Kangaroo Island is an island off the coast of South Australia. Its about an hour and a half from Adelaide to the ferry and then around 40 minutes on the ferry. You can also fly there or go with a tour group, whichever tickles your fancy.
When I was planning a trip to South Australia, I knew Kangaroo Island had to be on the list. Not only because I had heard amazing things about it but also because it suffered a lot in the 2019-2020 bushfires plus covid and needs a little support. In doing a lot of research, I figured 3 days would be enough to see all the main sights and explore (given that a lot of the island is still closed – March 2021- for regeneration post fire you could definitely do it in 2 days).
My TOP TIP for travelling this island. Take a 4WD vehicle. There are so many places that are hard to reach without it and it also means adding a fair amount of time to each trip when you don’t have one (think, going 10kph down a very bumpy dirt road).
2 Week Itinerary Overview
- Day 1: Great Ocean Road to Mt Gambier
- Day 2: Mt Gambier & the Limestone Coast
- Day 3: Drive to the Fleurieu Peninsula
- Day 4: Fleurieu Peninsula
- Day 5: Kangaroo Island
- Day 6: Kangaroo Island – Flinders Chase National Park
- Day 7: Kangaroo Island to Second Valley
- Day 8: Second Valley to Port Willunga
- Day 9: Adelaide
- Day 10: Adelaide
- Day 11: Hahndorf and the Adelaide Hills
- Day 12: Adelaide Central & Gardens
- Day 13: Glenelg and Henley
- Day 14: Home Time
Our Kangaroo Island Itinerary looked something like this:
- Day 1 KI: Penneshaw – Prospect Hill – Emu Bay – Stokes Bay
- Day 2 KI: Flinders Chase National Park
- Day 3 KI: Vivonne Bay – Seal Bay – West Coast
Things to do:
- See the Wild Koalas (you wont just see Kangaroos as the island name suggests)
- Discover the sea life on an ocean safari – Numerous dolphins, whales, seals, and even eagles!
- Observe and admire the Seals and Sea lions
- Hike and explore the sites at the Flinders Chase National Park
- Hop around the white sand beaches
- Eat (and drink) your way around the island
- Discover the wildlife sanctuaries – there are plenty!
Day 5: Penneshaw – Prospect Hill – Emu Bay – Stokes Bay
The first day on Kangaroo Island started so well. We made coffee in the van and then walked down to the beach to chill and drink our coffee . Little did we know that we would be joined by dolphins splashing around close to the shore, it was amazing! However, from what I learnt later, pretty common in Penneshaw.
We then went on a mission to find breakfast and stumbled upon Millie Maes Pantry. The food and coffee here were great! The produce is locally sourced, the food is fresh and delicious.
After filling our bellies with delicious food we got back on the road. Our first stop was Prospect Hill, the highest point of Kangaroo Island. In 2019 a set of stainless steel steps were constructed so that you can easily climb to the top, it is a bit of a straight up trek so be prepared for your lungs to burn momentarily. The views however, are worth it.
From here we drove towards Emu Bay. Along the way we decided to make a few stops. First stop was the Eucalyptus Distillery – Emu Ridge and Cliffords Honey Farm which in all honesty, was not worth the bumpy road to get to! The Eucalyptus Distillery however was well worth a stop. We watched a short documentary about the history of Emu Ridge, did a cider tasting, met the local emu (and pup) and stocked up on some products.
Next up was Kingscote Farmers Market and the Kangaroo Island Brewery. The brewery was well worth a stop for tastings however I wouldn’t bother with the farmers market. It was very overpriced and didn’t have a very big selection.
Emu Bay has one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen (however, be prepared for it to absolutely stink of rotting seaweed). The sand was pure white and seemed to go on forever. The sea was so many shades of blue and it was generally just a great place to park up for lunch.
If we had more time, this is definitely a place you could pull up for a few days and just enjoy the beach, swim a lot and admire the views. You could also do some pretty good fishing if that is something you are into.
If there was only one place I could go back to on the whole of Kangaroo Island, it would be Stokes Bay. When we first arrived we were quite confused as to why everyone raves about it, as you pull up there is a pretty unimpressive open beach however, once you follow the signs you come to a massive rock formation which you need to climb through to get to Stokes Bay Beach.
Not only is that an epic journey in itself because of the little rock pools and rock formations but as you come out the other side it is like paradise. If we hadn’t have been on a pretty strict time schedule at this time I think we would have stayed here all day. The water was so warm, the beach was basically empty and it was incredibly peaceful. Pictures will never do this place justice.
We then had to get back on the road and head to the Flinders Chase National Park. The drive towards the park was very eye opening. In 2019/2020, 98 percent of the national park was burned by wildfires and as such, the devastation is real. Everywhere you look is just trees completely burnt to the ground however, some of these are regenerating which is something of beauty.
Day 6: Kangaroo Island – Flinders Chase National Park
On day six we woke up at the Western KI Caravan Park. This place was rebuilding due to the fires previously mentioned however it was really cool. There are a few nice walks around the park but the biggest draw for me was the wild koalas. There are so many koalas around the park in all the trees and you don’t have to go far to find them.
I had big plans for things to do in the National Park. However due to the fires, a lot of the park was closed off to the public for regeneration, meaning a lot of my plans were thrown out the door. There were only specific places you could go making a lot of the hikes off limits.
Things to do – Flinders Chase National Park (once completely reopen)
- Watch the Seals at Admirals Arch
- Cape Du Couedic Lighthouse History Walk
- Weirs Cove Hike
- Admire the Remarkable Rocks
- Hike Snake Lagoon and Platypus Waterhole
- Visit Rocky River
- If you have time – Trek the Kangaroo Wilderness Trail (5 Day Hike)
There are a lot of things to do in the Flinders Chase National Park. Sightseeing, hiking and trips around geological monuments are just a few of the things. The scenery, endangered wildlife and of course the rugged ocean make Flinders Chase a must see visit on Kangaroo Island.
Day 7: Kangaroo Island – Vivonne Bay – Seal Bay – West Coast
Our last day on Kangaroo Island was spent travelling around the west of the island. We stopped at Vivonne Bay, Seal Bay, the Raptor Domain centre and back down to the Kangaroo Island seafront in Penneshaw. I will say, a lot of the places we wanted to go on this day weren’t accessible in a van, so keep that in mind when travelling Kangaroo Island – Get a 4wd if you can.
Vivonne Bay was once voted Australia’s Best Beach, so you can imagine its beauty. It’s also a great place to stay if you are wanting to visit the Flinders Chase National Park, but still be close to the beach (its about a half hour drive). There are also the Little Sahara sand dunes really close by, which if we had more time and the weather wasn’t terrible, would have been a good stop.
The Little Sahara Adventure Centre has bike and buggy tours, guided walking tours but most importantly you can go sandboarding and tobogganing.
Seal Bay Conservation Park is home to an Australian sea lion colony. You can do guided tours or just go along the board walk like we did to see these beautiful creatures just chilling. If you go at the right time of the year, which we were lucky to, you will see all the pups playing and roughhousing with each other, so cute.
Ecotourism is ecologically sustainable tourism with focus on experiencing natural areas that fosters environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation (defined by Ecotourism Australia). Ecotourism practices at Seal Bay aims to educate visitors about the importance of conserving the endangered Australian sea lions while fostering a greater understanding and appreciation of the environment.
Final thoughts on Kangaroo Island
- The food and beverage scene is incredible. There are so many local places that are a must visit and you could go here just for this alone.
- It is expensive. The ferry to get over is extremely overpriced, accomodation is above average price wise and generally on the island, because it is an island, things aren’t cheap, so be prepared. Get a lot of supplies on the mainland before you go.
- The nature is a HIGHLIGHT. There are animals of all kinds, everywhere. The beaches and natural geological formations are beautiful and well preserved. When the trees and nature in general recovers from the bush fires it will be absolutely incredible again.
Kangaroo Island is a place I would love to return to one day. I think spending a week, even two here looking through all the little hidden gems would be so worth it. If you are a nature lover, there aren’t many places that have it all, KI does. It is amazing.