to check the prices, click here.
If you’d rather your base to be in Penneshaw, the motel Penneshaw Beach Stay will be the best! Information and prices are available here.
Finally, you can opt for a private cottage at Western KI Caravan Park & Wildlife Reserve. Perfect for people who like nature and comfort! Prices are available here.
Budget / cheap accommodation on Kangaroo Island: There is only one hostel on Kangaroo Island so you won’t have much of choice. That having been said, it’s a very good one! The location, in Penneshaw, is also very convenient as it’s one of the best places to start off your day or go on a tour.
Another option would be to opt for free camping on Kangaroo Island. You can find the list here.
How to get to Kangaroo Island?
Kangaroo Island is not the most accessible place. It does require a bit of organisation however as previously mentioned, it’s well worth it.
The best way to get there is with the Kangaroo Island ferry but you can also fly from Adelaide.
Ferry to Kangaroo Island
The ferry to Kangaroo Island is operated by Sealink. It goes from Cape Jervis on mainland Australia to Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island.
You can take it as a passenger but I would recommend to take your car as well so you can easily get around on the island.
A return ticket with a car cost $196. It’s not cheap but if your car is full, it works out the same or even cheaper than passenger tickets.
You can check all prices and info on Sealink Ferries Website.
Flights to Kangaroo Island
The airline REX operates 3 flights per week from Adelaide to Kingscote. The flight is only 35 minutes long which is great! The airport is very small in Kingscote so you will only find flights to Adelaide.
This is a good option if you don’t have too much time ahead of you.
Adelaide to Kangaroo Island
It’s quite easy to get to KI from Adelaide. Here your options:
- by car and ferry: 1h30 drive from Adelaide to Cape Jervis and 45 mins on the boat
- by air: REX flights from Adelaide airport to Kingscote are 35mins long
Melbourne to Kangaroo Island
- by car and ferry: 9 h drive from Melbourne to Cape Jervis and 45 mins on the ferry
- by air: fly from Melbourne to Adelaide (1h25) and then Adelaide to Kingscote (35mins)
Sydney to Kangaroo Island
- by car and ferry: 15 h drive from Sydney to Cape Jervis and 45 mins on the ferry
- by air: fly from Sydney to Adelaide (2h10) and then Adelaide to Kingscote (35mins)
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