During our family gap year, we spent more time in Australia than any other country – 7 weeks to be exact. Despite that lengthy visit we just couldn’t see everything, as Australia is nearly as large as the continental United States!
One place I would have loved to visit is Kangaroo Island – it’s an incredible wildlife haven with gorgeous scenery and so much more. I’ve asked Aussie travel blogger Olivia McDonald to share her best tips for visiting Kangaroo Island. She loves exploring at home in Australia just as much as traveling abroad and shares her passion for the Land Down Under with readers all over the world!
Be sure to read up on how to plan your own amazing Australia itinerary as you plan your trip.
Situated off the coast of South Australia, Kangaroo Island stands out as a unique and stunning destination that has loads on offer. To help you make the most of your trip to this Aussie gem, I’ve put together the ultimate Kangaroo Island guide.
Whether you’re a nature lover, adventure seeker, or simply looking for a relaxing getaway, this guide is your key to unlocking the best of this stunning island.
From choosing the perfect places to stay on Kangaroo Island to how to get around, I’ve got you covered in this guide. Discover the best things to do on Kangaroo Island, whether it’s hiking through untouched landscapes, encountering native wildlife, or simply basking on pristine beaches with some of the bluest waters you’ll ever see.
Get ready for an adventure like no other!
Why you need to visit Kangaroo Island
Beautiful rugged coastlines, turquoise waters, top-rated beaches, native animals, unique natural formations and wines to taste. Shall I go on?
There are loads of things to do on Kangaroo Island including visiting the Remarkable Rocks and Admiral arches at Flinders Chase National Park, watching seals in the natural habitat at Seal Bay or relaxing by the beach at Stokes Bay.
Whether you are a solo traveler from Australia, visiting from overseas with your partner or looking for a weekend getaway from Adelaide with family Kangaroo Island is well worth a visit.
Check out this list of cool things to do in Kangaroo Island:
- Look for kangaroos, koalas and more in Flinders Chase National Park
- Enjoy sunrise or sunset at the Remarkable Rocks
- Coo over adorable seal pups in Seal Bay
- Take in the stunning waters around Vivonne Bay Jetty
- Go tasting at Bay of Shoals Winery
- Explore underground at Kelly Hill Caves
Throughout this article you’ll see photos of Kangaroo Island to inspire your own trip!
How to get to Kangaroo Island, Australia
To get to Kangaroo Island from Adelaide city/airport, you will need to drive about 1hr 30mins to Cape Jervis to catch the Sealink ferry across. Be sure to book in early if you are traveling during the summertime and are taking a car across as it books up fast!
The ferry is about a 45-minute trip and will drop you off at Penneshaw.
From there, I recommend you stay in Kingscote due to the range of accommodation, shopping and dining options. Kingscote is about a 45-minute drive from Penneshaw. It’s a long travel day but it is definitely worth it once you arrive.
You can skip the ferry and fly to Kangaroo Island, although expect to pay more and have less flexibility with scheduling.
I highly recommend renting a car when traveling around Kangaroo Island. The roads vary but are generally suitable to drive without a 4-wheel drive. I rented a small economy car from Sixt via Discover cars and it was perfect for a solo road trip! A few roads are dirt and gravel so be sure to drive slowly as the tires can slip, happened to me a few times and it is a bit scary!
Talk about sweaty hands when driving!
Kangaroo Island Accommodation
I recommend you stay in Kingscote as there are enough cafes, restaurants, petrol stations and shops to get you by. There is a supermarket which I found great for picking up lunch for on the go (as there isn’t much past Kingscote) and a few great takeaway and dining options.
Although it is still rather quiet it’s the probably best you’re going to get on the island, other than perhaps Penneshaw which is only slightly smaller! Other parts of the island are more remote and lack some of the services that will make your trip smoother.
Aurora Ozone Hotel
I stayed in the Aurora Ozone Hotel which had everything I needed.
The room I booked was the executive double room which had a single bed and a king bed, perfect for up to three people. There is Wi-Fi, air conditioning, comfy beds, a small fridge and some kitchen essentials. The room is cleaned daily which is always a treat when you’re on holiday.
An executive double room cost me AUD 239 per night which isn’t bad considering the limited options and my travels during peak holiday times in December. If you are traveling solo or with one other and want to save some money, I would check availability for the Standard Heritage Room which costs AUD 199 per night.
There is a restaurant onsite with beach views that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. For $25AUD you can purchase a great buffet breakfast. The lunch and dinner options are typical bistro food that has a fair price for the location on the beach.
Overall I enjoyed my stay at Aurora Ozone, the location was great, the staff were super friendly and the rooms were comfortable!
Kangaroo Island Seaview Motel
The Kangaroo Island Seaview Motel is a super cute modern beachfront motel at a mid-range price (approximately $170-AUD 270 per night depending on the time of year).
I had my eye set on this place however it wasn’t available for the full 4 nights I required, sad face. Perfect location on the main strip in Kingscote. Spacious options are available for groups of up to 4 people.
Kangaroo Island Seafront
If you prefer to stay in Penneshaw to stay close to the ferry and explore more dining options than Kingscote, Kangaroo Island Seafront is a fantastic option for a reasonable price. They offer plenty of unique opportunities like a family glamping tent and mini golf!
Expect to pay around $150 – $200AUD a night for a double room with all the basic amenities you need. The motel is walking distance from the ferry terminal so it’s very convenient.
The best time to visit Kangaroo Island
I’m sure you’re all thinking, you’ve sold me, I want to go to Kangaroo Island but when?
Summer is the most popular time to visit between December and February as the weather is perfectly warm for exploring the stunning beaches. It’s also the most expensive time of year to visit, especially over Christmas, New Years and Australia Day holidays.
Shoulder seasons of Spring (September to November) and Autumn (March to May) are also ideal for avoiding peak time charges, skipping the crowds, and enjoying slightly cooler weather.
Wondering when to see seal pups on Kangaroo Island? They’re born anytime between January and June, so you’ll almost always see babies or young seals when you visit!
Where to eat on Kangaroo Island
Just like Kangaroo Island accommodation options, restaurants and cafes are limited, especially when you venture out of Kingscote or Penneshaw. I was on the island for 4 nights so was able to try the local favorite spots in Kingscote.
The cost of eating out on Kangaroo Island can add up fast so I would suggest making the most of the large Drakes supermarket located centrally in Kingscote for breakfast and lunch options.
At the end of this post, I will cover my top tips for saving money when traveling Kangaroo Island including budgeting your meals. Keep in mind that all prices I list in this article about visiting Kangaroo Island are quoted in AUD and are accurate as of 2024.
For Breakfast, I recommend So Sando. Their eggs on toast for $8 are unreal! They also offer a range of gourmet toasted sandwiches and coffee.
I also tried the buffet breakfast at my Kangaroo Island accommodation, Aurora Ozone and it was a decent big breakfast. For $25 get yourself a hot buffet breakfast including bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, toast, cereals, pastries, and coffee and juices.
To get my money’s worth I sneakily took an apple and a few pastries to go to have on the road for lunch. It’s a buffet! Aurora Ozone also serves lunch and dinner however I didn’t get a chance to get it.
Other breakfast options include Rabbit Warren Bakery or Drakes Supermarket for a quick bite or for something a little fancier Cactus is apparently unreal! Labeled the funkiest cafe in Kangaroo Island, it boasts modern brunch options, character and quality coffee.
As you venture an hour out for the day to places like Seal Bay and Flinders National Park, there are very limited lunch spots around.
In the morning before I left for the day, I would stop in at Drakes and grab something from the fresh grab-and-go bakery section, a piece of fruit, and some snacks to keep me going. This really helped me to keep costs down! You’ll also be so busy exploring Kangaroo Island that a picnic in a beautiful spot makes more sense logistically than trying to find a place to sit for lunch.
By the time dinner comes around, I’m sure you’ll be pretty hungry, a cheese and bacon roll and some lollies on the road is quick and easy but not the most filling!
My favorite place for dinner, which I wish I discovered earlier, was Amanda’s Takeaway. Amanda’s has loads of different meals prepped and ready to be reheated such as fried rice, pasta, curries, sushi, rice paper rolls, honey chicken, and loads of delicious options for only $14!
They also do a delicious roast chicken, chips, and gravy, absolute heaven!
You can’t visit the beach in Australia and not enjoy fish and chips! I had a great meal from Kangaroo Island Fresh Seafoods, next to Ampol, quick, affordable and delicious!
The last option I would suggest is Bella Cafe and Pizza Bar for dine-in or takeaway pizzas.
If you’re like me and like to unwind with a nice bottle of wine while on holiday, Kangaroo Island’s Sip & Save, located behind the Aurora Ozone Hotel, is the closest bottle shop.
Or even, better pick up your favorite wine from a winery tasting experience. The Aurora Ozone Kangaroo Island accommodation has a mini fridge for you to store your drinks and leftovers.
Budgeting your trip to Kangaroo Island
Now let’s talk numbers.
Depending on where you are traveling from and what time of year, costs will fluctuate for your trip.
For example, if you’re from Adelaide, you can skip spending money on flights and instead treat yourself to a few extra nights on Kangaroo Island. But if you are flying from anywhere in Australia or even overseas, a trip to Kangaroo Island can add up.
IF and I mean a big if, you don’t plan ahead and spend your money wisely.
Before I get into how much it costs me to travel to Kangaroo Island from Brisbane (my home town), let’s quickly cover my true, tried and tested ways to save a few bucks when traveling Kangaroo Island.
Saving a few bucks every day does add up in the end!
Tips for Visiting Kangaroo Island on a Budget
Ok, so rapid-fire budget tips are…
- Only eat out for 1 meal a night
- Grab breakfast and lunch from supermarkets or bakeries
- Bring snacks from home
- Solo traveling is more expensive than with 1 other person, consider bringing a friend
- Set aside extra cash for gas… it adds up fast when you go through a full tank in a couple of days traveling the island
- Pick Kangaroo Island accommodation that has free breakfast options. I did this in Fleurieu Peninsula and it was fantastic!
- Explore free attractions such as beaches, coves and hiking trails
- Travel with carry-on luggage only
- Travel during shoulder seasons
- Do your research! Research menu prices, hotel prices, national park entry fees, petrol prices etc.
How much does it cost to visit Kangaroo Island?
Okay now that we’ve covered my favorite ways to reduce my travel spending, let’s dive into how much it costs me to travel to Kangaroo Island for 4 nights during the peak season in December. Below are all listed in AUD.
- Flights from Brisbane to Adelaide = $665
- Accommodation for 4 nights = $1069
- Petrol = $110
Car Rental = $717 (I was under 25 so was hit with a young driver fee, but I get discounts from my corporate job!)
- Food & Drinks= $145
- National parks and tours = $52
- Ferry = $330
Total for 4 nights of solo travel (mid-range) in Kangaroo Island = AUD 3,088 (that’s about $2000 USD as of February 2024)
Now, this does seem like a lot, but as I mentioned earlier solo travel is expensive! If I were to travel with 1 other person I would have saved around $800. But this is not always possible!
Don’t stop exploring the world and doing what you want to do because no one can come with you!
I also would have saved around $300 if I had booked a few weeks earlier as I would have had more Kangaroo Island accommodation options that are more suitable for 1 person.
FAQ’s: Traveling to Kangaroo Island
Moving onto some commonly asked questions about Kangaroo Island accommodation, how to get around, and the best things to do!
Well, when it comes to where to stay on Kangaroo Island, you’re in for a treat!
I highly recommend you stay in Kingscote.
It’s the largest town on the island and offers a wonderful blend of convenience and charm. Kingscote has a range of accommodations to suit all budgets, from cozy bed and breakfasts to beachfront resorts.
You can stroll along the Esplanade, grab some local seafood, and head to the beach for sunset, or sit down at one of the restaurants after a long day of exploration. And there are a few shops to explore if you have some extra time.
Plus, it’s a great base for exploring other places to visit on Kangaroo Island since it’s centrally located.
Absolutely, it’s worth it!
Kangaroo Island is filled with natural beauty, wildlife, and adventure. The landscapes are stunning, the wildlife is incredible, and the experiences are well worth the trip! From exploring gorgeous beaches to hiking through national parks and tasting delicious local food and wine, Kangaroo Island offers something for everyone.
So, yes, staying on Kangaroo Island is definitely worth it in my eyes if you’re seeking an authentic and unforgettable Aussie experience.
The ideal duration for your Kangaroo Island adventure really depends on what you want to see and how much time you have. However, I’d recommend spending at least 3 to 4 days to truly savor what this island has to offer. This allows you to explore the major attractions, enjoy the local food and wine, and immerse yourself in the island’s serenity.
If you’re short on time, know that driving the loop around Kangaroo Island just takes a few hours. You can see quite a big even in just 2 days on Kangaroo Island.
Of course, if you have more time to spare, extending your stay will only allow you to explore more including off-the-beaten-path spots. So plan your trip based on how much time you can dedicate to this incredible destination!
While it’s possible to take a day trip to Kangaroo Island, I don’t recommend it. If you’re staying in Adelaide plan to spend at least 6 hours of your day on transportation alone. The one exception is if you’re visiting Kangaroo Island on a cruise ship excursion, in which case you can consider a foodie focused tour or a tour focused on nature and scenery. I would personally choose the latter!
Plan your trip to Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island is a remarkable destination that offers a diverse range of accommodations and loads of gorgeous natural attractions.
From cozy stays in Kingscote to insane encounters with wildlife at Seal Bay, this island has something to offer every type of traveler.
Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a foodie, or simply looking for a relaxing escape, Kangaroo Island is a place that won’t disappoint.
So, start planning your trip to this Australian gem, and get ready to explore the beaches, national parks, and vibrant local culture that make Kangaroo Island a must-visit destination.
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