As you head towards Cape Jervis along the west coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula, KANGAROO ISLAND (or KI), only 13km offshore, first appears behind a vale of rolling hills. Once you’re on the island, its size and lack of development leave a strong impression. This is Australia’s third-largest island (after Tasmania and Melville Island), with 450km of spectacular, wild coastline and a multitude of wildlife including kangaroos, koalas, echidnas, platypuses, Little penguins, fur seals, sea lions and, in passing, southern right whales.

To see Kangaroo Island properly you’ll need at least three days, though most people only visit the major south-coast attractions – Seal Bay, Little Sahara, Remarkable Rocks and Flinders Chase National Park. Although promoted as South Australia’s premier tourism destination it’s still unspoilt; only in the peak holiday period (Christmas to the end of Jan, when most of the accommodation is booked up) does it feel busy. Once out of the island’s few small towns, there’s little sign of human presence to break the long, straight roads that run through undulating fields, dense gum forests and mallee scrub. There’s often a strong wind off the Southern Ocean, so bring something warm whatever the season, and take care when swimming – there are strong rips on many beaches. Safe swimming spots include Hog Bay and Antechamber Bay, both near Penneshaw; Emu Bay, northwest of Kingscote; Stokes Bay, further west; and Vivonne Bay, on the south side of the island.

Coming by boat, you’ll arrive at Kangaroo Island’s eastern end, at the small settlement of Penneshaw. The airport is a little further west in Cygnet River near Kingscote, the island’s administrative centre and South Australia’s second-oldest colonial settlement, though little remains to show for it. Between Penneshaw and Kingscote, sheltered American River is another good base. From here, the Playford Highway and South Coast Road branch out to traverse the island, entering Flinders Chase National Park from the north and south respectively. The national park and surrounding wilderness protection area cover the entire western end of the island.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Australia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The best aerial views in the world

The best aerial views in the world

Got a head for heights? If you're craving a new perspective on your travels, the best thing to do is get up high. From mountain-top panoramas to cityscapes, her…

17 Oct 2017 • Olivia Rawes camera_alt Gallery
Undiscovered Australia: 7 places to get off the tourist trail

Undiscovered Australia: 7 places to get off the tourist trail

Australia is a vast country, though most visitors stay on the same tried and tested track, ticking off well-touristed pitstops along the way. But, of course, …

07 Aug 2017 • Helen Ochyra insert_drive_file Article
The rebirth of Perth: how the city got cool

The rebirth of Perth: how the city got cool

Sun-soaked and healthy? Perhaps. A decent gateway to Western Australia? Definitely. But a cool place to spend a few days? Until recently Perth just couldn’t …

27 Apr 2017 • Helen Ochyra insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook