Exploring Family Friendly Kangaroo Island
South Australia’s Kangaroo Island is a true natural paradise, perfect for families wanting a getaway with that real holiday spirit – a world class bucket list destination.
There is so much to see and do on Australia’s third largest island from action adventures to peaceful walks through untouched bushland. Think pristine beaches, dynamic sand dunes, soaring cliffs and wildlife galore.
Scenic drives will leave you mesmerised by the island’s beauty and those fortunate to visit this region are sure to have an experience here to remember.
EDITORS NOTE: Kangaroo Island has been badly affected by the January 2020 bushfires – please see our post HERE with further information
Kangaroo Island Holiday for Families – What to do on Kangaroo Island with Kids
A visit to Kangaroo Island for a five night stay during the April 2015 school holidays, based at Vivonne Bay.
Little Sahara, about 15 minutes from Vivonne Bay, is on the south on KI. It is an 2km² area of sand dunes. You can hire both sand boards for stand up sand boarding (like snow boarding) or toboggans like we had. There is a kiosk at Little Sahara where you can hire the boards for $29 per board (pricing as of April 2015). We hired ours from the Vivonne Bay General Store, which was cheaper. If you stay at Vivonne Bay Lodge, they have boards you can use for free. The hire was for 2.5 hours, which was plenty as it was hard work getting back up again. There are varying degrees of steepness so smaller children can do it too. It was our most fun morning of the holiday!
Sea Lions at Seal Bay! Also on the south coast, Seal Bay is about 25km from Vivonne Bay. There is a visitor centre here with information about sea lions and a gift shop. You can choose one of two experiences. You can pay $40 for a family of 4 and walk down a purpose built boardwalk to see the sea lions. You don’t get right on the beach but you see some pretty close (most of the photos in the collage are actually taken from the board walk). Or you can pay $80 for a family of 4 and have a guide walk you down onto the beach for 45 minutes. This was really informative and we learnt a lot about the sea lions and their behaviour. The guide takes you to around 10m from the sea lions. If you stand really still they do sometimes come closer. It was a pretty magical experience.
The Vivonne Bay General Store is a very handy place where you can stock up on basic groceries, fishing gear, sandboard hire, petrol and wine. They also do hot lunches. They serve their ‘world famous’ Whiting Burger, which is what we were eating sitting at the bar there. It’s a busy and popular spot. The beach in the picture below is Stokes Bay on the north coast, where you will find the sea is calmer and more sheltered. This beach was really cool because you have to walk through a narrow passage, then through a ‘wall or rock’ and then you emerge on this beautiful little cove. There were some surfers on one part of the beach but there was also a protected part due to some outlying rocks that created a very shallow and safe place for little ones to access the sea. We had a yummy lunch at the Rock Pool Cafe there too.
Flinders Chase National Park
EDITOR’S NOTE: 7 January 2020 – Due to the recent devastating bushfires Flinders Chase National Park, including Admirals Arch, Remarkable Rocks, Visitor Information Centre and The Chase Café have suffered much damage and are currently closed to visitors.
Flinders Chase National Park features the spectacular Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch. There is a visitors centre with a gift shop and nice cafe style lunches, with a kids sand pit area where you can dig for fossils. The top pic is at Admirals Arch. It’s a nice short walk down and you see masses of New Zealand Fur Seals on the way down. Just a few minutes (in the car) gets you to the Remarkable Rocks. This was great for the kids, they loved exploring all the rock and climbing about. You have to be a bit careful with little ones as the other side is exposed to the sea so you need to keep your kids close by all the time. We had lunch in the cafe and then did a 4km walk called The Platypus Walk – it was a really lovely trail walk where we saw wallabies, kangaroos, geese and an echidna. At the top of the walk there are some ponds/lakes where platypus live. With enough patience and time I am sure you might see a platypus but they are more common at dawn and dusk.
Where to Stay on Kangaroo Island
The ferry arrives at Penneshaw, the main town on the Dudley Peninsula. A lot of families choose to stay in Penneshaw and there is a range of accommodation options to choose from, including cottages, beach houses and self-contained holiday homes.
Other popular areas around here include Baudin Beach, Island Beach and Antechamber Bay. Hog Bay, the beach at Penneshaw, is a popular sandy beach great for swimming with a large grassed area with picnic and barbeque facilities. There are rock formations to explore and you can watch the ferry come and go.
Penneshaw Hotel sits on the cliff top with uninterrupted views over Backstairs Passage. This 106 year old hotel has both indoor and outdoor dining and offers a family friendly menu.
The monthly Kangaroo Island Farmers’ Market in Penneshaw is held on the first Sunday of the month and is a popular event with locals and visitors. You will find fresh, local seasonal produce such as fruit and vegetables, lamb and small goods, olive oil, organic honey, biodynamic eggs, seafood, sheep cheeses and yoghurts, handmade cordials, chutneys and relishes.
Local stall holders also offer wine and product tastings, delicious cooked breakfast and lunch menus and good coffee. The market had a lovely village atmosphere and it’s a great way to spend the morning.
Dudley’s Winery, Kangaroo Island
One of our favourite places to eat out was Dudley’s Winery which served amazing pizzas and platters of local regional produce and fabulous wine, all enjoyed overlooking one of the most majestic views on the island. Sitting inside or making the most of a fine day out on the deck, the spectacular scenery is breathtaking from every vantage point (see image below).
Below the restaurant is an area for having a hit of golf – simply tee off and hit the ball as far as you can into the wilderness. Once the balls ran out the children then had fun picking them all up. The Dudley Cellar Door is on Willoughby Road, Cuttlefish Bay, 12km from Penneshaw.
Other places worth noting and well worth a visit include Clifford’s Honey Farm and Kangaroo Island Lavender Farm at Emu Bay.
Kangaroo Island Wildlife
Incredible wildlife surrounds Kangaroo Island, on the land, in the sky and in the water. There are rare birds, wallabies, kangaroos, koalas, sheep, sea lions and little penguin colonies to name just a few. During the whale season in winter you can often spot migrating southern right whales and their calves as they make their way along the South Australian coast.
Activities on Kangaroo Island include ocean safaris, marine adventures, fishing charters, quad bike tours and wildlife experiences. There are some fabulous nature experiences, such as Raptor Domain featuring birds of prey and Hanson Wildlife Bay Sanctuary.
Kangaroo Island has six unique regions to discover, yet depending on how long you stay you may not get to all in one holiday. Being 155km long and 55km wide this island is much bigger than you may expect. The landscape is diverse and each region offers something different and unique. If not on a chartered tour, bringing over your own car will give you flexibility to explore the island.
Have an idea of what you would like to see and do before you travel so you can plan your day trips to different destinations. The activities and places of interest here really are endless and there is a lot of driving to get from one magical place to the next.
Kangaroo Island Regions:
- Dudley Peninsula
- American River
- Kingscote & Emu Bay
- North Coast & Heartland
- Western Kangaroo Island
- South Coast
Getting to Kangaroo Island
Just a short flight from Adelaide or a ferry ride from Cape Jervis, Kangaroo Island is easily accessible all year round. Cape Jervis is a pleasant 1.5 hour drive south from Adelaide through the picturesque Fleurieu Peninsula.
Arriving at Sealink’s ferry terminal, breathing in the sea air and waiting to board the ferry, families can stretch their legs and enjoy a hot or cold drink and snack from the cafe. Once on board the ferry it’s only around 45 minutes until you arrive on the island.
Travel Options to Kangaroo Island
- Multiple ferry services a day between Cape Jervis and Penneshaw – a 45-minute journey and they can transport people, cars, caravans, campervans, cargo and freight. CLICK HERE
- A fast passenger-only ferry between Cape Jervis and Penneshaw. They also offer car, van and campervan hire in Penneshaw. CLICK HERE
- Direct flights from Adelaide five times a week during summer and three times a week direct from Melbourne. CLICK HERE
Rex Regional Express
- Multiple daily flight services direct from Adelaide to Kingscote. CLICK HERE
For more information and all enquiries please visit the Tour Kangaroo Island website.
What: Kangaroo Island Holiday Review
When: All Year
Where: Kangaroo Island, South Australia
Who: Families/All Ages
At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.
Image Source: Play & Go Adelaide 2014 & 2015
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