Image credit: South Australian Tourism Commission

Kangaroo Island: All The Best Things To Do

7 July 2021
Read Time: 6.6 mins

Kangaroo Island Must-Sees 

  • Remarkable Rocks 

  • Emu Bay   

  • Vivonne Bay 

  • American River 

  • Seal Bay Conservation Park   

  • Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park 

  • Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary 

  • Wild kangaroos & dolphins

  • Penneshaw Penguin Centre 

  • Olives, oysters, honey, gin & beer 

  • Lavender fields 

  • Dinner under a giant fig tree 

  • All the wine!  


Kangaroo Island is the small island that packs a punch! Well, if Australia’s third-largest island with 509 kilometres of coastline, seven times the size of Singapore counts as ‘small’. The ultimate escape to nature, here you can traverse ancient landscapes shaped by time, explore postcard perfect beaches, meet an incredible array of rare and unique wildlife and dig into fresh local produce at every turn. They say you visit Kangaroo Island for its wildlife but fall in love with its wine...   
 
By the end of this list you’ll be wondering what can’t you do on Kangaroo Island?! 
 
Read on for all the juicy details!  
 
Little Sahara Desert. Image: Tash Mohring

Natural Wonders  

Remarkable Rocks  

These wind-swept (rather blasted) boulders are surely one of the island’s most famous landscapes. Formed from over 500 million years of wind, rain and sea slowly carving its way around these granite rocks to create these dramatic sculptures with commanding views over the Southern Ocean. Found within Flinders Chase National Park, aim to visit during the ‘golden hours’ of the morning and later afternoon to see the sun work its magic transforming the lichen covered rocks into radiating monuments of nature.   
 
American River  
 
Calling all fishing, sailing and seafood lovers! Oh, and bird watchers too! This charming village overlooks Eastern Cove, an outer bay with perfect conditions for fishing and sailing. The inner bay known as Pelican Lagoon is where twitchers (if you know, you know) can spot pelicans and black swans. Top it off with fresh oysters and you’ve got a day made!   
 
Emu Bay   
 
Four-and-a-half kilometres of clean white sand and turquoise waters, protected from the elements, Emu Bay is a beach lover's dream. There’s also a nearby jetty for fishing enthusiasts and don’t worry about getting a park, 4WDs can drive right up onto the beach! 
 
Emu Bay. Image: @jay.bevs
 
Vivonne Bay   
 
Another impressive beach destination, Vivonne Bay frequently graces the list of Australia's best beaches. Clear waters and white sandy beaches make for the ideal spot to sunbath, take a stroll or enjoy a seaside picnic. While swimming here is not ideal due to a strong undertow, surfing can be unreal when the conditions are right—especially in the winter (albeit a little chilly!)  
 
Little Sahara Desert  
 
Located less than a 10-minute drive from Vivonne Bay, you’ll find one of Kangaroo Island’s best ‘nature’s playground’ moments, these wind-sculpted sand dunes stretch for two square kilometres and make not only impressive photos but the chance to try sandboarding or tobogganing! Brace yourself, the tallest dune reaches around 70 metres above sea level.  
 
Vivonne Bay. Image: Isaac Forman, Serio

Wildlife   

Seal Bay Conservation Park   
 
Like sea lions? (they’re pretty fun to watch), well this is the only place in the world where you can spy a whole colony of Australian sea lions in their natural habitat. Walk the 900-metre boardwalk with ample viewing platforms and informative signs along the way, you’ll be an Aussie sea lion aficionado in no time! Watching them surf the waves is a highlight!    
 
Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park  
 
There’s the thrill of spotting animals in the wild, then there’s the joy of getting to (respectfully and responsibly) cuddle a koala and hand-feed kangaroos and wallabies! Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park can make that happen. Home to over 150 species of native Australian wildlife you can also observe wombats, penguins, echidnas, crocodiles and more!  
 
Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary  
 
Spread over 5000 acres, the sanctuary connects to the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail as well as the Remarkable Rocks in Flinders Chase National Park. This stretch of nature is the best place on the island to spot koalas in the wild, and you’re likely to see kangaroos, echidnas and plenty of local birdlife too!  
 
Wild kangaroos   
 
You don’t go to Kangaroo Island expecting not to see the island’s namesake out and about! Kangaroo Island kangaroos are distinct to mainland species with their longer, darker fur. If you’re a kanga fan (who isn’t!) the best places to spot them in the wild are Black Swamp in Flinders Chase National Park and Grassdale in Kelly Hill Conservation Park. You can even sign up for a tour exploring the beautiful bushland and coastal scenery alongside expert guides. 
 
Swim with wild dolphins   
 
Turn your nature experience up a notch by jumping in the ocean to swim with the local dolphins! Tours run all year round and you can often also spot seals, rays and sea eagles too! 
 
Penneshaw Penguin Centre   
 
Penneshaw is the small town the ferry to Kangaroo Island arrives at, and it’s a fitting first introduction that it’s a) delightful and b) home to unique wildlife—enter the world’s smallest penguins! Check these little guys out at the Penneshaw Penguin Centre on an evening guided walk illuminated by wildlife-friendly red-light torches.  

The Enchanted Fig Tree. Image: South Australian Tourism Commission

Eat & drink  

Olives  
 
Kangaroo Island Olives is where father and son duo, Michael and Dom, produce olives from a grove of 5000 trees. Sample flavourful olives and pick up some exceptional oils to take home!  
 
Oysters 
 
We mentioned seafood was a delicacy here, don’t miss the Kangaroo Island Oyster Farm Shop in American River which harvests sensational Pacific Oysters in the calm waters of Eastern Cove.  
 
Honey 
 
The Clifford family have been producing honey from the Kangaroo Island Ligurian Bee since 1973! At Clifford’s Honey Farm you can learn all about how honey is harvested, taste the different flora and fauna in the honey and dig into Jenny’s famous honey ice cream!  
 
Emu Bay Lavender Farm and Café  
 
Not only a delightful place for an impromptu ‘field of flowers’ photoshoot, the Emu Bay Lavender Farm is also a top spot for a bite to eat! Try the lavender scones —they taste as good as they smell!  
 
Dine under an Enchanted Fig Tree  
 
Who doesn’t love a good tree? Planted over 100 years ago, this magical fig tree is now a dining destination! From December to April, you can enjoy a delicious meal surrounded by gnarled branches and dazzling fairy lights.  
 
Try the local gin, juice or beer!   
 
Kangaroo Island Spirits is the island’s only boutique distillery. Sample its range of six liqueurs, three vodkas and it’s much talked about premium gin. The cellar door is open Wednesday through Sunday.  
 
Kangaroo Island Ciders produce boozy ciders and a non-alcoholic sparkling apple juice. The cellar door is found at Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery.  
 
For beer lovers, Kangaroo Island Brewery pours a wide range of house-brewed craft beers, and the Drunken Drone Brewery produces small batch beers including a Honey Wheat Ale made from Clifford's Honey Farm honey!  
 
Bay of Shoals Wines. Image: Meaghan Coles

Wine, wine and more wine  

Bay of Shoals Wines has atmosphere, amplified! Overlooking Bay of Shoals and Reeves Point, you can try their hand-picked Rosé, Sparkling Rosé and late harvest Riesling with a view!   
 
Dudley Wines is one of the island’s original wineries. The perfect post for an afternoon tipple and cheese platter on their deck overlooking Backstairs Passage (the section of water separating the island from the mainland).  
 
Established by Bordeaux winemaker Jacques Lurton after falling in love with Kangaroo Island, The Islander Estate Vineyard on the Cygnet River is the perfect place to try French-style wines paired with a platter of seasonal produce!    
 
False Cape Wines is the largest vineyard on the island, and they’ve got a new cellar door where you can try and buy their minimal intervention wines produced by sustainable and time-honoured wine practices. Again, what would a winery be without a view? False Cape looks out onto the banks of the Willson River flat, a classic Aussie setting.  
 
Then there’s the smaller boutique wineries Hazyblur Wines, Lathami Wines and Snow Dragon Wines.   
 
Cheers to Kangaroo Island! 

 

 

Rachel Surgeoner

A self-confessed 'food-tourist', I take hunting for the world's greatest sandwich very seriously, my quest has taken me from Berlin to Hoboken. Stopping off only for vintage shopping, craft beers and Mediterranean sunsets.