Kangaroo Island Australia – A visit to Paradise

Kangaroo Island Australia is known as one of the world’s few unspoiled island refuges, and for good reason.

This idyllic island off the coast of South Australia is an ideal tour destination for anyone looking for sun, surf, and all the activities that come with it, such as swimming, fishing, sailing, and scuba diving.

For those travelers looking for isolation, solitude, and amazing waters, the islands are usually always special locations. Consider the West Indies, Hawaii, and the Maldives… each of these travel destinations has its own distinct traits and natural environment that has evolved over thousands of years of isolation. Kangaroo Island in Australia is no exception!

Although it is classified as an eco-tourism destination, not everyone has the opportunity to visit Kangaroo Island because the government wants to keep it as a semi-tourist destination. Kangaroo Island tourism is limited to keep the area clean and more hospitable to the creatures who call it home.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, The Travel Bunny will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you!

Visiting Kangaroo Island Australia

Kangaroo Island information

Australia’s Kangaroo Island is one of the most popular adventure vacation destinations in the country. This is due to the fact that the destination has a beautiful natural landscape offering a glimpse into the area’s unique species. This travel destination has also become well-known for allowing visitors to get up and personal with Australia’s unique flora and fauna.

Where is Kangaroo Island Australia?

Kangaroo Island location is about 110 kilometers (70 miles) south-southwest of Adelaide, off the coast of South Australia.

Want an even more detailed answer to “where is Kangaroo Island located?” Well, at 36 degrees south of the Equator, on the same parallel as Malta, Gibraltar, Nashville, Monterey, and Nagano (Japan) in the Northern Hemisphere, it has the only north-facing beaches.

How big is Kangaroo Island?

The size of Kangaroo Island is nearly seven times the size of Singapore, covering 4,405 km². Australia’s third-biggest island (after Tasmania and Melville), it stretches on around 155 kilometers, with Kingscote serving as the island’s capital and principal community.

What is the population of Kangaroo Island?

Kangaroo Island has a population of only 5,021 people, with a density of just 0.01 locals per hectare. Most of them are living in Kingscote or Penneshaw. You really don’t need to worry about feeling crowded, given limited access to tourists and the small Kangaroo Island population.

How did Kangaroo Island get its name?

The renowned English explorer Matthew Flinders discovered Kangaroo Island. He called the island after the large number of native Kangaroos he spotted on land.

So how many kangaroos on Kangaroo Island?

Brace yourself! While the human population is low, the kangaroo population is thriving: it’s estimated that there are more than 65,000 kangaroos on Kangaroo Island!

After these interesting facts about Kangaroo Island, let me tell you a bit about the local wildlife.

Kangaroo Island wildlife
Uncover the unique wildlife during your stay at a Kangaroo Island wilderness retreat

Discover the unique Kangaroo Island wildlife

But first, a bit of Kangaroo Island history! Kangaroo Island has been less affected by European settlement than the South Australian mainland due to its relative seclusion. Since British sailor Matthew Flinders identified Kangaroo Island in 1802, half of the island’s bushland has remained intact, and more than a third of the island is designated as a National Park or Conservation Park. This unspoiled wilderness sustains a diverse wildlife population, making Kangaroo Island one of Australia’s best places to witness wildlife in its native habitat. Koalas sleep in the gum trees and seals rest on the island’s sand. Kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, platypi, Penneshaw penguins, and goannas are also abundant on this Australian island.

About 10,000 years ago, Kangaroo Island was split from mainland Australia. Some animals have evolved differently from their mainland relatives over that period. The Kangaroo Island Kangaroo (a subspecies of the Western Grey Kangaroo found in south-eastern Australia) is a good example of this, as it is currently smaller, darker, and has longer fur than its mainland counterpart. The now-endangered Glossy Black Cockatoo, as well as the small marsupial carnivore Sooty Dunnart, are both distinct Kangaroo Island sub-species.

Similarly, the plants on Kangaroo Island Australia have evolved in isolation to the point where at least 45 species, including numerous eucalypts, are endemic (found only on Kangaroo Island). The complete lack of feral animals like foxes contributes to the bushland ecosystems integrity on Kangaroo Island.

National and Conservation parks were established around Kangaroo Island early in the history of European settlement in acknowledgment of the island’s distinctive plant and wildlife species. The National Parks on Kangaroo Island offer a shoreline beauty, unique geological formations, rich history, and a diverse range of fauna. The four major Kangaroo Island national parks are:

  • Flinders Chase National Park Kangaroo Island, with lovely walking paths and stunning rock formations
  • Kelly Hill Conservation Park, with limestone caves and trekking paths
  • Seal Bay Conservation Park, with Australia’s largest accessible sea lion population
  • Cape Willoughby Conservation Park, where you’ll find the first lighthouse in South Australia.

After learning a few facts on Kangaroo Island wildlife, we can dive into planning your trip there.

best time to see seals Kangaroo Island
Find out the best time to see seals on Kangaroo Island Australia and more

Kangaroo Island best time to visit?

Autumn is the best time to visit Kangaroo Island. Locals will most likely tell you this is their favorite season. The day temperature on Kangaroo Island Australia is pleasant, and the long daylight hours allow for boundless exploration. The cooler nights that are characteristic of the Kangaroo Island climate in autumn are ideal for snuggling up with a bottle of red wine while eating dinner.

The months of March through May are ideal for bushwalkers and photographers. From March to May, the weather on Kangaroo Island Australia offers often superb fishing conditions. The interior rivers and estuaries are waiting to be discovered. Rare birdlife can be seen, and wildflowers are blooming all over the island, attracting avid birdwatchers.

Winter is the best time to see seals on Kangaroo Island. The seal breeding season begins in December and peaks in January. The best places for seal-spotting stretch along the Admirals Arch boardwalk in Flinders Chase National Park.

kangaroo island australia map
Kangaroo Island Australia map. CC BY-SA 3.0

How to get to Kangaroo Island in Australia

Despite its location along the rough coast, Kangaroo Island is easily accessible by boat or by flight. A boat ride takes 45 minutes to an hour from Cape Jervis on the Australian mainland in the south, about 70 miles from Adelaide. Flights to Kangaroo Island take 20 to 30 minutes from Adelaide.

Check below for more in-depth information for getting to Kangaroo Island Australia:

How to get to Kangaroo Island from Sydney

There are several options that can help you travel to Kangaroo Island from Sydney:

  • Kangaroo Island flights from Sydney to Kingscote take around 7 hours and 45 minutes. This estimated duration includes a layover of around 4 hours and a half. The quickest flight usually takes 6 hours, and it’s actually the fastest way to get to Kangaroo Island from Sydney.
    There are usually 13 flights per week, but schedules can change on weekends and holidays, so check beforehand. You can book your plane ticket(s) with Jetstar, Qantas, Virgin Australia, and Regional Express.
  • The ferry can also help solve your how to get from Sydney to Kangaroo Island conundrum. Combine it with:
    • Driving a car (just 17 hours of traveling). This is the cheapest way to get to the Kangaroo Island from Sydney – it costs €130 – 190.
    • Taking a bus (the entire trip will take around 30 hours). This is the best way to get to the island if you don’t fly and you don’t drive a car.
    • Taking the train (the whole trip will be around 32 hours).

How to get to Kangaroo Island from Adelaide

There are several options that can help you get from Adelaide to Kangaroo Island Australia:

  • Kangaroo Island flights from Adelaide to Kingscote last around 35 minutes. This is obviously the fastest way to get to Kangaroo Island from Adelaide.
    Four flights run weekly on average, though weekend and holiday schedules can vary, so double-check ahead of time. You can book your plane ticket(s) with Qantas and Regional Express, paying €65 – 140.
  • The Kangaroo Island ferry from Adelaide can also help you when combined with:
    • Driving a car (around 3 hours of traveling). This is the cheapest way to get to Kangaroo Island from Adelaide. The trip with the Adelaide to Kangaroo Island ferry costs €29 – 40.
    • Taking a bus (approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes). It costs €90 – 120.

How to get to Kangaroo Island from Melbourne

There are several options that can help you get to Kangaroo Island from Melbourne:

  • Kangaroo Island flights from Melbourne to Kingscote take around 4 hours and 6 minutes. This estimated duration includes a layover of about 2 hours. The fastest flight usually lasts approximately 3 hours and 5 minutes, so this is the quickest way to get to Kangaroo Island from Melbourne.
    Six flights run weekly on average, though weekend and holiday schedules can vary, so double-check ahead of time. You can book your plane ticket(s) with Regional Express, Qantas, and Virgin Australia, paying €85 – €310.
  • The Melbourne to Kangaroo Island ferry can be combined with:
    • Driving a car (around 10 hours and a half of traveling). Kangaroo Island ferry prices of €80 – 120 make this the cheapest option to get to your destination.
    • Taking a bus (approximately 17 hours)
    • Taking the train (about 15 hours and a half).

How to get to Kangaroo Island by car

You can get to Kangaroo Island by car if you take the ferry. You have two companies to book your trip:

  • Kangaroo Island SeaLink operates two big, elegant vehicle and passenger ships. They connect Cape Jervis (about a 2-hour drive from Adelaide on the Fleurieu Peninsula) and Penneshaw. There are four daily departures, with additional services available during peak periods. Reservations are required. The trip takes about 45 minutes. There are land connections from Sealink Penneshaw to Kingscote and American River.
  • Kangaroo Island Connect operates a premium fast ferry connecting Cape Jervis and Penneshaw beach.

Though the project was thoroughly debated, there is no bridge to Kangaroo Island Australia.

Car hire Kangaroo Island

Car rentals on Kangaroo Island are accessible from all ports. Expect to pay between €29 and €102 per day for a rental car on Kangaroo Island Australia.

Planning your visit to Kangaroo Island

Here are some things to think about before booking an adventure holiday on Kangaroo Island Australia:

  1. The number of travelers who will accompany you on your vacation. This is critical to ensure that everything is available to meet the particular needs of those who will be visiting. Knowing how many people will be joining you on the trip can help you plan how to prepare and what to do once you arrive. The number of individuals that will accompany you on the trip will also ssist you in planning your budget, not only the vacation itinerary.
  2. The duration of your stay. This is important because the length of your stay will determine how much you should pack on your trip. It will also define the budget you will need to prepare and your Kangaroo Island itinerary while on your adventure vacation trip.
  3. The kind of activities you can enjoy. There are so many Kangaroo Island things to do! The majority of them are drawn to exploring and rediscovering nature. If you go, make a quick search of the things that can be done and chose from that list. Choose activities that are relevant to your interests and the interests of the people in your group.
  4. Transportation options. This is critical since you can plan your budget ahead of time.
  5. The various lodging options available for the adventure holiday. There are few places to stay on Kangaroo Island Australia because it is such a remote location. In truth, the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Retreat in Flinders Chase National Park and the Southern Ocean Lodge in Hanson Bay are the are the most popular places to stay, but not the only ones. The prices of the lodgings range from modestly to quite expensive.

Kangaroo Island Australia hotels & more

If you’re wondering where to stay on Kangaroo Island, don’t worry: I’ve got you covered!

Kangaroo Island accommodation Kingscote
Look for Kangaroo Island accommodation deals Kingscote, the island capital

Kangaroo Island accommodation Kingscote

Aurora Ozone Hotel Kangaroo Island

The Aurora Ozone Hotel Kangaroo Island Australia comes with an outdoor swimming pool, sauna, and spa pool, as well as modern and vintage accommodations. It is surrounded by a variety of boutiques, restaurants, and cafés. From the nearby wharf, guided penguin cruises can be organized.

The cuisine of its Bistro Restaurant is vast, featuring local fruit and seafood. It’s complemented with some of Kangaroo Island’s best wines, as well as breathtaking views of Nepean Bay.

Lifetime Private Retreats

16 kilometers off the coast of South Australia, Life-time Kangaroo Island retreat provides four private luxury residences hidden in spectacular coastal locales:

  • Cliff House Kangaroo Island
  • Sky House
  • Beachside Retreat
  • Pebbly Beach Retreat.

Each of these Kangaroo Island coastal villas is heated and comes with a fully equipped kitchen that includes a dishwasher, oven, and coffee maker. A patio with BBQ amenities and outdoor furniture is available. Private bathrooms come with a shower and complimentary toiletries. Your island beach lodge may also feature a bathtub.

Kangaroo Island Bayview Villas

Kangaroo Island Bayview Villas offer self-contained accommodation with a private terrace and BBQ amenities on a hillside overlooking Nepean Bay and the town of Kingscote. Each villa features a 42-inch flat-screen TV and a DVD player and is only a 10-minute stroll from the beach.

A fully equipped kitchen with a dishwasher and an oven is included in the air-conditioned villas on the Bay Kingscote. Each villa has two bathrooms, a laundry room, and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Acacia Apartments Kingscote

Acacia Apartments Kingscote offers free WiFi, air conditioning, and access to a garden with a BBQ. All of the rooms offer a sofa, a flat-screen TV with a Blu-ray player, a fully furnished kitchen, and a private bathroom with bathrobes and a hairdryer. There’s also a dishwasher, microwave, and fridge, as well as a kettle.

At Acacia Apartments Kingscote, guests can relax in the spa and wellness center, swim in the indoor pool, play pool, or book tours at the tour desk.

Kangaroo Island Seaside Inn

Kangaroo Island Seaside Inn is located on the banks of gorgeous Nepean Bay and offers accommodations with ocean views, complimentary WiFi, and a 32-inch LCD TV. The Kangaroo Island Seaside Inn has heating and air conditioning in each room. A refrigerator and ironing facilities are available.

A continental buffet breakfast is available for an extra fee each day at the on-site restaurant. A tour desk, free parking, and laundry facilities are available to guests.

Kangaroo Island Motel Kingscote

The Kangaroo Island Seaview Motel offers free Wi-Fi and excellent views of Nepean Bay from a big veranda with outdoor seating. It also features an outside courtyard with a covered grilling area, making it a great choice for cheap accommodation Kangaroo Island Australia.

A bar fridge, TV, toaster, and tea/coffee making facilities are included in each room at the Seaview Motel Kangaroo Island. There is air conditioning, heating, and electric blankets. Some rooms have separate bathrooms.

Kangaroo Island Holiday Village

Kangaroo Island Holiday Village offers garden views, free WiFi, and free private parking.

Air conditioning, a fully supplied kitchen with a dining area, a flat-screen TV, and a private bathroom with a shower are included in these Kangaroo Island accommodations. There’s also a microwave, a fridge, and an oven, as well as a kettle. Ideal Kangaroo Island family accommodation.

Kangaroo Island accommodation in Penneshaw
Looking for a Kangaroo Island accommodation with pool in Penneshaw? This is just the jetty, but read on!
Photo by Danimations, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Kangaroo Island accommodation in Penneshaw

Kangaroo Island Seafront Resort

The 4-star Kangaroo Island Seafront Hotel is located approximately 400 meters from the Sealink ferry station, nestled in calm gardens. The Seafront Hotel Penneshaw features air-conditioned rooms with refrigerators and tea/coffee making facilities. The sauna and outdoor swimming pool of the Kangaroo Island resort make this Penneshaw accommodation popular with couples.

American River accommodation on Kangaroo Island Australia
Find Kangaroo Island lodging in American River. Photo by Wikipedian, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

American River accommodation on Kangaroo Island Australia

Mercure Kangaroo Island Lodge

The Mercure Kangaroo Island Lodge overlooks the calm waters of Eastern Cove in the scenic American River. It features an award-winning restaurant showcasing local produce, a swimming pool, free WiFi, a tennis court, walking trails, wildlife spotting, and free pelican feeding.

Each air-conditioned room has a beautiful view of the ocean or the pool. A small refrigerator, a flat-screen TV, tea and coffee making facilities, and a private bathroom are all included. A microwave, toaster, and Nespresso coffee machine are also available in some rooms.

Emu Bay accommodation on Kangaroo Island Australia
Emu Bay, one of the best places to stay on Kangaroo Island Australia. Photo by Peterdownunder, CC BY-SA 3.0

Emu Bay accommodation on Kangaroo Island Australia

Emu Bay Holiday Homes

Emu Bay Holiday Homes offer a living room, a seating area with a sofa, a flat-screen TV, a fully supplied kitchen (including a microwave oven and kettle) with a dining table, and a private bathroom with a shower in every unit. This location appeals to couples who are searching for the ideal Kangaroo Island holiday house.

Birubi Holiday Homes Kangaroo Island

Looking for beachfront accommodation Kangaroo Island? Well, Birubi Holiday Homes in Emu Bay offers lodgings with a view of the sea. Each air-conditioned unit comes with a terrace with a barbeque, a dining area, and a seating room with a satellite flat-screen TV. A balcony and/or patio are available in some units. Yet another accommodation Kangaroo Island popular with couples.

Parndana accommodation perks
Wallaby-spotting is one of the perks offered by some Kangaroo Island resorts

Parndana accommodation

Ficifolia Lodge

Ficifolia Lodge offers self-contained flats with an open-plan kitchen and dining room. Ficifolia Lodge’s air-conditioned country-style apartments include Smart TV and access to free WiFi. Barbecue grills and on-site washing facilities are available, as well as free off-street parking.

There are various restaurants and a supermarket in Parndana. Ficifolia is conveniently located near Kangaroo Island’s major tourist attractions, including Flinders Chase National Park, Admiral Arch, Remarkable Rocks, and Seal Bay.

Molly’s Run Kangaroo Island Australia

There are three en-suite guest rooms in the purpose-built boutique hotel Mollys run Kangaroo Island. Breakfast and evening meals are provided in the open-plan kitchen, dining room, and living room. Your stay includes a nocturnal exploration of the property in search of wallabies, possums, and kangaroos.

Molly’s Run is the best option if you’re looking for Kangaroo Island luxury accommodation (or for a boutique bed and breakfast Kangaroo Island).

Vivonne Bay accommodation
Look for Kangaroo Island holiday deals in Vivonne Bay

Vivonne Bay accommodation

Vivonne Bay Island Getaway

Vivonne Bay Island Getaway offers air-conditioned accommodations with a balcony and free WiFi. The vacation property has a sun patio and is located in an area where guests may go hiking, golfing, or play pool.

Every Vivonne Bay Holiday House features four bedrooms, a flat-screen TV, a fully furnished kitchen with a microwave and refrigerator, a washing machine, and two bathrooms with showers. Vivonne Bay Lodge has a garden with a grill, and guests may enjoy fishing or canoeing nearby.

Honorable mention: Southern Ocean Lodge Kangaroo Island Australia burned down during the bushfires of 2020. But they are rebuilding and planning to reopen in late 2022 or early 2023.

Kangaroo Island tours and activities

On Kangaroo Island, a variety of tours and activities are available, allowing you to relax while someone else does the driving. Tour guides can also provide a wealth of knowledge on Kangaroo Island Australia, which is why an organized trip is preferable to driving on Kangaroo Island by yourself.

Most excursions pick up travelers from their accommodation, the airport, or the Kangaroo Island ferry terminal, with both coach and four-wheel drive trips available.

Advice for Kangaroo Island backpackers
Bike riding and trekking are also popular alternatives to explore beautiful Kangaroo Island roads, but keep in mind that the island is huge and these activities demand a certain level of fitness.

Between Cape Jervis on the South Australian coast and Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island, large luxury cars and passenger boats operate (traveling time 45 minutes). There are four daily departures, with additional services available during peak times.

There are also Kangaroo Island transfers by bus between Adelaide and Cape Jervis, as well as Penneshaw and American River and Kingscote on the island. Regional Express offers a 30-minute flight from Adelaide to Kingscote Airport, which is only 13 kilometers away.

Here are some of the best tours to visit Kangaroo Island Australia:

2 day Kangaroo Island tour safari from Adelaide Australia

2 day Kangaroo Island tour safari from Adelaide

On this all-inclusive 2 day safari, you’ll see the best of Kangaroo Island Australia from Adelaide. Travel with a knowledgeable local guide who will share information about the island’s history as well as the environmental recovery efforts following the bushfires. This is a must-do Kangaroo Island Safari where you can get up close and personal with the island’s wildlife, sights, and experiences.

Full-Day Adelaide Kangaroo Island tour

Full-Day Adelaide Kangaroo Island tour

Looking for things to do on Kangaroo Island? The attractions of this unspoiled natural beauty are covered on this full-day guided trip to Kangaroo Island Australia. Koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, goannas, echidnas, long-nosed fur seals, and other natural creatures can be seen in Seal Bay Conservation Park, Vivonne Bay, Flinders Chase National Park, Remarkable Rocks, and Admirals Arch Kangaroo Island, among other places.

2-hour koala hiking Kangaroo Island

2-hour koala hiking Kangaroo Island

As your guide takes you beyond the dunes of Little Sahara and into the adjacent bushland, you’ll get a firsthand look at Kangaroo Island’s natural splendor. Your professional guide will lead you on a 2-hour stroll through Little Sahara, where you will learn about the wonders and beauties of nature’s playground. You’ll feel as though you’ve developed a connection with the natural world and Kangaroo Island Australia when you leave.

Kangaroo Island self drive tour on quad

Kangaroo Island self drive tour on quad

On this amazing quad bike tour of Kangaroo Island Australia, zip over dirt tracks, splash through muddy paths, and travel off-road. Choose one of four possible itineraries ranging from 1.5 to 3 hours to see the rugged Australian bushlands from the back of your easy-to-drive ATV. Visit beautiful beaches and breathtaking vistas, test your mettle on sand and gravel trails, or take a sunset cruise to take in the landscape. Best of all, no prior experience or license is required, so the entire family may participate in all these Kangaroo Island activities.

2-hour snorkeling Kangaroo Island

2-hour snorkeling Kangaroo Island Australia

A snorkeling excursion departing daily from Christmas Cove Marina will add a water activity to your Kangaroo Island itinerary. Taking a tour with a guide assures that you see the best species, from long-nosed seals to dolphins. Your guide supplies wetsuits, snorkeling equipment, and sunscreen, as well as live commentary about the area’s creatures and ongoing conservation initiatives, assuring a safe and pleasurable tour.

best Kangaroo Island deals
Best Kangaroo Island tour package

One of the best Kangaroo Island deals you’ll find!

5-Day Trek on the Larapinta Trail

Instead of taking a day excursion from Adelaide to Kangaroo Island Australia, take an overnight cruise to get more time to experience the island’s natural wonders. Visit natural sites such as Remarkable Rocks, Stokes Bay, and Flinders Chase National Park to see beautiful beaches, try some sandboarding, and admire wildlife such as kangaroos, koalas, and seals. At Vivonne Bay Lodge, one night of shared accommodation is included, with access to the local beach, bicycling, and kayaking; upgrade to a private room if desired. The number of persons that can stay on the island is limited to 20.

What’s included in your Kangaroo Island bush getaway:

  • Meals (4 breakfasts, 5 lunches, and 4 dinners)
  • Transport in an air-conditioned vehicle
  • Accommodation: 1 night at Vivonne Bay Lodge + 4 nights of swag camping
  • Kangaroo Island National Park Fees
  • Guide.

These 5-day short holidays Kangaroo Island cost €1635.
Definitely, the best way to visit Kangaroo Island Australia.

Although it is not as commercialized as other adventure vacation spots, it is guaranteed to appeal to those who enjoy the thrill of experiencing nature. People who enjoy beautiful landscapes, wonderful caves filled with limestone, and impressive rock formations will undoubtedly return to the area in the future.

About the author

Mirela Letailleur The Travel Bunny

Mirela Letailleur is a Romanian travel blogger living in the South of France. She writes on The Travel Bunny travel blog about affordable travel in Europe, creator of unique free travel guides, local travel expert. Problem solver. Wannabe coffee guru.

Read more about Mirela Letailleur

After learning Kangaroo Island facts & discovering Kangaroo Island attractions, you should read
Give some love to Australia hidden gems!
Here’s the best time to explore Australia
Holidays for Melbourne travelers