When we first told people that we were traveling to Kangaroo Island, many people thought we were using a nickname for Australia. That is not the case. There is a wonderful island just off the coast of Adelaide in South Australia. It is Australia’s version of the Galápagos Islands with massive amounts of wildlife and beautiful landscapes. With less than 5,000 people and over 80,000 marsupials, you truly are a guest in mother nature’s backyard.
Laughing Lion prides itself in testing our gear in all environments. From high to low, cold to hot, we want our gear to be durable for any adventure. Kangaroo Island is one of the most remote places in the world, and we recommend it for everyone. If you are heading to Australia, make sure to stop on KI. We can definitely say that our dry bag is KI proof and we certify its durability for all of your KI adventures.
We spent a week on this great island, and we could’ve easily spent a month. There are so many beautiful places to visit on the island, and we could not make it to every corner. We hit some of the highlights for you below.
Vivonne Bay is on the south central coast of Kangaroo Island. Looking towards the water, you feel a cool breeze and icy water. It shouldn’t be a surprise. There is no land mass in between you and Antarctica. While it can be a little chilly, the air is fresh and the water is tremendously clean. The beach at Vivonne Bay has been voted the most beautiful beach in Australia multiple times over the past ten years.
Look to your left, then look to your right. You will not see another soul for miles. It is relaxing, and it feels like you’ve stumbled upon a lost island. There are no hotels near it. Barely a cellular signal. No restaurants. The surrounding area is filled with private residences, and a few miles away there is a single hostel. Even the gas station on the main road is out of operation.
For the testing session in Vivonne Bay, we stayed at a private residence that had many wild birds and goannas. The waves were dangerous at times, but the dry bag held up without any hiccups. The sea has a strong undertow, so it is not advised to venture into the water unless you have a strong swimming background.
Seal Bay Conservation Park
Not too far east from Vivonne Bay is yet another magical place. The Seal Bay area holds the third largest sea lion colony in all of Australia. Since the 1960’s it has operated as a national park that protects the sea lion population.
They are very active animals. Our team saw countless sea lion pups running around while many of the adults slept on the beach. Sea lions are great hunters, and they work on a 3 day on/3 day off schedule. For 72 hours, they will hunt for food, and then after all of that work, they will come ashore to rest on the beach.
For anyone traveling to KI, this is a must visit. The experience is one of a kind. We also got the Seal of Approval from one of the little sea lion pups.
Hiking is a great way to have fun on Kangaroo Island. The best place for hiking is on the far west portion of the island in Flinders Chase National Park. You need to make sure that you are fully stocked with food, water, and fuel. It is extremely desolate, and the restaurant at the main entrance is only open for limited hours. Making sure you have enough fuel is important because it is possible to drive two hours without seeing another vehicle while in the park. Don’t run out of fuel.
With all of those disclaimers, Flinders provided an amazing time for our team. There are many trails and paths to hike, and they are suitable for every experience level. From beginner to extreme, Flinders has you covered. Our favorite hike was Ravine des Casoars. Located in the northwest corner of the park, you will stumble your way through a forest trail and then be surprised by a beautiful beach surrounded by caves. At low tide, you can even sneak into the caves…just make certain it is low tide so you can easily get escape.
Just imagine going on a long hike through a blistering and humid forest, and popping out to this:
Flinders Chase is home to one of the most interesting pieces of nature, the Remarkable Rocks. They are located only a short drive from the main entrance. They have been formed by wind, sea, and erosion for over 500 million years. Be careful when you get there because the winds are intense, and if you were to fall, it is a 200 foot drop into the below sea. The formations are each unique, and many of them resemble wildlife. One of the most famous rocks resembles a bird of prey.
Not too far from the Remarkable Rocks is Admiral’s Arch. You can hike from the Rocks, or you can hop into your car for only a short drive to the parking lot near Cape du Couedic Lightstation. The drive between these two landmarks is stunning, and you won’t lose adventure points if you decide to drive rather than hike.
From the top you can see and hear a large New Zealand fur seal colony. You will see them playing on the rocks and water below. To get to Admirals Arch, you need to climb down the stairway for a few minutes, and then you will see this view:
We visited on a cloudy day so the arch is a little muted. On a clear day, around sunset, you will get an amazing view through the arch.
These are just a few of the highlights in Flinders Chase National Park. You could easily spend weeks adventuring and exploring its many trails. If you love beautiful vistas and great wildlife, Flinders is a must.
Hanson Bay is one of the lesser known beaches on Kangaroo Island, but it is also one of the most beautiful and serene. The water is a little chilly, but the local fishermen will tell you it is great for fishing. If you peer out, you can see sea lions, dolphins, and the occasional shark fin poking out beyond the big waves.
The dry bag held up well in the rough waves of Hanson Bay. We also got to experience the local animal sanctuary’s nocturnal tour. Most of the wildlife on Kangaroo Island is nocturnal, so you don’t always see them when you adventure in the daylight. For a low price, the Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary offers a two hour nocturnal tour where you will see all of the regulars: echidnas, wallabies, kangaroos, koalas, and other animals. The sanctuary also offers great cabins that overlook Hanson Bay.
The best beach on Kangaroo Island. Stokes Bay is located on the northern coast of KI, and it has much warmer water when compared to the southern coast beaches like Hanson Bay and Vivonne Bay. Our tests showed a 10F degree difference when compared to the Hanson Bay water temperatures. The northern coast seems to get more sunlight too, so you definitely want to have sunscreen.
Stokes Bay beach looks odd when you first arrive. There are many signs directing you to a beach, except all you see is a large rock formation. Yes, the beach is hidden. After ducking and diving through the cave for five minutes, you pop out and see this:
The waves are decent for surfing. While the southern coast has much bigger waves, the northern waves are a lot safer. In the distance we were able to spot a few dolphins playing about 200 meters off shore. There are no trees, so protective shade is non-existent. Be sure to bring a pop-up tent or beach umbrella because the sun can get brutal.
The warm water and great weather at Stokes Bay beach make it a definite stop for anyone coming to KI. While the southern waters were great for fishing, the northern beaches are great for surfing, beach fun and kayaking.
On the north coast between Stokes Bay and Emu Bay is a little beach called Dashwood. It is not on every Kangaroo Island map, so you might have to ask a local about it.
Many tour operators offer expensive dolphin swim tours, but if you want to save some money, you can head to Dashwood where the dolphins love to play in shallow waters.
When we visited Dashwood, the weather was stormy and rough so we weren’t able to spot any dolphins. Although, based on the video below, Kangaroo Island locals can see and play with them on a regular basis.
Emu Bay is where you go when you don’t want to get too far from civilization. Located not too far from the main town, Kingscote, and the airport, it provides a relaxing environment where you can still get a cellular signal.
The water at Emu Bay is the calmest we saw on Kangaroo Island. The beach is packed down so cars drive along it like a dirt highway. This makes it much more of a BBQ and hang-out beach rather than a relax in the sun beach.
After the day closes, many locals use the beach at Emu Bay as an outdoor happy hour. Music playing and relaxing by the water, locals chat about the day and observe the wildlife. A local flock of pelicans make Emu Bay their home and they were quite interested in the humans.
Kangaroo Island is an incredibly difficult place to adventure. There are two ways to get onto the island. The first option is an expensive ferry that can take a half-day from Adelaide. The second option is a flight from the Adelaide airport. Due to the small airport in Kingscote and a lot of fog, the thirty minute flight might take all day. Both on the arrival and the departure from KI, our flights were delayed 3-4 hours due to problems with fog.
While there are tour operators that offer 1 and 2-day tour options, it is ridiculous to think you can get a feel for this wonderful island with less than 48 hours of exposure. Our team spent a week, and we could have spent a month. It is an amazingly beautiful and remote place. With a 20 to 1 marsupial to human ratio, it is hard to not enjoy the wildlife. However, they love to play at night, so it is important to not drive between dusk and dawn. We had a great time and luckily never hit any of the wildlife. The Laughing Lion team loves to test all over the world, and this is one of our favorite spots. For an adventurer looking to get back to nature, there is not better spot in Australia. We cannot wait to return.