This is a bold statement, but I think my experiences on Kangaroo Island might have been my favourite out of my whole Australia trip this year. The island lies off the mainland of South Australia and over a third of it is protected with nature reserves. It has over 500km of coastline too, and is home to native wildlife from sea lions to koalas and everything in between. The reason I fell in love is because it isn’t commercial tourist nonsense. It’s authentic real Australia. The animals are wild and living in their natural habitats, and the experiences you have with them are genuine and therefore even more incredible.
If that hasn’t convinced you, here are nine more reasons you need to visit the island.
You Can Swim with Wild Dolphins
Yes, really. It was one of the most memorable moments of my life. We headed out in a boat with Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures, stopping off along the coastline to see local birds before ending up in a small bay where wild dolphins come to rest after hunting out in the deeper ocean. Here they relax and enjoy playing with whoever enters the water. We popped on our snorkels and got to get up close and personal with them. They seemed to love it, they swam around us and the boat, jumping in and out of the waves caused by the wake. I will never forget it.
You Can See Wild Koalas
Koalas are surprisingly pretty tricky to come by in Australia, but Kangaroo Island has a huge population of them so you can spot them everywhere! I saw them on the aside of the road and in the trees above car parks! My personal favourite spot though was the Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, which is just a eucalyptus plantation which you can walk through and spot the wild koalas in the trees! We saw about 15 in that walk alone, including one which was super low down the tree and awake, which meant we could make eye contact and really connect with her!
Top tip: Koalas are often much higher in trees than you think, keep your eyes peeled.
You Can See Wild Kangaroos
And the name suggests, the island has an abundance of kangaroos! They are easiness to see first thing in the morning and last thing at night, when it is a little cooler. One morning I was a couple of metres away from a mother and child, the mother easily being over 170cm tall. It was amazing!
You Can See Seals & Sea Lions
There are mating grounds for both sea lions and Seals on the island. Head to Seal Bay and hop on a beach tour to get up close and personal with huge sea lions as well as their little babies! It is the only place in the world you can walk among a sea lion colony. You can also spot tonnes of gigantic seals at Admirals Arch and other places along the coastline!
You Can See Natural Beauty
The Flinders Chase National Park is a huge highlight of the island. A huge and diverse area of protected wilderness which has an abundance of wildlife and stunning sights to be seen. Hit up Admirals Arch and the Remarkable Rocks for beautiful rock formations, head there as early as possible to avoid crowds. I also recommend jumping on one of the hikes within the park such as Black Swamp Hike or Snake Lagoon Hike!
Top top: The national park car park is a great place to spot koalas in the trees!
You Can Kick Back & Relax
The island has a whole host of beautiful beaches you can kick back and relax on. The most famous is Stokes Bay, which you access through a hidden cave tunnel system, opening up onto a pristine sandy beach. I also thoroughly enjoyed Emu Bay and Hanson Bay, but apparently Vivonne Bay has won awards for being so beautiful! Grab a towel, settle down and dip in the crystal blue waters.
You Can Eat Delicious Local Food
The residents of Kangaroo Island are incredibly passionate about their local produce. The vast majority of the restaurants with source most of their ingredients locally. A couple of my favourite spots were Cactus in Kingscote for a modern take on classics, as well as Table 88 near Stokes Bay for delicious tapas and cocktails with a view.
You Can Stay In The Thick Of It
Most if not all of the hotels on the island are eco-conscious and try to be at one with nature as much as possible. We stayed at Kangaroo Island Wilderness Retreat which had wallabies just chilling near the front door! We also did a sunset wilderness tour from the hotel which was incredible, we saw koalas, huntsman spiders, scorpions, wallabies, possums and so much more!
You Can Road Trip
The island is based around a few main roads, with lots of dirt tracks leading off them to the beautiful bays, caves and attractions. I recommend driving and seeing what you find. There is everything from quad bikes tours and waterfall hikes through to caving experiences! Go for a drive and see what you see!
Top tip: Get a 4 wheel drive if possible, a lot of the roads aren’t even roads, just dirt tracks!
All in all…
Kangaroo Island took a piece of my heart. As a nature nerd at heart, it was a true highlight for me. Getting to connect with wildlife in their natural habitats is something I will never forget! I could easily spend a couple of weeks off Kangaroo Island just exploring! Don’t miss it on your trip to Australia.