The 11 most popular tourist attractions on Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island (“KI” to the locals) is an ecotourism treasure and wildlife refuge. Australia’s third largest island (after Tasmania and Melville Island), it sits on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula, about 112 kilometers southwest of Adelaide. The dazzling scenery is one of the main selling points. Wide white sand beaches covered by azure seas, steep coastal cliffs, giant boulders with windswept sculptures, rolling green hills, caves, sand dunes and nature reserves create a vibrant strip for photographers.
The island is also home to abundant wildlife. National parks and wildlife refuges protect more than a third of the island, and big visits from animals like Australian sea lions, koalas, penguins and the island’s namesake Marsipals are among the main attractions.
You’ll find plenty to do on land and in the crystal-clear seas. Adventure adventures include wildlife safaris, hikes on the many hiking trails that wind through wildlife-rich national parks, swimming, fishing, surfing and sailing. For an adrenaline rush, you can jump over the bush on all-terrain vehicles, explore underground cave systems or hike up the towering sand dunes near Vivonne Bay. Kangaroo Island is also one of Australia’s best areas for moderate water diving, with plenty of fish-rich walls and shipwrecks.
See also: Where to stay on Kangaroo Island
1 Flinders Chase National Park.
One of the island’s most famous landmarks, Flinders Chase National Park covers the entire west end of Kangaroo Island. You can explore the park’s waterways and forests in an extensive network of hiking trails and promenades. Be sure to visit the tourist attractions. Wonderful cliffs , windswept boulders sculpted into bizarre shapes and perched on a smooth dome of rock. Nearby is the incredible Crooked Admiral Arch, the last relic of an ancient cave.
The park is also a major wildlife gathering place. Under the arch at Cape du Queditch, thousands of New Zealand harbor seals gather on the beach, entertaining visitors with their antics on land and in the water. Cangaroo and many birds also live within the park’s boundaries.
Campsites can be reserved in the park, and you can also stay at the lighthouse lodges at Cape Borda, on the northwest tip of the island and Cape du Couedic , If you want a more luxurious base with easy access to all the park’s attractions, the eco-chic Southern Ocean Lodge is between Flinders Chase National Park and Kelly Hill Preserve and is one of the most luxurious all-inclusive resorts in the world.
Location: 110 km west of Kingscote
2 Seal Bay Reserve Tour
Seal Bay Conservation Park Tours
Seal Bay Conservation Park is the only place in the world where
you can observe a colony of Australian sea lions in their natural habitat. A 900-meter boardwalk on the south beach, with viewing platforms and interpretive signs along the way, so you can learn all about these creatures and watch them wave and sprawl on the sand on a self-guided tour. Guided tours are also available, and the twilight beach tours offered during the southern Australian summer months are especially popular with wildlife photographers.
While you’re here, stop by the eco-friendly Seal Bay Visitor Center for more information about sea lions and their marine habitat. A short drive from Seal Bay, Bales Beach is a major picnic spot, with shelters, gas barbecues and a beautiful beach.
Address: Seal Bay Road
Official website: http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/sealbay/home
3 Vivonne Bay.
Often a thrilling list of Australia’s best beaches, Vivionne Bay is an unspoiled slice of coastline on the south coast of the island. This long stretch of sweet white sand and clear azure water is a great place to picnic on sunny days, and surfing is a popular activity here when conditions are favorable. Sunbathing and fishing from the pier are other popular activities, but swimming is not recommended because the footing can be strong and the water is cold, even in the summer. Beaches on the north coast of the island, such as Emu Bay as well as Stokes Bay, are safer for swimming. If you’re looking for an adventure, nearby you can reduce the Little Sahara dunes on quad bikes, sleds, and sandbikes.
4 Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park
Kangaroo Island Shou-Hui Wang Wildlife Park / photo modified
Attractive koalas and hand-feeding kangaroos and wallabies are favorites at Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park. There are more than 150 species of Australian wildlife, including wombats, quoths, birds, penguins, echidnas, snakes, lizards and crocodiles. This is a great way to observe wildlife up close and even interact with and feed some of the animals. Stakes are available for an additional fee.
Address: 4068 Playford Highway, Seddon
5 Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.
Kangaroos at Hanson Bay Wildlife Refuge
The 5,000-hectare Hanson Bay Wildlife Refuge, between Flinders Chase National Park and Kelly Hill Conservation Park , is the best place on Kangaroo Island to see koalas in the wild. Day tours (self-guided and guided) on the Koala Walk also give you the chance to see kangaroos; echidnas; possums; goannas; and birds like crimson-breasted rosellas, honeycreepers and black cockatoos.Guided tours are also offered in the evening, and you can stay overnight at one of six self-contained beach houses. This wildlife-rich sanctuary connects to the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail, with access on foot to the Remarkable Rockies in Flinders Chase National Park.
Address: 7797 South Coast Road, Karatta
Official website: http://www.hansonbay.com.au/
6 Raptor Domain.
Barn owl NH53 / photo modified
Not surprisingly, raptors are the main attraction at this popular conservation park, which rescues injured birds of prey as well as snakes and lizards. Unlike the zoo, where animals are usually displayed, the park presents animals to visitors through fun and informative presentations such as the poison pit, with venomous snakes and spiders, and Fang-Tastic, an entertaining reptile show. One of the favorite attractions here is In Flight , where you can learn about birds of prey such as owls and the mighty eagle wedge-tail, watch them fly, and even interact with them after the show.
Address: LOT 51 Seal Bay Rd, Seal Bay
Official website: http://www.kangarooislandbirdsofprey.com.au/index.php
7 Kelly Hill Conservation Park: Cave Tour
Kelly Hill Conservation Park: Allison Cornford Cave Tour / photo modified
Kelly Hill Conservation Park, on the southwest side of the island, is known for its beautiful limestone cave system. Stalactites, stalagmites and stunning crystallized columns adorn the caves, and guided tours provide fascinating information about how they are formed. Thrill seekers can put on a headlamp and helmet and wade through the underground maze of caves on a guided adventure tour. Above ground hiking trails are a good option for the claustrophobic. From here you can hike to Hanson Bay, with its forests, freshwater lagoons, seascapes and popular wildlife sanctuary.
Location: 90km southwest of Kingscote
Kingscote Dean Wiles / photo modified
The capital, commercial center and main port of Kangaroo Island, Kingscote heads a tranquil harbor dotted with boats on the island’s northeast coast. Kingscote is also where European settlers established their first base in historic Reeve’s Point , Restaurants, cafes, galleries and stores line the streets, and the marina is a popular fishing spot. Honey, lavender and dairy farms in the surrounding area also welcome visitors. In particular, Clifford’s Honey Farm and Emu Bay Lavender Farm are favorites.
9 American River.
American River hellomatt / photo modified
The fishing village and resort of American River is near the isthmus leading to the Dudley Peninsula. It takes its name from the American seamen who built a boat here in 1803 until 1804. Located on the hillside with the village overlooking East Bay , the outer bay where locals and visitors love to fish and sail. The inner bay of Pelican Lagoon is a great place for birds, with black swans, pelicans and important breeding grounds on the islands in the lagoon. The American River is also home to the island’s oyster industry, and you can purchase some of these delicacies while you’re here.
Little hellomatt penguin / photo modified
Penneshaw, on the island’s northeast coast, welcomes visitors arriving by ferry from Cape Gervais , For an overview of the island’s best sights, as well as maps and plenty of helpful tips for insiders, it is recommended to stop by the Kangaroo Island Visitor Information Center , and the small but informative Sea and Folk Museum has interesting historical displays. Other attractions include the beach at Hog Bay, a favorite spot for family picnics, and if you’re an angler, Hog Bay Jetty is a popular spot for casting lines. Animal lovers enjoy visiting the nearby colony of little penguins on overnight tours from the Penguin Interpretive Center. While you’re in the area, climb up Cape Willoughby Lighthouse for great views of the mainland.
11 Cape Gantium Conservation Park.
Murray Lagoon Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble / photo modified
Cape Gauntiaum, on the southeast coast, is a haven for naturalists and birdwatchers. It is home to the largest freshwater lake on the island, and Camp Murray is a wetland habitat with an impressive array of birds, including swans, ducks and wading birds. Experienced hikers can Cape Hanteum Coast or take one of the shorter marked trails around the lagoon. As only a whaling site, D’Estrees Bay is great for fishing and camping. You can learn about the history of the bay on an eight-kilometer self-guided tour. Access to Kangaroo Island South Marine Park, with its sea lion colony, is also possible from the park.
Location: 40 km southwest of Kingscote
- Tips & Tactics
A variety of tours are offered. One of the best ways to see the sights is to take the best day 4WD Island of Kangaroo Island.
- Where to stay on Kangaroo Island for sightseeing
Luxury Hotels: You don’t need to leave your hotel to sightsee at Southern Ocean Lodge.This light and airy all-suite outlet is on the lip of a sea cliff with spectacular views of the wet surf through wall-to-wall windows.
Other must-see attractions in South Australia and beyond
In addition to Kangaroo Island, South Australia is famous for its vast desert areas and the bustling capital city of Adelaide. It’s also home to the beautiful Barossa Valley, as well as some of the best beaches in the country.
If you need help planning a trip to Australia, see our article on top Aussie itineraries and for inspiration on what to see and do while you’re here, check out our pages on top adventure adventures, best fishing spots and best hikes in Australia.
Australia’s natural attractions
Australia is a far-flung and unusual country with an exotic nature that appeals to most tourists who choose to travel to the southern mainland. We’ve compiled a list of the most interesting and famous natural attractions that are worth seeing for yourself.
Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef and Australia’s most famous natural attraction. It stretches over 2,500 kilometers along the northeastern shore of the mainland. In fact, it’s not a single reef, but a cluster of almost three thousand coral reefs. The Great Barrier Reef is larger than the whole of Great Britain. It is so large that it is clearly visible from space.
The Great Barrier Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Marine Park. You can get to the reef by boat or by boat from the Australian coast.
The Great Barrier Reef is made up of living organisms – coral polyps. It also supports many other creatures. The reef is a very fragile and defenseless ecosystem and it is important to protect it from negative human impacts.
The great barrier reef attracts many tourists, fishermen, and divers, so Australia requires special rules when visiting the reef area. For example, corals can not be touched by hand, you can not do scuba diving, mining, or oil and gas extraction.
Only some areas of the Great Barrier Reef are open to tourism. Diving is available around the islands of Lizard, Heron and Magnetic. Beach recreation, snorkeling and excursions are available on Fraser, Keppel, Dunk and Hamilton Islands.
Catamaran tours are available online in advance or at the waterfront in a seaside Australian town, such as Cairns Cove. You can also rent snorkeling equipment there. If you don’t like snorkelling, take a helicopter tour and see the reef from up high.
Kakadu National Park
Kakadu National Park is a vast wilderness area on Australia’s north coast just east of the city of Darwin. This reserve combines both beautiful Australian scenery, diverse wildlife, a rich underwater kingdom, and Aboriginal cultural treasures. It is the largest national park in Australia.
Kakadu Park is still home to Australian Aboriginal people, a small tribe of 500 inhabitants. Tourists are not allowed on their land, but at the park’s Aboriginal Cultural Centre, you can meet and interact with them on certain days and hours.
The main attraction of the park is the nature. This place is unique to Australia – it has a very developed water network of many rivers, streams, waterfalls, and lakes. During the rainy season, you can admire the cascade of Maguk, Jim Jim and Gem Gemini Falls. The waters of the park are home to enormous crested crocodiles, the largest reptile in the world. The length of this animal reaches 6 meters.
The park is surrounded on all sides by high cliffs. Inside – lush tropical vegetation, among which there are glades with dozens of surprisingly tall termites. Kanadu Park is home to 1,000 species of insects, hundreds of bird species, and 60 species of mammals.
Kakadu Park is also famous for rock art in ancient caves. They were inhabited tens of thousands of years ago by the ancestors of today’s Australian aborigines, who created a series of so-called “X-ray” drawings. On them the ancient artists depicted not only the appearance of animals and people, but also their internal structure.
Tours of the park are conducted by jeep. Some roads are accessible only in the dry season, as they are dangerous during the rains.
Uluru is a large bright red oval rock in the middle of the desert in the heart of Australia. The rock is also known as Ayers Rock or Ayers Rock. It is one of Australia’s most recognizable landmarks and has been called a symbol of the country along with the Sydney Opera House and the kangaroo.
Uluru rises 348 meters above sea level. Its smooth slopes are quite gentle, and from above the mountain looks like a lying elephant. Up close you can see that the rock is covered with irregularities and cracks, but from a distance it appears monolithic.
Uluru is formed from red sandstone with an admixture of iron, which gives the rock its bright color. Interestingly, the color varies depending on the time of day and weather. At dawn the mountain is dark purple, in sunny weather in the morning it seems purple and in the afternoon gold.
The Aborigines of Australia worshipped Mount Uluru. The locals have believed since ancient times that the rock gives strength to man. In ancient times, the Aborigines lived at the foot of Uluru, and samples of rock art have remained on its slopes.
The mountain is officially owned by the Australian Anangu tribe. The mountain is leased to the Australian government, for which the Aborigines receive a large sum and a percentage of the entrance fees. Therefore, indigenous Australians do not discourage tourism on the sacred mountain.
The Aborigines believe that it is forbidden to take souvenirs from Uluru – even a small pebble can cause trouble. Many tourists disregard the advice of native Australians and take pieces of rock as a memento. And then they return them – the tourist center of Uluru regularly receives packages with stones, which, apparently, bring bad luck after all.
Uluru Rock is located 450 kilometers from the city of Alice Springs. The nearest settlement, Yulara, is 18 kilometers away. There are no tourist facilities at the rock. Tourists have to get to the mountain through the desert by bus in the terrible heat and walk under the scorching sun.
Many tourists are not limited to seeing Uluru from the side and climb the mountain. The rock is not high or steep, but it is not safe to climb. Its slopes are too smooth and slippery, and the weather in the middle of the Australian desert is too hot.
Hillier is an unusual pink lake on Middle Island off the southwest coast of Australia. The water’s rich, matte pink color is not a trick of seeing, it’s real. If you pour it into a separate container, it remains pink. Surrounded by a white strip of sand and a dense rainforest of eucalyptus trees, Lake Hillier looks really strange.
The lake looks especially spectacular from a bird’s-eye view. From above, you can compare the bright pink water to the water of the ocean: they are separated by a thin strip of forest, as the lake is close to the shore. The hue of the water changes slightly depending on the light: it can be bright, like chewing gum, or dark, almost burgundy in color.
Algae and microorganisms give the water its pink color. For a long time, this theory was considered false, as experiments in the 50s did not confirm it. But in 2016, scientists conducted a series of tests and proved this fact, naming several species of organisms that are responsible for this phenomenon.
Lake Hillier is extremely salty, with salt levels several times higher than in the ocean. Swimmers are simply pushed to the surface because of this concentration. Salt crusts form along the lake’s shores.
The lake is far from civilization, it is not easy to get to it. Tourist infrastructure in this area is not developed, tours by water transport are rarely arranged. The most convenient option is air transport, but for most tourists it is expensive.
The Rocks of the Twelve Apostles
On the southern coast of Australia, along the Great Ocean Road, there is a group of several picturesque limestone pillar-like cliffs. They are up to 45 metres high, and against the backdrop of the ocean they look very imposing. These rocks are called the Twelve Apostles, although there are only eight of them. Despite the discrepancy in number, this romantic name quickly caught on, replacing the previous “Pig and Piglets.
The Rocks of the Twelve Apostles are located in Port Campbell National Park. It is relatively close to Melbourne – about 250 kilometers. There are few other important landmarks in the park, as the reserve was created specifically to protect the limestone cliffs. There is another rock not far away called London Arch. It used to connect to the shore and was known as London Bridge, but in 1990 a narrow “span” of the bridge collapsed, leaving a freestanding rock.
Millions of years ago the Twelve Apostles were part of the Australian continent. The soft limestone is easily eroded by erosion. The waves of the ocean undermined the rocky shore and formed freestanding limestone pillars. Erosion still continues to this day: every year it destroys 2 cm of limestone. The rock group used to consist of nine rocks, but in 2005 one of them collapsed, leaving behind only a pile of rocks in the ocean.
Tours to the Twelve Apostles usually start from the towns of Port Campbell or Princeton, which are not far from the reserve. The park operates a visitor center and offers helicopter and water tours.
White Paradise Beach
One of the most beautiful and inaccessible beaches in the world is in Australia, on Holy Trinity Island in Queensland. It is known as White Paradise and it fully lives up to its name. It is a seven kilometer long pure beach with white sand and azure water, framed by tropical greenery.
The white sand on White Paradise Beach is not just a beautiful figure of speech, it really is pure white. Because of its purity, NASA uses this sand in making lenses for the telescope. Also, the grains of sand on this beach are very fine, so the sand feels soft and gentle.
In the shallows at the northern end of the beach, the white sand forms spectacular patterns as it mixes with the ocean water. White Paradise looks especially beautiful from above at low tide. It is hard to believe that this is a natural creation and not an artist’s masterpiece.
White Paradise is equipped for recreation. There is a water sports center, picnic areas, and ample areas for swimming. Helicopter tours and seaplane flights are available for those interested.
Kangaroo Island is one of Australia’s largest and most famous islands and most of its territory is covered by nature reserves. The island is famous for its rich and rare fauna: there is a large population of kangaroos, unusual marsupial badgers – bandicoots, wallabies, bats, possums, echidnas, monitor lizards and koalas. There are no introduced animals on the island, such as foxes or rabbits, as on the mainland. Until the mid-19th century, there were also ostriches emu.
The island is divided into several protected areas and reserves. The most famous is Flinders Chase National Park. The main attractions of this park are the Admiral’s Arch cave, spectacular orange boulders on the coast, the so-called Remarkable Rocks and a colony of seals on the ocean.
But the main attraction of the reserve and the entire island is the kangaroos. These animals are everywhere, they are not afraid of people and come pretty close. Of course, you can not call them tame – kangaroos will not let themselves touch or stroke.
You can get to the island by ferry or plane from Adelaide. There is civilization on the island and about four thousand people live here. The largest settlement on Kangaroo is the town of Kingsot. There are hotels, restaurants, stores.