Travel Insurance Kangaroo Island
Australia’s third-largest island, the picturesque Kangaroo Island is recognised as one of “the world’s great nature-based destinations” and has become an increasingly popular tourist destination. Located about 13km (8 miles) off the coast of South Australia, Kangaroo Island is easily accessible and boasts 509km (316 miles) of pristine coastline around it as well as plenty of pretty bushland on the inside.
Kangaroo Island is home to a huge array of native wildlife and is considered to be one of the best places in Australia to see wild animals like kangaroos, koalas, seals and sea lions. There are also underground caves, historic lighthouses, plenty of hiking trails and a strong local food and wine scene. If you have not been to Kangaroo Island before, it is well worth a visit for a unique Australian holiday.
Kangaroo Island Ferry
Ferry services run to and from Kangaroo Island multiple times every day of the year except for Christmas Day. The ferries operate between Cape Jervis – which is two hours south of Adelaide – and the town of Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island. There are two operators of the ferries, being SeaLink and Kangaroo Island Connect. SeaLink runs a larger ferry, which caters for those who want to take their own car to Kangaroo Island. The Kangaroo Island Connect ferry is a faster and cheaper option, but is a smaller passenger-only ferry. The 16km (10 miles) journey on the SeaLink Ferry takes only 45 minute to complete and a café and free Wi-Fi internet are available onboard. Connecting coach services are available from Adelaide to Cape Jarvis.
Coach services are also available from where the ferry disembarks at Penneshaw to Kangaroo Island’s main town of Kingscote, which is about 45 minutes’ drive away. The best thing about taking the SeaLink ferry is the ability to take your own car to Kangaroo Island, which is a great place for self-driving holiday. Given the large size of the island, getting around by car is the easiest way to explore.
As of March 2022, the cost to take the SeaLink ferry between Cape Jervis and Kangaroo Island is $98 return for adults and $50 return for children. To take your car (including motorhomes and campervans) comes at an additional cost of $196 for the return journey. Kangaroo Island Connect has one-way fares between Cape Jarvis and Penneshaw priced at $30 for adults and $20 for children aged 3-14.
Kangaroo Island Flights
If you do not want to take the ferry to Kangaroo Island, there is another easier way to get to the island. Regular daily flights operate between Kangaroo Island’s Kingscote Airport and Adelaide Airport. The flight time is just 30 minutes and Kingscote Airport is only 14km from the main town Kingscote on Kangaroo Island. Both Qantas and Rex Airlines operate the route, with the frequency of flights varying across the year.
Kangaroo Island Car Hire
The easiest way to get around Kangaroo Island is to drive yourself. This is because there are over 1,600km (994 miles) of roads on the island and no public buses, taxis or Uber.
So if you don’t bring your own car across on the Kangaroo Island SeaLink ferry, you may want to hire one. For those flying in to Kangaroo Island, there is a Budget Rent a Car franchise conveniently located at Kingscote Airport. Budget Rent a Car also has a location at Penneshaw, where the Kangaroo Island ferries arrive. Another car hire provider on the island is Kangaroo Island Connect, which has a rental location at Penneshaw. Kangaroo Island connect offers cars, utes and even small vans starting at $75 per day.
It also offers a Toyota Hiace Campervan, which has been reconfigured to seat four people and sleep two adults and up to two children. The vans also have a fridge and freezer, microwave and gas stove and start from $180 per day with a minimum rental term of three days.
Kangaroo Island Travel Insurance
With Kangaroo Island being a remote destination, travel insurance is highly recommended.
The island has only limited medical facilities in the town of Kingscote and more serious incidents may need to be airlifted to Adelaide. With Kangaroo Island being detached from the mainland and only accessible by ferry or plane, travel plans can be easily upended with delays or cancellations. The island is also prone to occasional bushfires, with major fires having occurred in 2007 and 2020. Travel insurance can protect you with cover for cancellation fees and lost deposits, medical expenses, evacuation and repatriation and even loss or damage of luggage and personal effects. Make sure your trip to Kangaroo Island is properly covered.
Kangaroo Island Things to Do
Seeing native wildlife is one of the key attractions that draws so many visitors to Kangaroo Island each year. Given the island’s separation from Australia’s mainland, it has been less impacted by European settlement and local animal populations have continued to thrive.
Kangaroo Island has over 24 protected areas including 19 National and Conservation Parks and five Wilderness Protection Areas, which make it a safe-haven for so many animals and many acres of plant life. Seal Bay is home to a large population of wild sea lions and is Kangaroo Island’s biggest tourist attraction. Flinders Chase National Park is another top highlight on Kangaroo Island for nature lovers and features a long-nosed fur seal colony and plenty of land-based Australian mammals as well as the famous Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch. Kangaroo Island has over 19 hikes to suit all age groups and abilities, ranging from 30 minutes to eight hours in length. Clifford’s Honey Farm is a top-rated attraction, where you can see local bees at work and enjoy some honey ice cream.
There are also wineries and brewery’s to visit. Adventure seekers will enjoy a trip to Little Sahara at Vivonne Bay, where you can drive an off-road buggy, ride a fat-wheeled bicycle or hop on a sand board or toboggan and have some fun among the vast sand dunes. Water lovers have the chance to hop aboard a small boat on a tour to find some wild bottlenose dolphins to swim with, as well as the chance to spot some seals, sea eagles and even whales.
Seal Bay Kangaroo Island
Seal Bay is Kangaroo Island’s premier tourist attraction, where you can get up close to a large population of rare sea lions. The sea lions have called the bay home for thousands of years and can be seen in large numbers year-round, with an estimated population of 800.
Australian sea lions are endangered after being hunted close to extinction in the 19th century, with estimations that less than 12,000 remain in the wild. Located 45 minutes’ drive from Kangaroo Island’s main town of Kingscote, visitors to Seal Bay can choose to catch a glimpse of the sea lions from afar on a self-guided walk along a 900 metre beach boardwalk.
However, taking a guided 45 minute guided tour is highly recommended and allows you to get down onto the beach and as close as 10 metres away from the resting sea lions on the sand. Guided tours though the South Australia National Parks and Wildlife Service run nine times a day on every day of the year except Christmas Day and cost $38 for adults, $21.50 for children and $93 for a family of four. Self-guided tours on the boardwalk cost $17 for adults, $10.50 for children and $45 for a family of four.
Flinders Chase National Park
Located on the western side of Kangaroo Island, Flinders Chase National Park is best known for the iconic Remarkable Rocks, Admirals Arch and a long-nosed fur seal colony.
The park is about 110km (68 miles) from Kangaroo Island’s main town of Kingscote and is made up of three key sections in different areas – being the coastal area around Cape du Couedic, the Gosse Lands and the area around the Cape Borda Lightstation. The vast Ravine Des Casoars Wilderness Protection Area is in between each of these sections of Flinders Chase National Park. The park, which has a total area of 326.61km2 (126.1 square miles), was established in 1919 and elevated to national park status in 1972. Within Flinders Chase National Park you may be able to spot a host of native wildlife, including the Kangaroo Island kangaroo, Tammar wallaby, short-beaked echidna, platypus, Australian sea-lions, long-nosed fur seals, glossy black-cockatoos, koalas, heath goannas and the Cape Barren goose. There are some hiking and trekking trails within the park.
The Cape du Couedic Hike is an easy 2km loop that takes about 40 minutes to complete and includes some spectacular coastal clifftop views. The Ravine Hike takes about 3 hours and is a 7km hike through the Valley of the Cassowaries, before hikers then follow a river to a remote sandy beach. For more experienced multi-day hikers, the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail is a 61km, five-day trek which can be done with licensed tour operators.
Mountain biking is allowed on open public roads throughout the park but not on walking trails. A day pass to Flinders Chase National Park costs $12 for adults, $6.50 for children aged 4 to 15 and $30.50 for a family of four.
Remarkable Rocks Kangaroo Island
One of the most visited and most photographed spots on Kangaroo Island is the Remakable Rocks within the Flinders Chase National Park. Shaped by erosion from the wind, sea spray and rain over 500 million years, they look to be a cluster of precariously balanced granite boulders and make for great photographs at any time of day. Sunrise and sunset are particularly popular times to visit the rocks for an extra stunning photo and they also generally have less crowds than during the middle part of the day. Visitors describe Remarkable Rocks as “awe-inspiring” and while there is a wooden boardwalk, you are still allowed to walk along the cliff edge and right up to the rocks. The Remarkable Rocks are just a short walk from the nearest carpark and informative signage around the rocks displays how they were formed. Access to Remarkable Rocks is included as part of your entry to Flinders Chase National Park.
Admirals Arch Kangaroo Island
Another must-see attraction on Kangaroo Island is Admirals Arch, within Flinders Chase National Park. Sculptured by erosion from the ocean over thousands of years, the natural rock arch is quite a stunning sight and provides a framed window-like view out to the surrounding water. Stalactites dangle down from the top of the arch and there are rock pools below. Fur-seals can also often be spotted playing among the rocks beneath the arch, where they come to rest and breed in between feeding in the sea. Some visitors even spot dolphins in the surrounding waters through Admirals Arch. The arch is easily accessible from a boardwalk around the cliff face which leads to a viewing platform overlooking the arch.
Access to Admirals Arch, which is just a short drive from the nearby Remarkable Rocks, is included as part of your entry to Flinders Chase National Park.
Cape du Couedic Lighthouse Kangaroo Island
You cannot go inside the Cape du Couedic Lighthouse and climb to the top, but the historic landmark is still worth a visit. Located within Flinders Chase National Park, the lighthouse was built between 1906 and 1909 and was made of 2000 pieces of local stone. There were also three four-bedroom cottages built at the same time house the lighthouse head keeper and two assistants with their families. These cottages have since been converted into holiday houses that are available to hire. The lighthouse, which is now automated, emits two flashes of light every ten seconds from a globe positioned 103m (338 feet) high. In its early years, the lighthouse was only accessible by boat and materials and supplied had to be brought in from the water. However, the area is now easily accessible by road and is only a short distance from Admirals Arch. Access to Cape du Couedic is included as part of your entry to Flinders Chase National Park.
Cape Borda Lightstation Kangaroo Island
A unique square-shaped lighthouse on high cliffs overlooking dangerous Investigator Straight, the historic Cape Borda Lighthouse has been standing since 1858. Visitors can take a self-guided tour around the settlement and see the living conditions of the early lightkeepers. There is also a lookout that is ideal for spotting whales and dolphins. However, it is not as easily accessible as Cape du Couedic Lighthouse, with visitors needing to take a long and sometimes bumpy dirt road to get there.
Kangaroo Island Accommodation
There are accommodation options all over Kangaroo Island, but the majority are on the eastern side around the main towns of Kingscote and Penneshaw. Southern Ocean Lodge was the jewel in the crown of Kangaroo Island’s accommodation options before it was destroyed by bushfires in January 2020. Perched along a secluded clifftop setting, the stunning suites at the all-inclusive property started from $2500 per night. The owners are planning to rebuild, with an expected re-opening of the Southern Ocean Lodge in 2023.
Until then – and for those who can’t afford such extravagance – there are still plenty of other options on Kangaroo Island. One affordable and family-friendly option is the Mercure Kangaroo Island Lodge, which is located in American River between the main towns of Penneshaw and Kingscote. The comfortable four-star property is across the road from the beach and features an outdoor pool, tennis court and onsite bar and restaurant. Boasting sea frontage in the main town of Kingscote, Aurora Ozone Hotel is in a prime position and is another property frequented by large numbers of travellers. It is nothing fancy or overly luxurious, but is comfortable enough and features an outdoor pool, sauna, barbecue area and free wireless internet access. Kangaroo Island Seafront is another popular hotel in Penneshaw on the Esplanade just 500 metres from the Kangaroo Island ferry terminal.
The four-star property has 16 hotel rooms and 12 villas, with facilities including an outdoor pool, barbecue area, onsite restaurant, free parking, free guest laundry and free wireless internet access. For cheaper and more basic accommodation, the Western KI Caravan Park and Wildlife Reserve comes with top visitor reviews. On top of caravan and camp sites, there are two types of cabins – Luxury Park Cabins and Park Cabins. Both are well-priced, have everything you need provided and sleep up to seven people. The park is located on the western side of Kangaroo Island, only 10 minutes’ drive from Flinders Chase National Park.
Kangaroo Island Food and Wine
South Australia is famous for its wine and Kangaroo Island has its own wine scene with multiple wineries as well as a distillery and a brewery. The Islander Estate Vineyards produce elegant French-style cool-climate wines and have an intimate cellar door for tastings as well as some delicious food offerings. False Cape is another popular winery and cellar door which produces “sustainable fruit with high levels of intensity, flavour and love” in a picture-perfect setting alongside the Wilson River. Bay of Shoals winery is also a highly-rated spot to visit and is just a five-minute drive from the main town of Kingscote. The winery offers lovely views out to the water and if you want to stay onsite and try a few different wines day after day, you can.
Between October and April, Glamping is offered on the grounds of the winery. A self-contained three-bedroom house is also available to rent year-round which is “just a cork’s thrown down the path” from the cellar door. For those more into their cocktails, Kangaroo Island Spirits is a boutique distillery that was opened in 2006 and produces high quality liqueurs and spirits with local ingredients. The Kangaroo Island Spirits’ Gin & Tonic Flight is one of the local specialties. For beer lovers, Kangaroo Island Brewery was established in 2015 and has a range of locally-made craft beers. There are also pizzas available on Friday’s and Sunday’s and Ploughman’s boards on all other days.
Kangaroo Island Whale Watching
The waters around Kangaroo Island are frequented by a variety of whales as part of their migration from Antarctica each year. Between May and September, it is possible to spot Southern Right whales and occasional Humpback whales off the shores of Kangaroo Island.
Sperm whales, Pilot whales and Orcas are also found in the waters but generally stay further off-shore. The off-shore waters of the island are even visited by Blue whales, the world’s largest animals. The best places to see whales from land on Kangaroo Island are around Penneshaw, Kingscote and Nepean Bay, Cape Willoughby, Pennington and Flourcask Bay, Cape Borda, Cape du Couedic, Vivonne Bay and Seal Bay. Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures also offers tours out on the water where travellers can swim with dolphins and may also spot whales, seals and stingrays.
Kangaroo Island Day Trip
If you are short on time, it is possible to do a day trip from Adelaide to Kangaroo Island and take in many of the destination’s top sights. Multiple tour operators run the day trips, which have bus pickups in Adelaide starting from as early as 6am and then connect to the Kangaroo Island ferry. Tours take in all the key attractions on Kangaroo Island including Seal Bay, Flinders Chase National Park, Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch. Lunch is included in the tours, which cost around $320 for adults and $200 for children. If you are considering a day tour, be warned that it is long. From Adelaide and back, it is around a 16-hour day of touring.
Kangaroo Island Cruises
Kangaroo Island has become an increasingly popular destination for cruise ships to visit.
Before Covid-19 swept the world, the island had been set to host 26 ships during the 2019-2020 Cruise Ship season. For those visiting by cruise ship, there are a range of tours available as well as some easy free activities in Penneshaw where the ships arrive. These include the Penneshaw Market and a range of hiking tracks including the Baudin Conservation Park Walk, The Wallaby Track and the Fireball Bates Historical Walk.
Penneshaw Beach is also a great spot for swimming or spending some time relaxing in the sun. If you are taking a cruise to Kangaroo Island, make sure you consider taking out cruise insurance. For more information about cruise insurance, visit out dedicated page.
Camping on Kangaroo Island
There are no shortage of camping sites on Kangaroo Island if you want to bring a tent across on the ferry or hire a campervan and stay closer to nature. The island has multiple privately run camping and caravan parks, including the Discovery Lagoon Caravan and Camping Ground and the Kingscote Tourist Park and Family Units. Within Kangaroo Island’s protected areas, camping is permitted within only the Flinders Chase, Cape Gantheaume and Lashmar conservation parks. However, they are just a few of the many camping sites available across the island, some of which are self-registering and others which can be booked in advance. Many of the camping sites on the island offer cooking facilities and bathrooms and some also have power. Within Flinders Chase National Park there are four camp site locations, being Harvey’s Return, West Bay, Snake Lagoon and Rocky River.
Sites within Flinders Chase National Park can be booked up to 12 months in advance through the South Australia National Parks and Wildlife Service and cost $17 a night.
Kangaroo Island Weather
Kangaroo Island enjoys mild temperatures year-round. Average daily maximum temperatures throughout the year in the main town of Kingscote range from 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit) to 27 degrees Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit). The warmest months are December to March, which enjoy average daily highs of between 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit) and 27 degrees Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit).
The coldest months are between May and September, with average highs of between 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit) and 19 degrees Celsius (66 degrees Fahrenheit).
In terms of rain, the driest months are over the summer period between December and March and the wettest months are between May and September. There are an average of between two and four rain days each month during those dry months, and an average of between eight and 13 days of rain per month during the wet months.
When is the best time to visit Kangaroo Island?
Kangaroo Island can be visited any time of year, but the summer months of December to February are generally the most popular. The endless beaches that Kangaroo Island has to offer are best enjoyed during these warmer months. However, the best time to see birds, wild flowers and young newborn animals is in the spring, between September and November.
Kangaroo Island Bushfires
Like large parts of Australia, Kangaroo Island was significantly impacted by a major bushfire in the summer of 2019-20. Lightning strikes caused multiple fires on the island across December 2019 and January 2020, including in Flinders Chase National Park.
211,000 of Kangaroo Island’s 440,500 hectares were affected by the fires, with 87 homes lost. The luxurious Southern Ocean Lodge was also destroyed in the fires.
However, the island has since been in a recovery phase. Bushland has quickly grown back and wildlife has returned and begun to thrive once again. Koalas, kangaroos, platypus, goannas, echidnas, brown bandicoot and plenty of birds have all bounced back well from having their populations significantly impacted by the fires. In December 2021, upgrades were completed to facilities around the much-visited Remarkable Rocks in another major milestone for the recovery. Kangaroo Island has taken a “build back better” approach in the wake of the fire, investing in improving infrastructure to lure back tourists.
Kangaroo Island Population
According to the 2016 Census, there were 4,702 people living on Kangaroo Island.
However, in peak holiday seasons the temporary population can be much higher. About 150,000 tourists stay on Kangaroo Island each year, excluding day-trip visitors from Adelaide and cruise ship visitors.