You may have heard from your friends and family that South Australia is an isolated and boring place in the furthest continent on the planet. Fortunately for you, they are far from the truth. In this 2-day self-drive itinerary, explore South Australia’s Kangaroo Island like a pro even if you are not Australian!
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Warning: Make sure you have at least 1 competent driver for Kangaroo Island. Kangaroo Island is 6 times the size of Singapore with a population of roughly 4,500 people. You cannot tour the island free and easy without a car.
Kangaroo Island Mobile Coverage: There is little to no coverage at all once you hit Vivonne Bay. Travellers are strongly advised to have a Telstra SIM instead! To play safe, download the offline maps so that you can navigate without reception.
Purchase a Ticket to Paradise: Bus and Ferry Tickets by SeaLink
Yep, you heard it. The only ways to Kangaroo island are by plane (to Kingscote Airport) or by SeaLink’s Ferry with coach transfer (to Penneshaw Jetty from Cape Jarvis).
If you are on a tighter budget, pick the latter. It is cheaper and has lots of scenic views to offer during the journey.
Guidesify picked the Kangaroo Island Adventure Tours self-drive package as it included accommodation at Vivonne Bay Lodge, car rental from Budget and was more affordable during the off-peak season.
As this post is not sponsored, please search the exact phrase stated above and it should show up in the search results.
Alternatively, you are recommended to book the transport, car rental and accommodation separately if you are really on a tight budget.
Lifehack: If you are a small group of 2-4 and don’t mind the squeeze, rent a compact (Group B) vehicle instead.
Kangaroo Island Route Day 1: Download Google Maps Route Here!
Coach pick up time was scheduled at Pullman Hotel, 6.15am or at the Adelaide Central Bus Station, 6.45am. This may vary depending on where you arrange your pickup.
The coach transfer takes approximately 90-120 minutes and you will arrive at Cape Jervis, Sealink Terminal. There’s no need to check-in at the jetty as the coach driver has most likely told you that it is done for you beforehand.
For people who get motion sickness, be sure to take seats in the middle of the ferry! Or else… you are going to have a hard time for the next 45 minutes.
1. Welcome to Kangaroo Island: Penneshaw Jetty
Upon arrival, the locals strongly advise travellers to stock up on food and supplies before setting off into the depths of the island.
There were a few cafes planned on this itinerary but they, unfortunately, weren’t opened, so be sure to prepare yourselves in such situations!
Before you set off, please be reminded to adhere to the traffic laws and speed limits. You may have to pay a hefty fine if caught, or worse, cause more roadkill along the highway. You absolutely do not want to kill the very thing you came here for…*ahem* kangaroos.
Animals are also more active at night so do be wary as the sun sets.
Last, do try to stick to the main roads as far as possible. Some routes may appear as a shortcut on the map but are very rocky and uneven terrains in reality.
You do not want to be pushing your car out from the mud when it rains (it has happened to a few travellers that we have met).
2. Stairs to Success: Prospect Hill
The first noteworthy stop is Prospect Hill. It is only a short hike of roughly 500 steps and you will be greeted with a scenic bird’s eye view of Kangaroo Island.
Oh? Not satisfied with the view? The views only get better from here!
Prospect Hill is only about 20 mins drive from Penneshaw Jetty and it serves as a pit stop before embarking on your 114km long journey to the Flinders Chase Area.
You’ll be sure to enjoy tons of “Tumblr-worthy” landscapes while on the road. Driving has never been so gratifying!
3. Grab a Quick Bite: The Chase Cafe
All that driving would definitely make your stomachs rumble.
You may stop by at The Chase Cafe right at the entrance of the Flinders Chase National Park.
You can be assured that the food is delicious and worth every cent. The food is very reasonably priced despite being the only cafe in the vicinity. 😉
There is also an information centre which you can and should purchase your entrance tickets and make enquiries.
4. Flinders Chase National Park (Admirals Arch & Remarkable Rocks)
Flinders Chase National Park is a huge park with vast landscapes – as big or even bigger than Singapore. If your time permits, feel free to spend more time here to explore the different walking trails.
The Guidesify team only spent 2 days in Kangaroo Island. Thus, only the 2 most prominent landmarks were visited.
Admirals Arch is about a 20 mins drive away from the Chase Cafe.
You will first spot the Cape du Couedic Lighthouse first as you approach the Admirals Arch Trail and the 10 mins long trail leads to a magnificent arch.
You’ll be able to spot tons of New Zealand fur seals on your way down.
At the Remarkable Rocks which is pretty near the Admirals Arch, admire the ancient granite boulders that have been withstanding the unforgiving rain, wind and pounding waves for the 500 million years.
It is a good time to appreciate these stunning rock sculptures as you will not only avoid large crowds.
If you stick around, you might even get to see the sunset.
5. Time to Resupply: Vivonne Bay General Store
This place closes at 5pm so do time properly your stay at the National Park if you intend to get some supplies from here!
There aren’t many very accessible petrol stations around on the island so you may consider refuelling your vehicle here.
6. Home Sweet Home: Vivonne Bay Lodge
Image Source: TripAdvisor
Vivonne Bay Lodge is a quality budget accommodation that was part of the self-drive package. You may choose to live in modern dorm rooms, twin and four-share rooms or a private room. You can be assured that the cleanliness and comfort provided is of top quality.
There are communal areas such as the lounge, the bar and BBQ area where you can meet other weary travellers.
You may also borrow the kayaks, sandboards and bikes from the facility for use on the nearby Harriet River and Little Sahara sand dunes.
If not, it is time to take a good rest before Day 2! Another exciting adventure awaits you.
Kangaroo Island Route Day 2: Download Google Maps Route Here!
Rise and shine!
Most activities around Vivonne Bay only open around 9 am. Then again, the early bird catches the worm.
Guidesify recommends waking up early for breakfast and heading off to view the sunrise to make the fullest of your second day on Kangaroo Island.
You can always head back to the lodge after that to borrow sandboarding equipment for Little Sahara sand dunes!
1. Spectacular Sunrise, Beautiful Beach: Vivonne Bay Beach
Start your day right and head down to Vivonne Bay Beach before the sun rises.
Take a relaxing stroll along the coast of the beach. The Vivonne Bay Beach is often voted as one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia.
2. Dangerous Beauty: Vivonne Bay Jetty
Go down South of the island and you’ll be greeted with the crystal clear turquoise waters. Fishing is permitted at the jetty.
Photographers, get ready your camera as this would be one of the most spectacular views.
Some travellers have also dived here but do exercise caution!
3. Rarest Species of Sea Lions: Seal Bay Conservation Park
Ready for some cuteness in action? Head down to the nesting grounds of the Australian sea lions.
Seal Bay overlooks the body of water known as the Southern Ocean. If you are lucky, you may see some sea lions waddle towards the sea for a swim.
There are 2 options – the guided tour or a self-guided boardwalk tour. Taking the guided tour would gain you access to the beach and get a close-up look at these cute little things.
According to Seal Bay, their guides do not follow a standard script but instead interpret live sea lion behaviour and what’s happening in the colony.
Please do not mimic the sea lions’ pup calls as it will confuse the pups looking for their moms.
4. Warm & Cosy: Clifford’s Honey Farm
Are you a honey lover?
Clifford’s Honey Farm is a family-run business that was started initially as a hobby in 1973. All their honey products are made naturally from the bees on their farm.
You may also try their highly-recommended homemade honey ice cream, yum.
5. Great Value, Great Food: Kangaroo Island Fresh Seafoods
Time for lunch! Head down to Kangaroo Island’s finest seafood cafe. It also sells fresh seafood to people who intend to cook back at home.
It is located right at a petrol station, where you can do another refuel.
There are also other cafes across the road if you are not that into seafood.
6. Secret Sea Lion Spotting: Kingscote Jetty
Just a few minutes down the cafe, you may be able to spot some sea lions if you are lucky (like the Guidesify team).
Can you spot them into the picture above? 😉
7. The Last Pit Stop: Red Banks
Red Banks is not one of the highlighted attractions on Kangaroo Island, but it is on the way back to Penneshaw.
The journey to it was quite beautiful, with lots of wildlife. There is absolutely no signs or indicators and you would have to rely on Google Maps to get to this place.
To be able to take a look at the banks, you would need to walk out on a narrow strip near the cliff.
Take a quick shot and get back to safe land.
8. Departure: Penneshaw Fuel & Hardware Store
This comes to the end of the trip. Do make sure you refuel as most car rental companies require a full tank upon vehicle return.
Do spend more time at each attraction if you have more than 2 days on Kangaroo Island.
Your time will be very well spent here!
Kangaroo Island Bonus Attractions:
More time left to spare? Here are 2 more places where you can explore.
1. Kangaroo Spotting: Pelican Lagoon Lookout
Caution – extremely narrow dirt roads with many kangaroos crossing. Drivers should manoeuvre with care.
There are many kangaroos hiding in the bushes and you might even get to see wild ones up close.
2. A Town With Wildlife: American River
American River is a town on Kangaroo Island. It serves as a popular destination with travellers who enjoy aquatic activities that include fishing, sailing and boating.
It is bustling with life. To the bird lovers, there are many bird species to watch, both native and migratory.
If you come at night, wallabies are also commonly seen grazing around the town.