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Rugged coastline, pristine beaches, adventure, wildlife and a hella lot of food and wine. Welcome to Kangaroo Island!
This little island just off the coast of South Australia is truly one of the country’s hidden gems. Heck, I think South Australia in general is, but Kangaroo Island even more so. Sure, there’s Fraser Island on the east coast, and Rottnest Island off the west, but Kangaroo Island… now, this is something else!
Although I only had 4 days on Kangaroo Island, I honestly loved it there. For a small island there is just so much going on and I could easily have spent 10 days there. Tom and I took our camper over on the ferry and it gave us the freedom to see so much there. It’s the perfect place to road trip, away from crowds and full of surprises.
So if you’re looking for a trip to take from South Australia, to somewhere off the beaten track. This is where you need to go! My 4 day Kangaroo Island itinerary gives you everything you need to know about visiting. Hope you enjoy it and get ready to book your adventure!
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Top tips to know before you go to Kangaroo Island
- Kangaroo Island is bigger than you may think. In fact, it’s the third biggest island off the coast of Australia. At 150km long and 57km wide, and a coastline 509km long, there’s a hell of a lot crammed in.
- Spring is an awesome time to visit! Tom and I took a trip over at the beginning of September and the scenery was beautiful. It’s also the perfect time to spot seal pups as it’s the breeding season, lambs and calves and if you’re really lucky, maybe even whales migrating past.
- There are sealed roads that loop around and through kangaroo Island, but many are unsealed. Don’t worry though as the island is super 2wd friendly and we had no issues in our heavy little van.
- Things run on small-town-time. By that I mean don’t expect for everything to be open every day of the week, especially out of summer. Some of the restaurants, wineries and breweries are only open late in the week and over the weekend, so be sure to plan accordingly.
- Kangaroo Island really does live up to its name- we saw heaps of roos all over the place, as well as plenty of other wildlife and livestock. I recommend not driving once it starts to get dark, just to be on the safe side.
How to get to Kangaroo Island
SeaLink offers multiple ferries every day making it super easy to get you and your car over to the island. Ferries depart from Cape Jervis, about 90 minutes south of Adelaide and a short 45 minutes later you will arrive. The ferry is really comfy with plenty of seats, a snack bar and free wifi to show off your trip to everyone back home. On a sunny day you’ll get great views on the deck of Kangaroo Island as get closer to it.
If you’re worried about driving your car or in our case, camper, onto the boat then don’t be. the guys at SeaLink are super helpful when it comes to this and give clear instructions and directions about where you need to drive, and will tell you when to stop behind the car in front of you. Only the driver is allowed to be in the car during the process and everyone else will need to walk on.
What’s the best way to get around Kangaroo Island?
As lovers of road trip, it’s no surprise that I’m going to recommend exploring the island in your own vehicle. Taking our camper over was so easy and such a great way to see everything we wanted to in our own time. Tom and I love the flexibility it offers and with so much to see, it’s fantastic to have your own wheels to travel and sleep in. If you don’t own your own vehicle, Vroomvroomvroom is a great car and camper hire company to take a look at. You can search for a camper for your trip here.
Of course, if you don’t have your own car or camper to get you over there, fear not as there are some great tours that will take you around the highlights of Kangaroo Island. As there is so much to see, I highly recommend booking onto at least a 2 day tour so you really get a good feel of how amazing the island is.
When is the best time of year to visit Kangaroo Island?
As a lover of South Australia, I’m going to say that Kangaroo Island is a great destination all year round. We visited right at the beginning of Spring and it was fantastic. The weather was a little on the cool side but it’s right when the lambs are being born and if you’re lucky, the whales passing by. It was glorious! I’ve heard that summer is the busiest time of year but with so many incredible beaches I completely understand why. However, with plenty of indoor and outdoor options available, I think Kangaroo Island would be great all year round.
Where to stay on Kangaroo Island
During my visit I stayed in two parts of the island. For the first night, Tom and I parked up our camper in Stokes Bay at the Stokes Bay Campground. This campsite is a fantastic budget-friendly option and has toilets on site a lovely cafe at the front. It’s only a small site so be sure to call ahead to check availability, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in location and views of Stokes Bay itself.
For the remaining two nights, we stayed at Vivonne Bay Lodge and it was such a surprise. Vivonne Bay Lodge is the perfect place to stay if you want all-in-one accommodation. It has a large outdoor seating area, BBQs, common room with games and even kayaks and sandboards you can use. We stayed in a twin room and although we love the van, it was such a treat to be staying under a proper roof. What’s more, is the lodge is a stone through away from the incredible Vivonne Bay and Harriett River as well as some of the island’s top attractions making it perfect for your Kangaroo Island road trip.
Your 4 day Kangaroo Island itinerary
There are so many things to do on Kangaroo Island on a 4 day road trip. Here’s the Kangaroo Island itinerary that I did and absolutely loved. Sadly the weather wasn’t the kindest to us but fortunately, there are plenty of indoor activities (especially if you’re a foodie) to see you through the rain.
Day 1: Explore the North coastline
You’ll be spending your first night at Stokes Bay Campground but there are plenty of things to see as you drive there from the ferry terminal in Penneshaw. The north coastline of Kangaroo Island is beautifully rugged but the drive there itself will leave you in awe. Visiting in Spring meant we saw plenty of lambs and calves in the fields- beautiful!
North Coast tip: There aren’t any shops over at this part of the island so be sure to bring groceries and all your essentials with you. There’s an IGA and Drake supermarket in Kingscote near where you get off the ferry, so pop in here to stock up before you make your way along the coast.
Emu Bay for beaches, breweries and brunch
Emu Bay is one of Kangaroo Island’s most famous beaches and the only one you can drive on (if you’re in a 4WD). This beach is a beautiful 5km long sweeping sand beach that’s great for swimming or a stroll and a visit to the little jetty offers a nice view of the beach.
Kangaroo Island is also famous for being an absolute foodie haven. Local produce is everything on the island and it’s teeming with fantastic small business all over. Just down the road from Emu Bay is the dreamy little Emu Bay Lavender. Now, this might sound like a fancy garden more than anything, but here they serve up incredible food such as lavender ice cream, lavender based products and also local ciders which are delicious.
If you’re more of a beer kinda person then you won’t be disappointed with Kangaroo Island Brewery. This cosy place has beautiful views over fields, a log fire if it’s a chilly day (and it was for us) and a delicious selection of their beers to choose from. Tom and I are probably some of the most indecisive people in the world so we shared a tasting paddle to get a bit of everything.
Rugged King George Beach
After indulging in some local food and drinks in the morning, continue your drive along the coast to King George Beach. This beach was a little tricky to find and the roads are fairly steep going down, but our van got us there easily. I have to admit that I love a rugged beach possibly more than sandy ones, so King George Beach was perfect for me. It’s not a huge beach but if you walk around it to the left you’ll see the most incredible rock formations stretching along the coastline.
Stokes Bay on your doorstep
The final stop for day 1 of your Kangaroo Island itinerary is also where you’ll be spending the night. I mentioned before that Stokes Bay campground is a stone throw from the bay itself, and that’s no exaggeration! With only a small carpark separating them, you can’t help but be drawn to it.
Stokes bay is the rocky, pretty bay you’ll see from the campsite and it’s a great spot for both sunset and early in the morning. Don’t miss out on visiting the secret beach here too! Follow the signs through the gap in the rocks to find your way to Stokes Bay Beach. When we visited we only saw 2 other people there the whole time!
Stokes Bay tip: While there may not be any shops around this part of the island, there is a great little cafe at the campsite. the Rockpool Cafe is open 11am-5pm each day and dishes up a great selection of seafood. The cafe also takes the payment for the campsite so you’ll need to be there before it closes to check-in.
Day 2: Get lost in nature at Flinders Chase National Park
A visit to Flinders Chase National Park on the west is definitely one of the top things to do on Kangaroo Island. For the second day of your Kangaroo Island itinerary, you’ll spend the whole day exploring the national park where you’ll have the chance to see some incredible wildlife and delve right into nature.
Flinders Chase can sort of be divided up into two main areas – the bushland and the coastline. Both are beautiful to visit and the day will go super quicky so make sure you plan your time so you don’t miss out.
Take a walk through the wildlife
There are a number of walking tracks that start from the visitor centre so this is a great point to start your day. If you’re looking to spot some of Australia’s famous wildlife (and by that I, of course, mean koalas and kangaroos) then keep your eyes peeled!
I recommend starting with the Platypus Walk, an easy 4.5km loop that guides you along a beautiful trail alongside native plants and waterholes. If you visit at the right time of year you might even be lucky enough to spot a platypus! Unfortunately, we didn’t have any luck but we did see some koalas and a kangaroo chilling in the sun. The Platypus Walk loops on to the Heritage Trail which is a short route through eucalyptus trees and fields full of birdlife.
Flinders Chase tip: To visit the national park you need to purchase a permit from the visitor’s centre when you arrive. Permits cost $11 per adult and gives you access for the full day.
Stop on the road… safely of course!
As you leave the visitor centre to make your way to tha famous Admirals Arch, you’ll take the incredible Cape Du Couedic road. Now, normally I wouldn’t make such a point of stopping on the side of the road, but this stretch through the national park is awesome. There’s a little part to pull in where you can see the steep incline of the road through the trees. It’s the perfect photo spot!
Take in the sea views
At the end of this road you’ll reach the iconic coastal points. Cape Du Couedic Lighthouse is a pretty lighthouse made from local stone that has been guarding the coastline since 1909. The view from here is stunning but it’s just the start of what there is to see here.
Next up, either tack the track from the lighthouse or drive down to Admirals Arch. You will probably have seen photos of this impressive rock structure and trust me, it doesn’t disappoint. Before you even get there though, you’ll be treated to more of Australia’s wildlife. A breeding colony of fur seals lives here and when we were there in spring, the pups were all sleeping on the rocks, right below the boardwalk. Incredible!
Right at the end of the boardwalk is Admirals Arch and even on a fierce weather day, it was spectacular!
To finish the day, take the short drive over to the Remarkable Rocks. These massive rock formations have been carved by nature over the last 500 million years and are awesome to walk through and around. Some of them look so delicately balanced they look like they might fall.
Relax at Vivonne Bay Lodge
The next two nights we spent at Vivonne Bay Lodge and I cannot recommend it enough! It’s in a beautiful location just 800 meters from Vivonne Bay itself and also has fantastic facilities. Tom and I stayed in a twin room and it was so nice to be sheltered out of the rain we got caught in. Within the lodge, there’s a cosy common room with a pool table and log burning fire and outside has a modern undercover deck and BBQs to cook on. Just to top it off, the lodge offers a simple free breakfast to set you up for the day!
Day 3: Get adventurous on the South Coast
The south coast is known for its pristine beaches, wildlife and perhaps surprising sand dunes. Staying at Vivonne Bay Lodge also has an added bonus – access to kayaks, sandboards and bikes! Another perfect place to base yourself on Kangaroo Island.
Make the most of Vivonne Bay Lodge
With Vivonne Bay being so close, why not start your day with a trip to the beach- but with a difference! Take a kayak out along the beautiful Harriet River and you can paddle all the way to the river’s mouth and get some ocean views. If you’re feeling a little less energetic then the beach is just 800m away and is perfect for a walk or some fishing too.
Hit the dunes at Little Sahara
Just a short drive from Vivonne Bay is Little Sahara. I was pretty surprised to learn about these sand dunes but they’re well worth a visit! Here you can hire sandboards and toboggans to slide down the dunes, or as you’re staying at the lodge, can borrow theirs for free. Sadly the weather wasn’t great for this part of our trip so we opted for a walk up to them in between rainfall instead.
Seal Bay for more wildlife
Seal Bay overlooks the Southern Ocean and with its spectacular coastline, you’re in for a double treat from nature. At the Seal Bay Conservation Park you can follow a boardwalk overlooking the sea lions on the beach or if you want to get even closer, you can join a guided tour and get onto the sand and have a closer look.
Day 4: American River, Kingscote and Dudley Peninsular
I’ve mentioned before that Kangaroo island is all about tucking into local produce, and today is the day to really go for it. As the SeaLink ferries run throughout the day back to Cape Jervis, I recommend booking one for late afternoon so you still have the whole day to enjoy things on the last day of your Kangaroo Island road trip.
Clifford’s Honey Farm for ice cream for breakfast
What? You’re on holiday so ice cream for breakfast is perfectly ok! Clifford’s Honey Farm makes all things honey related but if there’s one thing you can’t leave without it’s a pot of their honey ice cream- it’s insane! And don’t pass by their honeycomb either!
Try an oyster
With such an epic coastline, it’s no surprise that there’s plenty of seafood to try on Kangaroo Island. I had been wanted to try oysters for a while so The Oyster Farm Shop was a must for me! This family-run business is in beautiful American River and is opposite the oyster farm where they grow their oysters. The good thing about their shop is that you can try just one, so if you’re a first-timer like me then you don’t have to commit to a plate full to try! I have to admit, they’re not for me but they certainly were as fresh as they come.
Amazing views at Prospect Hill
This is the highest point and in my opinion, one of the best things to do on Kangaroo Island. There are 500 steps to get to the top but when you get there it will have been worth it. Even on an overcast day we could see for miles and also to Pennington Bay nearby.
Bella Cafe and Pizza Bar for lunch
By now you will probably be a bit peckish. Kingscote is a fantastic area to go to for food and with a good selection of restaurants, it’s easy to find something for everyone. We asked a local lady and she recommended Bella cafe to us. After eating their chilli crab linguine I can see why! They have a good range of dishes including lighter sandwiches, pizzas, burgers and a specials board. Everything I saw looked delicious!
Don’t miss out on Dudley wines
Along with incredible wildlife, beaches and food, Kangaroo Island is also famous for its wine! In fact, you probably could spend your entire time here winery-hopping which, quite frankly, sounds pretty awesome. However, if there’s only one cellar door you have time to visit, make it Dudley Wines. Their location on top of the rolling hills overlooking the ocean is insane and they offer a fantastic wine tasting selection. It really is the perfect way to end your Kangaroo Island road trip.
Other places I wish I visited!
4 days on Kangaroo Island is a great amount of time, but I honestly think you could easily spend at least a week here. If you have more time, here’s a list of places I wish I could have fit in:
- Kelly Hill Caves: These underground caves look immense and can be visited via a tour. They are made of limestone and the temperature inside remains the same no matter what the weather outside.
- Western River: This spot on the north coast looks so incredible I’m actually gutted we didn’t get there. Think pristine beaches and turquoise waters and you’ll understand why.
- Kangaroo Island Spirits: These guys are making some awesome and award winnings gins, vodkas and liqueurs and it’s simply another aspect of an incredible island to experience if you can.
- Cape Willoughby Lighthouse: Not only is this a beautiful lighthouse (because who doesn’t love a lighthouse?) but here you can actually stay in the lighthouse keepers cottage. Imagine the views you would wake up to here!
- More cellar doors: With over 10 cellar doors and wineries on this little island, it would have been great to try some more of what’s being produced here. But if I ever needed an excuse to go back…
Phew, that was a bit of a mega guide to the top things to do on Kangaroo Island, but I hope I’ve shown just how much there is to do here. So who’s ready to book that ferry and escape the crowds?
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A big thank you to SeaLink and Vivonne Bay Lodge for hosting our trip to Kangaroo Island. As always, all opinions and views are completely my own.