From the Australia section of the Indie Travel Podcast
Kangaroo Island (map) in South Australia is jam-packed with things to do for local visitors and international tourists. Here are our favorite things to do on ‘KI’ as people call it.
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Our favorite things to do on KI!
Kayaking – sea and estuary
Down at Vivonne Bay we kayaked along the estuary and enjoyed walking the beautiful beach there. Apparently it was voted as one of Australia’s best beaches in recent years, and it certainly stands up to that kind of reputation. You can hire kayaks from KI Outdoor Action; they also have sandboards to let you play on nearby “Little Sahara”.
Quad biking at dusk
Craig’s favorite thing on Kangaroo Island was the quad bike dusk tour, also by KI Outdoor Action. Riding quads through the massive outdoor area they have to play in, pacing alongside kangaroos in their own habitat, spotting koalas sleeping up trees, and generally opening up the throttle and enjoying the bikes.
Flinders Chase park
There’s great scenery all along the southern part of the island, but Flinders Chase Park is the highlight. Visit the Remarkable Rocks, Admirals Arch seal colony, look out for kangaroos, wallabies, goannas and plenty of other animals on the ground; plus koala and native birds in the trees.
Birds of prey show
The Birds of Prey show was an extraordinary chance to get up close and personal with several fast-moving birds, ranging from little hunters up to massive hawks. Seeing them swoop and dive through the air was amazing; it’s hard to put that beauty and power into words, but the hosts of the show were excellent; the work to protect and rehabilitate the native bird species found on the island.
There isn’t that much to do as night falls in Kingscote, but there is a great little penguin walk where you can see the little fairy penguins coming in from their day’s fishing. Armed with red-light torches (which don’t dazzle the penguins) we bundled up against the cold and, guided by a knowledgeable host, went out on the search.
Another bird experience, this one the cheapest and most eccentric of all! Each evening the “pelican man” heads down to the Kingscote wharf with a few buckets of fish to feed the pelicans. As he does, swearing and kicking at them if they get too pushy, he gives a running commentary on their behavior in addition to a bucketload of strange and wonderful facts. What got us was how aggressive those pelicans were, squabbling and holding each others’ heads underwater to steal food.
Linda’s favorite experience was swimming with the dolphins on the Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures tour; a half-day trip which took us along some of the northern coast to spot fish, hunting birds, archeological fossil sites and stunning beaches. The highlight, however, was encountering a pod of dolphins that let us swim with them and, as a few people were dragged alongside the boat, the dolphins would come up and swim alongside.
Swimming, relaxing, surfing, fishing … this beach in the north of Kangaroo Island is only accessible by a walking track which was dynamited out of the coastal hills some time ago. The walk is fun, and the beach is beautiful; a great place to play some beach cricket and enjoy the sun.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to see any of the wineries on the island, but Craig found a little tasting room opposite the bottle shop in Penneshaw. With your own car, you’re able to visit several wineries. What we tasted, we enjoyed.
Practicalities on Kangaroo Island
The best time to visit is definitely summer, when you are rewarded with long sunny days that help you make the most of the outdoor activities. However, as it’s a popular holiday destination for locals, things book up quickly in December and January so make sure you book ahead.
There is very little public transport on Kangaroo Island — instead it’s served by private shuttle companies that come at a premium price. Car hire on the island is also quite expensive, and their standard insurance doesn’t cover accidents that happen on gravel roads … which is 99% of their roads. Because of this, it’s best to either bring your own vehicle or book yourself onto a tour from a nearby city, like Adelaide. We did a two-day tour with Surf and Sun, which was great, then hopped off and spent another two days in Kingscote, the largest town.