The Ultimate Guide To Kangaroo Island

Remarkable Rocks, Kangaroo Island, Australia | © Navin75/Flickr
Remarkable Rocks, Kangaroo Island, Australia | © Navin75/Flickr
Australia’s third largest island after Tasmania and Melville Island is Kangaroo Island, which is located 112 kilometres across the sea from Adelaide. Thousands of years ago, the island was inhabited by Indigenous Australians; however, rising sea levels saw the disappearance of the native population. The island’s isolated position meant that the land wasn’t settled until 1836, and to this day, the island has a relatively small population of 4,417 residents.

Getting There

SeaLink ferry departs daily from Cape Jervis, two hours south of Adelaide, to Penneshaw. SeaLink has two modern ferries in their fleet – the SeaLion 2000 and Spirit of Kangaroo Island – which are both fitted with air-conditioned lounges, televisions, a café, an outdoor viewing deck and toilets. The journey to Kangaroo Island takes 45 minutes. If you would rather fly, REX (Regional Express Airlines) flies directly from Adelaide to Kingscote. Flights take 35 minutes.

Things to See and Do


Due to the island’s isolation, the wildlife population has flourished. Get up close to seals at Seal Bay Conservation Park, swim with wild dolphins, visit the Penguin Centre in Penneshaw and meet the island’s namesake at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park in Seddon.

Sea lion and pup in Seal Bay - Kangaroo Island

Extreme Sports

If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, then KI has a variety of adventures from which to choose. Try quad biking and paintballing with Bush Getaway Adventures, or take a subterranean journey at Kelly Hill Caves and Conservation Park. There is also sandboarding, kayaking, bike riding and horse riding adventures to be had.


A trip to any of the island’s three museums will leave you with a profound respect for the early settlers. Start at Hope Cottage Museum in Kingscote, which was built in 1856, see the Parndana Soldier Settlement Museum and finish with the Penneshaw Maritime and Folk Museum.


With more than 23 hikes on the island, ranging from short strolls to all-day hikes, and expeditions that last several days, there are trails to suit every fitness level. Explore Kangaroo Island’s scenic landscape and discover breathtaking locations including Stokes Bay, Murray Lagoon, the Remarkable Rocks, Flinders Chase National Park, Lashmar Conservation Park and Prospect Hill.

Kangaroo island rock formation © Stolz Gary M, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/WikiCommons


Budget – Kangaroo Island YHA

Only a two-minute walk from Penneshaw Beach, Kangaroo Island YHA offers backpackers budget accommodation with bay views. The hostel features a communal kitchen and lounge, BBQ facilities, on-site laundry, a tour desk and a garden with a hammock that is sometimes visited by the local penguins.

Moderate – Kangaroo Island Seafront

Located 500 meters from the Sealink Ferry Terminal, Kangaroo Island Seafront is a four-star hotel with stunning views of Backstairs Passage. Ideal for families, Seafront has 16 rooms and 12 villas on the property as well as an outdoor pool, sauna and mini golf course, plus there is free Wi-Fi for all guests.

Luxury – Southern Ocean Lodge

Perched on a secluded cliff above Hanson Bay on the island’s south-westerly corner sits the Southern Ocean Lodge. The five-star sanctuary features 21 luxury suites which are lavishly decorated in a modern style and take advantage of the spectacular and unparalleled views. The lodge also includes a peaceful spa and a ‘produce to plate’ restaurant led by Executive Chef Alastair Waddell.

Courtesy Southern Ocean Lodge


Marron Café

Opened in 2006, Marron Café celebrates Kangaroo Island’s prized freshwater crayfish. Seafood lovers should try the Poacher’s Platter for two, which includes smoked barramundi, oven baked Andermel Marron, scallops, Szechuan-spiced prawns plus salt and pepper squid. To finish, order Chef Amanda’s lemon myrtle cheesecake.

Hannaford & Sachs

Whether you want to dine in an Enchanted Fig Tree, which was planted by the early settlers, on the sand at the Beach Taverna or inside a candle-lit Shearing Shed, Hannaford & Sachs can cater an unforgettable ambient experience. The menu is inspired by European and Asian cuisine, and their food has been enjoyed by the likes of Mick Jagger and the Dali Lama.

Courtesy Hannaford & Sachs