Convinced there’s nothing left to see of one Australia’s most magical islands? We beg to differ.
Thanks to its rugged good looks, inviting beaches, iconic natural attractions and accommodation with mesmerising views, Kangaroo Island offers a wonderful mix of things to do.
Got a few days up your sleeve? Whether you’re hankering for a relaxing family holiday or an intimate getaway, Kangaroo Island has become one of South Australia’s most coveted destinations and is the place to be.
Book a trip to Kangaroo Island and check out our recommendations, from world-class wineries to wildlife spotting in wide, open spaces.
1. Stay at Hamilton & Dune
Kangaroo Island is scattered with a range of luxury accommodation, from over-the-top pods to bell tents with all the trimmings. Hamilton & Dune are Kangaroo Island’s new destination digs: choose between the architecturally designed Dune House, a chic, three-bedroom property where no detail has been overlooked, or Hamilton House, a property that can house larger groups but is a little less ‘designer’.
2. Check out Seal Bay Conservation Park
Wander along the soft sand that makes up Seal Bay Conservation Park and you will come across Australia’s third largest sea lion colony. There are no enclosures on Seal Bay, but there is a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk that leads down to viewing platforms that jut out over Seal Bay, which has been home to the Australian sea lion population for thousands of years. Take a guided tour or go at your own pace.
3. Dine at Emu Bay Lavender Farm
Emu Bay Lavender Farm features rows of pretty lavender that unfurl down to a rustic farmgate cafe serving homemade lavender scones and lavender ice-cream. It also features in our pick of most beautiful lavender farms around Australia. After snapping a few selfies amid the purple-hued field, pop inside to procure aromatic body washes, lavender-filled heat pillows and loose-leafed tea. Visit Emu Bay Lavender Farm between mid-September and mid-May to see the fields painted violet.
4. Swim with wild dolphins
Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures demonstrates its commitment to the environment by not using bait or propellers during its tours. This is good news for eco-conscious travellers who want to frolic and swim with pods of wild dolphins off the coast of KI. Expect to swim and snorkel with between 20 to 50 wild dolphins at any one time as part of the three-hour Island Explorer Tour.
5. Go quad biking
Prefer your adventure activities to be land-based? Whether you’re into hooning through the wilderness on a quad bike, sandboarding dunes at Little Sahara or quietly kayaking through picturesque countryside, the team at Kangaroo Island Outdoor Action will not only look after you but leave you wondering why it is you didn’t take up that particular sport of choice all those years ago.
6. Enjoy Vivonne Bay
The beach near Vivonne Bay General Store is often voted as one of the best in the country. And there is nothing more enticing than ordering a whiting burger from the Vivonne Bay General Store and taking it down to the beach to enjoy with your toes in the sand. Wolfing down a whiting burger is considered somewhat compulsory on Kangaroo Island and the Vivonne Bay General Store is famous for them.
7. Invest in the island’s craft beer and gin industry
Kangaroo Island Spirits is Australia’s first craft distillery and the perfect place to kick back and enjoy a tasting tour of wild gin. If you prefer a craft beer, Kangaroo Island Brewery, located just outside Kingscote, serves eight craft beers as well as a decent menu in a relaxed setting. Sunny Sunday afternoon sorted.
8. It’s a notable wine region
Island hop in style around Kangaroo Island onboard the Kangaroo Island Trail Hopper for a hop-on, hop-off tour of key spots around Kingscote, including The Islander Estate Vineyards, where you can pick up a bottle of its award-winning Investor cabernet France. Kangaroo Island Trails also offers a gourmet wine day tour that includes lunch at Gastronomo, one of the top culinary experiences on Kangaroo Island. You can also enjoy self-drive the winery trail.
9. It’s home to the most quintessentially Australian degustation experience
A relatively new addition to the island, there’s no place better to take an outside table and enjoy some of the finest KI produce at Sunset Food & Wine as you watch the sunset dip into the scorched earth. Add a few kangaroos to the picture and the odd birdsong and you have the degustation meal of a lifetime.
10. There’s no place better to enjoy a road trip
Love to get behind the wheel for an hour or two of outback car karaoke? Amateur chanteuses will be thrilled with the island’s 1,600 kilometres of scenic road – mostly unsealed – snaking its way past soaring cliffs, sand dunes and the ever-present wildlife. It takes two hours and 20 minutes to drive east to west and 45 minutes north to south and yes, you will need a 4WD with powerful brakes (those kangaroos love to hop right out in front of your car).
11. A scenic ferry experience is included
Sure, there are quicker ways to get to Kangaroo Island than taking the SeaLink Ferry from Cape Jervis (around one hour and 40 minutes south of Adelaide), but airlines don’t touch the sides of what the ferry journey across to Penneshaw offers. First, there’s the scenic drive through the Fleurieu Peninsula, and then there’s the wonderful people you meet during the crossing. The cherry on top? A post-ferry meal at Millie-Mae’s Pantry, located right by the ferry terminal.
12. You can visit Raptor Domain
This popular island conservation centre continues to thrill with its famous demonstrations of birds of prey. Visitors to Raptor Domain can expect one-hour shows featuring everything from wedge-tailed eagles to kookaburras and owls. While the centre rescues many orphaned, injured and sick birds each year, it is also home to snakes and lizards and creepy crawlies and presents a fang-tastic venom/reptile show.
13. This is the place for food tours
Whether you’re after a quick oyster tour or one that takes up the whole day, Kangaroo Island is still in business. For those who hunger after fresh seafood, The Oyster Farm Shop, located in American River, offers visitors a land-based tour (no trips out to their oyster leases just yet), combined with a shucking demonstration and tastings, while Kangaroo Island Odysseys takes the truly committed on a three-day food, wine and wilderness tour.
14. Penneshaw Market Day
If you happen to be on the island of the first Sunday of the month any time from October to April, be sure to check out Penneshaw Market Day – an event that brings the whole town alive with a selection of regional foods, musical entertainment, community activities and artisan arts and crafts. You can also buy local at Kingscote Farmers & Artisans Market and enjoy a foraged breakfast of sorts.
15. To support your fellow Australians
Fill up your car on the island and kit out your rented accommodation with items you’ve purchased from the local supermarket. Head down to Kingscote gift shop and load up on souvenirs before popping in at every artisan enterprise and dropping cash like a Rothschild. Think Fryar’s Free-Range Eggs, D’Estrees Bakery sourdough, Kangaroo Island Living Honey, Kangaroo Island Fresh Garlic, Kangaroo Island Oats, Kangaroo Island Sea Salt.