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Travel guide to Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Travel guide to Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island, South Australia.

Pristine beaches, patches of native bushland, and thrilling adventure activities await visitors on the spectacular Kangaroo Island in South Australia.

Just a short ferry ride off the coast of South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula lies the small island separated from the mainland by a 15-kilometre stretch of ocean.

At 155 kilometres long and up to 55 kilometres wide, the island covers an area of 4,416 square kilometres, and is brimming with adventure activities, natural attractions, foodie finds and historic sites.

A visit to Kangaroo Island allows visitors to do as much or as little as they please – take a picnic to the beach for the day or tour the numerous wineries and farm gates. Small townships dotted around the island offer basic services and food and beverage options.

The west of the island is still recovering from the impacts of bushfires in January 2020, and much of the accommodation and activities lost are being rebuilt, so currently many of the attractions are focused on the east of the island.

Cape Willoughby Lightstation
Cape Willoughby

Things to see and do on Kangaroo Island

Cape Willoughby Conservation Park

At the eastern tip of the island overlooking Long Bay sits Cape Willoughby Lighthouse. Built in 1852, this is South Australia’s first and therefore oldest.

Visitors can access the grounds for a small fee which also grants access to the heritage hike. The self-guided loop hike is 1.9km and takes walkers down to the beautiful rocky beach with turquoise waters. The lighthouse is only accessible via guided tours which run twice daily.

Cape Willoughby Conservation Park: Cape Willoughby Rd, 27km south east of Penneshaw, Kangaroo Island.

Little Sahara sandboarding

Little Sahara Adventure Centre

Get your adventure on with a range of options of varying adventure levels including guided walking tours, sandboarding, buggy tours, and fat bike tours.

All the safety gear is provided and experienced staff will provide detailed instructions. The buggy tour takes visitors on a guided drive through the bushland, then onto the dunes of the expansive privately owned property. Your driver or guide will be able to talk about the recent bushfires, native flora and fauna, geology, and you may even get the opportunity to a spot a koala or two.

When it comes to sandboarding there are two options: sit down toboggan style or stand-up snow board style. Grab a board, climb the dune, settle yourself on the board and then take a deep breath for the quick route straight down. You can have up to two hours on the dunes in one booking.

Little Sahara Adventure Centre: 3733 South Coast Rd, Vivonne Bay, Kangaroo Island.

Seal Bay
Seal Bay conversation park

Seal Bay guided tour

An up-close encounter awaits at Seal Bay where visitors can experience one of Australia’s rare sea lion colonies.

Small groups can join a guided tour and walk on the beach, the home and playground of these wild creatures. Visitors must maintain 10 meters distance from the sea lions at all times.

Tours run for 45 minutes with a knowledgeable guide who will share insights into the behaviours and lifecycle the endangered sea lion.

Seal Bay Guided Tour: Seal Bay Rd, Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island

False Cape wines
False Cape wines

False Cape Wines

The welcoming cellar door at False Cape Wines invites guests to settle in for a food and wine experience set in the vineyard bordered by Australian bushland.

Sample a tasting paddle of red or white wines (or a combination of both), or purchase wines by the glass or bottle.

The kitchen also serves small meals and a sensational grazing platter for sharing.

The friendly, quality service and knowledge of staff entice you to linger a little longer by the open fire or on the sunshine of the outdoor deck.

False Cape Wines: 1054 Wilson River Rd, Dudley East, Kangaroo Island.

The Oyster Farm Shop
The Oyster Farm Shop

Places to eat and drink on Kangaroo Island

The Oyster Farm Shop

You won’t get oysters fresher than those from the farm gate at The Oyster Farm Shop, which has become a must-visit foodie experience.

Enjoy plump Pacific Oysters from April to November or summer oysters during other months.

Other local seafood products are available and are best accompanied by local beer, wine or cider, also available on the premises.

The Oyster Farm Shop: 44 Tangara Drive, American River, Kangaroo Island.

The Odd Plate
The Odd Plate

The Odd Plate

Located in a heritage guesthouse built in 1927, and overlooking Nepean Bay in Kingscote, is a hidden taste sensation known at The Odd Plate.

Guests can enjoy a delicious 5-course chef’s selection menu served by attentive staff and accompanied by an extensive wine list and a succinct cocktail list.

The dining room is lit with art deco fixtures and is creatively styled to provide a comfortable and inviting space to relax and enjoy the beautifully prepared dishes.

The Odd Plate: 51 Chapman Terrace, Kingscote, Kangaroo Island.

Millie Mae’s Pantry
Millie Mae’s Pantry
Millie Mae’s Pantry

Millie Mae’s Pantry

Set in a gorgeous garden and fitted out with quirky recycled decor, Millie Mae’s Pantry offers delicious fresh food for breakfast and lunch.

It’s the perfect stop just up the road from the ferry terminal and the menu features numerous local suppliers. The venue is even licensed, making it perfect for a relaxing beer or wine with lunch or afternoon tea.

An unexpected bonus is a little gift shop on-site which sells locally produced items including cards, jewellery, pottery and artwork.

Millie Mae’s Pantry: 1 Nat Thomas St, Penneshaw, Kangaroo Island.

Kangaroo Island Round House
Kangaroo Island Round House

Where to stay on Kangaroo Island

The Kangaroo Island Round House is a self-contained accommodation option for two situated in American River. Nestled at the end of short lane surrounded by bush, the collection of round buildings contains a kitchen, lounge, bathroom and queen bedroom.

There are plenty of other Airbnb options, and there are some great properties available.

Sealink Kangaroo Island
Buggy rides Kangaroo Island

Getting to and around Kangaroo Island

If travelling from abroad or interstate, you can fly into Adelaide airport and either drive or arrange transport to Cape Jarvis on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia (approximately 90 minutes from Adelaide).

Kangaroo Island is then a 40-minute ferry ride from Cape Jarvis. Bookings are essential for the Sealink ferry, particularly if you plan to take a vehicle as space is limited.

The island is quite large so having a vehicle is important to get around the island. There are many dirt roads and wildlife can be a hazard, especially at dawn and dusk.

Travel tips for Kangaroo Island

  • Phone service can be intermittent so ensure you have offline access to maps or a print version
  • Fuel outlets are limited so make sure you are fuelled up for longer drives
  • Outside of the main townships food is limited
  • Business hours are limited – be sure to check and plan ahead
  • Bookings are essential for restaurants, cafes and experiences, especially during peak holiday periods.
Danielle Phyland - writer - SHE DEFINED

Danielle Phyland

Danielle Phyland is an avid traveller and loves to explore all corners of the globe.

With a professional career in tourism and business development, she loves experiencing the hospitality of local businesses.

A casual crafter and passionate home cook, Danielle is based in the creative northern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia.