Kangaroo Island or KI as locals would call it, is a remote and natural wonderland for Australian wildlife. But, Kangaroo Island is extremely accessible, with the South Australian mainland only 15 kilometres away.
We discovered during our planning that there are so many things to do on Kangaroo Island with kids that could keep you busy for months. Kangaroo Island is actually quite a big place. Much bigger than you expect and a couple of days will just not do it justice.
What you can find in this post
Kangaroo Island Itinerary with Kids – Best Things to do in Kangaroo Island with Kids
Here is our planned itinerary we used on our Kangaroo Island itinerary with kids over the New Year 2019/2020 period. We had an absolute ball. KI is truly magnificent and we highly recommend taking the time to visit (longer than 3 or 4 days too!!). I say ‘planned’ as we changed a few things around when visiting as there were bushfires around which we needed to be mindful of.
Arrive at Penneshaw – Departing on the 9am ferry – approx. 10am arrival time (more information below on catching the Kangaroo Island ferry).
Drive straight around to Antechamber Bay for a look and run on the beach.
A beautiful spot for lunch is Dudley Winery. A winery in Penneshaw with magnificent views, balcony seating, a playground for the kids and a golf driving range for the big kids. Food includes sharing platters and pizza etc. A tasting fee does apply.
Next we drove around to Pennington Bay. This was one of our favourite beaches and I wish we had longer to spend here (or more time to visit again). It is about a 30-minute drive from the winery.
What we didn’t have time for –
A drive to Pelican Point to climb the stairs – in the same area.
Clifford’s Honey Farm – Again, similar location
We decided that we wouldn’t visit Seal Bay and pay for a tour here. It was advised that we would see plenty of seals later in our trip around Admirals Arch. We thought this was good advice and decided to wait and see. If we needed more seal action we would make it work later in our itinerary.
If you are certain you’d like to stop here; then it could be worth trying to squish a visit into this afternoon. Makes for a jam-packed day but you might not make it in this direction again.
If you are visiting Seal Bay then it is probably worth purchasing a ‘Parks Pass’ – more information and prices can be found here.
We drove from Pennington Bay right across the island to the Flinders Chase National Park where we set up camp for the next 4 nights. It is a little over an hour’s drive to get across the island.
We stayed at the Western KI Caravan Park.
Day 2 and Day 3
We gave ourselves 2 full days to explore the Flinders Chase National Park. Honestly, we could have done with a full extra day, as there are walks and activities we did not have time for. But, 2 full days is more than a lot of people who rush through.
Entry Fee to Flinders Chase National Park – 1 or 2 day entry pass is available. If you are planning on visiting 2 days in a row then it’s cheaper to buy the 2 day pass. Details here.
Things to do include –
Remarkable Rocks – amazing. The pictures speak for themselves.
Admirals Arch was also amazing. Great boardwalk and seal spotting.
Wiers Cove Hike (from Admirals Arch – 2.8km – 50 min’s return).
There are loads of walks to choose from. We choose the Snake Lagoon walk; it was long in the heat but we emerged at a gorgeous beach with no one else – makes it all worthwhile when you know not many people visit.
Cape Du Couedic Lightstation – this is further north which we didn’t have time for.
Cape Borda Lightstation – in Flinders Chase NP – remote but gets good reviews (go for the 12.30 cannon firing) – probably 1.5 hours from Flinders Chase NP
We didn’t make it to Kelly Hill Conservation and Caves as we were short on time but it’s another option of things to do.
Hanson Bay is the closest beach to the Caravan Park and the best spot for a swim.
Day 4 was set aside for a visit to Vivonne Bay which is approx. 45-60 minutes from Flinders Chase National Park. Spend the day at the beach and also sand-boarding at Little Sahara. KI Outdoor Action is the onsite company where you arrange your sandboarding.
Note – do not try and bring your own board (or homemade haha!) as you wont be sliding down the dunes – you’ll just end up with the face full of sand!!!
We were told not to miss the world-famous whiting burger at the Vivonne Bay General Store – unfortunately, we did miss out.
The Kangaroo Island Birds of Prey Raptor Domain is also in this area and receives rave reviews but we did not have time to visit.
Day 5, 6 and 7
This morning was set aside to pack up from our Flinders Chase camping and head back across to our next camping destination in Kingscote Holiday Park.
This is absolutely nothing fancy at all!! It’s pretty daggy to be honest! But, the owners were lovely and were trying their best to accommodate everyone over this busy period.
On the way across you do pass the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park but our plans didn’t allow for a stop here.
There are many things to do over on this side of the island so feel free to have a play around with what takes your fancy.
KI Distillery – visit numerous times if you like (!) – laid back, relaxed and family-friendly. There are also no tasting fees for the delicious KI Gin.
Visit Emu Beach drive on the beach.
Swimming at Stokes Bay – Just to the right of the car park lies a large wall of large rocks, a small understated “beach” sign, points curious visitors to a little rock tunnel entrance. Step through a winding passage where at times only one person can fit between tight crevices and it will lead you to the other side of the rock wall and a shimmering secret beach.
The Rockwell Cafe in Stokes Bay – we had lunch at this busy little café. Yummy fish and chips in a relaxed setting. Bookings are recommended during peak periods.
Snelling Beach – touted as the best swimming beach on the north coast, it’s remote so there is nothing else there – visit from Stokes Bay (sometimes dolphins visit). Unfortunately due to fire danger we were unable to visit Snelling Beach.
Western River Cove was one of the standout beaches of Kangaroo Island for another travelling family. It’s a little off the normal tourist trail, but well worth it. It’s further along from Snelling Beach – unfortunately, due to fire risk we were also unable to visit Western River Cove Beach.
Other things to do in the area include the following –
American River for oysters – THE OYSTER FARM SHOP in American River
Beehive Honey – tastings, sales and cafe.
Thai Dinner at KI Tru Thai on Thursday nights. This was an interesting experience. Really glad that we experienced this popular dinner. Definitely not the best Thai food we have ever eaten but it was so popular. A local resident and his family open their home once a week for traditional Thia food. Local wines and beers to drink and ice cream for dessert, plus local Music.
Rookery Wine and KI Ciders at Emu Ridge Eucalyptus
Bay of Shoals Wines – Kingscote
Ferguson Australia – for a fresh seafood platter
Kangaroo Island Fresh Seafoods – Kingscote
Kangaroo Island Brewery – Kingscote
Swim with the Dolphins – KI Marine Adventures
Redbank Cliffs – The best-hidden secret of Kangaroo Island is just up the road from American River. Unfortunately, we ran out of time to visit here also.
First Sunday of each month there is a Farmers Market in Penneshaw
We departed on 1030am ferry and started the journey home. This gave us enough time to pack up our tent in the morning before the 45 minute drive from Kingscote to Penneshaw.
Don’t under-estimate how long the drives are on the island!
Things to note re Kangaroo Island with Kids
Our biggest piece of advice is to make sure you stay on both sides of the island. This will give you more time to explore and less travel time.
It’s also worth printing out (or just using google maps) a KI map to marking all the attractions you are hoping to visit. You’ll then be able to actually see where everything is and where would be a good base to stay.
There seems to be endless things to do on Kangaroo Island with kids. I hope our itinerary and overview gives you an indication of the best things to do in Kangaroo Island with kids.
One of the best decisions we made in our planning was to book ourselves 3 or 4 nights of accommodation on either side of the island i.e. Flinders Chase and Kingscote. This meant we didn’t have to travel back and forth across the island each day. It may not look like a large island but it truly is. Staying on both sides of the island is a great way to base yourself.
There are also other options for accommodation; of course, you could stay in Emu Bay or around Hansen Bay. Just use google maps to work out the distances of where you might like to travel to, so you know how long you may have in the car. Our kids complain pretty quickly on car trips!!
I am sure with research you could probably come up with another list of the best things to do on Kangaroo Island with kids!
Beaches of Kangaroo Island
Beautiful beaches can be highlights of most island holidays, and Kangaroo Island beaches are no exception. Kangaroo Island has a whopping 540kms of coastline and contains no fewer than 50 unique beaches, we managed only a handful of these beaches.
One of the most famous beaches is Vivonne Bay. It’s actually ranked one of the best in all of Australia. Our visit for cloudy so I am not sure we experienced it in all its glory.
We spent a couple of afternoons at Hanson Bay, it was quite popular with families, fisherman and even those with masks and snorkels.
Emu Bay is another popular beach and Stokes Bay is a secret beach accessed via a rock walkway. We missed out on Western River Cove and Red Banks but both a popular with locals. The rock pools of Pennington Bay were a favourite of ours. Antechamber Bay beach was huge and totally empty of people, it was magnificent.
Where to stay on Kangaroo Island with kids
Kangaroo Island is big! At 155 km’s in length and 55 km wide, it’s the third largest island off the coast of Australia, covering 4,416 square kilometers.
There are a variety of accommodation options from resorts, hotels, motels, caravan and campsites and different regions to stay.
We would highly recommend staying in a couple of locations across the island to save on travel times.
Kangaroo Island accommodation
There are plenty of accommodation options for families on Kangaroo Island, we decided to take the car and all our camping gear but there are self-contained apartments and cabins, glamping options plus 5-star options.
The camping options range from camping within the Flinders Chase National Park with limited facilities and first in best-dressed sites to privately owned caravan parks. On this trip, we choose to book into official campgrounds as we didn’t want to risk turning up at a camp ground and not being able to find a site for 2 families.
Kangaroo Island weather
Kangaroo Island Australia has typical warm to hot and dry summers (December-February) with low humidity. Winters are cool (June-August). Springtime and Autumn are shoulder seasons and the weather can be a real mixture of both winter and summer.
Where is Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island is located only 15km off the coast of South Australia.
Kangaroo Island size
Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third largest island. The island is 145km long and 54km from North to South. The island covers 4,405 km2 and has 540km of coastline.
The population of KI is only 4700 people!! The island has a number of small towns spread across the island. The town of Kingscote is the major town.
Don’t underestimate the size of the island! We’d highly recommend giving yourself plenty of time to explore.
It takes –
2 hours and 20 minutes to travel from the east to the west (from Cape Willoughby to Flinders Chase National Park)
45 minutes to travel from Stokes Bay in the north to Vivonne Bay in the South
How to get to Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island is accessed by the Kangaroo Island ferry and now has flights also available.
The KI ferry is a great way for a self-drive holiday as you can load up the car with all your supplies.
Tips on Kangaroo Island with kids
Bring your own supplies from the mainland. There are shops available in Kingscote but you will need to stock up and take everything with you in you are heading over to the Flinders Chase side of the island. Bring as much as possible with you in your car. There are certain items which are banned though including honey.
Getting around Kangaroo Island with kids
Self drive is best with families
Self driving is the best way to get around Kangaroo Island with kids. There is quite a bit of distance to cover around the island and having your own car means you go at your own pace and set your own itinerary. You can load the car with everything you need for a day trip around KI.
How to get to Kangaroo Island
Taking the car on the Kangaroo Island Ferry
How the Kangaroo Island ferry works with kids, adults, families and for everyone!!
Book Kangaroo Island ferry tickets ahead of time
To save time, pre-book your ferry tickets online or by calling SeaLink on 13 13 01 (open 7 days from 7:30am – 7:30pm) and highly recommended if you are taking your vehicle.
Ferry tickets are available at the SeaLink ferry terminal however it’s encouraged to pre-purchase to secure your spot on the right ferry.
Kangaroo Island ferry prices
We booked our tickets months in advance and highly recommend booking as far in advance as possible for the peak summer holiday times.
Driving the car onboard
All passengers are required to arrive at the ferry 30 minutes prior to departure.
Once you reach Cape Jervis ferry terminal, vehicles will be directed to one of the four lanes where you park the car before checking in at the terminal.
Once your car is parked you are required to check in at the Sea Link Office. Take your printed booking number for check-in. Staff will then issue your family their boarding passes.
Ferry check-in involves one person driving your car onto the ferry. Family members board via the passenger ramp.
A cafe onboard serves conveniences including today’s newspaper, hot tea, and coffee, and light snacks including cakes, sandwiches and pastries, pasties, meat pies, and sausage rolls.
There are also toilets on board.
We spent the trip on the top deck. We didn’t know how wavey it was going to be and wanted to be prepared with fresh air.
Disembarking the Kangaroo Island ferry
Similarly, when disembarking the Kangaroo Island ferry, the driver is called downstairs to drive the car off the ferry. There are spaces to park once the car has been driven off the ferry. Passengers are required to walk to the car to meet the driver.
There are apparently snakes in the grass just off the ferry, so don’t let your kids play in the grass while waiting for the car.
Flying to Kangaroo Island
REX and Qantas now fly to Kangaroo Island. The flights can be expensive, with car hire also a cost factor. But if you are short on time and coming from a capital city within Australia it could be a good option.
There you have it. A big post with loads of information on KI. We loved our time on the island. Just remember it really is large and you don’t want to waste time driving across the island on multiple days. Our biggest recommendation is to definitely book yourselves in at multiple accommodation sites on both sites of the island.
Have fun and enjoy this magical place.
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