Australia is an absolute paradise when it comes to road trips. There are so many places you can explore by car and South Australia is no exception! From Adelaide, there are many road trips you can do. Driving to Uluru or Perth are popular ones but you actually don’t need to go that far to see some amazing places! Going on a road trip from Adelaide to Kangaroo Island is something that should be on your bucket list! It’s a great way to discover what SA has to offer. Following this Kangaroo Island 5-Day Itinerary you will get to see a wide variety of landscapes, enjoy awesome experiences and have a fantastic Kangaroo Island holiday.
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Getting to Kangaroo Island
You have two options when it comes to getting to Kangaroo Island. The first is taking the KI Ferry, whereas the second is flying.
Ferry to Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island is located 3.5 hours south of Adelaide. When driving, the only option you will have is to take the ferry to Kangaroo Island. There are currently two operators
The SeaLink vehicle and passenger ferry service goes Cape Jervis to Penneshaw in approximately 45 minutes. SeaLink ferry operates two large ferries on the 16km crossing. With a fully licensed café you can easily relax and enjoy the beautiful views as you cross Backstairs Passage. With 5 departures daily (more subject to demand) this is the most well-known way to travel to Kangaroo Island.
Admittedly, the SeaLink Kangaroo Island ferry prices can be a bit expensive if you are on your own and taking your car. However, if you are a full car, it may well be the cheapest way to get to Kangaroo Island.
Kangaroo Island Connect
The Kangaroo Island Connect (KIC) service goes from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw in approximately 30 minutes, however is only a passenger service. No cars are able to be transported. Therefore, if you take this option you will need to look at Kangaroo Island car rental if you are planning on exploring Kangaroo Island. With two departures daily there are options when using KIC.
Flying to Kangaroo Island
If for some reason, you’d like to skip the Adelaide to Cape Jervis part of the road trip and just do Kangaroo Island, that’s possible. In order to do that, book flights to Kangaroo Island from Adelaide. They are very quick (about 30 minutes) and will get you directly to Kingscote. From there you can rent a car on Kangaroo Island and start exploring. Another option is to opt for a Kangaroo Island day tour, or a series of day tours, or even an extended tour.
Kangaroo Island Accommodation
When it comes to Kangaroo Island accommodation, you will find many holiday homes and Kangaroo Island caravan parks. Unlike most touristy islands in Australia, people actually live on KI. It’s a nice place to go on holiday but the infrastructures were mainly built to accommodate the inhabitants. Kangaroo Island hotels are available but there are a lot of other options, such as amazing Kangaroo Island Airbnbs. Kangaroo Island luxury accommodation is also a plenty with its serenity, views and beauty. So, don’t be afraid to treat yourself to luxury KI accommodation when visiting this gorgeous island.
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Adelaide To Kangaroo Island Road Trip Map
Day 1 - Adelaide to Penneshaw via McLaren Vale
On the first day, you will be focusing on getting to Kangaroo Island from Adelaide. To do that, you will be driving from Adelaide to Cape Jervis to hop on the ferry to Kangaroo Island. It takes about 2 hours and 40 minutes to drive from the Adelaide CBD to Cape Jervis however, you are going to stop on the way! (that wouldn’t be a road trip otherwise).
Driving from Adelaide to Cape Jervis you travel along the Fleurieu Peninsula which is home to one of the best wine regions in Australia!
You will be driving by McLaren Vale. This is an amazing stop if you love wine and food. Not only does McLaren Vale boast some of the best Shiraz in the world but also many stunning restaurants and cafes. One of the most popular activity is to walk or cycle the Shiraz trail. This 8km walk will take you from McLaren Vale to Willunga where you can enjoy the scenery.
This will probably take most of the day. After that, drive down to Cape Jervis to take the Kangaroo Island ferry to Penneshaw.
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Day 2 - Penneshaw to Kingscote
Getting from Adelaide to Kangaroo Island is the most strenuous part of this road trip. Once it’s done though, the fun can finally start!
Penneshaw itself is a tiny town but there are still a few places to check out. Firstly, if you get off the ferry in the morning head to Millie Mae’s Pantry for a delicious coffee. From there I highly recommend checking out Penneshaw Beach, which is great for a swim. Finally, if you feel like taking a short drive from Penneshaw you must check out Dudley Wines with its cellar door showcasing incredible views and from there continue on to the Cape Willoughby Lighthouse.
Once you’re ready, head to Pennington Bay. Pennington Bay is one of the best beaches on Kangaroo Island. This beach is very big and there are many cliffs and rocks and is a great place to go for walks. If the tide is low, you can easily walk along the beach!
Prospect Hill Lookout & American River
Another great option is going up to Prospect Hill lookout. The walk is not too hard and the reward is well worth it! From the lookout, you will get to admire 360 degrees view over Pennington Bay and American River! You can then walk back to your car and head to American River where you will find the Oyster Farm. It’s the perfect place to taste delicious seafood and wine.
Finally, head to Kingscote to spend the night. It’s the largest town on KI and has the most conveniences. If you need food or drinks for your trip, make sure to get some there. Kingscote accommodation is also a great choice when it comes to Kangaroo Island. Essentially all main roads lead to it so it’s a great place to stay if you don’t want to sleep in a different place every day.
Day 3 - Kingscote to Stokes Bay
Not a long day of driving but a beautiful day of exploring pristine wilderness, with maybe a cheeky wine taste if that is something that interests you.
Bay of Shoals Winery
If you love your wine and didn’t get enough of it in McLaren Vale or when you visited Dudley Wines be sure to check out Bay of Shoals Wines. Located only 5 minutes from Kingscote this winery also offers spectacular views, hamper lunches and of course wine tasting.
Kangaroo Island is also full of beautiful beaches. The first one you will visit today is Emu Bay. Located only 15 minutes drive from Kingscote. It is an ideal spot for families and holiday makers with four and a half kilometre of clean white sand.
After that, hit the road again towards Stokes Bay. Stokes Bay has a great beach to relax on but also to go walking on! There are a few walking paths around the bay if you want to explore the area more too. The best thing about this beach is that it’s a little secluded paradise for relaxation during the day and one of the best sunset spots in the evening! At dusk, definitely stay there to admire the sunset! It’s so beautiful!
Stokes Bay Accommodation
Day 4 - Flinders Chase National Park
Flinders Chase is one of the most underrated national parks in Australia! It’s often overlooked due to its location but for those who set out to visit Kangaroo Island, it will not disappoint! As you enter the national park, head to the visitor centre where you can pay the $11 entrance fee and ask the park rangers any questions you may have.
To kick off your Flinders National Park adventure, your first stop should be the Remarkable Rocks. These strange rock formations are one of the most unique features to see in South Australia. They are also ideally located at the top of the cliff, which features some amazing views over the coast!
After that, head to Admirals Arch. Going for sunset is an amazing experience as you will see the rays of sunshine going through the cave and reflecting on the water. Definitely a spot not to be missed. If you arrive before sunset you can also walk down the path and admire the seals on the cliffs! If you are lucky, you might even spot some dolphins!
Flinders Chase National Park Accommodation
There is only one choice of Flinders Chase National Park accommodation and that is the Western KI Caravan Park & Wildlife Reserve. With a range of cabins, caravan sites and camp sites it has everything you need.
Day 5: Vivonne Bay & Seal Bay
Leaving some of the best of Kangaroo Island until the last day. You certainly won’t be disappointed.
Vivonne Bay is home to the whitest beach on Kangaroo Island. It looks like it could be in the Caribbean! It’s a fairly small beach compared to the others but it’s definitely the most charming one! Soft sand and crystal clear water, it has it all! It’s also a great place for fishing and snorkelling.
Seal Bay or Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park
Once you worked on your tan at Vivonne, head to Seal Bay! As you may have guessed, you will see loads of seals! Thousands gather on that one beach! If you’ve seen them at Admirals Arch or have enough of beaches, you can skip this step and go to Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park instead.
KI is home to most of the native-Australian animals. Kookaburras, koalas, kangaroos… you will find them all! The wildlife park is located in Parndana and is well worth it! The park carers are so good with the animals and they rescued most of the koalas on the island during the 2019 bushfires.You can wander around and discover different species at your own pace or participate in the park’s activities. You can also buy a bag of snacks for wallabies and go feed them in their enclosure. It’s a great way to be close to the animals in a respectful manner and it supports the local economy.
Once you have finished you can head back to Penneshaw and prepare to catch the ferry back to the mainland.
Vivonne Bay Accommodation
Going on a road trip to Kangaroo Island is one of the best things you can do in South Australia. You will be mind-blown by the beauty of this island! And as a bonus tip if you still have a bit of time, make sure to check out Hanson Bay and Little Sahara.
Pauline is a French girl and owner of the travel blog BeeLoved City who explored Australia for a year. She spent 4 months on Kangaroo Island, working in a farm, before starting a 40,000km road trip around Australia. She discovered the most famous spots on KI but also loads of hidden gems! She fell in love with the place and is now so happy to share her secrets with you!