SI Swimsuit 2019 Destinations: Kangaroo Island, South Australia

SI SWIMSUIT DESTINATIONS: COSTA RICA | KENYA | EXUMA | NASSAU | PUERTO VALLARTA | ST. LUCIA

There’s no place like Kangaroo Island! It truly is a one-of-a-kind destination unlike anywhere else in the world. Being in such a pure, natural environment, where the wildlife are free to roam throughout the spectacular scenery, is a life-changing experience that you’ll always carry with you.

Click here for the Sports Illustrated guide to Kangaroo Island!

Once visitors arrive on Kangaroo Island, many say “at last I feel like I am in Australia.” It has all of the elements they associate with the country— empty white-sand beaches, rugged coastlines, red dirt roads, productive farmland with lots of sheep, great wines and seafood, friendly locals and, of course, a variety of native animals that you can’t find anywhere else. Whether you are exploring alone or with friends and family, it’s the perfect place to make memories that will last a lifetime. 

FAQS
Everything you need to know before a trip to Kangaroo Island.

Where is Kangaroo Island, South Australia? 

Kangaroo Island is in the center of paradise, just off the coast from Adelaide, Australia.

How do I get to Kangaroo Island, South Australia? 

It’s a short hop (ha!) from Adelaide: a 20-minute flight, or a 2.5-hour drive and ferry ride.

Any interesting historic notes about Kangaroo Island, South Australia? 

Kangaroo Island separated from the mainland about 10,000 years ago after the last glacial period. Due to this long isolation, many animals are local subspecies and one, the sooty dunnart (a tiny marsupial), is unique to the island. There are no natural predators for most of the animals on the island. Because they haven’t had to be scared of anything, you’ll find yourself able to get up close and personal with much of the wildlife.

The first American visitors were whalers from Stonington, CT, back in 1804 — about the time Louisiana was purchased from the French. Kangaroo Island was initially planned to be the site for the capital of the new colony of South Australia — largely for reasons of naval defense — luckily a lack of water and building timber discouraged the early settlers and they largely abandoned the Island, leaving it for us to enjoy many years later.

The island is noted for its honey and its Ligurian honey bees — in fact, it has the only pure-bred and disease-free population of this bee in the world and these genetics are highly valued as they are productive hard working bees but also very relaxed and easy work for beekeepers .

Courtesy of South Australia Tourism Commission 
Courtesy of South Australia Tourism Commission 
Courtesy of South Australia Tourism Commission 

What is Kangaroo Island, South Australia, known for and why? 

It is all about the wildlife in the wild — an Australia-safari experience — where a wide variety of animals (including seals, sea lions, koalas, echidnas, and of course, ‘roos) roam freely. In addition, increasingly the island is becoming known for its local produce and diverse visual arts. The community is a creative bunch.

What is the weather like year-round on Kangaroo Island, South Australia? 

Kangaroo Island has a Mediterranean climate: typically warm-to-hot dry summers (December-February) with very low humidity; and cool, mild winters (June-August). Our spring (September-November) and autumn (March-May) are true shoulder seasons where days can be more like winter or summer or something in between! From a North American perspective, a good climatic analogy is California's central coast — not as warm as LA.. but nor is it as cool as San Francisco.

What is the best time of year to travel to Kangaroo Island, South Australia? 

It’s always a good time to visit. Wildlife are out and about at all times of the year, and the weather never interferes. If you want to get into the ocean then November through April, and then the balance of the year is when the pastures are usually lush and green and the wildlife quite obvious on the landscape.

What is the topography like on Kangaroo Island, South Australia? 

Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third-largest island, measuring 150km (93 miles) east to west and 90km (56 miles) north to south at its widest point), totalling 4400km² (1,700 miles²). Nearly half of the original vegetation has been retained and over one third of the land is protected across 30 national and conservation parks. These are connected by roadside and creek-line corridors that carry excellent wildlife habitat across the landscape.

It is relatively flat comprised of a large plateau which drops from a height of just under 1,000 feet in the north and tapers down as you travel south. The south coast is exposed to the powerful Southern Ocean and the north coast far more serene and protected. Over 90% of the Island is mallee and woodland dominated largely by Eucalyptus and the balance shrubland, fernland and forest. This provides habitat for a rich variety of animals.

Courtesy of South Australia Tourism Commission 
Courtesy of South Australia Tourism Commission 

What should I bring home from Kangaroo Island, South Australia?  

Great memories, recipes, photographs, a bottle from Kangaroo Island Spirits (their Wild Gin in particular is fantastic and is distilled from native juniper), beautiful wines (Islander Estate Vineyards, a five-star winery in the island’s heartland, is a favorite), Eucalyptus blossom honey (produced by the island’s distinct Ligurian bees) and artwork from some of the creative visual arts folks who make up 10% of the (human) population.

What animals will I see in Kangaroo Island, South Australia? 

Regular encounters include kangaroos, wallabies, sea-lions, echidnas, goannas (a type of lizard), koalas and some of our birds from a list of over 260 species (including the rare glossy black cockatoo).

What do I do if I come across a Kangaroo in the wild? 

A good analogy would be treat it like you would deer if you were to encounter them while out hiking. Walk slowly, speak very quietly, no sudden movements and stop at a respectful distance. Read the behavior of the animal — if it changes its position, then stop and step back a pace. If you do this you may well be rewarded with a great observation of one of Australia’s most iconic wild species.

How do I get to hold a baby Koala in Kangaroo Island, South Australia? 

Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park offers koala holding encounters. All of the koalas that are handled are orphans that have been rescued and raised at the park.

What are some must-have meals on Kangaroo Island, South Australia and why? 

Exceptional Kangaroo Island’s private bush camp lunch, featuring King George Whiting (a local fish), fresh salads and fine South Australian wines, is a fantastic highlight of their tour.

Sunset Food and Wine is the first restaurant on the island to be awarded one Chef Hat in the Australian Good Food Guide. A modern bistro, it offers a peaceful setting overlooking American Beach.

The Oyster Farm Shop’s name says it all. It is an authentic farmgate on a working oyster farm, where fresh sustainable seafood is the mission.

If you stay at LifeTime Private Retreats, you’ll have the exclusive opportunity to dine at the Shearing Shed (a 150-year-old shearing shed filled with antiques and candle light) or the Enchanted Fig Tree (where you dine beneath the boughs and leaves of an ancient fig tree planted by the early settlers). 

What are some must-have drinks on Kangaroo Island, South Australia?

Islander Estate Vineyards  is an intimate wine cellar experience, with wonderful wines made from island-grown grapes.

Kangaroo Island Spirits makes outstanding gin, vodka and liqueurs from local ingredients. Their gin-blending experience is a great way learn and taste!

Since Kangaroo Island is part of South Australia, home to Australia’s premium wine regions, you can also sample a variety of other premium wines, from Penfold’s to d’Arenberg, and many, many more.

Courtesy of South Australia Tourism Commission 
Courtesy of South Australia Tourism Commission 
Courtesy of South Australia Tourism Commission 

What are the top five must-see places on Kangaroo Island, South Australia? 

Grassdale: As the sun sets on this old farm, kangaroos by the dozens come out to graze all around you without a care in the world. Magic.

Hanson Bay Koala sanctuary: Play “Where’s Waldo?” as you spot the hundreds of koalas clinging to the trees.

Seal Bay: As you stride along the beach, seals and sea lions play and sleep just steps away.

The Remarkable Rocks: An amazing massively bizarre rock formation on a clifftop with the best coastal views. Remarkable? Absolutely!

Admiral’s Arch: Stone structure formed by the pounding waves of the Southern Ocean. It’s incredibly windy, and the air is fresher than fresh.

For an adventurous traveler, what can I experience on Kangaroo Island, South Australia? 

What CAN’T adventurers experience?! Go sandboarding at Little Sahara, swimming with dolphins, wildlife viewing, birdwatching, and hiking the coastline along the Kangaroo Island Walking Trail (73 km/45 miles if you do the whole trail).

If I am looking for some R&R, what can I experience on Kangaroo Island, South Australia? 

Indulge yourself with a stay at one of the LifeTime Private Retreat properties. Their five luxury houses and villas are nestled in stunning coastal locations and offer private chef catering and bespoke dining events. Just relax and enjoy the surroundings.

But Kangaroo Island is meant for exploring, and there’s no better way to do it than with Exceptional Kangaroo Island.  Their promise of good food, good wine, and wildlife in the wild couldn’t be better! Small luxury group and private tours will educate and entertain, as the guides share their knowledge and insight on the island’s history, ecology and lifestyle.

What makes Kangaroo Island so special?

Kangaroo Island is just one of the uniquely authentic Australian experiences that Adelaide and the state of South Australia is known for. If you are a curious traveler (not a tourist!), there’s no better place than South Australia to dive into what we call the WOW (Wildlife, Outback, and Wine) moments. The first “W”, wildlife, is everywhere throughout the state, not just on KI (Port Lincoln is particularly good for aquatic encounters, where you can swim with seals, and for the adventurous, go shark cage diving). “O” is for the iconic Outback, only a 45-minute flight north of Adelaide, and that puts you in the real-deal red dirt majesty of the Flinders Ranges (if you want something really, we mean really, different, go further into the outback to Coober Pedy, an opal mining town where half the population live in underground dwellings because of the heat).

And the last “W” in WOW is the wine: Our state produces more than 70% of the country’s exported wine, so we know what we’re doing. More than 200 wine cellars can be explored within a two-hour drive of Adelaide, in world-renowned regions like the Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills, and McLaren Vale (home of the extremely nontraditional d’Arenberg Cube wine cellar experience). And of course,where there’s great wine, there’s great food, and Adelaide is blessed with countless innovative and award-winning restaurants and cafes. Come down under to South Australia and be WOWed!