Sitting just off the southern coastline of South Australia, Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third-largest island. The island is full of wildlife and you are almost guaranteed to spot kangaroos, koalas and sea lions, just a few of the best things to do on Kangaroo Island with kids. Kangaroo Island can easily be reached via a comfortable 45-minute journey from Cape Jervis with SeaLink Ferries; you can even BYO car to drive the island. Just over one-third of this paradise is national park, and pristine wilderness, secret beaches, sand dunes, lush wetlands and dramatic rock formations await.
21 things to do on Kangaroo Island with kids
Visit the sea lion colony at Seal Bay
Seal Bay Conservation Park is home to the world’s third-largest Australian sea lion colony. The park has a 900-metre timber boardwalk circling the beach, where sea lions recuperate after hunting. The unspoilt conservation park has a hands-on education station for kids. To see the sea lion’s up close on the beach you’ll need to book a tour with a guide. Tours will take you within metres of the endangered colony as adults slumber, adolescents tumble in mock battles and adorable pups suckle their mothers. You’ll also see a variety of seabirds too. Lucky watchers may see the endangered hooded plover.
Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park
Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park offers a great opportunity for kids to get up close to Australian animals, including kangaroos, koalas, and reptiles. They can even feed kangaroos and wallabies and chat with the rangers. Following the 2019/2020 summer bushfires, it was one of the busiest wildlife refuges in Australia. A crew of orphaned koala joeys, echidnas, kangaroos, wallabies, little penguins, emus and even a wedge-tailed eagle all found a happy home here.
Flinders Chase National Park
The park is a sanctuary for native Australian wildlife including kangaroos, wallabies, koalas and echidnas and the home to nature’s wonders, Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch. Long-nosed Fur Seals can also be seen resting, swimming and playing in the waves or on the rocks.
In the national park is Admirals Arch, named for a cave-like rock formation eroded by the ocean. Admirals Arch is home to a colony of more than 7,000 long-nosed fur seals. Another boardwalk leads visitors over a cliff, where seals bask on rock platforms.
One of Kangaroo Island’s main tourist attractions is the Remarkable Rocks. They are a collection of boulders that have been eroded over 500 million years.
Explore the beaches
Kangaroo Island’s coastline is breathtakingly pretty, with 500 kilometres of calm bays, surging surf and secret beaches. You may discover echidnas, wallabies and kangaroos strolling across the sand. Stokes Bay is beautiful with caves, pure white sand and clear water. The Stokes Bay sea pool is protected from the surf by rocks. Pennington Bay has rock pools perfect for exploring with little ones. Vivonne Bay is regarded as one of Australia’s top beaches due to its crystal-clear water, cleanliness and privacy. Call in here for a picnic, paddleboard, surf, fish or read a book under your beach umbrella. There’s a general store and bottle shop off the main road if you need any emergency supplies. And Emu Bay is a white sand beach perfect for swimming, fishing and relaxing. It’s also one of the only beaches on the island that allows direct vehicle access.
Emu Bay Lavender Farm
Fill your bellies with indulgent lavender scones smeared with home-honed jelly and clotted cream at Emu Bay Lavender Farm. You can learn about lavender production, and enjoy homemade lavender goods like herbal teas, lotions and soaps.
Koala spotting at Stokes Bay
There’s plenty of koala action north at Stokes Bay, where big blue gums at the base of the hill provide a haven. There are copious numbers of kangaroos, too, near the Wave & Wildlife Cottages and Rockpool Cafe & Caravan Park. The cafe also serves delicious fish and chips with garden games for the little ones. Follow the signs to Stokes Bay for a Game of Thrones-like beach entry through caves and under boulders to white sand, open blue waters and sheltered rock pools filled with tiny fish.
Sandboarding at Little Sahara
The Little Sahara dune field is around 2.5 square kilometres large, with the tallest dune being 70 metres above sea level. The privately owned site was classed as a Significant Australian Heritage Geological Monument in 1979. Today, there are multiple companies that offer both sandboarding and tobogganing down the thrilling Little Sahara sand dunes
Cruise the north coast with Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures
Cruise the north coast’s sapphire and jade waters with Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures. You could spot rare white-bellied sea eagles, wedge-tailed eagles and ospreys soaring above pink-hued cliffs. The bays are home to enormous pods of bottlenose dolphins resting here after a day at sea. Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures allows you to hop in the water beside them. Your guide will teach you about dolphin behaviour, including how they readily connect with pregnant women, and that they often play a game of ‘pass the puffer fish’, which sees the injection of tiny amounts of toxin into their skin, creating a euphoric high. Come during whale seasons to see the migrating Southern Wright Whales.
Raptor Domain is a centre for injured and orphaned birds. Here you can meet a variety of native birds and you might even get to hold a boobook owl. Watch educational and interactive birds of prey flight demonstrations and be introduced to Raptor Domain’s falcons and other clever birds of prey.
Penneshaw Penguin Centre
Kangaroo Island is home to a small colony of little penguins. The Kangaroo Island Penguin Tour takes you on a 60-minute evening tour to see these adorable penguins.
Cost: Adult $28, child $17, concession $17, under 5’s are free.
Immerse yourself in nature at the Chapman River. It is a great spot for swimming, kayaking, fishing and birdwatching. The kids will love playing in the shallow waters of the river mouth. You can camp and picnic here too.
Kingscote is the main town on Kangaroo Island and the oldest settlement in the whole of South Australia. You can learn about the town’s interesting history at the Hope Cottage MuseumThe museum was built in the late 1860s and offers a glimpse into life during this time. You can shop up a storm in Kingscote’s extensive boutiques, or throw a line in off the jetty where garfish, Tommy ruff and whiting are often found.
Reeves Point is also a must-see, it is one of the most important heritage sites in South Australia. Here you can also see the Old Mulberry Tree, believed to be the oldest fruit tree in South Australia.
Cape Willoughby Lighthouse
Cape Willoughby Lighthouse was the first lighthouse to be built in South Australia in 1852. You can join a 45- or 20-minute tour to visit the lighthouse and explore the museum. It’s not only a chance to learn about maritime history but also provides breathtaking views. Keep an eye out for whales from mid-May to late October.
Eat exquisite local produce
Kangaroo Island is regarded as one of Australia’s finest produce hubs. A visit to local artisanal and small-batch producers is the best way to sample the haul. Try the vegan fig ‘salami’ from the Figgerey, which pairs nicely with a rosé from Islander Estate. Farms proffering honey, beef, lamb, marron and eggs welcome visitors to taste and take home picnic packs. Animal lovers can share their picnic rug with the resident rooster at Bay of Shoals Wines. Clifford’s Honey Farm is the oldest bee sanctuary in the world. Here you can sample various flavours of deliciously thick honey before deciding on which pot to home as a souvenir. Make sure you try the ice cream too.
The Oyster Farm Shop
Feast fresh on oysters and marron at this family-run business on the American River on Kangaroo Island. All ages are welcome on the 10am daily farm tour to learn more about oyster farming and how to shuck an oyster. You’ll see the oyster farm shed while also tasting freshly shucked oysters.
Kangaroo Island Outdoor Action
Tour company Kangaroo Island Outdoor Action, offers quad bike tours, kayaking, fat bike tours, and gentle guided nature walks where you’ll learn about the local flora and fauna. Our favourite tour on offer is sandboarding the dunes at Little Sahara. Two kilometres of dunes make up the heritage-listed Little Sahara area that stretches to the blue waters of Vivonne Bay.
Kayaking along Harriet River
The scenic Harriet River lies on the south coast of Kangaroo Island. Hire kayaks to paddle to Vivonne Bay while spotting birds and koalas in the trees. Kangaroo Island Outdoor Action offers guided tours, double and single kayaks.
Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary
Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary is a privately owned conservancy focused on providing habitat for native animals to live in the wild. Since 1997 the Sanctuary has worked to conserve and protect native Australian flora and fauna. The sanctuary can only be visited by pre-booked guided tour.
Visit in winter
While Kangaroo Island is amazing any time of year, winter is an especially good time to visit. The cooler weather not only means more lush greenery and cascading rivers but even more opportunities for wildlife spotting. Joeys will be emerging from their mama’s pouch, fur seals and sea lion colonies are basking on the rocks in search of the sunshine and Southern Right Whales breach just off the shoreline. And there’s so much to see and do, from sandboarding the enormous dunes of Little Sahara to kayaking along the Harriet River and exploring signature landmarks such as Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch.
SeaLink operates two passenger and vehicle ferries that depart from Cape Jervis, South Australia to Penneshaw, Kangaroo Island daily. You can bring your own car over on the ferry. Self-driving is the best way to make your way around 4,500 square kilometres of the island’s interior and 500 kilometres of coastline.
There are a number of items you’re prohibited from taking to Kangaroo Island, including potatoes and honey. Check naturalresources.sa.gov.au for biosecurity requirements before visiting.
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