In reality, Kangaroo Island is too large and too far from Adelaide for a one-day trip to be ideal. However, several companies do offer this as a one-day tour, and it is certainly better to see the island in one day than not to see it at all.
Kangaroo Island is the third largest off-shore island in Australia and is noted for its flora and fauna. The island covers an area of 4,500 square kilometres, measuring 155 kilometres by 55 kilometres. Approximately a third of the island consists of National Parks and Conservation Parks. It lies south-west of Adelaide, a journey of 110 kilometres by bus, taking a little over two hours, followed by a ferry ride of sixteen kilometres taking a little under an hour.
There are tours of the island available on the island, but will offer a better and cheaper choice if one has but a single day available.
Since Penneshaw is at the east of the island and the National Parks are towards the west, one has to take a tour or find some means of transport if one is to see the best of the locations. However, there are pleasant beaches near Penneshaw if visiting only these and the towns of Penneshaw, American River and Kingscote will suffice.
The south coast consists mostly of National Parks. Here the cliffs are to be found, with Vivonne Bay and Hanson Bay two of the most spectacular locations. In the west is the Flinders Chase National Park, covering 74,000 hectares and one of the most important conservation areas in South Australia.
Admiral's Arch at Cape du Couedic was originally a cave, but became a natural land bridge when part of the walls collapsed. It still has stalactites and petrified plant roots, and its sheltered pool harbours New Zealand Fur Seals. Just a little further east, Remarkable Rocks are granite formations rising to 75 metres and weathered into odd shapes.
Kelly Hill Caves are further east on the south coast in the Kelly Hill Caves Conservation Park and consist of a series of sinkholes and tunnels. A tour is offered six times a day. Adventure caving is also available with advance booking.
Further east again, within the Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park, is Seal Bay, where a colony of Australian Sea Lions resides. These creatures are unusual in their tolerance of human visits, to which, no doubt, they have become accustomed. There are a boardwalk and a lookout with an entry fee, or one can take a guided tour, walking on the beach amidst the sea lions. It is claimed that there are only two places in the world where such a walk is possible.
Not far from Seal Bay is the Little Sahara Dunefield, an expanse of pristine desert six kilometres from the sea and completely surrounded by dense bushland. The tallest of the dunes reach 70 metres above sea level.
There are two lighthouses on the island which are open for inspection. and a third at Cape du Couedic which is not. Cape Willoughby Lighthouse was built in 1852 and was South Australia's first lighthouse. It is located on the eastern tip of the island. There are tours five times a day, the last at 14:00. There is also accommodation available in the former lighthouse keepers' two cottages.
Cape Borda Lighthouse was built in 1858 and is on the west of the island. There are tours five times a day, the last at 15:15 (14:00 in June, July and August). A cannon is fired from the lighthouse at least once every day and there is an interesting lighthouse keepers' cemetery. Accommodation is available here too in three different standards.
There are Penguin Tours available at both Kingscote and Penneshaw.
An Island Parks Pass is available and covers the cost of admission to Flinders Chase National Park, plus tours at Seal Bay (but not the Sunset Tour), Kelly Hill Caves (but not Adventure Caving), Cape Willoughby Lighthouse and Cape Borda Lighthouse. It does not include Penguin Tours or accommodation or camping fees, but is valid for use for twelve months.
Other interesting features of the island include its bees. They are Ligurian Honey Bees, brought from Italy in 1883, and are thought to be the only remaining pure strain of honey bee anywhere in the world. It is not permitted to bring honey or any other bee products to the island. Clifford's Honey Farm is available for tours.
There is also the Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery. Eucalyptus oil has long been produced here, but this is the only commercial eucalyptus distillery still operating in South Australia.
Parndana Wildlife Park, in the centre of the island, is a home for orphaned native wildlife. It houses kangaroos, koalas, echidna, emus, wallabies, deer, cockatoos, pheasants, curlews and farm animals.
The Maze ‘n' Fun, claims to have the longest hedge maze in the southern hemisphere.
Surf & Sun Kangaroo Island Adventures
Surf & Sun operate 2 and 3 day tours to Kangaroo Island, Learn to Surf Packages and Camps on the Fleurieu Peninsula, Walking Tours in South Australia and a day trip Adelaide to Melbourne (or vice versa) including the Grampians.
Click here for a Kangaroo Island Map.