It’s just off the coast of South Australia, yet Kangaroo Island feels like a world away. Here, seal and pelican colonies mingle, pods of dolphins pass by just off the shore and, of course, the titular kangaroo can be found in the thousands. Here’s our pick of the best hotels so you can spend time discovering the wineries, local produce and stunning scenery.
Kangaroo Island is 13km (8mi) from the mainland, but there’s a wonderful sense of remoteness here. Despite its small population – about 4,500 people call it home – it stretches 155km (96mi), making it Australia’s third-largest island. And there are some great accommodation options.
With 1.6ha (4 acres) of preserved native gardens, the Mercure Kangaroo Island outpost is an ideal spot for birdwatching. Rare and endangered glossy black cockatoos are frequent visitors, seen easily from the river-view rooms. The rambling lodge has introduced many ecofriendly initiatives over the past 10 years, including solar power, harvesting rainwater, a worm farm and recycling its fish scraps through a pelican-feeding experience – a must-do while you’re here.
As its name suggests, Seafront Kangaroo Island overlooks the magnificent azure Backstairs Passage. Choose from one of its rooms, villas or beautifully appointed bell tents for a luxury glamping-style stay. After a dip in the sea, mosey on over to Sorrento’s Pizzeria for delicious Greek lamb or fresh seafood pizza (the prawn and prosciutto is another great choice), made to order with home-made dough.
Plonked directly opposite the Kingscote Tidal Pool, the Kangaroo Island Seaview Motel is ideal for a fuss-free stay. Rooms are well-appointed, with beach views, and each comes with a small kitchenette. Barbecues are also available (BYO shrimp), and the helpful team can easily arrange an afternoon of gin blending, sandboarding or swimming with dolphins – if that takes your fancy.
For those who prefer a touch of privacy, the Ficifolia Lodge is a boutique option with three two-bedroom cottages and a house with five ensuite rooms for larger parties, so you can choose between a fully self-contained stay or the option to add on breakfast. It’s also perfectly placed near the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, the Seal Bay Conservation Park and some of the island’s most beautiful bays.
Near a couple of conservation parks and across the street from the beach, you’re in the thick of nature at the Kangaroo Island Seaside Inn. Each of its 20 smart rooms boasts glorious sea views, with the balconies ideal for taking in sunsets, which do not disappoint, and lungfuls of fresh sea air. When you’re feeling peckish, pick up some fish and chips from Kangaroo Island Fresh Seafoods down the road, place yourself on the white sands and listen to the lapping waves.
Overlooking Eastern Cove, Wanderers Rest is a charming boutique hotel that can house 20 guests. Flanked by native bush, you’ll wake up to the sounds of native birds before watching the pink sky on the horizon as the sun rises over the sea. The in-house restaurant makes the most of the views, and the food here is predominantly local, with the seafood, cheese, honey, bread and seasonal vegetables sourced from around Kangaroo Island.
The Italian word adagio means “slowly”, which is the ethos of Adagio B&B, “where the bush meets the beach”. Wake up to the sound of lapping waves before taking a dip in the clear waters (watch out for pods of dolphins swimming nearby). There’s plenty to see just outside your front door, too. Whether you want to feed the wild pelicans or go on a guided bushwalk in search of wallabies and kangaroos, the team can sort it for you.
Set on the Kingscote esplanade, just back from the sea where you can watch seals lazing on the rocks, Villas on the Bay is a great option for a self-contained stay. The two- and three-bedroom villas are modern, spacious and fit with cloud-like single and queen-size beds. Here, you’re fantastically well placed to explore the island’s wineries, animal sanctuaries and national parks.