A local's guide to Kangaroo Island

Start planning your next holiday to this scenic South Australian island.

Just over 100km's southwest of Adelaide is the picturesque land of Kangaroo Island. It's one of the largest islands in Australia. With over a third of the land protected by a national park, it's home to many species of native wildlife. Emily McWaters, CEO of Hamper Emporium has been living on the island with her young family for three years and hasn't looked back.

"As you arrive onto Kangaroo Island and drive off the ferry, there is a sign that says ‘Discover the things that really matter in life.’ And that is exactly what we have discovered on Kangaroo Island and why we love it so much," says Emily.

"It has allowed us to reconnect with the things that really matter in life – our relationships, a rugged natural environment and authentic people and experiences." Here, Emily provides her tips for the perfect Kangaroo Island holiday. 

Stay

Situated on the north coast of the Island is the picturesque setting of Stokes Bay with its long, pale beaches and crystal clear water. The breathtaking area is home to Stowaway Kangaroo Island, a private luxury retreat which Emily recommends as the perfect accommodation. As she explains, "It offers the refined comfort of a world-class boutique hotel, in a relaxed, uniquely Kangaroo Island setting." With a luxury spa, sauna and a beautiful wood fire, Emily says that staying at the retreat is a truly special experience to unwind and reconnect with nature. 

Eat

Morning 

Nothing says cool coastal more than sipping your morning brew on the sand while watching the sun come over the horizon. This is the experience at Barista Food Van at Pennington Bay, voted the best coffee on the island by the locals. Emily explains, "Visiting their stylish food van is an experience you simply can’t miss; enjoy the finest coffee, accompanied by a crispy cheese and leg ham toastie with a backdrop of the most spectacular, pristine beach you can imagine." 

Midday

Known locally as The Cactus boys, Yen Aun Leow and chef Louis Lark joined forces 18 months ago to merge their hospitality skills and open Cactus Coffee and Food Bar. The motto here is 'fresh, local and seasonal', which is clear to see from the board inside, headlining 'Keep your friends close but your farmers closer'. "You are guaranteed to be delighted by whatever you order, but I usually get the dumplings made with Kangaroo Island free range pork," Emily reveals.

Afternoon

With the dough hand-made and the ingredients locally sourced, it's no wonder why Emily says the pizza from Frogs and Roses Garden Cafe & Pizza is the best you'll find anywhere. "Most of the fresh vegetables and herbs come directly from the Frogs & Roses garden," she says."Eat your pizza and then shop in the nursery, which contains hundreds of plants - many of which are native. Beautiful vegan options are also available," she says.

Do

For first timers

While visitors of the island are spoilt for choice with activities, Emily recommends visiting Flinders Chase National Park: an enormous nature reserve south-west of the island that attracts people from all over the world. Encompassing rugged landscapes, walking trails and dirt roads, the park is most famous for its colossal natural boulder formation, The Remarkable Rocks, that sit on the point of a headland.

Visitors can access the cliff by a wooden boardwalk that winds through the national park, offering a truly immersive experience. When reaching the gigantic cluster of boulders, the view opens to a sweeping panorama of the Southern Ocean.

For families

The Island is home to a multitude of native wildlife making it a great destination for seeing animals in their natural habitat. Emily suggests taking the kids to the animal sanctuary, Raptor Domain to witness the impressive bird and reptile show, or a walk through Kangaroo Island Wilderness Park where you can interact with koalas, wallabies and kangaroos. For a coastal hit, Nepean Bay is kid-friendly, with its shallow waters and BBQ area perfect for a weekend relax. 

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