From the bottom of the Fleurieu Peninsula sits Cape Jervis, your gateway to South Australia’s Kangaroo island.
One of the larger of the islands off the southern coast of Australia, this place is jam packed full of adventure activities.
Whilst not connected to mainland South Australia, Kangaroo island certainly stands out as a tiny island in it’s own right.
Swim with wild dolphins, drive along a white sandy beach, board down dunes in the middle of a desert..you can fill your days with all these amazing things to do on Kangaroo island.
Unfortunately the island was devastated by some of the worst bushfires Australia has seen in decades, so a lot of the natural landscape and wildlife have disappeared.
This affected tons of local businesses across the western side of the park, including most of Flinders Chase National Park & accommodations in the surrounding area.
The island is very much in recovery mode, and the influx of tourism post covid restrictions will greatly help the island regenerate and recover.
How to get to Kangaroo Island
Once you’ve made your way into South Australia, simply head south to the bottom of the Fleurieu Peninsula and head for the town of Cape Jervis.
The way to cross from mainland into Kangaroo island is via a passenger/vehicle ferry run by a company called SeaLink.
Not necessarily the cheapest method, but certainly the most common mode of transport is to take the Kangaroo Island ferry from Cape jervis on the Fleurieu Peninsula to Penneshaw.
There are multiple departures from both Penneshaw and Cape Jervis daily, with options to bring your car across on the Kangaroo Island ferry.
It will take you 45 minutes to cross Back Passage straight to Kangaroo island, with tickets selling very quickly during peak seasons and the holiday periods.
Updated 2022: A standard adult ticket will cost you $98 return per person, and if you bring a car across, as long as it’s not longer than 5.8m in length you will be charged $196 vehicle return, with anything over costing you $35/metre.
15 incredible things to do on Kangaroo Island
Spend an afternoon at Emu Bay
A visit to Kangaroo island should mean hiring a car and driving to the beaches of the north coast of the island.
Unfortunately a visit to Kangaroo island will mean you won’t find any Emus after they were wiped out during European settlement many decades ago.
Between Stokes Bay and Bay of Shoals is this 2 km stretch of hard white sand sporting abeautiful coastline of shrubs and vegetation.
Entry onto the beach is free and dogs are welcome on the beach.
Visit an Oyster farm shop in American River
30 minutes from Penneshaw and you will arrive in the seafood capital of Kangaroo Island called American River, where a small family here own a sustainable fresh seafood and aquaculture oyster farm.
The Oyster farm shop is owned by Ken and Amanda who run a sustainable seafood and saltwater oyster farm, providing kangaroo island residents with oysters and fresh seafood year round.
While you’re here try one of the many walking trails in the area like the Independence trail, a 3.6km (1.5hour) return hike that’s mostly flat.
Spend the day at Vivonne Bay
The bright blue turquoise waters of Vivonne Bay are so incredibly stunning you’ll want to stay here the entire day just taking photos.
That being said most of the beaches in South Australia are pretty epic.
Like most of the beautiful beaches on Kangaroo Island you will have to drive down a long corrugated dirt road for 10 minutes to reach Vivonne bay.
A visit to Vivonne bay is truly is one of the best things to do on Kangaroo Island, despite the effort of getting here.
There is a small campground at the end of the road before you get to Vivonne Bay beach with options to stay at unpowered or powered sites all year round.
Prices vary from $27/powered site or $17/unpowered site per night
Showers are on site for $2 every 3 minutes
Get the best deals onrental van hireshere
Swim with pods of wild Bottlenose Dolphins
Of all the Kangaroo island tours available, we highly recomned choosing a tour company that allows you to interact with wild animals in their natural habitat whilst on a guided tour.
This way you can be sure to avoid the traps of over tourism and know your experience is ethical and responsbly managed.
We highly recommend this epic Kangaroo island tour with K.I marine adventures.
Jump on board your vessel out of Kingscote with Captain Andrew and head towards a marine protected reserve for dozens of bottlenose dolphins.
The best bit about South Australia is that it’s beaches are some of the most marine populated waters anywhere in the country, even more so than the Great Barrier Reef.
READ MORE: Our Guide to an ethical swim with Dolphins on Kangaroo Island
This dolphin swim has been rated as the most ethically responsible option for experiencing animals in the wild as they dont chase, corale or bait the Dolphins for the visitors.
Kangaroo Island marine adventures operate under the Marine mammal interaction policy and are a fully certified Eco-business.
If you ever find yourself pondering what to do on Kangaroo Island, this is your answer!
For more information head over to Kangaroo Island Marine adventures here
Tickets $190 per person
Have a local brew at K.I Brewery
Your best choice, in fact your only choice of brewery is the Kangaroo Island Brewery in Kingscote.
This small but cozy brewery hidden off the main road is actually really unique and has a charming warmth to it.
It has an old farmhouse vibe with 4 large couches and chairs in the middle of the room with bar stools lining the walls that open up to a magnificent view of the green pastures outside.
Our recommendation of beer is a pint of Golden Ale, a dark crystal malt.
Even if you’re not a big alcohol person, putting this on your kangaroo island itinerary is important; we intended to stay for an hour or so but met a really cool bunch of people and ended up having food and drinks the entire afternoon.
Try the Gin at Kangaroo Island Spirits
I promise we’re not alcoholics, and whilst there are lots of non-alcoholic things to do on kangaroo island, you’d be missing out if you didn’t stop here to try the tasting platter of in-house gins at Kangaroo Island Spirits.
This is Australia’s first dedicated gin distillery, and these guys have got it right.
Try their Gin tasting platter for $20 for 2 people consisting of 5 types of Gin, everything with a signature taste coupled with some tonic water to add more flavour.
Casual seating in the yard with an undercover area, you can also purchase food here at the bar/kitchen whilst enjoying the sunshine from 1030am to 530pm.
A visit to South Australia’s Kangaroo island surely requires a gin tasting session.
Visit the Gin door at Kangarooislandspirits.com
Flinders Chase National Park
This impressive 326 square km national park is home to an array of wildlife, native flora and fauna including Rosenberg’s Goanna, Koalas, Kangaroos and Wallabies.
Revered world wide for being a hub of ecotourism, Flinders Chase National park is one of the most fascinating places to see in Kangaroo Island, as well as the rest of South Australia.
Flinders Chase comprises almost 50% of the entire Kangaroo island district, which means half of all the best things to do on kangaroo island are within the national park itself.
Just outside of this park is the Kelly Hill conservation park accessible from south coast road which provides visitor with a unique experience to see the Kelly Hill caves, local wildlife and local flora and fauna of the region.
Unfortunately they are still closed after the 2020 bushfires but due to be reopened by the end of the year.
Entry into the National Park is $11/Adult and Concession $9, and access to the entrance is via South Coast rd.
While you’re down here you should also try and do the Kangaroo Island wilderness trail, a grade 4, 5 day hike that covers 61 km of Kangaroo Island’s south west region.
READ MORE: 2021 Guide to Flinders Chase National Park here
2019 saw devastating bushfires that left the island scarred, with almost 96% of Flinders Chase being burnt to the ground.
Most of the walking tracks have been closed since then, and hundreds and thousands of wildlife perished in the fires.
A lot of the Kangaroo island attractions and industries on this side of the island were threatened with evacuation multiple times and in the ensuing fires, most did not survive the impact.
This remarkable park in south australia however is bouncing back, with tourism and federal support for the rehabilitation process well underway.
You can donate to a wildlife recovery fund for the park over at the wildlife recovery fund here.
Kangaroo Island wildlife park
Sitting directly in the centre of town, the Kangaroo Island wildlife park is home to South Australia’s most adorable native animals like the Koala, Kangaroos, Wallabies and echidnas.
They’ve also and more importantly played a vital role in the recovery and rehabilitation of the islands animals after the bushfires.
The Kangaroo Island Koala and wildlife rescue centre was established to rescue and provide urgent veterinarian care to sick, injured, badly burnt and dehydrated animals after the 2020 bushfire season.
To reach the Kangaroo Island wildlife park, follow the Playford highway west just past the small town of Parndana.
Go admire some rock formations
The most impressive rock formations I have ever seen in one cluster; the remarkable rocks are an incredible collection of Granite boulders precariously shaped by the wind, sea spray & erosion over 500 million years of existence.
This is the most highly rated tour of Flinders Chase national park right here
If you’re ever wondering what to do on Kangaroo Island, we highly recommend visiting Remarkable rocks at least once during the day, and if you can..try and visit at night time for some amazing astronomical displays.
Access to the rocks is via Cape Du Couedic Road from the temporary visitor centre at the park’s entrance, with all roads being sealed except Weirs Cove rd.
Admire Admirals Arch and the Seal Colony
Just down the road from the remarkable rocks is Admirals Arch, a unique Kangaroo island attraction that anybody would get a kick out of.
One of the best things to do on Kangaroo Island is to make a day out of going into Flinders Chase, visiting the Remarkable Rocks, the Insta famous road down Cape Du Couedic Rd and ending up at Admirals Arch.
This massive arch is viewable from a platform down a bunch of wooden staircases leading to a hidden world.
Admirals Arch is home to a seal colony sheltered from the wild winds of the Great Australian bight.
On one side is the arch and from the other side is a viewing platform to see one of the largest colonies of Australian sea lions anywhere in South Australia.
Channel your David Attenborough at Seal bay conservation park
For the wildlife lovers, a trip to Seal Bay is the perfect place to visit on Kangaroo island.
Seal Bay Conservation park has been home to an Australian Sea Lions for thousands of years and by far the largest wildlife colony of any kind of Kangaroo Island.
Amongst the populations of sea lions and fur seals is also a colony of New Zealand fur seals, although native to Australia, they have been renamed to the long-nosed Fur seal to avoid confusion.
Seal bay in South Australia is the only place anywhere you can experience Seal lions up-close and personal via a dedicated walking track.
In our opinion, this is the best Kangaroo island activity as it offers one of the most exceptional nature-based experiences in the world; making it one of the best kangaroo island activities you can do in a day.
READ MORE: We spent an entire day at Seal BayConservation Park
The surrounding waters off the coast of Seal bay are a dedicated protected marine conservation park, with a 28 km ‘no-take zone’, meaning commercial and recreational fishing is not permitted.
In turn this helps the endangered seal population recover and feed without human intervention.
There is an option for a Seal Bay guided tour if you wish to get closer to the seal lions on the beach, or just walk the 1km loop around the park on the boardwalk; either your way this is one of the best kangaroo island tourist attractions we ever visited.
Seal bay tours start from $37 per person, or a self guided tour from $16.50 per person, with the money going towards protection of the sea lions and assisting researchers in protecting the species and tracking their movements.
Guided tours of Seal bay run for 45 minutes each day at 9am, 9:45am, 10:30am, 11:15am, 12:15pm, 1pm, 1:45pm, 2:30pm, 3:15 pm and 4pm
Visit the website for more information at seabayconservation.sa.gov.au
Ride the sand dunes in Little Sahara
Wondering what to do in Kangaroo Island? This tiny island desert surrounded by bush in the southern region of the island is an must do on kangaroo island.
When deciding on all the places to visit in Kangaroo Island this little gem should be high on your list.
Little Sahara are giant sand dunes on the southern coast of the island where visitors can hire a toboggan board from the adventure centre and surf sand to your heart’s content.
Prices are $37/2 hour board hire
Visit their website for more information
Get your Lavender fix
Head back up north into Kingscote to the Lavender farm where you can enjoy their selection of Lavender based products like scones and jams.
They offer a range of loose leaf teas and oils to body products and homecare to suit all your needs year round.
Open Daily from 9am – 4pm
Find the hidden beach at Stokes Bay
Hidden in plain sight on the Northern Coast of Kangaroo Island and the halfway point on your kangaroo island itinerary is visiting Stokes Bay.
This beach is mysteriously hidden through a maze of rocks and boulders from the main foreshore just outside the car park.
Behind the beach entrance is Rock Pool cafe; grab yourself a coffee here before heading into the beach.
Unofficially the car park here was our overnight free camp spot, which was as good as anything else as the unpowered camp sites behind the car park will charge you $17-$20 for the night!
One important piece of advice, do not take North Coast Rd if you’re coming from Emu bay.
This is a completely unsealed corrugated road that will cause your van a lot of pain like it did ours.
An often overlooked attraction on Kangaroo island is the main town of Penneshaw.
We stayed at the Kangaroo Island Seafront Holiday park in a powered site for $27/night, with overlooking views of Hog Bay.
Spend a day discovering new wineries
There are so many things to do on Kangaroo Island, sometimes it’s nice to just spend a day relaxing and enjoying the fruits of nature by visiting one of the many wineries on K.I
Dudley Winery – rated by many as one of the best, open form 1130 – 430 pm daily
Bay of Shoals – spectacular views over the bay at Kingscote open daily 11am to 5pm
False Cape Winery – beautiful open patio style winery open daily from 11- 5pm
Islander Estate Vineyards – enjoy a premium wine tasting experience open 6 days a week from 12-5pm
Sleep under the Koalas at Western K.I caravan park
Because the bushfires wiped out thousands of land mammals on the island, very few places are left where you can see Koalas.
One accommodation that has remained on the Western side of the island is Western Kangaroo Island caravan park.
A great facility that has powered sites and fresh running water; but most of all they have turned their privately owned land into a safe haven for animals.
The Koalas in the area flock to this region because it has more tall trees than the rest of Flinders Chase does right now, and you can spot them from the ground nestled in between two branches of a tree all day long.
As well as devastating impacts from the bushfires, the Kelly Hill caves within Kelly hill conservation park are still closed as of 2022 – a 3 million dollar state budget is set to hopefully reopen the caves and surrounding kangaroo island wilderness park by the end of the year.