Whether you have just a few days, or a few weeks, there's plenty of nature and food based adventures to be had on KI. First-time visitors to the Island are surprised at just how vast it is, and how much there is available to see and do - it's not just a stopover or day-trip place, but a whole destination in itself and an excellent way to experience Australia. Feel free to call us for a chat about things to do or a copy of our more detailed 'day trips' list to help you plan your stay.
If you're after a simple list of what not to miss, see our 'Must Do' list by clicking here.
To help you plan your days, this page details some suggestions of our favourite places and things to do, grouped into ‘day trips’. Also, check out our ideas of Things to Do with Families / Children, Wet/Hot Weather ideas of Things To Do, Adventure Filled Activities and Top Picks (i.e. the things you really don't want to miss)
In a few days you'll see some of the world-famous sites, with a week giving you the opportunity to experience a greater selected of breathtaking locations. If you have the luxury of spending 10 to 14 nights in this beautiful place, you won't be disappointed and will have the chance to see most of the main regions and attractions at an enjoyable pace. We've spent hundreds of days exploring and are still never bored!
If you are unfamiliar with Australian outback driving conditions, or only have a few days to see the sites and wildlife, we very highly recommend that you book a tour guide; you really will see so much more, as they know all the best animal sighting spots.
Of course, it's perfectly acceptable to skip sightseeing and simply spend a week maybe fishing, walking the beaches, listening to nature, breathing the fresh air and marveling at just how bright the stars are here (when was the last time you did that on holiday, or went home actually relaxed?). On the Island it feels like you've stepped back in time, with the streets safe to walk at night, the friendly locals (just a mere 4000) say 'hello' when you meet and most wave as driving by. Something just feels 'simple' and 'right' about this place.
We do highly recommend that you check opening hours, days & tour times, particularly during winter, as they can change often or may seasonally close, and for most places bookings are recommended. During Easter and Christmas you will definitely need to make bookings for some activities and dining, however the Island never really feels busy or crowded. It’s very normal for places to shut for the day if it’s not busy, or if the owner has something come up – it’s very different to the City and can take some getting used to!
Arrival Day: Ferry arrival at Penneshaw
On the way to the accommodation visit Sunset Food and Wine for Lunch and to admire the view (sometimes closed Sundays and Mondays though, please check opening days first), or call in to American River to buy fresh oysters from the Oyster Farm Shop (open 11am-3pm, with tasting menu 11:30-2:30 and tours occasionally). Pennington Bay (usually a coffee van there) and the new lookout at Mount Thisby (previously Prospect Hill) is also on the way and a great photo opportunity. Check into Seaside Garden Cottages from 3pm, pick up any supplies you need from the Kingscote Supermarket (check opening hours). Check out what day is Penneshaw Market Day, you may be able to add that in!
Seal Bay, Little Sahara & Raptor Domain
Start the day at the iconic Seal Bay early, before the tour groups arrive. Raptor Domain is nearby and does fantastic bird & reptile shows with Wedge Tail Eagle holding which is absolutely amazing - nothing like an ordinary zoo. Booking a small group ‘private’ show and particularly the ‘Photo Shoot’ show is great value for money and may be at a more convenient time-slot - we've done this private experience and it was absolutely amazing. There’s a small very basic cafe there for light lunch and snacks. At Little Sahara try Sand boarding or Tobogganing, or even Quad bike nearby. Toboggans are approximately $38 for two hours and usually fine to share between a few people, as walking up those sand hills can be exhausting! You might be a bit sandy after Little Sahara, but it's worth it. Call into KI Fresh Seafoods for the freshest 'fish-n-chips' you've tasted on the way back to the Cottages and if the weather is right, order-ahead take away and eat it on the Kingscote Jetty or the picnic tables near the jetty area.
Stokes Bay area:
Will's Rare Breeds Farm or KI Wildlife Park (Parndana), Rockpool Cafe for a casual but delicious lunch, Stokes Bay (my favourite beach in the WORLD), following the 'secret' path to walk on the beach or swim in the man-made rock pool. At high tide you can snorkel in here too! It's a good, safer option for children to swim in the rockpool, without the risk of rips in the ocean. Fishing from the beach (at the far end near the rocks) is often successful. KI Wildlife Park isn't far away and is a really nice animal park with koala holding; we always enjoy a visit there.
Vivonne Bay, Kayaking Tour and an afternoon vising the North Coast area: Western River Cove, Snellings Beach
Vivonne Bay is still gorgeous, with some great fishing to be had. KI Outdoor Action offer kayaking tours on the nearby river. In the afternoon you may like to drive up to the are between Western River Cove and Snellings Beach. It has always been simply spectacular; since the fires the landscape has changed dramatically and this presents a very different type of drive. The burnt landscape is confronting, yet interesting, rugged and hints of beauty still to be seen with some regeneration of flora evident, whilst the beaches themselves still stunning. You'll likely see Wedge Tail Eagles and amazing sea views. Cape Borda Lighthouse at the far western end of the Island and the Flinders Chase National Park is still closed for visitors, but tours likely to start soon.
Reeves Point historical precinct, KI Brewery, Lavender Farm (wonderful breakfast / lunch/refreshments), Art Gallery & Emu Bay.
At Emu Bay you can either walk or drive right onto the magnificent beach, or fish from the jetty. You might like to do the Dolphin Swim this day, or make that the highlight of its’ own separate day. Wonderful playground foreshore area for the children to play and good picnic and bbq facilities. There's often a food van 'mini-delights' open for coffee and drinks (licensed) at Emu Bay. Reeves Point is interesting from a historical perspective as it was South Australia's first colonial settlement, established in 1836. You can have a stroll around the area, walk up the very steep hill and there's a playground for the kids.
Pennington Bay to admire the scenery or go surfing or snorkeling if you wish (experienced surfers/swimmers only, usually a coffee van is on site), Cape Willoughby Lighthouse (ask for directions to 'Devil's Kitchen' from the lighthouse), scenic walk and interesting history tour with visitor centre. Visit Dudley Winery for an exceptionally good lunch (small menu but it’s all fresh and gorgeous food) and wine tasting, with live music on the first Sunday of each month. The whiting pizza is a favorite, and there's the novelty of a golf driving range right into the valley. For little ones, there's sa great playground and toys inside. The location is just breathtaking and the wine exquisite. Call into Island Beach for a swim in the beautiful and safer shallow waters or just stroll along the white sand admiring the turquoise sea and expensive beach houses on 'millionaire's row'. If you haven’t tried the oysters from the Oyster Farm shop at American River, it’s not far from Island Beach and a great light dinner option for later if you’ve been out for a more substantial lunch - they will often run tours at 10:30am, but check first.
Cactus Cafe for breakfast (opens from 7:30am), then wander through Kingscote shops and small art galleries collecting some souvenirs, Bay of Shoals Winery, then KI Marine Adventures for a marine tour you will never forget, where there's even the option of swimming with wild dolphins (book in advance). Call into Amadio Wine & Tapas Bar in Kingscote for tapas and a beverage late in the afternoon, enjoying dining outside if weather permits.
Follow the Island Produce Trail
Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery, KI Brewery, Springs Road Wines, Clifford's Honey Farm, KI Spirits, Frogs and Roses Café (kid friendly), Islander Estate Winery and finally finish off at Island Beehive, less than 2klms from the Cottages. The Lavender Farm stocks a great range of Island produce.
Book a half-day fishing charter for the ultimate fishing adventure with a local that knows the best spots, to try your hand at catching the famous local King George Whiting, or maybe try your own luck at the Kingscote Jetty or American River wharf (however lately, the local seal population seems to be getting to most of the fish before we can get one at the jetties!). You can readily buy fishing supplies in Kingscote from Ingram’s Hardware or the OTR Fuel Station. Alternatively, you might like to do a cooking class at Kangaroo Island Source.