Finally an Australian destination where you want to get up close and personal with the animals, instead of fearing for your life.
Kangaroo Island, just off the Australian mainland, is a sanctuary for your favorite creatures down under. You’ll find kangaroos, obvs, but also sea lions, seals, koalas, wallabies and even penguins.
KI, as the locals call it, is pretty massive. It’s almost 2,000 square miles of beaches, sand dunes, bluffs and scrubby forests. You can spend hours searching for wildlife and then head back to civilization for locally-made wine and cheese. Here’s why you should hop on a ferry and head straight for KI.
KI kangaroos are a little smaller and a little furrier than their mainland counterparts. They’re nocturnal, but you can catch them napping in the sun or munching on grass in the early morning and late afternoon. Tip: Don’t try to pet these guys. They’re shy at best and aggressive if they feel threatened.
Since KI is more protected than mainland Australia, it’s a safe haven for the region’s endangered species. Animals like the Australian sea lions live happily here, without worrying about hunters or humans destroying their habitat.
You can pet the animals at Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park. There are kangaroos to be fed, koalas to cuddle and penguins to play with. Entry is about $15, but that’s a steal. Just think of the photo ops!
You can spot more than sleepy koalas here. KI has wallabies, platypus, cockatoos, geese, a variety of lizards and porcupine-like echidnas. Don’t think about the insects that all these cute creatures must eat. It’s better that way.
There are 23 wildlife-filled hikes on KI. If you want to really dive into the Outback, you can trek for 5 days on the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail. Or you can hop along the boardwalk for a nice 30 minute stroll. Flinders Chase National Park is home to some of the islands best views and the park’s Black Swamp is a hopping kangaroo habitat.
The stunning turquoise waters on KI are perfect for swimming, snorkeling and surfing. If you find the right spot to take a dip, you might end up sharing the coast with a pod of wild dolphins.
This post originally appeared on Swirled.