Kangaroo Island — also known as Karta Pintingga — has just been named the world’s second-best region to visit in 2024 by Lonely Planet. For those who have already visited this magical destination, it’s a no-brainer. It truly is one of the most breathtaking parts of the world, and it has come back even stronger after the devastating bushfires that ravaged the island in 2020. Kangaroo Island (affectionately known as KI by the locals) has it all – incredible wildlife, amazing food, an excellent gin distillery, natural beauty that takes your breath away and a sea breeze that’s eternally good for the soul. But be warned, you will fall in love with KI and leaving will be difficult.
How to get to Kangaroo Island
While it’s only a 45-minute boat ride from the South Australian mainland on the Sealink car ferry or a quick 30-minute flight from Adelaide, it feels like a million miles away from anywhere. The drive from Adelaide to Cape Jervis – where the car ferry departs – takes around one and a half hours but best to allow two hours in case of traffic or road works.
Here’s a three-night suggested itinerary on Kangaroo Island, although there is so much more to do if you can afford to stay longer.
Day 1 – Penneshaw, Prospect Hill and Ligurian bees
Mid-morning – lunchtime arrival: If you’re arriving via car ferry, make a quick detour to the visitor information centre at Penneshaw, located up the road from where you disembark the car ferry. Once you have a map and list of attractions on Kangaroo Island, start your adventure by exploring the northeast region of Kangaroo Island. If you’re feeling active, head straight to Prospect Hill and climb the 500-odd steps for sweeping views of Pelican Lagoon and Pennington Bay. Matthew Flinders climbed Prospect Hill in 1802 when navigating the North Coast of Kangaroo Island to determine his bearings.
Next, head straight to the Oyster Farm Shop at American River for a spot of lunch. You’ll find sustainable Kangaroo Island seafood and the freshest oysters on KI.
After this, drive to Island Beehive in Kingscote to learn all about KI’s famous Ligurian bees. Sample some locally produced honey and stock up on honey mead and other KI honey products.
Kingscote is the largest town on Kangaroo Island and is a popular base for tourists, so you’ll find everything you need here. If you’re staying in self-contained accommodation, you may want to take this opportunity to drop into the local Drake Supermarket to pick up supplies before heading to your accommodation for the evening. As a side note, there is also an IGA located in Penneshaw, just a few minutes from the ferry terminal.
Also at Kingscote is Kangaroo Island Fresh Seafoods – a great option to pick up local produce for dinner. All locally caught produce is processed on-site. The snook is highly recommended.
Day 2 – Flinders Chase National Park and a bit of quad bike action
Morning: KI is bigger than most people realise and is almost the same size as Bali. Most of the natural attractions are located in Flinders Chase National Park at the other end of the island from Kingscote. The drive from Kingscote to Flinders Chase National Park takes around an hour and a half, so you’ll want to allow half a day to visit The Remarkables Rocks, Admirals Arch and Cape du Couedic Lighthouse.
Lunch: After visiting Flinders National Park, stop in for lunch at Vivonne Bay General Store for KI’s famous Whiting Burgers which are super delicious and substantial.
Afternoon: For those seeking a little adventure, Kangaroo Island Outdoor Action offers quad bike tours for the entire family (from ages 6+). The two-hour guided tours take you through winding bush trails and across open grasslands, stopping for native animal sightings such as goannas and kangaroos. Previous quad bike experience is not required and you’ll be instructed to do a few practice runs before heading out with the tour guide. KI Outdoor Action is located approximately halfway between Flinders National Park and Kingscote so it makes sense to incorporate any activities here with your visit to the national park.
Dinner: The Odd Plate is a great venue located in a charming 1927-built guesthouse. The team showcase the best of KI’s artisan produce and products and create seasonal menus all year round.
Day 3 – Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Oil Distillery and KI Spirits
Morning: Visit the Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Oil Distillery – one of the few distilleries in Australia that produces its own eucalyptus oil. They are the only commercial eucalyptus oil distillery in South Australia, and they produce 100% pure Australian eucalyptus essential oil from the Kangaroo Island Narrow Leaf Mallee. This is also a great spot to enjoy a coffee and damper with eucalyptus-infused butter with locally produced jam at the cafe. The distillery also doubles as the cellar door for Colony Cove Kangaroo Island Ciders so you can also enjoy a tasting of this award-winning cider.
Just down the road from the distillery is Clifford’s Honey Farm where you can purchase locally produced Ligurian honey. The honey ice cream is also a must.
Lunch: You don’t need to be a gin fan to enjoy a visit to KI Spirits. The beautifully landscaped garden is the perfect setting for lunch. Tastings are available as are ‘experiences’ such as cocktail making and gin blending masterclasses. Make sure you book well in advance for the ‘experiences’.
Afternoon: After a leisurely lunch, head to Emu Bay for a long, relaxing walk on this stunning, soft, white sandy beach. If you’re lucky, you might encounter some of Emu Bay’s fairy penguins or dolphins at sunset. The beach is also one of the only beaches on KI that allow direct vehicle access.
Day 4 – Cape Willoughby Lighthouse
Morning: Depending on how much time you have to spare on your last day before catching the ferry or a flight back to the mainland, you may want to have a quick look around the east end of the island.
Thirty minutes down the road from the car ferry terminal is Cape Willoughby Lighthouse. It was the first lighthouse built in South Australia in 1852 and stands 27 metres high with 102 steps to the lookout tower. The lighthouse offers a stunning panoramic view across the Kangaroo Island coastline.
Visit the official SA Tourism website to find out more about Kangaroo Island and how to get there.