As the third biggest island in Australia (though who really classifies Tassie as an Island, honestly, it is a State, come on…), Kangaroo Island feels like a little piece of paradise in the middle of the Southern Ocean. From it’s crystal clear turquoise waters to its white sandy beaches, and the cliff faces that seem to be out of a movie, you get a little bit of everything on this 100km across island. There are so many things to do, see and explore when you are on Kangaroo Island, it’s crazy that this place is only a short trip away from Adelaide. This ultimate guide to Kangaroo Island will walk you through everything you need to know.
When we first discussed going to Kangaroo Island, I honestly didn’t realize that it was so large. I have visited many islands around Australia including Magnetic Island, Fraser Island, Moreton Island and Rottness Island. I have seen sand dunes and beaches, bays and animals. But Kangaroo Island is different because it seems huge, especially when you are driving through the center, where the sand is red and the trees are typical of the Australian Outback. It seems as though it is Australia on a much smaller scale. But if you have the chance to go to KI, you are in for an absolute treat. It is a must-do in South Australia and a perfect trip from Adelaide.
Must See Things on Kangaroo Island: What You Need to Do on Your Trip to KI
Instagram has a tonne of pictures of Kangaroo Island, and highlights all the best things that you have to do while you are on the island. From taking pictures on the beach at Vivonne Bay, to underneath of Admirals Arch, there are so many picture perfect places to explore, it is hard to decide what you need to take photos of.
Stokes Bay and Its Rock Passage
Whether you are on Pinterest or Instagram, if you are searching for pictures of Kangaroo Island, you will no doubt come across a picture or video of Stokes Bay. This is because this crystal clear bay is only accessible through a cave like rock passage. Going from the parking lot, you have to walk across the pebbled beach until you get to the hidden entrance (okay, it’s not that hidden – there is a big yellow sign). From there you have to wind your way through rocks, squeezing yourself through, until you emerge onto the pristine beach.
Vivonne Bay on Southern Kangaroo Island
This bay has been rated as one of Australia’s best beaches. It it just white sand that flows into the crystal clear water. If you’re looking for a place to spend an afternoon, or just out for a quick dip, this is a perfect picnic spot when you’re considering beaches on Kangaroo Island.
Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch in Flinders Chase National Park
These are some of the most famous places to have your photo taken on Kangaroo Island. Though, looking back they were also super touristy, which is not necessarily my scene. I love to explore off the beaten path, but the problem with an island is basically everything is “beaten”. I definitely think that remarkable rocks is a bigger “must-see” than Admirals Arch, and the reason I say this is because with remarkable rocks you can wander through them, touch them and get up close and personal. While at Admirals Arch you get to look at it through a viewing platform. For the $16/ person entry fee into the national park though you better see as much as possible.
Seal Bay and The Lookout
One of the most popular attractions on Kangaroo Island is Seal Bay, and the moment you are walking down the boardwalk towards the lookout point. This little bay is a mating ground for a large seal population. You can pay to go to the lookout, and the paved path, or you can take a guided (albeit no photos allowed) tour on the sand so you can get super close to the seals.
Getting to Kangaroo Island and Transportation Around KI
There are three main ways to go to Kangaroo Island, by plane, bus or car. Each of these options has pros and cons, however I definitely recommend taking your car, so you can explore the island yourself. This is what we did, and I won’t stop talking about it.
Kangaroo Island is located just off the tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula. One of the three main peninsulas of South Australia, the others being the Eyre Peninsula and the Yorke Peninsula. Because of the shape of the geologic formations of the state, you end up with amazing beaches and warm coastal regions. Each of these peninsulas could have an entire holiday devoted to them, the Fleurieu included.
Driving to Kangaroo Island
If you are in South Australia, then Adelaide is the central hub. As the capital of South Australia, it is the biggest city and most likely where you will make you home base for exploring. To get from Kangaroo Island from Adelaide, there are a few highways that will take you that way, and you just need to head south. The newly expanded Southern Expressway is the ticket to a quick and easy route to KI, and then you just jump on highway following the Kangaroo Island Ferry sign. Voila!
The Kangaroo Island Ferry: Taking Your Car Across Backstairs Passage
There is no bridge onto Kangaroo Island and rightfully so! The ferry crosses an area called Backstairs passage, which is a somewhat treacherous 18km of ocean. So much so, that ships used to try to avoid it entirely by coming underneath of Kangaroo Island.
This means if you are driving to KI you will need to book your vehicle onto the SeaLink ferry to Kangaroo Island. I would recommend taking care of this in advance, because numerous tour buses also board the ferry and there are a limited number of cars allowed. You will need to pay for passage for your car and for the number of people on the journey. The ferry will drop you on the wharf in Pennishaw, one of Kangaroo Island’s cities.
Let the BEST driver, take the car onto the Ferry, everyone else will not be allowed in the vehicle during boarding and it’s a tight squeeze onto the Kangaroo Island Ferry
How Much Does the Ferry to Kangaroo Island Cost?
For a car and two people, expect to pay $400 roundtrip. You can also get deals on hotel and ferry packages on the SeaLink Website.
Flying to Kangaroo Island
If you plan on joining a tour, or renting a car on Kangaroo Island, then flying into the tiny airport at Kingscote might be a great option for you. There are planes departing from Adelaide airport at least once a day.
Taking a Bus to Kangaroo Island
There are a few companies that run bus tours into Kangaroo Island, you can get on in Adelaide and have everything all taken care of for you, seems like a sweet deal really.
How Long Do You Need on Kangaroo Island?
The last time we visited Adelaide, two years ago, we didn’t have the time to go explore Kangaroo Island, and thought we had to add it to the itinerary this time. There are mixed feelings by some on how long you need on Kangaroo Island. Some say one night, some say a year. I personally think that somewhere between 3 days and a week is a good amount of time to spend on the island. Aim for at least 3 nights with 3 full days to explore, or else you won’t be able to see everything you will want to on Kangaroo Island.
Where To Stay on Kangaroo Island
There are a number of different areas that you can find accommodation on Kangaroo Island. There are the two major cities, Kingscote and Pennishaw. Both of these offer hotels, motels, guesthouses and AirBNBs. Though if you want something central that allows you to explore everything without having to backtrack all the time, you will want to make Kingscote your central area.
Want to See Kangaroos? Stay at Waves and Wildlife in Stokes Bay, we loved every minute of it.
You can also stay in Vivonne Bay, Stokes Bay or down by Flinders Chase National Park. These are also great areas to stay in if you want to get away from the people. In Stokes Bay, there is a group of houses that are called “Waves and Wildlife”. These sit secluded just behind Stokes Bay, literally you can walk to the edge of the cliff that overlooks Stokes Bay. As you look into the horizon there are hundreds of Kangaroos that come up closely to you, and it is one of the best places I’ve been to see Australian Wildlife up close and personal.
Other Important Information About KI
Here is a list of a few other important things you should know about exploring Kangaroo Island. From driving to Wi-Fi these are a few more things you should know.
One of the biggest thing you should know about KI is there is a lack of cell or phone service or Wi-Fi. Many accommodations don’t offer Wi-Fi an you will only really find coverage in Kingscote and Pennishaw, depending on your provider (okay, so, Telstra offers pretty even coverage across the island, but Optus and Vodofone do not). I only had coverage in Kingscote and Pennishaw, and even that was spotty.