You’ve read all of the reviews, admired the instagram photos and have now decided that you would like to go to Kangaroo Island, South Australia. The big question is how to get to Kangaroo Island from Adelaide? Here are all of the options
Have Questions? – Come and join the Facebook Group and ask any questions you may have about travel in South Australia. We can provide answers, make further suggestions and update you with the latest information. Click here to join now.
- 1 Kangaroo Island Facts
- 2 How to Get to Kangaroo Island from Adelaide
- 3 Kangaroo Island Car Hire
Kangaroo Island Facts
Kangaroo Island, South Australia, is the third largest island off the coast of Australia. It is well known for its abundance of Australian wildlife, stunning coastal scenery and incredible local produce. The total Kangaroo Island population is about 4500 people, most of them living in either Kingscote of Penneshaw, the two largest towns on the island. Each year over 140000 people visit to enjoy the unique Kangaroo Island attractions
Fun fact – the Aboriginal name for Kangaroo Island is Karta Pintingga, which means Island of the Dead.
Where is Kangaroo Island in Australia
Kangaroo Island is located in South Australia, southwest of Adelaide in the mouth of the St Vincent Gulf to the north, and the Great Australian Bight and Southern Ocean to the south. At the nearest point Kangaroo Island is about 13km from the mainland.
Kangaroo Island Map
How Far is Kangaroo Island from Adelaide
While it is only about 120km from Adelaide to Kangaroo Island, to get from Adelaide to Kingscote by road is almost 200km and takes around three and a half hours, excluding the time taken waiting for the ferry.
How Big is Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island is bigger than many people imagine. It’s around 150km from end to end and about 50km wide at the widest point. There are over 500km of roads on the island and the Kangaroo Island road conditions often mean slower driving on gravel roads, so it’s important to realise it can take longer to get around than may be assumed.
How Long to Stay on Kangaroo Island
While it is possible to do a day trip to Kangaroo Island from Adelaide, if you have the time I recommend at least staying overnight. To really have time to look around, here are my suggestions
- 3 days – you will see the highlights
- 5 days – you will have time to explore the whole island
- 7 days – you can see the whole island and have time to relax at some of the locations (eg: spend an afternoon laying on a beach) or do some of the longer hikes.
How to Choose the Best Way to Travel to Kangaroo Island
When deciding which of these options is the best way to get from Adelaide to Kangaroo Island, here are some of the things to consider
- How are you going to get around on Kangaroo Island – self drive is popular since there is little in the way of public transport to facilitate getting around.
- Do you need to rent a car? If so, are you going to rent it from Adelaide or pick it up on Kangaroo Island?
- Are you doing a tour? If so, where is it leaving from?
- What sort of accommodation are you looking for? Will you need a caravan or a camper?
- Are you bringing a pet? (I don’t recommend it if you have an option. Much of the island is national park which pets cannot be taken into)
- What is your budget?
- How much time do you have?
- How many people are you travelling with?
How to Get to Kangaroo Island from Adelaide
Once you have taken the above into consideration, here are the options for getting to Kangaroo Island
Drive to Cape Jervis, Car Ferry to Kangaroo Island
This is the most popular option and the one I used during my visit to Kangaroo Island. The Kangaroo Island Sealink ferry leave from Cape Jervis at the foot of the Fleurieu Peninsula. There are a few ferry crossings each day, depending on the demand. Summer and school holidays see the number increase. It takes around 90 minutes to drive to Cape Jervis, and you will need to be here at least half an hour before the ferry leaves, which makes those 6am crossings look less attractive.
The Kangaroo Island ferry takes all kinds of vehicles, including caravans and RVs. The process is very simple. On arrival, join one of the lines of vehicles and go and check in. During boarding, only the driver is allowed in the vehicle, passengers must board via the gangway. Most vehicles are reversed onto the ferry, but there are some options if this is a problem. Once in place the driver can the join the passengers on the top deck, sit back and enjoy the 45 minute crossing. The ferry has a small cafe on board for snacks and drinks if you would like them. Pets are allowed on this ferry.
Cape Jervis to Kangaroo Island Ferry for Foot Passengers
While passengers can take the Kangaroo Island car ferry without having a car, there is also a second ferry that sails between Cape Jervis and Penneshaw that is for those travelling without a vehicle. It’s a faster, more luxurious and cheaper option than the main ferry, but it does run less often. Dogs, bicycles and kayaks can be taken with you on the ferry at a small additional cost.
Flights to Kangaroo Island
If you are short on time or are arriving into South Australia on a flight from interstate or overseas, it is possible to fly directly to Kangaroo Island, landing at the airport at Kingscote. Flights are currently offered by both Qantas and Rex Airlines. Unsurprisingly in these Covid-19 times, flights are currently running less often than they were previously. In the past there were also direct flights available to Kingscote from both Melbourne and Sydney.
Tour Kangaroo Island
There are many options for Kangaroo Island tours from Adelaide. They range from day trips to trips that last for a few days. Here are some suggestions:
- Kangaroo Island Day Trip from Adelaide – this long sixteen hour day includes transport from Adelaide to Kangaroo Island on a coach via the ferry. You will visit Seal Bay, have lunch, then explore the iconic sites in Flinders Chase National Park like Remarkable Rocks.
- Day Trip from Adelaide to Kangaroo Island – another sixteen hour tour, this one is all about wining and dining. You will start with transfers from Adelaide, then enjoy wine tasting, gin tasting, a visit to the Eucalyptus distillery, a Kangaroo Island honey farm and the Raptor Domain. Lunch is also included.
- Two Day Kangaroo Island Trip – focusing on wildlife, this small group tour starts in Adelaide and will take you to Seal Bay, Flinders Chase National Park and Kelly Hill Conservation Park. Gourmet picnic lunches with South Australian wines are included in your tour.
- Three Day Kangaroo Island holiday packages – this tour combines wildlife and food and wine all in one. Includes a marine adventure with an option to swim with the dolphins.
(Note: many tours are still suspended or modified due to the duel disasters of the Kangaroo Island fire in January 2020 and Covid-19. They are slowly coming back online, so there will be more options available soon)
I recommend self-drive as it will give you autonomy to see more attractions and get off the neaten track. But if driving is not an option for you, then there are still ways to see Kangaroo Island without booking a single tour from Adelaide.
You can book transfers from Adelaide to the Cape Jervis ferry terminal by coach. If you have a larger group, booking a driver could also be an option.
Once on Kangaroo Island, you can book some local day tours to experience all the best Kangaroo Island attractions. Here are some suggestions
- Full Day Kangaroo Island Safari from Penneshaw – this is great if you stay in the town of Penneshaw, which is where the ferry docks. you will see some of the stunning landscape and taste some local produce.
- 2-Hour Dolphin, Seal and Snorkelling Tour – leaving from Christmas Cove Marina in the heart of Penneshaw, get up close to some of the local marine life
- Kangaroo Island: Nocturnal Animal 4WD Experience – with pickup in Kingscote, this evening tour will give you an insight into the lives of the nocturnal Kangaroo Island animals
- Flinders Chase Tour (Recovering from Fires) – pickup from Kingscote, Penneshaw or American River, this tour will take you to the far end of Kangaroo Island to see the acclaimed attractions in Flinders Chase National Park
- Kangaroo Island Food and Wine Trail Tour – pickup from Kingscote or Penneshaw, explore the Kangaroo Island food and wine scene during this tour
Kangaroo Island Car Hire
One of the big questions is whether to hire a car in Adelaide and use it for your whole trip or whether to pick up a rental car once your arrive on Kangaroo Island. Both options have their pros and cons. Here are a few things to think about
- Picking up a car in Adelaide will mean you have transport to the ferry terminal in Cape Jervis
- Rental cars can be picked up from both the Kingscote Airport and the Penneshaw Ferry Terminal.
- Some car rental companies do not allow you to take the car over water, so by taking it to Kangaroo Island you will be breaching those terms.
- Some rental companies will waive the no unsealed roads requirement if the car is rented on Kangaroo Island
- Cars that are hired on Kangaroo Island cannot be taken to the mainland
With these things in mind, research your Kangaroo Island car rental options to find the best matched for your needs.
Looking for more Kangaroo Island content? Try these
Visiting Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island
Best Kangaroo Island Wineries
The Ultimate List of What to do on Kangaroo Island
Don’t forget to come on over and join the Facebook group for more South Australian inspiration and to get all your questions answered. Click here to join now.
Please share this post and pin it for later
Josie Kelsh is South Australian, born and bred. She has lived in the state for almost her whole life, just one short stint away as a teenager with her family. Travelling all over the world has shown her exactly how amazing South Australia is to live and travel in and she uses her passion to show it to you the way a local sees it.