Convinced there’s nothing left to see on one of 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’. It’s definitely one of our top places to stay on Kangaroo Island. [editors note: please link when live].
Shower with a view at Hamilton & Dune. (Image: Sarah Byden & Vinnie Preston)
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.
Seal Bay Conservation Park is Australia’s third-largest sea lion colony. (Image: South Australian Tourism Commission)
3. Visit the teeny penguins of Penneshaw
Kangaroo Island has its own population of little penguins, who can be seen going about their nightly routine over at the Penneshaw Penguin Centre. Take a penguin-friendly torch and walk carefully and quietly to see the world’s smallest penguin in its natural environment.
Penguins hold hands too! (Image: Alana Whennen)
4. 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 the most beautiful lavender farms around Australia.
Indulge in some lavender tea and scones. (Image: Meaghan Coles)
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.
Emu Bay Lavender Farm is one of the most beautiful lavender farms in Australia. (Image: South Australian Tourism Commission)
5. 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. If its tours you’re after, we’ve also revealed our top picks for Kangaroo Island tours. Give it a read.
Swim with a dolphin on Kangaroo Island. (Image: Chris Bray)
6. 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.
Quad biking on sand dunes is a must. (Image: Megan Crabb)
7. 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.
Relax on the Vivonne Bay Jetty. (Image: Mark Elbourne)
8. 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.
Kangaroo Island Brewery is the ideal relaxed vibe. (Image: Josie Withers)
9. 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 of Kangaroo Island’s must-visit wineries including Dudley Wines.
Kangaroo Island Trails includes lunch at Gastronomo. (Image: South Australian Tourism Commission)
10. It’s home to the most quintessentially Australian degustation experience
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.
Enjoy the finest Kangaroo Island produce at Sunset Food & Wine. (Image: Elise Cook)
11. 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).
Kangaroo Island road trips are a must. (Image: Jordan McArthur Mattea Carson)
12. 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 are 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.
The scenic SeaLink Ferry is a dream. (Image: Isaac Forman, Serio)
13. Go a-fishing
For die-hard fishing fans, a fishing charter is one of the best ways to experience the waters around Kangaroo Island. Catches can include kingfish, tuna, gummy shark, squid, trevally, and much more. Fishing charters such as Emu Bay Fishing and Kangaroo Island Fishing Adventures are on hand to show you all the top fishing spots that only locals know about.
Fishing on Kangaroo Island is an unforgettable experience. (Image: South Australian Tourism Commission)
14. 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.
Watch an owl demonstration at Raptor Domain. (Image: Tourism Australia)
15. Have a thrilling day with the kids
As well as quad biking and sand tobogganing, the Kangaroo Island Shipwreck Trail can be explored by foot or by water if you’re diving. For a laid-back afternoon out, the Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Oil Distillery runs tours around their farm property to learn about the products that are made here.
16. 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 take the truly committed on a three-day food, wine and wilderness tour.
Don’t resist a stop at The Oyster Farm Shop. (Image: The Oyster Farm Shop)
17. Penneshaw Market Day
If you happen to be on the island on 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.
18. Explore the art of the island
The residents here are a creative bunch, and you can spot the best of Kangaroo Island’s art and jewellery at creative hubs like Kangaroo Island Gallery, KI & Co, A.R. Tells a Story Gallery and Fine Art Kangaroo Island.
Immerse yourself in the art of the island. (Image: South Australian Tourism Commission)
19. Support local Australian producers
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 Fresh Garlic, Kangaroo Island Oats, Kangaroo Island Sea Salt.
Support local on Kangaroo Island. (Image: Meaghan Coles)
20. Get honey-ed up with the island’s bees
KI is famous for its Ligurian bees, who genetically speaking, have not cross-bred with any other species. Sample the fruits of their labour and purchase some Kangaroo Island honey by visiting Kangaroo Island Living Honey, Clifford’s Honey Farm and Island Beehive.
Kangaroo Island honey is unlike anywhere else in the world. (Image: Meaghan Coles)
21. Have an Instagram-friendly meal
There aren’t many other places to eat more gram friendly than Gastronomo: The Enchanted Fig Tree. A sprawling fig tree that dates back over 120 years, this Snelling Beach wilderness eatery offers beautiful surroundings in the soft green leaves of the day or the fairylight-dappled evening. Needless to say, bookings are essential.
You’ll definitely get the Insta shot at Gastronomo: The Enchanted Fig Tree. (Image: South Australian Tourism Commission)
22. Spot a koala
You can get up close with one of Australia’s cutest residents at the Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. While the sanctuary – which is also home to kangaroos, crimson rosellas, Tammar Wallabies, and echidnas – was sadly ravaged by the 2020 bush fires, it is now open if you pre-book a guided tour.
There are plenty of opportunities to see a koala. (Image: Jetabout Holidays)
23. Strap on hiking boots for a walk
From Flinders Chase National Park with the Remarkable Rocks and Admiral’s Arch to the lighthouse in Cape Willoughby Conservation Park, Kangaroo Island has plenty of sites to ramble along to. Wait patiently for a tell-tale ripple on the Platypus Waterholes Walk, or climb Prospect Hill for the highest views on the island.
Take a walk to Cape Willoughby. (Image: Gab Rivera)
While the bushfires mean that some trails may be closed, perennial favourites like the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail have since had a limited reopening for guided tours. The caves of Kelly Hill Conservation Park are still closed as of 2022 – but we’ll keep our eyes out!
24. Beach-hop Kangaroo Island
While beaches like Emu Bay and Vivonne Bay get a big portion of the attention (well-deserved, considering the latter was once voted Australia’s number one beach), there are plenty of other spots on Kangaroo Island to set up your towel as well. Spot dolphins on Snellings Beach, and head through a cave system to get to Stokes Bay.
Walk through caves to get to Stokes Bay. (Image: South Australian Tourism Commission)
Brown Beach is family friendly with hand barbeque facilities, while the waters of Chapman River offer the chance for a freshwater dip. Fancy a surf? Pennington Bay Beach on the south coast is your best bet to catch some waves while you’re here. Need more? You can check out the entire list of top Kangaroo Island Beaches here. [editors note: please link when live].
Take a dip in Chapman River’s fresh water. (Image: Julie Fletcher)