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Our guide to Kangaroo Island

Updated: Apr 11, 2023

Recently we had the pleasure of visiting Kangaroo Island, South Australia, where we got to experience some of the most breathtaking beaches, coastal landscapes, stunning views and wildlife interactions. Below, we go through the logistics of getting to Kangaroo Island, our must-see places and must do experiences. In total we spent 12 days on the Island, as we like to take things slow, however, you can get a really good sense of the Island and see plenty of the attractions in one week, but wouldn't recommend anything less than that.


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Getting there – Kangaroo Island Sea Link

To get to Kangaroo Island, we booked a return trip on the SeaLink Ferry from Cape Jervis at the end of the Fleurieu Peninsula to Penneshaw, the Islands main ferry port. The ferry is very popular in high season, so you often need to book well in advance, especially if you are travelling with a larger vehicle like our converter Toyota Coaster motorhome. For us, with a 7m long motorhome, it cost approximately $550 for the return trip.



You need to arrive at the port at least 30mins before your departure time to check in and join the vehicle queue. The driver stays with the vehicle and follows the instructions of the staff of where to park, whilst any other passengers board via the ferry lounge.


For people thinking about taking their dog to Kangaroo Island, we highly recommend it. The island is very dog friendly, with essentially everywhere apart from the national park being dog friendly. And the SeaLink is dog friendly too. They have an upstairs lounge area dedicated for people traveling with their dogs and they board with the driver.


The Ferry ride is a short 45 minute cruise that is quite pleasant on a good day with views of the mainland and the island. However, you can sometimes get rough seas that can set off sea sickness, so if you are sensitive (like AJ is), we recommend having some travel calm with you in case the weather isn’t ideal.


Getting around the Island

The best way to travel around and experience the Island is by vehicle, and if you have a four wheel drive, even better, as a large portion of the roads are dirt tracks or gravel roads, and often with corrugation. Although you don’t need a four where drive – we managed with Indy just fine by driving carefully and checking the routes ahead of time.


There are plenty of great camp sites all across the Island – WikiCamps is a great source for finding these – and heaps of great accommodation options too.


Phone reception can be a little patchy in spots.


Pro tip: Download the Google Map of Kangaroo Island while you have service to make sure you can search and get directions when you are in places without service.


Kingscote

Being the largest town on the Island, Kingscote is a great place to stock up on all of your food and drink needs and anything else you might need like fuel (as we did). There is also plenty to see and do with historic sites, the silos, lookouts and coastal walks.

It also has plenty of accommodation options with people often opting to base themselves here during their time on the island.


Emu Bay

Emu Bay is a stunning stretch of crystal-clear water and white sand which you can drive on, if you have a 4x4. Situated on the north coast section of the Island it is a great place to spend a day soaking up the sun, swimming or take a stroll to the jetty at one end. There is even a cool little kiosk/café where you can get some food and a kids playground right nearby.

There is a campground right at the bay too, or plenty of holiday house options.


Emu Bay Lavender Farm

Emu Bay Lavender Farm


This working lavender farm is open all year round and has a lovely café where you can get a coffee, ligh t refreshments, or even bigger meals. We highly recommend getting the lavender scones – they are just delicious and huge!


There is also a shop attached to the café where you can buy all your lavender products, a great place to get some gifts for loved ones. Take a stroll through the lavender field and soak up the smell!





Stokes Bay

Also on the north coast of the island is a place that has recently been crowned Australia’s #1 beach, Stokes Bay. To get to this hidden gem of a beach, you first need to make your way through a cave like winding pathway through rocks and pop out at this beautiful beach. A great little natural rockpool forms right near the entrance which is perfect for the little ones and it is a great spot for snorkeling and paddle boarding.

Pack a bag for the day and all your beach gear as you simply won’t want to leave! There is a campground right next to the beach and a great café to get a bite.



Snelling Beach

Just a little west from Stokes Bay is another sensational beach, Snelling Beach. This one is another drive on beach. Again, it has excellent rockpools to snorkel around and explore and is known for frequent dolphin sightings.



Western River Cove

Western River Cove was one of our favourite places on the Island. The road in takes you over rolling hills on a red/brown dirt track with stunning views that winds its way down the valley and into the cover where the Western River meets the ocean. The bay features beautiful blue water, natural rock pools, dramatic cliff faces and coastal views and the river inlet.

There is also a campground here, a picnic area and cute little bridge that takes you over the river and onto the beach. It is a popular spot for snorkeling too, well worth the drive down!



Wildlife Park

The Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park is home plenty of amazing native animals such as Koalas, Kangaroos, Snakes, Penguins, heaps of birds and soo much more! You can also pat and hold Koalas, pat some Quokkas and feed the kangaroos. After the recent fires, the park has also taken on a lot of rescue animals that now call the park home, so your money is going to a good cause. Make sure you leave a couple hours for this park and be sure to buy some kangaroo food with your tickets on the way in.



Kangaroo Island Brewery

If you are like AJ and love to try new beers, then a trip to the Kangaroo Island Brewery is a must. With indoor and outdoor seating with a pleasant outlook over the fields, you can get tasting paddles with a selection of their local brew as well as local wines and the kitchen does some great pizza too. Oh, and it is dog friendly! Grab a table outside and have a drink or two as the sun sets.


Flinders Chase National Park – Remarkable Rocks, Admirals Arch

Flinders Chase National Park is a must see for anyone visiting Kangaroo Island. This section of the Island is situated on the Western / Southern coast is a national park, so Archie wasn’t allowed in, so we had limited time to explore and focused our few hours on the Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch natural attractions. And we were blown away…especially at the remarkable rocks. This amazing natural rock formation had been formed over millions of years to become such a unique and interesting feature of the coastline. The scale of the rocks, the shapes, the colours…all have to be seen to be understood fully. We spent hours wandering around the various groups of rocks and caves listening to the sounds of the ocean reverberate off and around the hollowed out sections.



Admirals Arch was also special. This natural arch formation is home to plenty of cute fur seals who lay sunbaking on the rocks all around the boardwalk down to the viewing platform. The walk to the arch showcases some great coastal views too and the carpark features a view of the Cape du Couedic lighthouse. There is plenty more to see in the national park including walking trails, beaches and lookouts and well worth a longer visit than what we gave it.



Hanson Bay from above - Kangaroo Island

Hanson Bay

A less known spot that is worth a visit is Hanson Bay beach. This bay on the southern coastline also has a river meeting the ocean and is a great place to swim and relax – and float on your blowup donut!


The beach also has 4x4 access and when we visited, looked like a good place to surf.








Vivonne Bay, Kangaroo Island from above

Vivonne Bay

Home to stunning blue water, a picturesque jetty with bbq and picnic facilities and a long stretch of beach that is perfect for sunbathing and surfing. Famed for its privacy and cleanliness, it has something to offer everyone!







Little Sahara

As the name suggests, Little Sahara is like a small desert with impressive sand dunes located right near Vivonne Bay. There is plenty to do here as you can hire taboggans, sand boards and do buggy tours. We opted for the taboggan and sandboard and had a great time. Be warned, it is a lot of effort getting up the dunes each time and you will get sand everywhere…we mean everywhere, but it is well worth it.



Mt Thisby Lookout

The best views over the Island would have to be from Mt Thisby Lookout. Climb the 500 odd stairs and take in the amazing 180 degree views of the island. It isn’t too difficult and you can take it slow with plenty of landings and benches to stop, catch your breath and appreciate the view on the way up.

Our motorhome parked at Pennington Bay, Kangaroo Island

Pennington Bay

Another section of coastline along the south of the island that doesn’t quite get the hype we feel it deserves is Pennington Bay. This was one of our favourite stretches of coast, with a couple of beaches to choose from, awesome rock formations and impressive blue water, it is well worth an explore and often you can find yourself there alone.






Antechamber Bay

Situated on the far east coast of Kangaroo Island, this bay is home to the Chapman River and the Lashmar Conservation Park and offers impressive and peaceful camping spots on both sides of the river. Take your pick from the Antechamber Bay Campground or the Chapman River Campground and take in the wildlife and riverside beauty. You can also take a number of walking tracks to the beach or various lookouts.

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