Your Guide to Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island, a remote treasure on Australia’s south coast with a larger population of resident kangaroos than humans. This says it all; it’s a tranquil place where you leave all stress and worries behind from the moment you disembark to be in absolute awe with nature and wildlife.
This stunning island was our first stop on a 2-week road trip along South Australia and Victoria’s coastline and it was definitely the best part of it! In this article we are taking you back to a wonderful 3 days in Kangaroo Island with a detailed itinerary and all information you will need to explore this gorgeous island.
Three Day Itinerary
We stayed for 3 nights which was enough time to follow a route that covered the entire island. Below we’ll lay out our itinerary with a detailed explanation of each stop.
Scroll down to learn how to get to Kangaroo Island or to find accommodation suggestions.
Upon arrival at Penneshaw, we drove to Dudley Wines, Kangaroo’s pioneer winery which is only a 15min drive from the ferry terminal. It’s a bit of a rough road but the impressive ocean vistas are absolutely worth the bumpy ride. Wine tasting is complementary – unless you opt for the premium flight – and food is abundant and fresh (try the seafood pizza).
You will either arrive to Penneshaw (by ferry) or Kingscote (by plane) which are both located on the east coast of Kangaroo Island. Kingscote is the island’s largest town with a selected range of services and shopping available. You will find a few general stores across the island but as the island’s main supply point, Kingscote, has a larger variety of shops and restaurants.
About 20min north of Kingscote lies Emu Bay, a 4km long stretch of white, unspoiled sand beach. It’s a popular swim spot but it rarely gets too crowded even during the summer months. We arrived early in the morning and were lucky to spot pelicans.
Tip: Don’t put “Emu Bay” in Google Maps, search for “Emu Bay Beach” or “Emu Bay Campground” instead. Both are easily accessible via a paved road and offer a beautiful view of the bay.
From Emu Bay get back to the North Coast Road, ridged with eucalyptus trees, and keep following until you get to Stokes Bay.
From the parking in Stokes Bay you start walking between the rock formations until you get to a beautiful rock pool, a safe place for small kids to swim. There’s no shade on the beach so it can get hot in summer months. Right off the parking of Stokes Bay you can get a light snack or refreshment at The Rockpool Café.
Flinders Chase National Park
Located at the west end of the island, lies Flinders Chase National Park, a protected area which includes many of the iconic sights of Kangaroo Island.
Cape Borda Lighthouse
Drive south on the Stokes Bay Road to rejoin the Playford Highway, the main road that crosses the island. After about 45min driving, you will continue on a dust road where you’ll have to slow down your speed considerably for another 30min until reaching Cape Borda Lighthouse.
The lighthouse is officially located within the Flinders Chase National Park and the area features a restored signal cannon, a museum and kiosk where refreshments and souvenirs are available. Tours only run from Friday to Tuesday – except during Australian school holidays – with a daily cannon firing on the 12.30 pm tour.
Take the short 1km hike that starts from the lighthouse passing through the rock gardens until a nice clifftop lookout point. There’s a sheltered picnic area with barbeque facilities, all extremely clean and well taken care of! During our walk we saw two wallabies on the trail and then during picnic another one came by to say hi (watch this video to see our lunch visitor).
Ravine des Casoars
From the lighthouse head back to the same road for about 3 kilometres. Then turn right onto Ravine Road, another dirt road, which you follow for 7km until you get to the Ravine des Casoars carpark. The 8km return hike starts directly from the parking and follows the ravine for 4km until one of the most spectacular and virgin beaches we’ve ever seen.
As most visitors to Kangaroo Island don’t visit the island entirely, there are still a few places that are left quite unexplored and this beach is one of them. We even couldn’t trace any footsteps of previous hikers! A great place to find peace and quiet.
This natural arch-shaped rock formation with stalactites dangling from the rocky ceiling is one of the top attractions on the island. Access is very easy, along a boardwalk that descends into a bay and emerges into Admirals Arch. There are several viewing platforms which allow you to watch the seals closer.
Another signature landmark in Flinders Chase National Park are the Remarkable Rocks, a 10min drive from Admirals Arch. These granite boulders gained their unusual shape after million of years of wind and rain. Needless to say it’s windy here!
Tip: Get here early! We visited the Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch around 9am and there was nobody! As the island’s most visited attractions, these places can get extremely crowded. It’s just a little bit more magical when you can admire these amazing sights without fellow tourists.
Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail
This recently opened trail – 2016 – is a challenging 61km coastal walk which takes 5 days to complete. The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail starts in Flinders Chase Visitor Centre and is a one-way hike following Kangaroo Island’s rough coastline with campsites along the way. The first and last section can be walked by anyone but the other days are only accessible to hikers who have paid the trail fee (AUD161).
Our accommodation, however, was located on the fourth section of the trail so we decided to hike part of that one and the third section without permit. It was a long and tough hike with extended ocean views and a glimpse of the Remarkable Rocks at the end of our walk. It was definitely not a walk in the park, especially as we had to hike all the way back as well – this is where the permit comes in handy ;). What made the hike hard tough, wasn’t the distance but rather the rocky, technical terrain.
Hanson Bay Sanctuary
Our last stop in Flinders Chase National Park, the Hanson Bay Sanctuary, was located just a few minutes driving from our accommodation and unexpectedly resulted into a wonderful visit. On a self-guided tour we strolled along the koala walk and started spotting several koalas but all were asleep (which isn’t surprising knowing that koalas sleep between 18 and 22h each day!). This was our lucky day, however, as we saw a surprisingly active – and photogenic – koala:
Overlooking the Southern Ocean, Vivonne Bay is set on the south coast of Kangaroo Island and is a long and wild beach accessible by taking the unpaved road past the Vivonne Bay general store. It’s great for fishing, surfing, sunbathing (as long as it isn’t as cloudy as during our visit) or you can enjoy one of the barbecue facilities in the designated picnic areas.
For a quick yet delicious lunch in Vivonne Bay, we definitely recommend you the whiting burger at the Vivonne Bay General Store. It’s not just a sandwich, try it and you’ll know what we’re talking about 🙂
A short 10min drive from Vivonne bay lies Little Sahara, where you can rent sandboards and toboggans to surf the dunes of this sand system. It’s a fun activity for all ages, we actually ran down the dunes and had some great laughs.
Seal Bay Conservation Park
Seal Bay has been home to an Australian sea lion population for thousands of years making it the 3rd largest colony of this wild creature. At the Seal Bay Conservation Park you can join a guided tour where you walk through the wild dune system onto a pristine sandy beach or you can go for a self-guided walk where you get this stunning view off the coastline!
Fly to Adelaide and drive 2h south to Cape Jervis, where you get on a ferry that takes you to Penneshaw. SeaLink operates the ferry route between both port cities with an average trip time of 45min. Make sure to book your tickets well in advance, especially in high season.
You definitely need a car to move around the island – there is no public transportation – but you can also fly to Kingscote from where your local guide or hotel can pick you up or arrange transfers.
If you rent a car, make sure to have full coverage in case a kangaroo hits your car. We didn’t face this unpleasant situation but sadly many kangaroos were encountered as road kill.
As for gas stations, you’ll find several across the island.
- Kangaroo Island Seaside Inn – Kingscote: This basic hotel with sea views was all we needed to crash on our first night after a red-eye flight.
- Hanson Bay Cabins – Hanson Bay: Located inside Flinders Chase National Park, these beautiful cabins enjoy a prime location. We stayed for 2 nights at the Cygnet cabin, a newly renovated 1-bedroom cabin with ocean views. Dinner and breakfast can be arranged in advance which is an added bonus given the remoteness of the cabins. It’s a wonderful place to disconnect; literally, as there’s no phone or internet signal.
- The Southern Ocean Lodge: 6km west of Hanson Bay Cabins you’ll find 21 luxury and spacious lodges with clifftop ocean views.
- Ecopia Retreat – Seal Bay: These new cabins are located in the centre of the island, only a 10min driving to Seal Bay.
We hope this guide helps you to plan your next trip to Kangaroo Island. We’re sure you’re gonna love it, we’re already thinking of going back one day! Contact us for any further advise or assistance with your trip planning. We will customise your trip to your needs and make it one to remember.