Where to Stay on Kangaroo Island

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Kangaroo Island seems like an easy place to book accommodation. Just pick a place within the budget and book, right? Well, you could do that, or you could spend a little more time really working out where to stay on Kangaroo Island.

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Where to Stay on Kangaroo Island

It’s easy to think of Kangaroo Island as a small place, easy to get around, and only a few iconic things to do! It seems like it could be good for a day trip.

While you can visit Kangaroo Island on a day trip (you can see a tour here) I absolutely do not recommend it as you need a lot more time. But if you only have one day, then it is an option rather than missing out altogether.

Why stay longer than a day on Kangaroo Island? Kangaroo Island is much bigger than many people expect. It’s about 150km long and at its widest is 50km.

While roads on the island aren’t too bad, they aren’t amazing either. Expect narrow, two-way, bitumen roads for the main highway loop around the island, but apart from that, expect gravel roads that will require much slower driving.

As an example, driving on the main highway from Penneshaw to the entrance to Flinders Chase National Park will take around ninety minutes.

I would recommend that driving should only be done in daylight hours to protect the native animals. Yes, you can drive after dark, but you will see plenty of road kill that will remind you why it’s dangerous for the animals, you, and your car!

Kangaroo Island’s main attractions are spread all over the island, so you will want to go from one end to the other, from the north coast to the south.

It is best therefore to consider staying in multiple locations throughout your visit. This will cut down your travel time each day, and let you enjoy more of the incredible diversity that Kangaroo Island has to offer.

So rather than spending hours looking for the perfect place to stay on Kangaroo Island, I have done the research for you. Here is the best places to stay on Kangaroo Island, no matter what type of holiday you have planned.

Vivonne Bay

Best Places to Stay on Kangaroo Island for…

… A Food & Wine Getaway

Stay at the eastern end of Kangaroo Island, as most of the food, wine, brewery, distillery, honey farms etc. are at this end of the island. Kingscote, Penneshaw or somewhere in between would be ideal.

… Getting Away from it All

To really escape from civilisation, head to the western end of the island, perhaps along the northern coast. Some of the smaller towns such as Western River or Middle River would be perfect.

Look for properties that are on the clifftops with incredible views over the sea to relax and detox from your busy life.

… Seeing the Animals on Kangaroo Island

Wildlife can be spotted all around the island. During my recent stay I was practically tripping over animals – sometimes literally, sorry goanna!

But if you really want to see them in the wild, stay in one of the rural locations rather than in Penneshaw or Kingscote.

For an almost guaranteed koala sighting, stay at Western KI Caravan Park, as they live in the trees all around the park.

… A Beach Holiday

For beaches, I recommend the north and south coasts. Vivonne Bay on the south coast is an obvious choice, but Snelling Beach and Emu Bay on the north are pretty nice too.

If you are looking for somewhere really secluded, Antechamber Bay is beautiful and you will likely have it all to yourself!

… An Action Packed Holiday

For this, I would choose to stay in Vivonne Bay. You can still make your way to the eastern end of the island for the Ocean Safaris, but you are right near a prime quad bike and kayaking location, Little Sahara for sand boarding, and it’s not too far into Flinders Chase National Park for hiking and bike riding.

Best Places to Stay for Caravan & Camping

Western KI Caravan Park has koalas in these trees

On my last trip to Kangaroo Island, we chose to camp. We decided to spend two nights at the western end of Kangaroo Island and then another two nights at the eastern end. This was perfect for the things I had planned to do.

At the western end, we stayed at the Western KI Caravan Park.  Here we stayed in our tent, but there are cabins available, as well as a myriad of powered and unpowered sites.

Western KI Caravan Park is in a rebuilding phase after being almost entirely destroyed during the bushfires in 2020, but this is still the best accommodation on Kangaroo Island for access to Flinders Chase National Park and its popular attractions.

The best part about this park is the wildlife. If you have come to Kangaroo Island especially to experience the Australian animals, then this is the place to stay.

If camping is not your style, consider the cabins. There were koalas in the areas all around our campsite, and we saw kangaroos, wallabies, possums, cape barren geese and dozens of other birds all on our very first night.

At the eastern end of the island, we stayed at Discovery Lagoon Caravan & Camping Ground. This is an eco-friendly app campground run entirely on renewable energy.

It is mostly a bush camping site, with access to bathroom facilities and a camp kitchen. All sites are unpowered.

We didn’t stay in our tent here though, instead, we stayed in one of their Eco Glamping Cottages. They are incredibly comfortable, but still camping.

The cottage really only has a bed, but there is some power (solar) and it’s much warmer than a tent.

I loved the rural setting here and was particularly excited to see an echidna wander past as we were cooking dinner in our camp kitchen (the cottages have their own!).

The value for money here was fantastic, as it wasn’t a lot more than we have paid for powered sites elsewhere.

The third caravan park, Kangaroo Island Seafront, is located right in the town of Penneshaw. It’s right opposite the beach and penguin centre, next to the Penneshaw Sculpture Trail, and a short walk from the ferry terminal.

Glamping Kangaroo Island

Wandering Souls @ Bay of Shoals winery

Are you looking for something memorable for your Kangaroo Island accommodation? Glamping is something fun and there are a few options for glamping on Kangaroo Island.

  • Wandering Souls – these people can set up a glamping bell tent for you in a dozen different locations around Kangaroo Island. Choose somewhere with incredible sea views or amongst the wildlife. They currently have a (semi) permanent tent located at the Bay of Shoals winery with beautiful views over the vines to the sea.
  • Kangaroo Island Seafront – located right on the Penneshaw beachfront, you can enjoy camping out in your very own safari tent with all the conveniences of town (see top photo)
  • Discovery Lagoon Caravan Park – try one of their eco glamping cottages mentioned above.

Kangaroo Island Budget Accommodation

Photo Credit: AirBnB

I guess you could include the cabins at caravan parks and the camping options in the budget accommodation category, but I know there are many people out there who don’t want that style yet still are watching the pennies.

Here is some of the best value accommodation Kangaroo Island has to offer.

If you are looking for hotel-style accommodation, then there really are only options at the eastern end of the island. Check out Kangaroo Island Seafront in Penneshaw or Aurora Ozone Hotel in Kingscote. Both are solid options without the larger price tags found elsewhere.

What I would really suggest though for those on a budget is to look at the home shares available. For about the same per night as the hotels you can get a two bedroom cottage in Kingscote that will sleep four.

For two people, how about something a little bit quirky? Take a look at the historic Dolls house, a romantic, two-storey getaway in Kingscote.

Down at the western end of the island options are a little more scarce, but in Vivonne Bay you can find Raven Cottage. It sleeps four and you will have the whole place to yourself.

The cottage is nestled in amongst the local scrub and not far from the stunning Vivonne Bay beach, which was proclaimed the best beach in the world in 2003 (and it’s still pretty incredible!).

Luxury Accommodation Kangaroo Island

Photo credit: AirBnB

Sadly my favourite luxury accommodation on Kangaroo Island was destroyed in the 2020 bushfires. The Southern Ocean Lodge is to be rebuilt though, so hopefully it won’t be too long until there is an exception accommodation option available on the island again.

In the meantime, these places do a great job of surrounding guests in luxury while enjoying the nature, food, wine, and other attractions on Kangaroo Island.

One that comes immediately to mind and is a popular choice is the Sea Dragon Lodge & Villas, located at the eastern end of the island.

Again there are not a lot of options at the western end of the island, but you could try the Sky House or Ecopia Retreat. Both are about halfway along the island and look beautiful!

For more luxury accommodation options on Kangaroo Island, see my full post here

Kangaroo Island Family Accommodation

Photo Credit: AirBnB

When visiting Kangaroo Island with kids, the options for accommodation are very similar to those without. If you are looking for a place where the kids can have plenty of space to run and play, I again recommend the caravan parks.

Both Western KI Caravan Park and Kangaroo Island Seafront have cabin accommodation that would be perfect for a family holiday – you could even stay in a family bell tent.

If you are after wildlife experiences, stay at Western KI, but if the beach is your thing, stay in Penneshaw. Why not do a couple of nights at each?

If you prefer hotel-style accommodation, take a look at the Aurora Ozone Hotel. Kids will love their pool! Another option with a pool is the Acacia Apartments, also in Kingscote. Villas on the Bay Kingscote are another highly rated option, particularly for holidays with kids.

Again, holiday rentals are a great option for families on Kangaroo Island. For the western end, take a look at Green Gable Cottage, or at the other end, how about this beachfront house at Island Beach.

For larger families, or groups of friends, KI Star Beach House sleeps eight, D’Estrees Bay Beach House & Topdeck at Snelling Beach sleep 10, and Doyles on the Bay sleeps 20!

Free Camping Kangaroo Island

I’m throwing this one in here as a bit of a red herring, because I wanted to make the point that there is no free camping on Kangaroo Island.

If you are travelling in a camper van, or with a tent, you will need to stay in one of the caravan parks (Western KI Caravan Park, Discovery Lagoon Caravan Park & Kangaroo Island Shores), the council owned camping grounds, or the campgrounds in the national parks and wilderness areas.

All of these require a small fee which you can find on their websites.

Please keep the wilderness pristine and abide by the camping rules and camp only in designated places.

Plan more of your Kangaroo Island getaway with these posts
The Ultimate List of What to do on Kangaroo Island
How to Get from to Kangaroo Island from Adelaide
Best Kangaroo Island Wineries

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About the author

Josie Kelsh is South Australian, born and bred, living here for her whole life. 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.