Located just off the southern shores of the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia is one of Australia’s most spectacular nature reserves. The vibrant and isolated island of Kangaroo Island is one of the most beautiful places in Australia for wildlife, scenic views and complete isolation.
In addition to the epic wilderness trails, stunning beaches, gorgeous animals, and friendly locals, Kangaroo Island also happens to be incredibly underrated. For some reason, the remote island of KI is often overlooked by visitors and Australians alike when it comes to a staycation adventure.
This is a short guide to Kangaroo Island, highlighting the best sights that you need to see during your visit, as well as where to stay and how to get there.
We hope that by reading this Kangaroo Island itinerary, and hearing about the unbelievable beauty that this island has to behold, you will be convinced to include KI in your next Australian road trip.
How to Get to Kangaroo Island
From the southern coast of the Fleaurie Peninsula in South Australia, there is a choice of two ferries that you can get across to KI. One of these ferries is for foot passengers only and is run by the company Kangaroo Island Connect. The other ferry is run by Sealink and can take vehicles across to the island.
It must be highlighted that the ferry across to Kangaroo Island is one of the most expensive (per metre travelled) in the world. However, after travelling Australia as two broke backpackers, we would still say that the experience you will have on KI is worth every cent.
Where to Stay on Kangaroo Island
When it comes to accommodation on Kangaroo Island, you have a huge range of choices of where to stay. There are hotels, holiday villas, and a plethora of campsites and camping spots to choose from.
These accommodation options are spread across the length of the island. However, the best places to stay (if you are looking for somewhere with a nearby shop and restaurants) are either American River or the capital of Kingscote.
If you are looking for places with a little more peace and quiet, holiday villas and self-catering apartments are spread across the national parks of KI. Most of these villas overlook stunning beaches and offer a spectacular place to rest your head between days of endless adventure.
The final choice (and in our opinion, the best) is camping on Kangaroo Island in either a tent or a campervan/ motorhome. This accommodation option offers the best way to experience the wildlife and beauty that KI has to offer, with remote sites and utter isolation.
There are three kinds of campgrounds on KI to choose from: campsites, council campgrounds and wild camping grounds. The first of which, campsites, offer the most luxury, with clean facilities and onsite utilities, such as kitchens and showers.
Council Campgrounds are a little more basic (and a lot cheaper), usually containing a toilet block and a waste disposal site.
The final choice, wild camping grounds, are the rawest and rugged way of exploring KI. These are usually in the middle of the national parks and consist of nothing more than a patch of grass to park upon. These are by far the cheapest way of sleeping on KI and are often considered the best.
Kangaroo Island 3-day Itinerary
Now onto the beautiful sights and unforgettable experiences that Kangaroo Island has to offer. This is a brief weekend itinerary, highlighting the best of the best sights and attractions on KI, however, if you have more time, we recommend slowing it down and spending a couple of days in each location of the island.
Day One – East Coast
Starting off at the landing point of Penneshaw, most people simply shoot straight west towards the towns of American River and Kingscote. However, there are a couple of sights that you need to see on the eastern coast of KI that are underappreciated and worth the journey.
Leave Penneshaw and head east to your first stopping point, the Cape Willoughby Lighthouse. From here you will have stunning views over the cliffs below and can tour this building was the first lighthouse to be constructed in South Australia, dating all the way back to 1852.
From here, it is time for your first taster of Kangaroo Island’s beaches. Head west past Penneshaw to the remote stretch of sand known as Brown Beach. Once you arrive, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife as it was here that we saw kangaroos, two dolphins off the shore and a huge lizard in the car park.
After you have finished relaxing on the beach and swimming in the sea, continue west to the lookout point of Prospect Hill. Climb to the top of this small hill and admire the beautiful panoramic views of the island.
With all of today’s sights out of the way, you can now either head north or south to your accommodation for the night. To the north lies the capital town of KI, Kingscote, where you have a selection of hotels to choose from.
We headed south from here to our wild camping ground in the Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park. This remote and tranquil camping ground was one of the best camping experiences we had on Kangaroo Island, and we highly recommend it.
Day Two – Kangaroo Island Wildlife
The next day of your KI adventure starts bright and early at sunrise as you head to the Seal Bay Conservation Park, one of the best experiences we have had in Australia. The stretch of sand along the southern coast of KI is home to a colony of 800 sea lions, one of the largest colonies in the world.
On Kangaroo Island, it is possible to get up close and personal with these beautiful creatures as you head down onto the beach and walk amongst the sleeping sea lions. You can either pay for a guided tour (which includes boardwalk access) or simply access to the boardwalk.
Despite the additional cost, the guided tour is the only real option here as it will be an experience that you will never forget.
After spending the morning watching the sea lions sleep and play on the beach, it is time to experience one of the more unique activities on KI, sandboarding on the sand dunes of Little Sahara.
Along the road from Seal Bay is a privately owned stretch of land known as Little Sahara, which is a miniature desert on Kangaroo Island. This bizarre stretch of sand contains huge sand dunes stretching as far as the eye can see, just like the Sahara Desert.
You can either choose to rent a snowboard from here and try your hand at sandboarding or simply take a walk through the desert and climb the sand dunes to soak up the beautiful view.
After you have worked up a sweat on the sand dunes of Little Sahara, it is time to visit a beach that was voted as one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia, Vivonne Bay. Cool off in the refreshing water of the bay and relax on the sand before you head to your accommodation for the night.
No matter whether you have a campervan or require a room for the night, we recommend booking into the Western KI caravan park for the night. Here you have the choice between powered and unpowered caravan sites or self-contained log cabins to sleep in.
Not only is this campsite perfectly located for the next day’s activities, but it also has an onsite Koala Wilderness Walk where you are all but guaranteed to see these cuddly creatures in the wild. Pitch up, settle in and enjoy a stroll through the forest in search of the beautiful local wildlife.
Day Three – Beautiful Nature of KI
The final day of your Kangaroo Island adventure will consist mainly of the sights and attractions in Flinders Chase National Park on Kangaroo Island. In order to visit these attractions, you will need a day pass for the national park, which can either be purchased online or at the Flinders Chase Visitor Centre.
If you wish to enjoy sunrise at one of the beautiful spots in the Flinders Chase National Park, you will need to either purchase the visitor pass the day before or online as the visitor centre doesn’t open until 9 am.
First stop in Flinders Chase is at the Admirals Arch, which is located on the southwest corner of Kangaroo Island. The walk down to this natural rock formation will take about 15-30 minutes and is reached by man-made boardwalk and stairs, so it is an easy walk.
Bring binoculars or a camera with a zoom on this trip, and you will be able to watch seals on the rocks below the boardwalk, resting on the beach and playing in the rockpools.
Just around the corner from Admirals Arch is the fascinating natural phenomenon known as the Remarkable Rocks. Formed over millions of years, the Remarkable Rocks are a result of a huge slab granite floating up from the much denser magma beneath the Earth’s crust.
This piece of granite began to protrude through the softer, sandy ground of Kangaroo Island, exposing the tip of it to weathering erosion. Walk between the rocks and admire the beauty and power of the nature that has shaped the island around you.
Returning to the Flinders Chase Visitor Centre, it is time to go on the hunt for one of the most elusive animals on Kangaroo Island, the platypus. The Platypus Watering Hole walk is a peaceful and delightful walk around the surrounding forests at the visitor centre.
It will take you about 2-3 hours to complete, depending on how long you wait at the watering hole for the platypus to appear. Once you have strolled through the forest and enjoyed the tranquillity of the nature around you, it is time to begin your journey back to the ferry port at Penneshaw.
It is your choice to either spend your final night again in the town of Kingscote or instead opt for the smaller village of American River, which sits closer to Penneshaw.
Spend your last night relaxing with a locally brewed beer and reflect on the wildlife, views and unforgettable memories from the last 3 days on Kangaroo Island.
Gemma and Campbell are two Scots on the run from a 9-5 lifestyle. After years of dreaming, this couple finally took the leap and left their 9-5 lifestyle for some a little more unpredictable—a lifetime of adventure.
Follow along on this couple’s round the world trip and get inspired to make every day a wonderful adventure. Instagram Website