Luxury Escapes Guide to Kangaroo Island
The breathtaking beauty of Kangaroo Island is undeniable. Think pristine beaches, native bushland, local wildlife, artisan producers and stunning vineyards.
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Discover Kangaroo Island
Things to see and do
Get off the beaten track with Kangaroo Island Outdoor Adventure
Explore 500 acres of open grassland and pristine native bush in style – on your very own four-wheeler. Kangaroo Island Outdoor Action’s quad bike tours allow you to drive across all sorts of terrain, from sand dunes to rugged bush, with pitstops to spot local wildlife along the way. Ride to the cliff’s edge and take in stunning views of the Southern Ocean or test your skill on the extreme rocky trails. Don’t worry if you’ve never operated a quad before, the guides cater to all skills and abilities. Our tip: wear something old.
Go in search of hidden beaches
Kangaroo Island is peppered with hidden beaches if you know where to look. On the north coast you'll find Stokes Bay: don’t be discouraged by the view from the carpark, there’s a stunning beach hidden just to your right. Navigate your way through a small arch in the rocks and you’ll be rewarded with the perfect place to spend a day. Another favourite is Western River Cove, on the north west of the island. This one’s a little harder to get to but if you stick to the winding road, you’ll eventually reach the carpark. Follow the footbridge down past the river and you'll be greeted with a 200m cove of white sand and clear water – if you time it right, you might be the only people in sight.
Catch your own snapper with Emu Bay Fishing Charters
If you want to drop a line, there are a few different fishing operators to choose from. Emu Bay Fishing Charters, on the northeast of the island, runs half-day, full-day and 12-hour charters for first-timers and pros alike. Set sail aboard a 10-metre vessel with room for up to 12 people and be led by a skipper who has more than 20 years' experience catching King George whiting, snapper, trevally, flathead, shark and tuna. Throw your line in and wait patiently for the fish to come — if all goes to plan, dinner will be sorted.
Walk up 500 steps to the narrowest point on the island
As you travel along the main road from Penneshaw to Kinsgcote, you’ll eventually hit Pennington Bay Road. It’s worth stopping here for a moment to check out the popular surfing spot below and take in the amazing views across the bay. Drop in and say hi to the guys at Beach Barista van — they churn out specialty coffee and toasties from the car park year-round. After you've refuelled, prepare yourself to take on Prospect Hill’s 500 stairs. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with unbeatable views from the narrowest point of the island (with just 1km between the two coastlines).
See the wonders of nature at Flinders Chase National Park
It wouldn’t be a visit to Kangaroo Island without dedicating a few hours to Flinders Chase National Park. The 326kmsq park is home to beautiful coastal landscapes and some of the island's most iconic sites. Drive to the southern tip of the park where you’ll find a long and winding boardwalk that leads up and around the cliff’s edge, through to Admirals Arch. From the viewing platform here, you'll see the churning ocean and New Zealand fur seals lazing in the sun (if you’re lucky, you might even spot a pup or two). Your next pitstop is the Remarkable Rocks. Here you can wander through a cluster of enormous, precariously balanced granite boulders and watch as the golden orange surface changes colours in the light. With the ocean as your backdrop, it’s the best spot for a selfie (or two).
Visit one of Australia's best beaches at Vivonne Bay
If you've heard of Vivonne Bay, that’s because it was voted the best beach in the world back in 2003, a title that locals are proud of. It’s not surprising: this six-kilometre-long stretch of white sand on the island’s south-west coast boasts clear blue water, ample privacy and a picture-perfect jetty. Swim, surf or snorkel in the water, or simply roll out your towel and take a moment to unwind. The bay is well known for its crayfish so keep your eyes out for boats docking at the jetty.
Cuddle a koala at Kangaroo Island Wildlife park
Animal lovers and those travelling with kids, this one’s for you. Right in the middle of the island you’ll find Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park — 50 acres of land boasting more than 150 species of native Australian wildlife and 600 animals all in one place. Start your day with a dingo presentation and then wander to see the penguin and pelican feedings, before getting up close with hundreds of species of birds. You can also sign up for a private session to cuddle a koala (or wombat) as well as feed the kangaroos. Hop to it!
See a working oyster farm at the Oyster Farm Shop
This working oyster farm is the go-to place to taste and buy sustainable seafood, including fresh abalone and native oysters. Settle in by the jetty and watch as the boats bring in boatloads of freshly caught goodies. You can also watch an in-store presentation of the oyster farm to see how it operates both above and under the water. While you’re here, buy a few to enjoy au naturel or take advantage of the free smoked condiments and KI Kilpatrick sauce. Yum!
Test your fitness on one of the island’s 23 hikes
With more than 23 hikes around Kangaroo Island, there’s a trail to suit all skills and fitness levels. Take your pick from a 30-minute nature walk or challenge yourself with a longer hike. The newly developed Kangaroo Island Sculpture Trail brings together natural landscapes with unique artwork — located just a few minutes from the Penneshaw Jetty it’s the perfect way to start (or end) your adventure. This 1.5km walk boasts eye-catching pieces of art at every turn.
Marvel at birds of prey during a Raptor Domain show
Watch birds of prey take flight during an awe-inspiring show at Raptor World. Expect to see kookaburras, owls, falcons and wedge-tailed eagles, plus a selection of incredible Australian reptiles. Shows are fun, educational and interactive and aim to raise awareness about these incredible creatures, encouraging conservation. The experience is suitable for all ages and makes for a great family day out on Kangaroo Island.
Top places to eat and drink
Sunset Food & Wine
It’s no surprise that Sunset Food & Wine was the first restaurant on the island to be awarded a chef hat — this Modern Australian bistro showcases the best wine and produce the island has to offer with a side of stunning views. The décor is simple and inviting, so you can focus on the incredible plates in front of you. Seafood lovers should start with Port Lincoln kingfish sashimi or a serve of KI octopus with yellow pepper romesco, chorizo and green olives. For mains, move onto the catch of the day or grain-fed Angus sirloin with carrot, sauerkraut and mustard. Top it all off with a bottle (or two) of wine from the extensive list including top local drops.
Kangaroo Island Brewery
The island’s first microbrewery, not far from Kingscote, is located on the entrance to 20 acres of land. The long, grey-timber shed might not look like much but through the wooden doors you’ll find a cosy lounge just begging you to sit down and raise an elbow. There are eight different craft beers to sample here, with each brewed on-site. If you’re after something easy to drink, try the Pale or Summer Ale; for something punchier opt for the Golden Ale and for something a little different try the KIB Cerveza, a Mexican-inspired brew made using malted barley and flaked rice. If they all sound equally tempting, choose them all as a tasting paddle. There’s also a pop-up food menu on the weekend if all that sampling makes you hungry.
While there a few cafes to choose from in Kingscote, Cactus gets our pick when it comes to the best cup of coffee in town. This casual café, inside a homey blue-and-white painted house, churns out specialty coffee every day of the week. Grab an avocado and egg breaky roll to go or sit and enjoy an Asian-inspired lunch of pork bao buns and lamb dumplings. They’re fully licensed too, so if you’ve had your caffeine fix feel free to go for something a little stronger — it’s midday somewhere right? City dwellers take note: these guys run on island time, but trust us, it’s worth the wait.
Millie Mae’s Pantry
It may be one of the newest eateries on the island but Millie Mae’s Pantry has quickly cemented itself as a local favourite. Jan, a sixth-generation islander, created her dream destination-café in a rustic old metal shed in Penneshaw to celebrate her family’s love of food and cooking – it’s named after Jan’s beloved grandmothers, Evelyn Millicent (Millie) Willson (her Pop’s mum) and Gladys May Willson (her mum’s mum), with many of the recipes being passed down through generations. Enjoy free-range eggs your choice of sides for breaky or go straight for the moreish lamb kofta bowl. Grab a seat on the deck or in the sun and be sure to browse the collection of local pantry items including honey, chutneys, pottery and candles before you leave.
Kangaroo Island Spirits
Welcome to South Australia's first gin distillery, one that has taken out awards in London, New York, San Francisco and Hong Kong. Since opening in 2006, Jon and Sarah Lark have been producing incredible gin using local and native ingredients. From the second you arrive you’ll feel at home: the rustic cellar door (opposite their family home) beckons with colourful mismatched tables and chairs; inside the shed you'll see an array of knick-knacks and memorabilia from their travels. If you’re not sure which gin you'll like, the Gin Platter comes with four different gins, four tonics, bitters and garnishes so you can mix and match. For something a little special, sign up for the Gin Masterclass – a two-hour session designed to teach you everything you need to know to blend your own 200ml bottle. Bookable on Luxury Escapes.
Twelve kilometres from Penneshaw, on the clifftops of the island’s north coast, you'll find the award-winning Dudley Wines. This hands-on family business has been operating since 1997 and the wines reflect the dynamic personality of the fifth-generation islander and winemaker, Brodie Howard. Avoid the need to choose by taking a wine ‘cruise’ – a generous tasting paddle of five different wines – best enjoyed with a cheeseboard or pizza. On the first Sunday of each month they host ‘Sunday Vibes’ with visitors enjoying the live music on the expansive lawn and a hit of golf at their one-tee driving range.
The Islander Estate Vineyards
The orange flag on the side of the road will help you spot the entrance to this wine hideaway. Grab a seat at one of the outdoor wine barrels and settle in for a tasting of unique cool-climate wines. Established by a leading Bordeaux wine family, The Islander Estate Vineyards brings French heritage and finesse to one of Australia’s newest and most remote wine regions. Jacques Lurton’s 12-hectare vineyard is planted with crowd-pleasing grapes like pinot gris and shiraz as well as lesser known Bordeaux varieties such as cabernet franc and semillon, which thrive in KI’s growing conditions. You could easily spend an hour or two here, enjoying a regional platter and then settling in for a game of Jenga on the lawn.