Take your own car to Kangaroo Island by ferry or hire a car when you get there. Take your time on Kangaroo Island with a self-drive holiday.
A unique experience
Explore Kangaroo Island by car. There are 1,600 kilometres of roads to follow through the major towns. Most of Kangaroo Island's main roads are sealed, particularly those connecting Penneshaw, American River, Parndana, Flinders Chase and Kingscote.
Head off the beaten track on Kangaroo Island's unsealed roads. You'll find secluded beaches, wildlife and wind-eroded rock faces. Set up camp for the night and fall asleep to the sound of the ocean's crashing waves. Follow the Southern Ocean Drive road trip to explore Kangaroo Island and the Limestone Coast.
Most of the roads on Kangaroo Island are sealed, unless you decide to head off the beaten track.
Self-drive road trip
There are also several self-drive itineraries to follow to help you get the best out of your Kangaroo Island visit. Try the three-day Best of Adelaide and Kangaroo Island itinerary: the four-day Nature, Sea and Vines Trail or the seven-day WOW Tour - Wildlife, Outback and Wine.
Kingscote and Emu Bay
Kingscote is Kangaroo Island's largest town and is a good starting point for your driving trip. It's also the location of the airport, which is 13 kilometres out of the town.
Head north from Kingscote along North Coast Road towards Emu Bay. Only 18 kilometres from Kingscote, Emu Bay offers wildlife and swimming with dolphin tours, sightseeing and fishing charters. If you have a four wheel drive (4WD), you can drive along the beach. If not, take a 4WD tour.
Flinders Chase National Park
Spend at least a day visiting Flinders Chase National Park, which is about an hour and a half drive from Kingscote. To get to Flinders Chase, follow the Playford Highway, then turn left onto West End Highway at Gosse.
While you're in the park, see its top attractions. The Remarkable Rocks are wind-sculpted rock formations that sit atop a smooth granite dome. Admirals Arch is home to a colony of New Zealand fur seals.
Koala Avenue and Kelly Hill Caves
You'll find Koala Avenue just outside Flinders Chase National Park. You can stroll along the track, lined with tall gum trees, and see the koalas in their natural habitat.
Head east along South Coast Road and stop by Kelly Hill Caves, where beneath the vast expanse of native bushland lies a maze of surprising caves. Join one of the regular guided tours to discover the caves' impressive stalagmites, stalactites, helictites and straws.
Vivonne Bay and Seal Bay
East along South Coast Road is Vivonne Bay. Vivonne Bay was once voted as one of the best beaches in Australia. Its long, sandy shores and turquoise water make it a great place for relaxing.
Drive further along to Seal Bay Conservation Park. Take a guided tour and see Australian sea lions up close on the beach. Go on a self guided tour by walking along the 800 metre boardwalk. Stop at viewing platforms and watch the sea lions below.
When you have finished at Seal Bay, head back towards Kingscote, which is about an hour's drive away. Continue north east along South Coast Road (it eventually becomes Birchmore Road and Playford Highway), but before you leave, make sure you stop at the Little Sahara Desert which is nearby.
Park your car and go for a walk along the vivid white sand dunes, or try a spot of sandboarding.
Penneshaw and American River
Penneshaw is a 60 kilometre drive from Kingscote and is where the SeaLink Ferry docks. To reach Penneshaw from Kingscote, follow the Playford Highway, then turn left on Arramore Road. Continue along Arramore Road and the joining Hog Bay Road. You'll pass American River. Join a fishing charter or hire a boat for the day. Grab some Kangaroo Island oysters while you are there.
Travel further along Hog Bay Road. Stop at Pennington Bay, just 18 kilometres out of Penneshaw. Climb the 550 step hill at this beautiful beach for great views.
If you stay in Penneshaw, go on the night tour at the Penneshaw Penguin Centre. Follow the viewing platform and see little penguins return to their burrows at night. (Please contact the tour operator as some tours may not be running at certain times of the year.)
If you want to do the whole trip at your own pace, grab a self-drive audio guide from Island Intrigue. It'll help you to find your way around. Listen to stories about the local animals and cultural history, with an interesting yarn or two thrown in for good measure. Narrated by a fifth-generation islander, it's like having a guide in your car.
Please drive at less than 60 kilometres per hour on unsealed roads. It will help keep you and the wildlife safe.
Car hire and fuel
Take your car on the SeaLink ferry or hire one on Kangaroo Island. A conventional two wheel drive (2WD) vehicle will do, although you'll be able to see more with a four wheel drive (4WD).
Kingscote, Penneshaw and the airport all offer a car hire service. If you’re planning to hire a car on the mainland, discuss your travel plans with the hire company. Some Kangaroo Island roads are unsealed and hiring restrictions may apply.
You can buy fuel on Kangaroo Island at most of the larger towns. LPG (gas) is available at Kingscote and Penneshaw. Ensure you have a full tank before you head off for the day. Remember that petrol stations operate on island time and many close around 6pm.
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