When I was planning my trip it seemed like I was searching all over the place to find all of the things to do in Kangaroo Island. It took lots of different articles, blog posts and social media posts to put together this huge list. Rather than keeping it to myself, I’m sharing it here to save you doing all the different research I had done. So here is the ultimate list of what to do on Kangaroo Island.
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- 1 Natural Kangaroo Island Attractions
- 2 Seeing Kangaroo Island Animals
- 3 Kangaroo Island Food and Beverages
- 3.1 Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Oil Distillery
- 3.2 Kangaroo Island Ciders
- 3.3 Clifford’s Honey Farm
- 3.4 Emu Bay Lavender
- 3.5 Kangaroo Island Brewery
- 3.6 The Oyster Farm Shop
- 3.7 Kangaroo Island Spirits
- 3.8 Island Beehive
- 3.9 Dudley Wines
- 3.10 The Islander Estate Wines
- 3.11 Bay of Shoals Wine
- 3.12 Springs Road Winery
- 3.13 False Cape Wines
- 4 Historical Attractions on Kangaroo Island
- 5 Adventurous Things to do in Kangaroo Island
- 6 Kangaroo Island Beaches
- 7 Kangaroo Island Art and Culture
- 8 Kangaroo Island Map of Attractions
Natural Kangaroo Island Attractions
Much of the appeal of Kangaroo Island is due to it’s wild, untouched nature. It’s not unusual to see the iconic natural features representing all of South Australia. Visitors will find dramatic coastlines and wilderness across the whole island. Here are some of the best Kangaroo Island things to do in nature
Remarkable Rocks are likely one of the first attractions you would have come across on Kangaroo Island, and with good reason. Yes, they are just rocks, but they will leave you wondering just how they managed to be balancing on that granite outcrop overlooking the Southern Ocean.. Millions of years have worn the rocks into interesting shapes, and visiting kids will just love climbing over and into all the hidden crevasses.
Admirals Arch is a natural rock bridge situated below the cliffs near the Cape du Couedic lighthouse. Millions of years of waves pounding against the coastline has created an unusual arch fringed with small stalactites. Follow the boardwalk down below the cliff face to a viewing platform. While great to see anytime, coming near sunset may give spectacular colours as the sun sinks into the ocean.
Located near the town of Vivonne Bay on the south coast of Kangaroo Island, these pristine dunes are the place to visit for some adventure activities or just to admire how white the sand is. Takes you shoes off for a walk in the sand and check out the view from the top over the dunes.
Prospect Hill is the highest point on Kangaroo Island and it’s where the explorer Matthew Flinders stood to survey all of the land as far as the eye could see. Follow in his footsteps by climbing up to the platform on top. This used to be a scrabble up the side of this steep sand hill, but in 2019 steps were built, so now it’s instead a walk up the 500+ steps to reach the top.
Cliffs @ Red Banks
It’s a little tricky to get to, but just north of American River are some incredible cliffs with layers or red sand. These are particularly beautiful in the soft light of sunset or sunrise, but still pretty any time of day.
Cape Willoughby Road Drive
For a short, but incredibly scenic drive, take Cape Willoughby Road along the coast from Penneshaw to the Cape Willoughby Lighthouse. While there are plenty of things to do along the way, even if you don’t stop, the drive is worth it for some of the amazing views across Antechamber Bay to the mainland beyond.
Lashmar Conservation Park
There are dozens of national parks, conservation parks and nature reserves on Kangaroo Island so it’s sometimes difficult to decide which one to visit. Lashmar Conservation Park. Not only can you access the stunning beaches of Antechamber Bay, the tranquil Chapman River flows through here too – perfect for some kayaking. Fishing and bushwalking are other great things to do here, camping is also allowed. Expect to see plenty of wildlife too – just watch where you are walking in case there’s happens to be a goanna digging for dinner on the path!
Stokes Bay Bush Garden
I’m including Stokes Bay Bush Garden here even though it is temporarily closed due to the January 2020 bushfires which devastated the whole garden. Nature is resilient though, and hopefully the garden will be open again soon. Keep an eye on their Facebook page here for updates
This garden has thousands of plants throughout the meandering garden. Some of the plants are ones that are only found on Kangaroo Island. Enjoy wandering through the bushland and admiring how unique our Australia flora can be.
Kelly Hill Caves/Conservation Park
Kelly Hill Caves are one of the things I remember the most from my childhood visits to Kangaroo Island. These caves were the first time I had seen stalagmites and stalactites, and I will always remember the piece of rock that looked just like a rasher of bacon when lit from behind. Unfortunately both the Kelly Hill Caves and Conservation Park were severely damaged by the fires and are currently closed. I was unable to find any information on how the rebuilding was coming along. To check it it has opened again, head to the National Parks website here.
Billygoat Falls Hike
Yet another activity that is currently closed until the infrastructure is replaced, but I think it’s worth a mention here. This is a moderate 4km hike and is best done after some rainfall when the falls will be at their most spectacular. Before making the drive to the trailhead, check if the path is open because it’s a reasonable drive on dirt roads to get there.
Seeing Kangaroo Island Animals
Most visitors to Kangaroo Island are keen to see some of the incredible wildlife here. Many animals can be seen in the wild all over the island, but if you want to guarantee the wildlife sightings, here are the places to go and things to do.
Cape du Couedic Seals
At Cape du Couedic, take the boardwalk down to see admirals Arch. On the way you can’t help but notice the dozens of Australian and Long-Nosed Fur Seals that are laying around on the rocks. There is a short detour to a seal watching lookout, but I think you will see them better on the boardwalk down to Admirals Arch as you get lower, and therefore closer, to the seals. On the way down there are plenty of informations signs so you can learn about the seals, their habits and the surrounding environment.
Seal Bay is a Kangaroo Island must see, the jewel in the crown of Kangaroo Island tourism! It’s located in the Seal Bay Conservation Park on the south coast of the island. Contrary to its name, there are no seals here. What you will see are hundreds of Australia Sea Lions. Visitors can choose to just admire the sea lions from a boardwalk with views of the beach, or take a guided tour right down to the sand that gets much closer to the sea lions (but not too close)
Raptor Domain is a rehabilitation centre for all sorts of birds of prey. Birds are brought in either orphaned, injured or sick and are cared for until they can return to the wild. Sometimes they can’t go back to the wild, and this birds are used to educate visitor on the plight of these incredible birds. Recently some breeding programs have been started for some of the rarer species to help with their numbers. Twice a day there is a Free Flight show which includes one of our amazing natives, the wedge-tailed eagle. There are a small selection of reptiles in the Raptor Domain too, which also have their own show. Of course if you want to get closer, there are private experiences and photo opportunities too.
Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park
With a visit to Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park you will be guaranteed to see all the native animals that you hoped to see in the wild and a whole lot more. There are plenty of the favourites, kangaroos, koalas, wombats, echidnas, quokkas, dingos, emus, and even cassowary. There are dozens of birds, fish and reptiles too, over 150 Australian natives. Time your visit with one of the koala talks where you will have the opportunity to enter the koala enclosure and give then a pat. Of course if you would like to hold a koala, that is one of the private experiences that can be an added extra.
Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary
Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the best places on Kangaroo Island to see koalas in the wild. Unfortunately these are another location that was severely affected by the bushfires. Currently access is only by guided tour and there are two options – a general koala walk and ecology tour, and a nocturnal tour to see the wildlife when they are most active.
Penneshaw Penguin Centre
Located right on the foreshore near the ferry terminal os the Penneshaw Penguin Centre. They run tours each evening to see the fairy penguins as they come back to land after a day at sea. you will learn all about the penguins, their habitat and the conservation efforts. If the penguins are being elusive, you will still enjoy a great walk and if the sky is clear have a mini astrology lesson.
Kangaroo Island Ocean Safari
Take advantage of one of the Kangaroo Island Ocean Safaris. You can take a boat ride out to see the local dolphins, seals and other wildlife. You will learn about the coastline and the environmental issues facing the area. The second tour is similar, but it takes things one step further and you have the opportunity to go snorkelling with the dolphins and seals.
Will’s Rare Breeds Farm
Located near Stokes Bay, Will’s Rare Breeds Farm is home to dozens of rare breeds of farm animals you likely haven’t heard of before let alone seen – like the 4 Horned African Sheep! Who knew?. Book a tour with Will and he will take you around the property and tell you many facts about these rare breeds you have never even thought of before. Make sure you call in advance and chat to Will to make a time to visit when he is available.
For 23 years one of the Kingscote locals would make his way to the wharf at 5pm each day to feed the local pelicans. It became a huge tourist drawcard as visitors enjoyed seeing these huge bird feast. Unfortunately the show has been recently closed down, but there is a possibility it could start up again in the future. In the meantime, take a stroll around the Kingscote waterfront and enjoy watching these majestic birds around the area.
Platypus Waterholes Walk
I seem to be mentioning an awful lot of things that can’t be done right now, and the Platypus Waterholes walk is another one of them. It is located in the Flinders Chase National Park and all of the infrastructure was destroyed in the fires. The walk is just under 5km and takes around two hours and is a great opportunity to see the elusive platypus in the wild. Hopefully I can update this post in the future and this path will be open again.
Kangaroo Island Food and Beverages
With such a pristine environment to work in, it’s no surprise to discover that there are some fabulous food and beverage outlets with amazing produce on the island. There is plenty here to keep you busy for a day or two just by themselves.
Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Oil Distillery
Eucalyptus oil distilling used to be a big deal on Kangaroo Island, but now there is only one place left that does it – and it’s the one place in the world that makes eucalyptus oil from the local Kangaroo Island Narrow Leaf Mallee. Call into Emu ridge Eucalyptus Oil Distillery to learn about how the oil is collected and distilled. Browse through the hundreds of products that are made with the eucalyptus oil, from cleaning products to shampoos to sweets. Enjoy a snack in the cafe while you are there, and keep an eye out for the resident emus that live on the property.
Kangaroo Island Ciders
While you are visiting Emu Ridge, venture through to the Kangaroo Islands Ciders tasting area and test out the range of ciders. Kangaroo Island Ciders grow more than 30 different varieties of apples and they use them to create unique blends. Along with the regular ciders, they produce a sparkling version, and another that is non-alcoholic, so there really is something to suit everyone.
Clifford’s Honey Farm
Kangaroo Island is home to a pure strain of Ligurian bees, and the honey produced here is thought to be the only pure strain of honey in the world. Clifford’s Honey Farm is a great family run place to learn a little about the bees and the honey making process. Pick up some of the great products to take home. I recommend trying the Honey Mead and the delicious honeycomb.
Emu Bay Lavender
Emu Bay Lavender Farm is the perfect place to stop at for lunch, or morning and afternoon tea. Set amongst the lavender fields, the cafe is delightful. Choose from any number of foods that include lavender – like the huge lavender scones that are more of a meal than a snack or the delicious lavender ice cream. Before you leave browse through the shop that sells dozens more lavender products as well as plenty of other local products too.
Kangaroo Island Brewery
Located just outside of Kingscote, Kangaroo Island Brewery is worth a stop. The rustic cellar door provides the perfect backdrop for tasting their four different beers. Choose between cozy indoor seating in the winter, or enjoy the outdoors in summer. For a few dollars pick up a tasting paddle and enjoy! For those that prefer wines, there are a range of Kangaroo Island Brewery wines available too. Seems to be a strange combination, but many people were enjoying both.
The Oyster Farm Shop
The Oyster farm Shop is located in American River. The shop is located directly across the road from the wharf where the oysters are unloaded and processed. Stop by to pick up some of the delicious seafood to take home, or spend some time learning about the industry with a tour to see the oyster beds. Enjoy some free tastings of some of the produce or a full platter with wine as you relax in the outdoor seating area.
Kangaroo Island Spirits
Centrally located near Cygnet River, Kangaroo Island Spirits is a must see during your visit. While they do some great tasting paddles of their gin and vodka, that should not be the only reason you visit. The gardens here are the perfect place to enjoy a light meal with a group of friends, and the seasonal menu contains a variety of delicious mains and mouthwatering desserts. The coffees here are pretty good too.
Island Beehive not only have a large shop front right in Kingscote, it’s attached to their factory where the run tours each day. Learn about the production of honey and see some of the products being made. There is a cafe and a large showroom here with not only their own products, but products from many other local producers and artisans too.
Of all the wineries on the island, Dudley Wines can lay claim to the best views. They have an incredible balcony with stunning views over the Backstairs Passage towards the mainland.
The Islander Estate Wines
This winery has an intimate cellar door experience with some great wines influenced by the Bordeaux region in France. Pay a little extra to do the premium tasting experience.
Bay of Shoals Wine
This winery is the most convenient, located just on the outskirts of Kingscote. The cellar door has a maritime theme that blend nicely with the coastal surroundings.
Springs Road Winery
Springs Road Winery has a wide range of wines to try from their own vineyards here on Kangaroo Island and from their two sibling wineries in the McLaren Vale region. They have a very nice beer that is worth trying too.
False Cape Wines
These were my personal favourites. The cellar door is in a rustic building made from recycled products overlooking the vineyards. Tastings are done in groups of four, and the wines were all very drinkable. Come and sit on the outdoor deck and enjoy the wines and the surroundings together.
Historical Attractions on Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island was the first place officially settled in South Australia. Those early settlers didn’t like it so much, so within weeks moved on the the more plentiful location of Adelaide. The island was still significant though, particularly as it sat right in the way of ships getting to Adelaide, so it has an abundance of historical lighthouses and other maritime attractions.
Cape du Couedic Lighthouse
Located in Flinders Chase National Park, the Cape du Couedic lighthouse miraculously escaped the bushfires. It was built in the early 1900s but today is automated. There is no access to the interior of the lighthouse, but visitors can wander the grounds and take a walk down to Weir Cove where the supplies arrived once every three months and were brought up from the beach by flying fox. The lighthouse keeper’s cottages also survived the flames and while temporarily closed, they will be open again to accommodate visitor in the future.
Cape Borda Lighthouse
The Cape Borda Lighthouse was incredibly remote. Located in the top, western corner of Flinders Chase National Park, it was the only other site in the park that escaped the fires. Dozens of people fought to keep the flames at bay, but eventually it became too dangerous and they had to leave, just hoping they had done enough. All of the historic buildings were unscathed, only a toilet block was destroyed. Visiting Carpe Borda is a little more difficult at the moment because the road through the park is close and access is on the external roads. The cafe is also closed at the moment, but I am guessing that as visitor numbers increase it will open again. Enjoy wandering and reading the information signs in front of each building, then walk the rocky path along the clifftop for great views over the coastline.
Cape Borda Cemetery
As you are driving along Cape Borda Road you will see a sign for a small cemetery. Take a quick look at the sixteen graves here that belong to people who lived at the Cape Borda Lighthouse over the years.
Cape Willoughby Lighthouse
Cape Willoughby Lighthouse was the first built in South Australia. The terrain here was so inhospitable that the foundations could not be sunk into the rocks, so the granite walls had to be made almost 1.5m thick at the base to withstand the forces of nature. Being down the other end of Kangaroo Island, this area was not affected by the bushfires. There are three lighthouse keepers cottages, two of which are available as holiday rentals. The third houses a small museum and girt shop. Tours into the lighthouse are run throughout the day. While the lighthouse is now automated, the original light is housed in one of the external buildings, and it’s an impressive sight. There’s a short walk to do in the area to enjoy the dramatic coastline.
Parndana Soldier Settlement Museum
After World War II there was a government scheme to provide land to returned soldiers on Kangaroo Island. This effectively doubled the population of the island in a short time, and opened up much of the current farming land. This museum focuses on the personal and historical stories of this project and how it has affected the island. The settlement stories tell of times of hardship and hard work, of mateship and triumph. It’s a small museum but worth a visit.
Kangaroo Island Shipwreck Trail
More than 80 ships have met their end along Kangaroo Island’s coastline. The Kangaroo Island Shipwreck Trail provides information boards at nine locations around the coast where significant wrecks can be found. There are stories about the ships themselves, their demise and sometimes stories of survival. Look out for the main boards in Kingscote and Penneshaw the give all the details.
Reeves Point & The Mulberry Tree
Reeves Point is the location of the very first official European Settlement in South Australia. Today there is a nice walking path through the area with BBQ facilities, toilets and a playground making it perfect for a picnic. Visit the Flagstaff Lookout, The Mulberry Tree (the only one left that came over on that first group of boats) and the Reeves Cemetery to learn about the history of the settlement.
Hope Cottage Museum
The first solid houses to be built on Kangaroo Island were called Faith, Hope and Charity. The museum is now housed in Hope Cottage, originally built in 1859. The museum is set up to showcase life from that era, and onwards into this century. There have been a number of sheds and extra buildings built to house the growing collection, including a complete blacksmith shop.
Adventurous Things to do in Kangaroo Island
There are plenty of adventure activities to do during your Kangaroo Island trip to get the adrenalin pumping and the wear out energetic kids. Here are some of them.
Kayaking at Vivonne Bay
Located at Vivonne Bay, the Harriet River provides a calm, sheltered area for kayaking. Hire a single or double kayak and paddle around to your heart’s content enjoying the wildlife, the scenery and the kayaking experience.
Enjoy the opportunity to jump on a quad bike and zip around in the dunes or on the beach at Vivonne Bay. Quad bike are so much fun and as easy to get used to in no time. Choose from different times of the day and different types of rides.
Fat Tyre Bike Tour
Enjoy a unique way to explore the dunes at Little Sahara with this fat tire bike tour. While riding a bike in the sand sounds impossible, these fat tire bikes just glide through the sand. The guide will teach you about the local bush tucker as well as point out interesting flora and fauna along the way.
Emu Bay Fishing Charter
Want to catch a big one? Emu Bay Fishing Charters run daily with 4, 6 and 8 hour options available. Catch fish such as King George Whiting, Trevally, Flathead and Snook, even Tuna when it’s in season.They provide the boat, all the equipment and bait, so whether you are beginner or an expert, you just go along and enjoy.
Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail
The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail claims to be one of Australia’s great walks. It’s a five-day trail covering 61km. The trail starts in the Flinders Chase National park and runs along the south coast of Kangaroo Island. The trail is currently only open to a few licensed tour operators that offer various levels of support, from simply dropping off and picking up each day (there is no camping along the trail as facilities were destroyed in the bushfires) or all inclusive tours including food, accommodation, guides etc
Tiger Trails Hose Riding
This is, unfortunately, another business who is not currently running their tours as the trails they normally walk the horses on have been badly damaged and still dead trees are falling causing safety issues. I wanted to mention them here because they hope to be back up and running again soon, so keep an eye on their Facebook page for any updates
Kangaroo Island Beaches
There is no way I can cover all of the beaches on Kangaroo Island – there are so many little coves and bays just waiting for visitors to come and explore them. Here are a selection of the most well known Kangaroo Island beaches to visit.
Located on the south coast of Kangaroo Island, Vivonne Bay is one of those places with calm vivid blue water, white sand and not a crowd in sight. Spend a day here, relaxing on the beach, enjoying the occasional swim, stroll along the beach, perhaps even snorkel around the rocks near the jetty.
Stokes Bay is on the north coast of Kangaroo Island and has one of the most interesting beaches. On parking in the car park you will probably be disappointed in the rocky shoreline in front of you. Make your way to the eastern end of the beach and look for the sign. Follow it through a narrow passage way in the rocks, ducking your head and squeezing through the tight sections, and you will be rewarded on the other side with a beautiful hidden sandy beach. Swim here in the protected rock pool, as further down the beach there are dangerous rips.
Western River Cove
Like Stoke’s Bay, a little effort is required to get to the beach at Western River. You will walk across a bridge (over Western River) then through the dunes to find a delightful white sand beach in a protected cove, just perfect for swimming and fishing.
There are some great beaches in South Australia, but I think this one in pretty special. It’s a little bit off the main road down a dirt track to a more than likely empty carpark. Follow the narrow path down to the beach and you will find endless white sand (the beach is over 4km long), crystal clear water and you will probably have it all to yourself.
Snelling Beach is one of the easier beaches to get to as it is right next to the North Coast Road. In fact the road provides visitors with stunning views over the beach. The beach is great for swimming and snorkelling and is a favourite for surf fishing. Middle River flows into the sea at the northern end of the beach
Emu Bay has a long, white sand beach, so white that it was almost painful to my eyes as I walked along it. This 4km long beach is one of the few on Kangaroo Island where you can drive directly onto the sand. The water is clear and calm, and Emu Bay is a popular location for holiday makers who are looking for a beach holiday.
Kangaroo Island Art and Culture
There’s no shortage of art and culture on Kangaroo Island. There are multiple small galleries all over the island. Keep an eye out as you drive around.
Kangaroo Island Sculpture Trail
Located in Penneshaw, the Kangaroo Island Sculpture Trail opened late in 2019. The trail is a 1.5km meander through a bushland area right in the middle of Penneshaw. Along with the sculptures, the trail is dotted with haiku poems. It runs around both side of a ravine which is crossed by an impressive swing bridge. Visitors can walk the whole trail or just a section of it if time is limited. It is an evolving attraction as new sculptures are added from time to time, so it’s worth visiting even if you have been before..
Pete the Pelican Tourist Drive
Here’s a fun one to add to your road trips. As you drive into American River you can’t help but notice the signs for Pete the Pelican’s Tourist Drive. Follow the signs around the town to see the point of interest and enjoy the scenery.
Fine Art Kangaroo Island Gallery
The Fine Art Kangaroo Island Gallery is located in Kingscote and features all sorts of artistic work, from paintings to jewellery to sculptures. Many of the artist are residents of Kangaroo Island, but there are others that choose to exhibit here too. Temporary exhibitions also visit from time to time.
Kangaroo Island Gallery
This gallery is also in Kingscote, but rather than fine art, here you will find all sorts of bits and pieces made solely by Kangaroo island artisans and craftspeople. From abstract art to video, sculpture, clothing, mosaics and pottery, there’s something here for everyone.
I wasn’t sure where to include this one – I don’t have a category for quirky hobbies. George’s Castle is located at Wisanger, not too far from Emu Bay. It’s one Man’s lifelong hobby, building what looks like a castle. It’s actually more like a shell of a castle, but it’s decorated with all sorts of quirky odds and ends. It’s also covered in more than sixty thousand fairy lights, which George will turn on if requested.
Kangaroo Island Map of Attractions
Click on the interactive map below to find each of the Kangaroo Island attractions I have listed above
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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.