March 21, 2024

Why Kangaroo Island should top your travel list for a cool nature escape

This enchanting island has garnered remarkable recognition, securing the coveted #2 position on Lonely Planet’s 2024 Best in Travel Top Regions Hotlist. Well known for its untouched beaches and summer adventures, but have you experienced Kangaroo Island in the cooler months? If not, you’re in for a treat.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4

Think bright, clear days of mild weather, filled with natural adventures, perfect for nature lovers, bushwalkers and fishing fans. Or spend your days connecting with friends over fireside chats, best enjoyed with a splash of local red wine, some mulled cider and your favourite charcoal-roasted delights.

Be part of the Island as it comes to life with abundant wildlife, wildflowers and the wildest of adventures, and finish the day with a warm huddle by an open fire.

No need to explain why it’s called Seal Bay.

Experience unique wildlife encounters

While wildlife is one of the Island’s year-round attractions, the cooler seasons offer some unique encounters. Joeys peeking out from kangaroo pouches, young koalas perched on their mother’s back, and the echidnas out and about for mating season.

The southern right whales visit at this time every year. Look for them close to the shore along the north and south coasts as they rest with their young in more sheltered bays.

Meander the boardwalks and viewing platforms at Seal Bay to get a close look at the sea lions – word has it the Bay has been home to a population of sea lions for thousands of years.

If birds are your thing, make sure you pack your camera. Birds can be seen and heard in most sheltered locations as the weather cools, as resident bushbirds, raptors, parrots, waterfowl and shorebirds go about their business. Endangered glossy black-cockatoos and yellow-tailed black cockatoos can be seen feeding; just give them a wide berth if they’re nesting.

Hike the beautiful Ravine des Casoars. Photo: Kangaroo Island Tourism Alliance

Cool down your outdoor adventures

During mild seasons, the fresh sea breeze and cooler temperatures can make your outdoor adventure even more enjoyable. There’s still enough daylight to explore the rugged coast on one of KI’s magnificent trails – or you can keep the body moving with sandboarding, kayaking and surfing (make sure you pack that full-length wetsuit).

The bushwalking options are second to none, from invigorating treks in bracing winds straight off the Southern Ocean one day, to serene cliff-top or beach walks in sunny and calm conditions the next.

The self-guided heritage trail at Cape Willoughby takes you to the sheltered bay of the 1953 settlement, while the Western River’s Waterfall Creek hike packs a lot into its five kilometres, passing through forests and woodlands to a spectacular waterfall.

For more of a challenge, the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail is one of Australia’s great walks. The five-day trek weaving its way through the rugged coastlines of the Southern Ocean has reopened, following significant damage from the 2019-20 bushfires. Walk the trail independently or with a licensed tour operator and feel what it’s like to be truly immersed in remote nature.

Pennington Bay Beach is a surfer’s paradise and arguably the best beach for surfing on the Island. Popular for consistent swells and crystal-clear water, this is for the experienced surfer. If you’re looking for something smaller, head over to nearby Vivonne Bay for easier conditions.

Spend hours gliding down Harriett River on a kayak, the waterway creating the perfect obstacle course lined with eucalyptus and wattle trees. Or, for the thrill seeker, Kangaroo Island Outdoor Action Tours has you covered. From skidding down the Little Sahara dunes on a sandboard, to riding terrain or quad bikes through the wild landscape, there are plenty of activities to get the heart rate pumping.

Scones and tea at Emu Bay Lavender Farm. Photo: South Australian Tourism Commission

Indulge in comfort food and wine

From cosy dining experiences to savouring warming reds at the cellar doors, the cooler months are the perfect time to indulge in the region’s seasonal and authentic produce and incredible wines.

With a variety of wine experiences on offer, it is highly recommended to visit as many cellar doors as possible. With Dudley Wines breathtaking clifftop location, Cygnet River’s The Islander Estate and Springs Road, the coastal charm of Bay of Shoals, and False Cape Wines nestled among the picturesque vineyards, these are just a few of the are many options to discover.

One of the first boutique gin distilleries in South Australia, Kangaroo Island Spirits, is a must-visit as well. Using local botanicals to enhance handcrafted gin, vodka and liqueurs, you can even try your hand at cocktail making, gin distilling and more. This is an iconic spot to hang out and taste by the paddle or the glass. If beer is more your thing, the Island is also home to its very own Kangaroo Island Brewery, offering a range of local brews to suit every palate.

Local cafes and bakeries will keep you fuelled. Start with a hearty breakfast enjoying the view of the kangaroo’s natural habitat at Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery, stop at Emu Bay Lavender Farm & Café for an oversized lavender scone, or feast on fresh oysters at The Oyster Farm shop at American River. Dine among with fruit trees and feast on whatever seasonal vegetables are ripe at Millie Mae’s Pantry. Generations of a love of food does not go unnoticed here, with quality produce such as bottled jams, chutneys, and sauces picked up at the local markets.

Dining venues range from Italian cuisine at Amadio’s Vino e Cucina, the Ozone Bistro overlooking the Nepean Bay, or the Penneshaw Hotel overlooking Backstairs Passage for a hearty meal. The many cellar doors across the island also provide wonderful local fare to enjoy with a glass.  Most of the cellar doors also offer delicious food options.

Discover views made for two at Remarkable Rocks. Photo: Kangaroo Island Tourism Alliance

Beauty without the crowds

The Island’s natural beauty really shines in the cooler seasons, enhanced by the lush greenery, dramatic skies and softer lighting. Take scenic drives along the coastal roads, visit iconic landmarks like Remarkable Rocks or Admirals Arch, and capture the Island’s natural beauty from every angle. You’ll be free to explore without the crowds and grab those uninterrupted photo ops.

Beaches are long, pristine and untouched. You may even be the only person there! Stokes Bay recently took out Tourism Australia’s best beach for 2023, and it’s no wonder, with the whitest sand and clearest water. Wind your way through the caves and boulders to reach the idyllic spot, somewhat protected by the surf thanks to a huge natural pool.

Known for its amazing fishing experiences, the cooler weather offers prime conditions to cast a line on KI. The cooler water will bring snapper, trout, salmon and King George whiting. Squidding for southern calamari off the local jetties is a fun experience and there’s plenty of space for everyone! If you want to take advantage of local knowledge, take an Emu Bay Fishing Charters guided adventure.

So, if rugged outdoor adventures, unique wildlife encounters and indulging in hearty seasonal food and wine are your thing, experiencing Kangaroo Island unfiltered needs to be on your next holiday destination.

Share —