Since landing in Australia, I’ve always dreamed of visiting Kangaroo Island. I remember watching over and over the official website dreaming of encountering wild kangaroos and seeing spectacular landscapes. Finally, after two years in Australia, I’ve had the opportunity to visit one of the wildest islands but *spoiler alert* - I didn’t see that many kangaroos. Discover my 3-day journey below, how to get there, what to see and enjoy my colourful photographs.
You can also check out my video here or below!
Kangaroo Island essential information
Kangaroo Island is located in South Australia and is Australia’s third largest island. It covers 4,400 km2 of land and is about 150 kilometres long and 90 kilometres wide. Its population is over 4000 people and Kingscote is its main town.
How to get there
Kangaroo Island is located about 112 kilometres from Adelaide. The best way is to fly to Adelaide if you are coming from anywhere else in Australia and then hire a car to drive down to Cape Jervis. It is a very easy and beautiful drive which should take about 1h30 but allocate 2 hours just in case. The highway is toll free but watch out for speed cameras as fines are very heavy.
Once in Cape Jervis, you can board the SeaLink ferry for Kangaroo Island. Prices vary depending on season, vehicle type and how many people are are in the car. Make sure to book in advance as the ferry is quite small and can be very busy during peak season.
The ferry ride is super fun, though. It’s interesting to see how they fit so many cars in a tiny ferry. You’ll stay about 45 minutes on the ferry and you can enjoy a beautiful view over the coast and the island. You can also try to spot dolphins! I’ve seen four of them jumping around on my way back, magical!
Another option if you’re willing to spend more money is to fly directly to Kangaroo Island! Directly from Adelaide, you can take one of those small planes and not worry about driving around. I wouldn’t recommend this though because it means that you’ll have to find a way to drive around Kangaroo Island.
There isn’t much transportation out there nor taxis, so hiring a car would be definitely the best.
You also can always go with an organised tour whether it’s a backpacker tour or a more touristy one. However, I really think that discovering the island from your own means is the best way.
On Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island isn’t particularly big but you’ll have plenty of options on where to stay! Of course, the peak season is always going to be more expensive in any case so I’d book early for best prices and availability as well. But even not in peak season, the demand is pretty high so I would organise in advance.
We stayed at Aurora Hotel at Kingscote which was fine and relaxing for a family. However, if I would go back, I’d prefer this time to have a more wild retreat or rent a cabin or even a bed and breakfast. Kingscote is a great place as a starting point but if you’re looking for more wild places, definitely look further! There’s also a backpacker place and some camping sites around the island.
Finally, if you are keen for the most luxurious stay you’ll ever get, you can also stay in this mysterious and super private hotel, the Southern Ocean Lodge. It is very secluded, intimate and beautifully designed. Unfortunately not something we all can afford at minimum 1,000 dollars a night and up to 4,000 per night but gotta keep dreaming right?
What I did on Kangaroo Island
What I did: Kingscote, driving around and around, lavender farm, Flinders Chase National Park, Remarkable Rock, Vivonne Bay, beaches, more bays….
It wasn’t a full day as we arrived later in the afternoon on the island after missing our flight from Sydney to Adelaide so everything got delayed. Nonetheless, we still made it! We arrived so late though all restaurants were closed in Kingscote (well after 9 pm) and the only place to get food was the petrol station. So if you plan to arrive late, make sure you have a bit of food with you to not starve!
The highlight of that day was to drive across the island from Kingscote to the other side and see the seals at Seal Bay! You have plenty of options whether you’d like to go see them directly on the beach or from the pathway. The price is doubled of course. We decided to go from the pathway and it was pretty much the same as people on the beach except they were a bit closer but couldn’t really stay long. We stayed for a long time watching all those funny seals walking around, fighting, being silly. We even spotted a baby seal sleeping in between the wooden walkway. The scenery itself is incredible!
We also then explored more around Vivonne Bay which has beautiful and pretty deserted creeks with amazing blue waters. There you can relax, fish, swim, go around on a boat… It’s also a nice place if you like camping or private cabins.
For lunch, we drove across the mainland of the island and accidentally found this very nice restaurant called The Marron Cafe. We had delicious food out there which was very funny being in the middle of nowhere on the island. Dishes are a bit pricey but very good quality. We also got an amazing local beer called Drunken Drone and the Honey Wheat Ale beer. It’s has a bitter taste as it’s produced next to the bees for honey!
We spent the rest of the day driving around Shoal Bay (we even drove on one of the beaches!) and back to Kingscote. We got to explore the coastal town around sunset which was very beautiful and scenic once again. For dinner, we had a great pizza at Bella Cafe Restaurant - much more comforting that the night before!
On the second day, we decided to drive early to go to Flinders Chase Park as there is so much to see out there. We first decided to check out Kelly Hill Conservation Park to see if we could see any kangaroos and see what was there. You can take few hikes for free of also check some caves. We just took a quick 30-minute hike to explore the natural landscape but didn’t see any wildlife, unfortunately.
Before reaching the main park, we also stopped at Hanson Bay as we wanted to see if we could see from far the famous and luxurious Southern Ocean Lodge from the beach. Unfortunately, it was nowhere to be seen but the beach itself is spectacular and secluded. You can really relax in total paradise there! You also have the option of renting some cabins which looked pretty tempting.
Finally, after those quick stops, we reached Flinders Chase Park! Upon arrival, you have to get a day pass to stay the whole day in the park. What a surprise we had when we arrived when we saw about three or four koalas casually hanging in the trees above the parking! We stayed a good hour in the parking then observing and photographing them. Super cute!
In the park, you have so much to see and so many hikes to try that you could definitely spend more than the whole day. We wanted to take the small 30-minute hike to see more koalas but we ended up on a much longer bush hike which was also very nice, though! We saw the ONLY kangaroo of the whole trip but it was well worth it. Their colour is so unique!
Then we drove to Cap du Couedic lighthouse and then further down to Admirals Arch which was one of the wildest and most beautiful places I saw in Australia! I have a thing for lighthouses so definitely loved this one and the surrounding landscape was just stunning. Make sure you walk around to see the thousands of sea lions and Hell’s Gate. Just warning you, it’s super windy!
Finally, we finished the day with another must-do in Kangaroo Island: Remarkable Rock! This natural granite formation is incredible with its orange colour as well as the surrounding landscape. You can even walk on the rock but you can’t go certain past points or you may fall down into the ocean…. I would have loved to go at sunrise or sunset but didn’t get a chance, unfortunately.
We took the long drive back home to Kingscote but had such a wonderful time! We even had time to stop on the way back to say hi to some cute alpacas and quickly check a lavender farm .
This was a half-day and last day as we were catching the ferry on the way back. As we only had a few hours, we couldn’t explore too far away so we decided to come back to the Emu Bay Lavender Farm to buy a few things there. We drove around the island towards Penneshaw to explore a bit more inland and we also explored a few wineries. There are a few on Kangaroo Island and we chose one with an amazing view: Dudley Cellar Door. If you have time to stop over for lunch or a coffee do, and definitely try their wines. It’s worth a little break!
Then the ferry was there and it was time to say goodbye to beautiful and wild Kangaroo Island. The departure was as scenic as you would imagine and we even saw 2 jumping dolphins!
What to bring on KI
- Mix of warm and cold clothes - weather can change quickly
- Insect repellent for mosquitoes in some areas
- Good camera + zoom lens for wildlife
- Tripod (not mandatory but if you want to take some night photos or long exposure)
- GPS if your mobile isn’t Telstra (even then) or a good print map
- Some food if you arrive very late, or a few snacks just in case!
- Good shoes to walk and shoes to chill!
When to go
Anytime but it’s probably best in Summer, Spring and Autumn! I would imagine Winter gets pretty cold and rainy so wouldn’t recommend. However, off-season must be the best to avoid crowds. We didn’t have that many but even then, you’ll be all alone!
Other things to do
- Activities like surfing, kayaking, stand up paddling, boat tours, fishing…
- Driving on the beach
- Tonnes of hikes in parks and around the island
- Wildlife parks
- Island Beehive visit
YES YES YES! Kangaroo Island needs a bit of preparation, can be expensive at times but is SO beautiful and so much fun! I would definitely recommend for any traveller interested in Australian landscapes and wildlife and if you love nature in general!
Have you been to Kangaroo Island? Please tell me your experience below!
You can see some of my photographs below but to see the full gallery click here!