The Incredible Dog Friendly Kangaroo Island

Last updated on 6 May, 2023

A 45 minute ferry ride from the mainland at Cape Jervis, Kangaroo Island is surprisingly an incredibly wonderful place to visit with your dog. Dog friendly Kangaroo Island pristine beaches, cafes, wineries, breweries and adventure awaits you and your dog.

In 2021 we visited Kangaroo Island with our dog, Chika, for two weeks, with our caravan. Over the two weeks we explored Australia’s third largest island and found a multitude of things to do with a dog. Here we share what we discovered and help you plan your trip to Kangaroo Island with your dog.

Our apologies for the lack of photos in this post. Our external hard drive and laptop are not on speaking terms. It is a technical issue we have not found a solution to yet.

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Kangaroo Island General Information

Taking a Dog to Kangaroo Island

Are Dogs Allowed on Kangaroo Island?

Yes, dogs are allowed on Kangaroo Island. All dogs (and cats) visiting from interstate must register with KI Council via email. See here for more details and the email contact.

Is the Kangaroo Island Ferry Dog Friendly?

Sealink Kangaroo Island Ferry is the vehicle ferry and Kangaroo Island Connect is a passenger only ferry operating between Cape Jervis and Penneshaw. Both allow dogs on board and for dogs to be with their owners in designated areas.

Sealink is very dog friendly, with dogs permitted in the pet friendly lounge, on the top deck or if you prefer, they can remain in your car for the 45 minute crossing.

Kangaroo Island Connect dogs must be on a lead or in a carrier and are allowed on the lower deck. There is also an additional fee for your pet.

What Kangaroo Island Attractions are Dog Friendly?

Outside of national parks and some nature reserves, there are plenty of dog friendly campgrounds and caravan parks, beaches, parks, eateries, wineries and more to explore with your dog. Overall, we found Kangaroo Island to be very dog friendly.

In the itinerary below there are details on exactly what Kangaroo Island dog friendly campgrounds, activities and sights there are for you to enjoy.

Pet Sitting on Kangaroo Island

Daryl and I are dog owners that opt to do dog friendly sightseeing as much as possible. We are also dog owners occasionally do attractions Chika cannot. Flinders Chase National Park was the only thing we did that Chika could not do.

In this guide, I will provide information on the best, not dog friendly attractions. It is up to you if you choose to do them and if you do, dog sitting is available at:

Related read: How to Do National Parks and Travel with a Dog

Dog friendly things to do Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island Camping

Dog Friendly Camping on Kangaroo Island

Dog friendly camping on Kangaroo Island is available at:

  • Caravan Parks –
    • Kangaroo Island Seafront Holiday Park, Penneshaw,
    • Kingscote Nepean Bay Tourist Park,
  • All seven council operated campgrounds, 
  • Private campgrounds –
    • Discovery Lagoon Caravan and Campgrounds,
    • Parndana Hotel Campground,
  • Chapman River (South) Campground in the Lashmar Conservation Park, Antechamber Bay. 

Can You Free Camp on Kangaroo Island?

Kangaroos Island does not allow free camping.

Do You Have to Book Campsites on Kangaroo Island?

The caravan parks and campgrounds in Lashmar Conservation Park require bookings.

The council run campgrounds do not allow or take bookings, so it is first in best dressed on any day. Registration and payment are at each site, with American River, Brown Beach, Stokes Bay and Vivonne Bay having facilities to pay by card and the others are cash only. Be sure to have to correct money as there is no change given.

It was March when we visited the island. We booked our first two nights at a Lashmar Conservation Park campsite and the rest we camped at the council run campgrounds.

Getting to Kangaroo Island

Driving Distances

Kangaroo Island Ferry operates from Cape Jervis on the Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia. Driving distances to Cape Jervis are:

Adelaide to Cape Jervis | 110 kilometres or 1 hour 35 minutes
Melbourne to Cape Jervis| 805 kilometres or 9 hours
Sydney to Cape Jervis | 1460 kilometres or 15 hours 40 minutes

Do You Need to Book a Ferry to Kangaroo Island?

Yes, it is necessary to book onto the ferry. To book have details of:

  • car make, model and year,
  • caravan height and length,
  • dates of arrival and departure, and
  • passengers and pets details. 

Can you take a Caravan to Kangaroo Island on the Ferry?

Kangaroo Island permits and encourages caravans. There are no particular hazards to towing with most roads sealed and in good or reasonable condition.

The cost of taking a caravan on the ferry may deter some. We could justify the cost of taking our caravan to Kangaroo Island because we went for two weeks. If you plan on staying for less than a week it may be cheaper to book dog friendly accommodation on the island.

Also, a heads up, all vehicles are reversed onto the ferry for boarding. Ferry staff will assist by giving directions or reversing your vehicle for you.

Dogs on Kangaroo Island

Preparing to Visit Kangaroo Island

Do You Need a 4WD on Kangaroo Island?

Kangaroo Island is suitable for 2WD vehicles. There is no reason a 4WD is necessary.

Due to the size of and distances on Kangaroo Island, having a car is a must.

When is the Best Time to Visit Kangaroo Island?

Autumn (March – May) is a lovely time to visit Kangaroo Island. When we visited the island in March, the weather was warm and sunny and there were not too many people meaning the campgrounds and attractions were not too busy.

Winter (June – August) is the time to visit if you revere solitude and do not mind the colder temperatures. During winter, the island has the lowest number of visitors and feels like you have the place to yourself. Fewer visitors also means the wildlife seems more abundant, too.

Spring (September – November) is wildflower season and warm sunny days perfect for sightseeing and camping. Spring, as well as Autumn, are the ideal times to visit Kangaroo Island.

Summer (December – February) is the best time to enjoy Kangaroo Island’s pristine beaches. It is also the peak school holiday period and temperatures may be too much for your puppy.

How Long Do You Need to Visit Kangaroo Island?

Three days on Kangaroo Island would be sufficient time to see the highlights. Ultimately 7 to 10 days would be ideal as this would give time to explore the island thoroughly.

How Much to Budget for Kangaroo Island?

Our expenses for Kangaroo Island for 14 nights, for two people and a dog, totalled $1343 or $95 per day:

  • Ferry $707
  • Camping $98 (14 nights x $17)
  • Supermarket $300
  • Fuel $222
  • Nat. Park Pass $16

Things to note about our time on KI and our expenses are that we:

  • we travelled in the low season (March 2021), so the ferry was cheaper
  • stayed at council campgrounds only (no caravan parks)
  • we never ate out (we only cooked ourselves) or bought any alcohol
  • we did free activities only (other than paying for a national parks pass)

When Visiting Kangaroo Island

Where Can You Buy Supplies and Fuel on Kangaroo Island?

On Kangaroo Island, the townships of Penneshaw and Kingscote are the main centres for services and shops.

Supermarkets on Kangaroo Island are at:

  • IGA, Lot 149 Middle Terrace, Penneshaw 
  • Drakes, Commerical Street, Kingscote
  • Parndana Bakery, 6/8 Cook St, Parndana (has limited basic supplies)

Fuel on Kangaroo Island is available at:

  • BP, Thomas Wilson Street, Penneshaw
  • BP, 10 Telegraph Road, Kingscote
  • Ampol, 26 Telegraph Road, Kingscote
  • Davo Deli, 12 Cook Street, Parndana
  • Kangaroo Island Wilderness Retreat, South Coast Road, KI

Mobile Reception

I can only comment on Telstra coverage. There is Telstra coverage on the island, but it is not great. Put it this way, download movies or shows you want to watch before heading over. The internet is fine for basic browsing, messaging and phone calls, not streaming.

Dog Friendly Kangaroo Island Camping and Sightseeing Itinerary

Kangaroo Island is 145 kilometres long and 55 kilometres wide. It is feasible to camp at one caravan park or campground for your entire stay and do day trips. The alternative is to camp at various locations in a (sort of) loop to reduce driving time, save on fuel and allow more time to explore.

If you follow our route suggestion below (based on our Kangaroo Island road trip), either do so by moving camps or use each day as a suggested day trip. Whatever you decide, make it your own!

Penneshaw

Penneshaw is where the ferry arrives and departs on Kangaroo Island. When we arrived at Penneshaw on the ferry, we headed directly to our campsite at Antechamber Bay and left sightseeing in Penneshaw until our final day, before we got back on the ferry. Besides visiting the information centre, it does not matter which end of your trip you check out this, KI’s second biggest town.

In Penneshaw with Chika (when we returned to catch the ferry back to the mainland), we walked the KI Sculpture Trail. A thirty minute walk showcasing sculptures (some better than others) and Penneshaw Beach views.

Other attractions in Penneshaw to do with a dog are:

  • Millie Mae’s Pantry is a dog friendly cafe in Penneshaw that gets rave reviews for its garden setting, food and service. Dogs are allowed in the garden area and not on the deck.
  • The Kangaroo Island Gateway Visitor Information Centre should be your first stop after getting off the ferry. That is if they are open. Dogs are not permitted inside, but there are spots outside to tether your dog.
  • Penneshaw Maritime & Folk Museum is not dog friendly. It is a small museum with exhibits on island life and its history. If you are comfortable doing so, your dog could be tied up outside while you visit the museum.

Antechamber Bay

Penneshaw to Antechamber Bay | 20 kilometres or 20 minutes

After disembarking from the ferry in Penneshaw Bay, we headed directly to our first campsite on our Kangaroo Island road trip. It just made sense to start at the eastern section of the island, so we did.

The dog friendly camping at Antechamber Bay is at the Chapman River (South) Campground in the Lashmar Conservation Park. It is the only area dogs are permitted and must be kept on a lead less than 2 metres long.

Camped alongside the river was very pleasant and the things we did with Chika:

  • Walked a trail with Chika on a lead to the nearby beach,
  • Kayaked on the Chapman River until it became impassable, and
  • Fished along the river with Daryl catching his biggest brim

Browns Beach

Antechamber Bay to Browns Beach | 23 kilometres or 21 minutes

Brown Beach Campground, on the narrowest part of the neck of Kangaroo Island, at Pelican Lagoon was our next stop and where we explored and visited, dog friendly beaches and attractions: 

  • Brown Beach is a sheltered beach that feels secluded. At the campground end of the beach are rocks and a section of beach more protected which was very popular for swimming, fishing and snorkelling. Brown Beach stretches for quite a distance, with some seaweed, fantastic for a dog walk, collecting shells and spectacular sunsets. 
  • Island Beach is a five minute drive west of Brown Beach and is a pretty beach with white and aquamarine water. Dog friendly on a lead, we enjoyed having the entire beach to ourselves. 
  • Baudin Beach is a five minute drive east of Brown Beach. It is dog friendly, so I have mentioned it here. It is okay, but there are far better dog friendly beaches on KI. 
  • Prospect Hill, also known as Mt Thisby, is a 500 step climb to the top for panoramic views. Dog friendly, Chika ascended the stairs much more effortlessly than us. Still, we loved it so much, with uninterrupted views of Pelican Lagoon and Pennington, we walked up twice! Prospect Hill is a must do on Kangaroo Island.  
  • Pennington Bay we loved! One of Kangaroo Island’s most outstanding dog friendly beaches. A picturesque coastline with cliffs and rock formations, the most prominent called Sea Dragon Rock, Pennington Bay, is stunning. The sea was rough on the two occasions we visited, so we did not swim or snorkel. We strolled the beach and walked over the ridge of rocks to continue walking. I highly recommend you put Pennington Bay on your dog friendly Kangaroo Island road trip. 

Vivonne Bay

Brown Beach to Vivonne Bay | 78 kilometres or 1 hour

Next for us was camping at the dog friendly Vivonne Bay campground on the southern coast. Vivonne Bay is another stunning example of KI’s serene, beautiful seascape and our base for exploring:

  • Vivonne Bay Beach and Jetty are dog friendly and perfect for a mosey along the beach, swimming and snorkelling or fishing off the jetty. It is so darn pretty here and if you get lucky (we did not), dolphins are often seen. 
  • Harriett River, river mouth is in Vivonne Bay. There are places or spots to get to the river’s edge not too far from the campground. Fish, swim or do as we did, kayak (or SUP) the river with your dog. It is a lovely paddle, but you will need your kayak as there are no dog friendly hires.  
  • At Vivonne Bay Campground, we left Chika in our caravan and visited the Flinders Chase National Park. We visited the sites – Cape du Couedic Lighthouse and cottages built in 1909, walked along the boardwalk to Admirals Rock to see the seals and finally checked out the Remarkable Rocks before heading back to camp. The entire visit was brilliant, a highlight of our time on Kangaroo Island, even with the devastation of the 2020 bushfires. It is one drive each way plus time to do sightseeing, we were gone for nearly six hours. (Pet sitting in Kingscote may be better for your dog). 
  • Seal Bay Conservation Centre, we did not do since we saw the seals at Admirals Arch is only 25 kilometres or 20 minutes from Vivonne Bay. Dogs are not welcome. 

Western River

Vivonne Bay to Western River | 50 kilometres or 45 minutes

Western River on Kangaroo Island has some of the most jaw dropping landscapes we have seen on all our travels around Australia. It is hilly, remote and the scenery is breathtaking.

We did not camp at Western River, but it looked like quite the spot! We left our caravan at Vivonne Bay and day tripped it to Western River Cove and Stokes Beach (see details further down).

Western River Cove is dog friendly and feels like you are a million miles from anywhere. To get to the pretty little cove and beach, we crossed over the footbridge and followed the path. The calm, protected waters are fantastic for swimming and the snorkelling is supposed to be sensational. Chika loved running on the beach while Daryl and I sat and chilled. It was a lovely morning.

Stokes Bay

Western River to Stokes Bay | 37 kilometres or 45 minutes

Stokes Bay, east of Western River along the north side of KI, is yet another exceptional cove on the island and our stop for an afternoon.

There is also camping at Stokes Bay and cafe. We did not camp here and I am pretty sure from memory that the cafe was closed the day we visited, so I cannot comment on the quality of the coffee or food.

Stokes Bay Beach is a highlight and must do with your dog on Kangaroo Island. There is much to love about this beach!

The first is the fun and unique way of getting onto the beach via a maze of passages through the rocky headland until you step through a narrow (but too narrow) gap to have Stokes Bay Beach revealed to you.

The other things to love about Stokes Bay Beach are the sensational turquoise natural rock pool perfect for swimming and the stretch of pretty beach great for playing with your dog. Daryl, Chika and I loved it here. It is one of those places that reminds you how awe-inspiring nature is.

Parndana

Stokes Bay to Parndana | 27 kilometres or 25 minutes

Parndana is a community in the centre of the island and where we stopped after our day out at Western River Beach and Stokes Bay Beach. The town has a pub and a general store that sells takeaway where we bought hot chips before heading back to our camp at Vivonne Bay.

Emu Bay

Vivonne Bay to Emu Bay | 61 kilometres or 45 minutes

Or alternatively:
Western River to Emu Bay | 84 kilometres 1 hour
Stoke Bay Beach to Emu Bay | 35 kilometres or 35 minutes

Emu Bay is a small coastal village on the north coast, with about 100 dwellings; many holiday homes. The draw card to Emu Bay is the stunning four kilometre long beach with its brilliant white sand and crystal clear, calm turquoise waters. 

Emu Bay Campground was our base for three nights. From here, with Chika we:  

  • Walked, meandered and enjoyed the Emu Bay foreshore and jetty built in 1918. Fishing off the jetty is popular with locals and visitors. The foreshore has BBQs, picnic tables, a playground, a cafe and toilets. Note: there are no shops in Emu Bay. 
  • Drove along Emu Bay Beach in our 4WD to find our piece of paradise to swim, fish and Chika loved running a stretch of the beach. The sand on Emu Bay Beach is compact enough for 2WDs and super easy to drive on. 
  • Put our kayak in for a paddle and Daryl fished from our kayak. There is a boat ramp for those of you with a boat. 
  • Saw a pod of dolphins and many water birds but did not see any of the penguins from the small colony that lives here. 

Emu Bay (or Kingscote) is also a good base for the visiting the following dog friendly venues and sites on Kangaroo Island: 

  • Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery loves dogs and Choppa, the beautiful and friendly farm dog ready for a pat or cuddle. Other dogs are allowed off lead in the fenced picnic area or on a leash in other outdoor areas. Emu Ridge has a cafe as well as a shop. The shop sells many eucalyptus products, some specifically for dogs. 
  • Emu Bay Lavender Farm is dog friendly on a lead. Learn all about lavender farming, visit the cafe (the giant lavender scones are delicious) and check out the all things lavender shop. 
  • Spring Road Wines, a boutique winery, has friendly, joyful resident puppas and welcomes your dog to join you while you taste their wines and learn about the vineyard. 

Kingscote

Emu Bay to Kingscote | 18 kilometres or 20 minutes

Kingscote on Nepean Bay is the largest town on Kangaroo Island and is a tourist hub with shops, restaurants and services. Kingscote is where many base themselves for touring the island. 

Our preference was to day to trip to Kingscote from our camp at Emu Bay. It was a pleasant town to visit. We topped up on food supplies, did our laundry and with Chika checked out: 

  • Kingscote Foreshore and Jetty is an unexpected place to spot sea lions. The rule is to keep at least 30 metres between you and the sea lion for their safety and yours. Chika glanced over the sea lion we saw before sniffing along the jetty again. The 300 metre jetty was under repairs, so we did not linger there long. If you do, look out for penguins, pelicans and black swans or try fishing. 
  • Kingscote coastline south from the jetty, walking along the foreshore, past the Kingscote Tidal Pool. The Kingscote Tidal Pool looked fantastic, and while dogs are not allowed in the pool or the immediate area around the pool, dogs are allowed on a lead in the surrounding areas.
  • Kingscote coastline north of the jetty where we walked to the historic Reeves Point site, past the remains of Kingscote old jetty and a foreshore area with more great views. 

Also, while in Kingscote, check out:

  • Bay of Shoals Wines, another dog friendly vineyard, only this one has incredible views over the water in Kingscote. Visitors are encouraged to have a picnic and wine, taking in the views! 
  • Cactus Kangaroo Island is a dog friendly cafe in Kingscote. The fully licensed cafe is popular with locals and visitors with its great coffee and menu with fantastic dishes.
  • Kangaroo Island Brewery wants you to bring your dog. Why not head to the microbrewery to try their crafted beers and chill out in the great doors, eating their pizza (Friday to Sunday). Your dog is welcome in (nearly) all areas at the brewery and on their 20 acres. 
  • Clifford’s Honey Farm celebrates all things bees and honey and welcomes dogs. The farm runs tours, has a bee exhibit and sells a massive array of honey products; the honey ice is a must.
  • Island Beehive Café is a small dog friendly attraction that produces and sells honey and bee goods. Make sure to check out the active bee hive and try their honey ice cream.

American River

Emu Bay to American River | 46 kilometres or 35 minutes
Kingscote to American River | 38 kilometres or 30 minutes

Surprise fact – there is no river in American River. American River is a fishing village on an estuary surrounded by bushland. It is a unique place to camp after visiting much of the island’s seascapes.

At American River, we did the following dog friendly attractions:

  • Stuck our heads in the RIG Boathouse and saw the Rebuild Independence Sailing Ship as we walked by with Chika on a lead.
  • Walked part of the three kilometre Cannery Trail along the coastline and through the trees. Not sure how far we walked. We just walked until we felt like turning back.
  • Kayaked the estuary in our kayak. It is also a lovely spot to take your boat out if you have one, with the boat ramp next to the campground. The best time is early morning before the wind picks up.

Penneshaw (Return)

American River to Penneshaw | 38 kilometres or 30 minutes

Return to Penneshaw to board the ferry back to the mainland.

Visiting the incredible dog friendly Kangaroo Island on a lap around Australia or as a holiday destination will never disappoint.

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Dog Friendly Kangaroo Island

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3 thoughts on “The Incredible Dog Friendly Kangaroo Island”

  1. Thanks for the great dog friendly info.
    I am traveling to KI for 8 nights in april and taking my small dog.

    Reply
  2. Thank you so much for this post I have read and re-read it. We are planning a trip for January and I am so excited. Your information has been wonderful

    Reply
  3. Hello,

    great information – thanks so much for sharing this! I was wondering if to your knowledge dogs on leash are permitted at Vivonne Rock Pool and the little loop track around Point Ellen?

    Many thanks,
    Alex

    Reply

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