When I first visited Kangaroo Island 10 years ago, I was not aware of how much this island had to offer and decided to go on a day tour. Hopping on and off the coach was not enough for me, and it indeed is a short time to do justice to this unique Australian island. In a few hours you can get a glimpse of Kangaroo Island’s highlights – it is the third-largest islands in Australia, but to discover the beauty of the island and get the feel of the place you need at least three full days.
The best way to explore Kangaroo Island is a road trip. And this is what I decided to go on a solo road trip. I hired a car and went off discovering Kangaroo Island.
How to get to Kangaroo Island from Adelaide
I travelled from Adelaide on the Sealink Coach to Cape Jervis along 100km of scenic drive that takes you to Cape Jervis along the Fleurieu Peninsula. From Cape Jervis, the Sealink Ferry takes you in 45 minutes over to Kangaroo Island. Penneshaw is the place where you land and where I picked up my rental car.
Although the little village of Penneshaw has not changed much in 10 years, a new and large ferry terminal hub is under construction right now so that the locals are very much looking forward to this event which will bring benefits to both local operators as well as to the thousands of visitors.
What’s is like to go on a self-drive trip of Kangaroo Islan
I loved driving on Kangaroo Island. The main roads that link Penneshaw and Kingscote to the south-west of the island are sealed and very easy to drive. In 1 and half hour you have reached the major attractions located in the southern part of the island and further down in the south-west point. With a rental car, you are allowed to drive on some gravel roads, usually the short sideroads to the beaches. I enjoyed driving along the sweeping plains and soft hills of Kangaroo Island, enjoying its far horizons and feeling the deep isolation that still reigns on Kangaroo Island.
Kangaroo Island attractions
The main draw for people to go to Kangaroo Island is to see its native wildlife and discover its pristine and ancient landscape. Next to the three Kangaroo Island attractions which are Seal of Bay with the unique experience of the Sea Lions, Cape the Coudeic Lighthouse with Remarkable Rocks and Admiral Arch (within the Flinders Chase National Park), Kangaroo Island offers plenty of outdoor activities primarily in the southwestern area and in the Flinders Chase National Park.
The Flinders Chase National Park
The Flinders Chase National Park is the primary national park on Kangaroo Island. Just a short drive from the visitor’s centre you can reach the Lighthouse with Remarkable Rocks and Admiral Arch.
This area is my favourite part of Kangaroo Island I can highly recommend the short walk (1,5km) from the Lighthouse to the Weirs Cove. This is a beautiful walk along the cliffs with spectacular views over the ocean and the rugged coastline. It ends at Weirs Cove, which was the landing point for ships. There you can see the ruins of the last settlement. In the Flinders Chase National Park here are over 20 walks that you can do starting from the visitor’s centre in the early morning to view birds and native animals including platypus. The earlier you start the walk, the higher the chances to see native animals in the wild.
Kangaroo Island Beaches
Kangaroo Island is not only known for its dramatic landscapes and its abundant wildlife, but it also has got beautiful beaches in the most varied settings. From rugged cliffs and stony beaches with huge breaks in the south to white sandy beaches with calm waters in the northern part of the island. On the way to Seal Bay you can stop at Bales Beach and further south to Vivonne Bay one of the most beautiful places in the southern coast. Vivonne Bay is a lovely place where you can spend a couple of days enjoying the area by walking or biking or kayaking along the river.
Moreover, just 5 minutes drive from there you can experience sandboarding substantial white dunes. This is pretty popular among kids and the youngest, I stopped there, and it was fun watching them.
I enjoyed walking on Vivonne Bay, just before sunset it’s a lovely long walk along a wide white beach, in the inlet a bit further south there is a jetty and a lookout point with a beautiful view over the bay. This is a protected area where you can swim.
Probably the most admired beach among all is the famous Hanson Bay. From the beach, you can take a walk in the coastal heathland, with stunning views over the cliffs and the ocean. This walk is an 18km long, long walk and you will need to plan a full day.
The northern coast of Kangaroo Island – Kingscote
The three significant places on the north coast of Kangaroo Island are Stokes Bay, Emu Bay and Kingscote. I had initially planned to see all of them, but in 3 days you cannot see all of the island (laugh) and decided to focus my last day on visiting Kingscote. As there are many things, you can do and see there. I loved Kingscote, such a lovely and peaceful place surrounded by water on three sides. My first stop was the Island Beehive which is famous for its organic Ligurian Honey (could not believe it but it is pure Ligurian honey bees). Not many people know but Kangaroo Island is renowned for its sheer natural honey and a variety of local produce including excellent wines. A visit to the Bay of Shoals Winery is a must with a breathtaking view of the ocean and enjoy excellent wine testing.
Kangaroo Island Accommodation – Where to stay
To stay overnight on Kangaroo Island is expensive. That’s why camping is the most popular accommodation options on the island. You can take your car on the ferry and stay overnight at a campsite. The island is also a luxury destination for honeymooners, so while luxury accommodation is thriving, there are not many good budget accommodation options available, unfortunately. I stayed the first night at beautiful Vivonne Bay Lodge, a lovely place with excellent facilities offering upgraded backpacking rooms in forms of shared rooms, or doubles and twins with shared bathrooms. The kitchen is well furnished and equipped with a large lounge and a lovely veranda where you can sit and relax, enjoy a beer and prepare your BBQ and have dinner.
There is also a small bottle shop and bar. The place is ideal to explore the southern part of Kangaroo Island, and it is the only good value budget accommodation in the area. My second night in the Flinders Chase National Park in a small cottage and my last in Penneshaw I stayed at Kangaroo Island Seafront Hotel, a right place with spacious refurbished rooms, very comfortable, with a garden and a swimming pool in the backyard. You can read my hotel review here.
I had a great time re-discovering Kangaroo Island and learning more about its unique landmarks. While three days is a good time to savour the island’s character yet, there are many things that I would love to do.
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Michela is a passionate traveller and outdoor enthusiast, who has been travelling solo for +30 years between Australia, Italy, Europe and more countries. She is keen to share her knowledge and best tips to help solo travellers travel more and plan their adventures in a simpler and smarter way. Michela is the founder and editor in chief of Rocky Travel.
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