Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island lies off the mainland of South Australia, 112km southwest of Adelaide. The island is Australia’s third-largest after Tasmania and Melville Island, spanning 145km from east to west and 55km from north to south. Two major roads connect the east and west and there are many arterial roads that are a mix of sealed and gravel.

Karta Pintingg – its First Nations Kaurna name – means ‘Island of the Dead’, named so because it is believed that more than 10,000 years ago – after the landmass separated from mainland Australia and created an island –  the island remained uninhabited by humans for more than 2,000 years.

Over a third of the island is protected in nature reserves and is home to famous wildlife including the Australian sea lion, long-nosed fur seal, Kangaroo Island kangaroo, tammar wallaby, koala, echidna and a diverse range of reptile and bird species.

The east is made up of the Dudley Peninsula and the township of Penneshaw, wineries, Cape Willoughby Lighthouse and Devil’s Kitchen, while in the west the dominant destination is Seal Bay Conservation Park and Flinders Chase National Park known for its striking coastal rock formations, like the sculpted Remarkable Rocks and the stalactite-covered Admirals Arch.
Centrally are the townships of American River and Kingscote, the latter home to the only commercial airport on the island, plentiful in farm gate and beverage-based experiences.

Natural attractions

The most famous natural attractions in Kangaroo Island – and arguably South Australia as a whole – are Flinders Chase National Park and Seal Bay Conservation Park, both of which are visited on our Full Day Nature Tour, which is included for all guests booking a multi-night Experience at Sea Dragon. Guests opting for private tours can also include both parks in their itinerary.

Flinders Chase National Park

Located on the western end of Kangaroo Island, a two-hour drive from us, be captivated by the rugged beauty of Flinders Chase. During winter, be sure to keep a sharp lookout over the Southern Ocean, as whales are regular visitors.

Year-round the unique natural attractions are a photographer’s delight.

While the effects of the 2020 bushfires can still be seen in the park, the amazing regenerative powers of the Australian bushland are a sight to behold, with the once stark black gum trees now adorned with blooming tufts of fluorescent green foliage, creating a captivating contrast.

Within the National Park you will visit some of the most unique rock formations in the world such as Remarkable Rocks, and some of the most recognisable in Australia.

Admiral’s Arch

A beautiful natural rock arch sculpted by weathering and erosion over millions of years. Hundreds of long-nosed fur seals have made their home at the arch and can be seen as you explore the area. The power of the mighty Southern Ocean is very evident, and large ocean swells often provide an awesome spectacle

Remarkable Rocks

Remarkable Rocks is one of the iconic Kangaroo Island attractions. This stunning work of nature has been shaped by the erosive forces of wind, sea spray and rain over some 450 million years. The surreal forms offer an almost spiritual experience as you walk among them.

Weir’s Cove

Weirs Cove is one of the lesser-known Kangaroo Island attractions, but well worth a visit.  It is here where the first lighthouse keepers lived; which is not only interesting from a historical perspective but also offers spectacular coastal scenery.  Whales are often spotted here during winter.

Seal Bay Conservation Park

Seal Bay is one of Kangaroo Island’s main attractions and has been home to an Australian sea lion population for thousands of years. The endangered species, unique to southern Australia, has an estimated population of just 6,500 here.

The Seal Bay visitor centre houses interpretive displays to learn more about the history of sealing, life at sea and the evolution of the sea lion species.

Thoughtfully constructed to preserve the environment, the 900 metres of boardwalk showcases the third largest species colony in their natural habitat without enclosures or screens.

As part of our Full Day Nature Tour, our Experience guests will go beyond the boardwalk and enjoy a guided walk on the beach led by one of our specially-trained Sea Dragon guides to see these amazing creatures up close. Visitors to the beach will keep a minimum of 10 metres from the sea lions to ensure they do not feel threatened by human presence. This intimate encounter is one of the most exceptional nature-based experiences in the world.

Pennington Bay

Experience some of the best of Kangaroo Island’s southern coastline by stopping at stunning Pennington Bay. The bay is a 35-minute drive from Sea Dragon and is located at the narrowest point of the island. Spectacular waves and powerful swells that roll in from the Southern Ocean provide perfect surfing conditions. Fishermen can often be found along with the shoreline fishing for Australian salmon.

Antechamber Bay

Antechamber Bay is a hidden gem. A three kilometre-long pristine white sandy beach that is safe for swimming – the bay is a short 10-minute drive from Sea Dragon Kangaroo Island or a 6-kilometre return walk. You will rarely encounter anyone else on Antechamber Bay and it is, therefore, the perfect spot for a quiet picnic lunch, which can be arranged for you to take with you. After lunch, explore the beautiful nearby Chapman River which has an amazing variety of waterbirds and huge river gums. Chapman River is also a lovely spot for a picnic. Simply stunning.

North Coast Beaches

The north coast is home to a number of beautiful beaches ranging from the boutique bay at Western River Cove, to the “secret beach” at Stokes Bay. This beach was selected by Tourism Australia in 2023 as The Best Beach in Australia.

The drive from Western River Cove along the North Coast Road to Snellings Beach is arguably the most scenic ocean drive on the island. Magnificent wedgetail eagles are regularly seen on this drive.

Eating and drinking around the island

Kangaroo Island is a highly regarded emerging food and wine region with many great places to eat and drink. It showcases a wide range of organic fresh produce and has nine wineries, a distillery and a boutique brewery. Surrounded by pristine ocean waters, the island’s fresh seafood is a must for all seafood lovers. The delicious fare offered by the Kangaroo Island cafes and wineries is as good as you will find anywhere in Australia.

Many of Kangaroo Island’s best food and drink offerings are a short drive from Sea Dragon with False Cape Wines and Dudley Wines also calling the Dudley Peninsula home, just like us.

Some of these great local businesses are already featured in our Taste of Kangaroo Island Tour (included for Experience guests). Should you wish to visit more of these great offerings, transfers can be arranged at extra cost. Private touring guests may wish to design their own itinerary including one or several of the below in their tailormade itinerary.

Vineyards and breweries

In the last 70 years, Kangaroo Island has been quietly morphing acres previously reserved for livestock farming into a leading wine region that is producing a diverse array of top quality wines. With a mix of old world and new world wines, you can expect to taste Sangiovese, Malbec, Shiraz, Grenache, Cabernet Franc, Semillon, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and many experimental red blends.

The cellar doors which accompany these vineyards are becoming as famous as the vineyards and wines themselves with many competing on their fabulous tasting menus. And rivalling the local wine industry are the emerging talents of brewmasters creating artisan craft beers at a number of locations across the island. Stouts, IPAs, ales, cider and even lemonade – accompanied by pizzas made from local produce and crisped in wood-fired ovens.

As dinner is included at Sea Dragon, we have included some suggested lunch spots should you want to venture out on your free days at Sea Dragon.

Transfers can be arranged to any of these eateries or they can be included in a private day or half-day tour.

Kangaroo Island Spirits

Australia’s first dedicated gin distillery is an award-winning creator of world-class gin and high-quality liqueurs and vodka made from local and native ingredients such as KI wild fennel, Ligurian honey, and native juniper and citrus.

Sea Dragon Experience guests will enjoy a guided walk of the Gin Garden followed by a fascinating tasting experience of the assortment of KI Gins in their new state-of-the-art distillery and tasting room. Learn how this local success went from exclusively distilling in a customised shipping container to taking the world by storm.

Islander Estate Wines

The Islander Estate Vineyards leads the way in winemaking on the island and is rated as a 5-star “outstanding” winery by Australia’s pre-eminent wine critic James Halliday.

Jacques Lurton is a 5th generation French winemaker and marries his French winemaking expertise with the natural environment of Kangaroo Island to produce an outstanding range of wines.

The Islander Estate can also arrange wine tasting experiences in the privacy of your own villa at Sea Dragon Kangaroo Island.

Kangaroo Island Ciders

With over 600 trees and several apple varieties, KI Ciders have won local and national awards for their medium-dry and medium-sweet ciders. They have also been mentioned in The World’s Best Ciders by Peter Brown and Bill Bradshaw.

Not into alcohol? Then try their delicious non-alcoholic sparkling apple juice. Kangaroo Island Ciders can be sampled at the Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery.

Bay of Shoals Wines

Benefitting from a maritime climate, the Bay of Shoals grow and harvest its own grapes and produce its wine on-site. The unique location, Reeves Farm, is the location of the first European settlement in South Australia, dating back to 27 July 1836.

Dudley Wines

Dudley Wines is Kangaroo Island’s pioneer winery, established in 1997. Their cliff-top cellar door and function room are situated only 15 minutes drive from Sea Dragon Kangaroo Island. Guests can sample their range of wines while enjoying a platter of regional produce or gourmet wood-oven pizza. Private transfers for tasting and lunch can be arranged for Sea Dragon guests.

False Cape Wines

False Cape Wines has recently built a new cellar door restaurant overlooking their vineyard at Willson River. With a great value, high-quality range of wines they offer a range of tasting experiences accompanied by gourmet pies and platters. False Cape Wines is only 15 minutes from us. Private transfers for tasting and lunch can be arranged for Sea Dragon guests not self-driving

Kangaroo Island Brewery

Kangaroo Island’s first craft brewery is situated in a hand-built limestone premise with all beers brewed on-site using fresh rainwater. Wood-stone pizzas are available on some days, but it pays to check first.

Cafes & restaurants

The food scene on Kangaroo Island is thriving with interesting flavours and truly local ingredients. Whether you’re looking for a small, intimate lunch or just want to enjoy drinks with wonderful views, there are more than enough dining styles here to enjoy a diversity of meals and experiences.

Collectively there is a focus on the garden to plate cuisine across the island, complemented by fabulous wines produced by local vineyards which have been described as ‘a progressive dining adventure’ and ‘artisan’. With a speciality of seafood that features heavily in most restaurants, there is an exceptional choice from funky cafes and great fish ’n’ chip shops to gastropubs and high-end dining.

Cactus Cafe

Cactus Cafe offers a fantastic casual dining experience in the heart of Kingscote. The menu is designed with a focus on premium KI produce, showcasing the best of KI and the region. Fully licensed with a good selection of local beer and wine, house-made sweets, and specialty coffee, there is something for everyone. PS our favourite is the bao!

Sunset Food & Wine Restaurant

Established by acclaimed chef Jack Ingram, this award-winning modern bistro has a focus on Kangaroo Island and South Australian produce. Jack and Vanessa work closely with food producers and growers, only using what is in season and what is at its very best. They also focus on great South Australian wines. Sunset Food & Wine offers a comprehensive menu and enjoys stunning views over Eastern Cove, only a 30-minute drive from Sea Dragon Kangaroo Island.

Emu Bay Lavender Farm

Located towards the Northern Coast of Kangaroo Island, this is a great stop for coffee, a bite to eat or to sit back and smell the lavender. As well as their own lavender-based products, their gift shop has a great range of wares to treat yourself or someone at home. We stop here for a morning coffee on our Taste of Kangaroo Island Half-Day Tour.

American River Oyster Farm | Photo Credit South Australia Tourism Commission

American River Oyster Farm Shop

The American River Oyster Farm offers amazing South Australian oysters (seasonal). Here you can buy them directly from the producers. The shop also sells a range of other fresh seafood.

Millie Mae’s Pantry

Millie Mae’s is located in the heart of Penneshaw. This cafe serves a range of delicious cafe-style food and quality espresso coffee. It also has a specialty area selling a range of boutique handcrafted condiments, sauces and other local food items. One of our favourites.

Penneshaw Hotel Restaurant

This 112-year-old hotel offers uninterrupted views over Backstairs Passage with absolute water frontage from its cliff-top location. Serving lunch and dinner daily including steak, seafood, schnitzels, burgers and much more.

Vivonne Bay General Store

This family-run cafe is famous for its King George Whiting burger. They also sell a range of other freshly made takeaway food including vegan and gluten-free options. A convenient place for lunch if you are out near Vivonne Bay.

KI Fresh Seafood

If you want the best fish and chips you will ever taste, call into KI Fresh Seafood at Kingscote. It is located within the Caltex petrol station on the outskirts of town.

Parndarna Hotel

Located in the centre of the island, the Parndana Hotel is a great spot for lunch if you are in the area. The menu offers good quality pub food.

Rockpool Cafe

Located at Stokes Bay beach, the Rock Pool Café serves a delicious range of locally caught fresh seafood. They also sell local wine and beer.

Fat Beagle Cafe

This family and pet friendly café in Penneshaw serves breakfast, brunch and lunch as well as espresso coffee

Other attractions

Kangaroo Island is an undiscovered gem.  There is much to do, see and experience on the island.  For nature lovers, there is a multitude of nature walks and sightseeing options that include historical lighthouses and coastal towns.  If you love the water then consider the marine based activities such as snorkelling with the dolphins or cruising the coast.

For our more adventurous guests, you can explore Kangaroo Island on a quad bike or rip down the dunes on a sandboard.  The Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park is also an option to see many of Australia’s native animals up close as well as many that have been introduced.

Nature-based activities

At 4,405 km2, Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third largest island, with over 510 kms of majestic coastline. While its emerging culinary and wine scene is fast promoting the island as a destination of choice, it is its pristine wilderness and wildlife that have captured the imagination of many visitors and laid the foundations for ecotourism to thrive.

The island breathes nature. Every turn on every road will delight you with new vistas and new natural experiences. From the ocean and the island’s vast coastline to the rolling inner hills, this is an island that embraces and nurtures its natural environment with plenty of activities and tours to help you explore it

Quad Bike tours, sand boarding & kayaking

KI Outdoor Action, located at Vivonne Bay, is an award-winning tour operator offering nature-based quad bike tours and sandboarding at Little Sahara and kayaking in a calm river.

Flavours of Petite Provence

The passion project of our lead tour guide Bridgette, her and her husband Kym have developed a great farmgate experience showcasing their eco-friendly permaculture produce as well as stocking other products from local providores.

Island Beehive

Being one of the first organic honey producers in Australia, Peter is a leading voice in the honey production industry in Australia and is proactive in protecting and promoting the Ligurian Bee heritage.

Raptor Domain

The Raptor Domain is an education and rehabilitation centre which provides interactive experiences with wildlife. It offers a great free-flight display showcasing many of Australia’s raptors including the majestic Wedge-Tail Eagle. Most of the birds have been injured or orphaned and are not suitable for release. They are now amazing ambassadors for their species. Every day these beautiful birds enjoy showing people their hunting techniques and natural behaviours.

Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park

Most Australian animals can be seen at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, including species not native to the island. The park does great work rehabilitating injured or orphaned animals. This was particularly evident in their work treating animals that were injured in the 2020 fires. If you are looking for close interaction with animals, for example, hand-feeding or especially holding and cuddling a variety of animals, then you will love this park.

Swimming with dolphins and seals

    • KI Ocean Safari – Located at Penneshaw
    • Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures – Located at Emu Bay

Both these marine tour operators provide a world-class marine mammal experience. They offer marine tours where you will see dolphins, seals and other marine life. If you want to meet these animals up close and personal, then try their Swim With the Dolphins or Seals tour.

Lighthouses and walks

Kangaroo Island has three major lighthouses, including the oldest in South Australia.

These lighthouses were crucial for the safety of early shipping to South Australia and still assist modern-day shipping. Their history is fascinating with all of them set in spectacular locations.

Cape Willoughby Lighthouse

This is the oldest lighthouse in South Australia. Daily tours can be taken through the museum and to the top of the lighthouse. The views are awesome! Cape Willoughby Lighthouse is a 30-minute walk or quick drive from Sea Dragon.

Cape Du Couedic Lighthouse

This lighthouse is located in Flinders Chase National Park on the southwest tip of the island. It is close to Admiral’s Arch and Remarkable Rocks

Cape Borda Lighthouse

Cape Borda lighthouse is on the northwest corner of the island and has a very interesting history. It is quite remote and usually not visited because of its remote location. However, if you have plenty of time, there are some great walks nearby and the views are spectacular

Historical villages

Kangaroo Island has three historic villages well worth exploring that have played integral roles in the development of culture on the island.

As gateways from mainland Australia, the first townships and the birthplace of tourism, each of these towns represent the timeline of the days of European settlement to today

American River

American River is considered the birthplace of tourism on Kangaroo Island. It is now a delightful fishing village about 35 minutes from Sea Dragon.

The American River wharf in the centre of town was originally used by some of the first industries on Kangaroo Island. Salt, mallee wood and gypsum were shipped from here to Port Adelaide. The wharf is a great spot to try some fishing or watch the pelicans that are abundant in this area.

At American River, you can also view the reconstruction of the “SS Independence” which was originally built by American sealers in the early 1800s. Seafood lovers should try the delicious oysters fresh from the ocean at the Oyster Farm Shop.

Enjoy a peaceful bushwalk around the bay to see the native fauna and birdlife.

Kingscote

In 1836, the first European settlers to come to South Australia arrived at Reeves Point and established the town of Kingscote. The area now features paths with monuments, such as an old mulberry tree (planted in 1836 and still bears fruit), the old jetty, the island’s first well, the old post office and the Pioneer Cemetery. It was originally intended that Kingscote would serve as the capital of South Australia but the island’s resources were insufficient to support such a large community. Reeves Point has been placed on the Australian Heritage Places List.

Kingscote is the island’s largest town with approximately 2,500 residents.

This town has facilities including a hospital and medical centre, chemist, supermarket, butcher, fresh seafood, hardware and many other small shops. It also has a number of cafes and several restaurants. Kingscote is 74km from Sea Dragon.

Penneshaw

Penneshaw is the gateway to Kangaroo Island and is the main ferry port for the island. Located on the northeast tip of Dudley Peninsula, Penneshaw is the island’s second-biggest town. It is situated about 26 kilometres from Sea Dragon.

The sandy shores of Hog Bay in the centre of town provide a safe beach for swimming. If you want something more adventurous, try a swim with dolphins and seals with KI Ocean Safaris.

Penneshaw has a variety of places to eat including the Penneshaw Hotel, Millie Mae’s Cafe, Sorrento’s Pizza, The Fat Beagle Cafe and Smoke & Fire Pizza. Nearby Sunset Food & Wine provides a fabulous fine dining venue with great views.