Australia

The Best Things To Do On South Australia’s Kangaroo Island

By Jessica Best
8th Nov 2022

two people standing on a jetty

Acknowledgement Of Country: Urban List respects and honours Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past, present, and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions, and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on this land.

Kangaroo Island—how do we even begin to explain this incredible place?

It’s been described as a “zoo without fences” which is exactly the feel you’ll get when you’re here. From roaming kangaroos and rare sea lions to housing Australia’s oldest bee sanctuary, this place is any animal-lovers mecca. Along with this, you’ll have a plethora of outdoor adventures at your disposal, from coastal hikes and ocean swimming to exploring rocky gorges and sand dunes.

If that wasn’t enough, Kangaroo Island is also a foodie metropolis, a place you can load up on fresh oysters, honey, local produce and just quietly, one of the best roast lamb pies in Australia.

Here’s everything you need to know about South Australia’s Kangaroo Island.

Need To Know

While it’s all well and good to fire up the group chat and get your crew hyped for future getaways or flick this article to your better half and start planning your next trip to Kangaroo Island, there are a few things you should know first.

Kangaroo Island is an extremely sacred place which has been its own little sanctuary and separated from Australia’s mainland for nearly 10,000 years. First Nations tribes on the southern part of Australia around the Murray River called it “Karta” or “island of the dead”. It’s believed this name comes down to a being from the Dreamtime, called Ngurunderi, who crossed the island from the Milky Way.

With this in mind, protecting sacred Indigenous artefacts and sites should always be front of mind when visiting. Indigenous culture wraps itself in an all-encompassing way with the land and it underpins all aspects of life for many First Nations people, so when you visit—respecting this comes first (this includes being mindful when taking pictures too).

Kangaroo Island offers up a wealth of natural beauty, almost one-third of the island is covered in national parks and conservation reserves. It’s also Australia’s third-largest island, sitting in at 155km long, 55km wide and with over 540km of gorgeous coastline. While you can definitely visit this amazing place on any given weekend, we suggest giving yourself at least seven days to work your way through the organic honey farms, fresh seafood, beautiful coastal walks, sandboarding, kayaking, swimming, caving and a whole lot more.

This island also houses six different regions so keep these in mind when you book where to stay— Dudley Peninsula, American River, Kingscote and Emu Bay, North Coast Heartland, Western Kangaroo Island and South Coast.

Things To Do

Flinders Chase National Park

It’s the beating heart of Kangaroo Island and sports a whole lot of natural wonders you won’t want to miss. Flinders Chase National Park is where you’ll find the iconic Remarkable Rocks, a cluster of granite boulders all shaped from wind, sea spray and rain over 500 million years. This area inside the park will also give you an insane vantage point for scoping out the Casuarina Islets.

You’ll also find Weirs Cove, Cape du Couedic Lighthouse and Admirals Arch within this national park.

Snellings Beach

Is it our favourite beach on Kangaroo Island? We’ll let you decide. Snellings Beach is located within the North Coast of the island and the colour of the water will absolutely blow you away. This small beach has BBQ facilities, a lookout, free parking, walking trails and picnic tables so you’ll really be able to set up here for a full day.

Vivonne Bay

Vivonne Bay has been dubbed the prettiest beach on the island and honestly, it’s not hard to see why. This six-kilometre beach looks just like a postcard and even features a long jetty at the south end. At the north end, you’ll find Little Sahara (more on that soon) and towards the east lies Vivonne Bay Conservation Park, an 887-hectare nature reserve home to Australia’s third-largest sea colony.

Little Sahara

Little Sahara is Kangaroo Island’s natural playground—we’re talking endless sand dunes, people. In the 70s, Little Sahara was heritage listed to make sure it could be preserved for the future. Even though it’s privately owned, it’s fully open to the public so you can go sandboarding and tobogganing and revive the kidult inside of you.

Pennington Bay

If you’re an avid surfer—Pennington Bay is your jam. Sitting on the southern coastline of Kangaroo Island, this stunning inlet reels in some pretty powerful swell making it one of the best places to slide your way into the green room.

Where To Eat

Clifford’s Honey Farm

Clifford’s Honey Farm is a family-owned business championing and protecting Kangaroo Island’s Ligurian bees (Kangaroo Island is the world's oldest bee sanctuary and is home to the only pure strain of Ligurian Bee in the world). You’ll want to make sure you nab up all the honey products including dressings, fudges and chutneys.

Emu Bay Lavender Farm

This working lavender farm can't be missed. The team here work all year around—planting, pruning, propagating and making in-house lavender products. You’ll find a fully licensed cafe here offering up breakfast and lunch, with a menu sporting season and local produce (not to mention, there are some juicy local ciders worth your time).

Millie Mae’s Pantry

If you’re a breakfast fiend (and you are), spoiling your tastebuds at Milly Mae’s is a must. This rustic cafe churns out the best lamb pies you’ll ever eat, does a mean egg florentine and even whips up a platter box with crackers, salami, brie, olives and dip should you want to live your best picnic life.

Where To Stay

Snellings View

Making the most of its coastal views, Snellings View is a Scandi-inspired luxury retreat that soothes with its light and bright interior design and stunning location overlooking Snellings Beach, which is accessible via a short walk downhill. Snellings View boasts two self-contained wings, both featuring open living spaces with kitchen and dining to accommodate up to six guests (for a total of 12 guests). 

Seafront Eco-Luxury Tents

Located within private bushland and with stunning views of Hog Bay, Seafront Eco-Luxury Tents will give you all the luxe vibes with a hint of wilderness. You’ll have a Nespresso coffee machine, a minibar, free Wi-Fi and a private deck with outdoor furniture plus big windows so you can soak up all the scenery.

And check out the best camping in South Australia.

Image credit: Kangaroo Island Tourism

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