Visiting Kangaroo Island is a dream come true, but first you need to get there! In this guide, I’ll take you through everything you need to know about the ferry to Kangaroo Island. From the Kangaroo Island ferry ticket cost to whether you’ll get seasick (spoiler: maybe), it’s all here.
Now, don’t be overwhelmed at all the detail in this guide – I just wanted to include as much information as I could. I suggest using the contents below to help you navigate through the common Kangaroo Island ferry questions.
By the way, if you have any more questions about how to buy tickets for the Kangaroo Island ferry or how much the Kangaroo Island ferry costs, let me know down in the comments and I’ll address them!
Overview of the Kangaroo Island ferries
The most common way to get to Kangaroo Island is to take the ferry. It’s the easiest and cheapest option for travel from Adelaide to Kangaroo Island.
For many years, there was only one company operating the ferry to Kangaroo Island: Sealink. In recent years, a newer operator has arrived on the scene – KLC.
I’m hopeful that this added competition can help to make visiting Kangaroo Island more accessible – but we’ll have to see how it goes.
The biggest and best-known ferry company operating between mainland South Australia and Kangaroo Island is Sealink. They’ve been operated for decades, and they really have things down pat.
Sealink operate out of Cape Jervis, but they also have transport links from Adelaide (more on that later).
Aside from its reputation, the main benefit of Sealink is that you can bring cars and trailers (e.g. caravans) on the ferry. There is a fairly substantial cost to do so, however it is an option unlike with KIC.
A much newer player on the scene, Kangaroo Island Connect (KIC) arrived back in 2018 after their launch was delayed a number of times.
They offer a more basic service than Sealink. Most significantly, their boat is smaller and you cannot take cars or any vehicles on the ferry. However, this means their service is more affordable.
Over the years, there’s been a few Sealink competitors come and go. Sadly, none have survived long-term. I’ve got my fingers crossed that KIC is in it for the long haul, but only time will tell.
*Also: keep in mind that KIC has an annual winter close down, while Sealink runs all year-round.
Other options for transport to Kangaroo Island
If the idea of catching a ferry has you a bit green around the gills or you’ve got heaps of money to throw at the situation, there are other options.
You can fly to Kangaroo Island with the regional airline REX. Or you could even charter a plane – in which case, why are you reading a budget travel blog? Get back to your caviar!
I kid, I kid. However, it is worth being aware that the plane option is definitely pricier than the humble ferry.
Kangaroo Island ferry prices
So how much does it cost to travel to Kangaroo Island by ferry? Well, let’s take a closer look at the Kangaroo Island ferry ticket prices.
Sealink’s ferry operates between Cape Jervis and Penneshaw. You can get either a single or a return ticket. The prices do vary (and can be discounted), so do check online!
A standard adult ticket on Sealink is $49.00 each way ($98.00 return).
A standard child (3 – 14 years) ticket on the Sealink ferry to Kangaroo Island costs $25.00 each way ($50.00 return).
You can also get a discounted concession ticket for students or seniors, for $40.00 each way.
If you’d like to bring a vehicle on the ferry then the cost for a standard vehicle is $98.00 each way ($196.00 return). If your car is more than 5 metres or you are bringing a caravan, then you will need to pay the same again for that as well.
Kangaroo Island ferry ticket prices with KIC
All of KIC’s tickets are from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw, or vice versa.
A standard adult ticket on KIC is $25.00 online or $27.50 offline. That price is each way, making a return trip $50 for an adult (yay, maths!).
A standard child ticket (2 years to 14 years) on KIC is $18.00 online or $20.00 offline. Therefore, a return ticket is $36 for a child.
Children under two years old travel for free on KIC.
Which option is the cheapest?
A few months ago, I wrote a comprehensive guide to Kangaroo Island where I compared the two options.
If you’re planning to visit Kangaroo Island then I’d recommend having a full read of that post (Yay! Self-promotion!)
Basically, however, I found that which is cheaper really depends on what you want to do and how long you’re planning on staying.
You’ll most likely require a car on Kangaroo Island, as public transport options are just a smidgen above non-existent. If you have your own car, it’s going to be cheaper to go with Sealink rather than KIC, as you will save money on car hire.
On the other hand, if you are planning to hire a car, then it’s generally cheaper to go with KIC and hire the car on the island. This also saves you the hassle of having to load your car onto the ferry.
Tips for finding a good deal on your Kangaroo Island ferry tickets
Let’s not mince words: Kangaroo Island ferry prices, especially with Sealink, are pretty pricey. Kangaroo Island is amazing, but cheap? Not so much.
If you’re on a budget and desperate to see this island everyone’s always banging on about, don’t fear! There are a few ways to get discounted ferry tickets.
Throughout the year, Sealink releases very good specials. The best of them all is Market Days, where you get extremely cheap tickets to Penneshaw and back. The cost is as low as $42 for adults and $32 for students (no car included), meaning a saving of well over 50%.
The catch is that these promotional tickets are only available to coincide with the farmer’s market on KI. These are generally held on the first Sunday of every month, with a few extra dates in summer.
Other promotions, especially in winter
If you don’t have much flexibility in when you want to get the ferry to Kangaroo Island, you’re a bit stuck. However, if you are planning on staying in Adelaide it’s well worth looking out for a special.
Sealink does release good specials, especially in winter when it’s low season. For example, at the time of writing, Sealink is advertising free caravan tickets on the ferry. So definitely sign up to that newsletter and look out for a great deal!
Kangaroo Island ferry timetable
The ferries run pretty regularly to Kangaroo Island. They are occasionally disrupted by bad weather, but this is very rare.
Sealink runs all year round, however less ferries operate during winter. The daily departures vary a bit depending on demand – there are a few guaranteed daily departures, and then more are put on as tickets are sold.
As a result, you should definitely check online to confirm what departures are available on any given day. The below is just to give you an idea.
Summer is between about 25 September to 14 July. Yeah, summer is l-o-o-o-ng in Adelaide.
As mentioned, only a few departures are guaranteed and the rest depend on demand. The three journeys in bold below are guaranteed, the others are not.
|Cape Jervis (mainland) TO Penneshaw (Kangaroo Island)||6:00am, 7:00am, 9:00am, 10:00am, 12:00pm, 1:00pm, 3:00pm, 4:00pm, 6:00pm, 7:00pm, 9:00pm and 9:45pm|
|Penneshaw (Kangaroo Island) TO Cape Jervis (mainland)||5:30am, 7:30am, 8.30am, 10:30am, 11:30am, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, 4:30pm, 5:30pm, 7:30pm, 8:30pm, 10:15pm|
Between about 15 July to 24 September, things are a tiny bit more sparse. Again, the exact timetable varies according to demand.
In winter, there are only two guaranteed departures daily. These are highlighted in bold below while the rest are dependant on demand.
|Cape Jervis (mainland) TO Penneshaw (Kangaroo Island)||6:00am, 9:00am, 12:00pm, 3:00pm, 6:00pm, 8:30pm|
|Penneshaw (Kangaroo Island) TO Cape Jervis (mainland)||7:30am, 10:30am, 1:30pm, 4:30pm, 7:30pm|
KIC has an annual shutdown in winter. While they are open, their timetable is as follows:
TO Kangaroo Island (i.e. from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw)
- 9:10am (every day)
- 12:35pm (summer school holidays – click here for dates)
- 6:25pm (Monday, Friday and Sunday)
- 7:00pm (Wednesday and Saturday)
FROM Kangaroo Island (i.e. from Penneshaw to Cape Jervis)
- 8:25am (every day)
- 11:45am (summer school holidays – click here for dates)
- 5:35pm (Monday, Friday and Sunday)
- 6:15pm (Wednesday and Saturday)
How to book tickets on the Kangaroo Island ferry
For Sealink, you must book your ticket ahead of time as you cannot buy tickets at the ferry terminal. The easiest way to do so is to book via their website, however you can also book over the phone. The staff are lovely and very helpful.
Once you have booked, then you are able to amend your ticket online if there is availability. So don’t stress too much if you need to change your dates.
While there’s usually availability up to the day of, I’d strongly suggest booking in advance. This is especially if you are travelling around school holidays, and particularly Easter. Honestly, half of South Australia seems to pack up and head to KI for Easter.
Once you’ve booked and paid, you’ll get an email confirmation. Keep it safe!
You can also book your tickets online for KIC at their website.
How to get to the Kangaroo Island ferry
Both KIC and Sealink both leave from Cape Jervis, which is about an hour and a half south of Adelaide.
If you have a car (and obviously if you are taking it on the ferry!) then driving is a good option. The journey is 107 kilometres long and takes about two hours, allowing for some traffic on the way.
Note that you’ll need to be at the ferry at least half an hour before departure, and you’ll probably want to leave some additional time in case of traffic or accidents along the route.
Parking for the Kangaroo Island ferry
If you drive your car but are not taking it across to Kangaroo Island, then you’ll need to leave it at the carpark near the Sealink ferry departure point.
Even though it is closer to the Sealink terminal, this is also the closest secure parking for KIC. KIC runs a shuttle bus service from the carpark to their departure point.
Booking (which is very close to the ferry departure point) should be done online in advance. It costs $17 per day or part thereof.
There is also secure long-term car-parking organised by KIC at the KIC Service Centre in Port Jervis. It must be booked in advance and you can find more information here.
You could technically park your car for free in Cape Jervis and walk to the ferry terminal, especially if you are doing a day trip. However, I don’t really recommend it as it’s not very secure (and you’ll probably annoy some locals – it’s a very small town).
If you’re not bringing your car on the ferry then a great option is to get the shuttle bus service from Adelaide. Both Sealink and KIC operate these, and it takes all the hassle away from parking and driving.
Sealink has a shuttle bus with two departures per day from Adelaide. They are at 6.45 am and 3.30pm from the Adelaide Central Bus Station. The standard fare is $28.50 for an adult and $15.50 for a child/concession.
You can easily book it at the same time as your ticket.
There is also a coach from Goolwa and Victor Harbour on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. It departs at 6.50am and 7.25am respectively, and costs $42.00 each way for an adult or $29.00 for a child/concession.
Sealink also operates a “public bus service” that stops at various stops along the way. Fares start from $11 for a child and $22 for an adult. You can find the full timetable here.
KIC runs two daily shuttle services from Adelaide to the ferry departure point. The cost is $40 for an adult and $25 for a child (2 – 14 years).
They depart from Adelaide Central Bus Station at 6:55am and 4:55pm, to meet up with the morning and evening ferry departures.
Unfortunately, there is really no dependable public transport between Adelaide and Cape Jervis.
Things on the ferry are surprisingly relaxed to be honest. Most things are allowed, within reason. The only big no-no’s are:
- RABBITS! While most pets are allowed on the ferry at no charge (on the upstairs floor only), dastardly rabbits are banned. Please leave your bunnies at home, lest the wreak havoc on beautiful Kangaroo Island.
- Also foxes, in case you have one of those stuffed in your suitcase.
- Bee or honey products, unwashed potatoes or vine cuttings are also forbidden to protect the environment.
- Children under 12 are not permitted on the ferry unattended.
- Cars over 5 metres in length must pay for a special ticket.
- Certain flammable items are prohibited in winter, check the website for more details.
What is the Kangaroo Island ferry like?
The Kangaroo Island ferry is a bit of an experience. The Sealink one is a little old school, but it is totally safe. Even as someone a little traumatised by watching Titanic as an impressionable eight-year-old, I still feel totally safe on board.
The total journey takes around 45 minutes and how comfortable it is depends on the weather conditions. It can get rough when it is windy, but again, it is totally safe. It’s also kind of fun, unless you get motion sick.
On board you’ll find clean if basic bathrooms. There’s a few television screens for “entertainment” (they normally screen a combination of ads and 20 year old tourism shows). You can also get coffee, cool drinks and snacks from the little café.
There’s also wi-fi, although I found it to be pretty patchy.
As for KIC – honestly, I haven’t been on board so I can’t speak from personal experience. As I understand it is smaller, so I’d expect less than the above.
How to get from the Kangaroo Island ferry to your accommodation on the island
The best way to make the most of your time on Kangaroo Island is to have a car. You can either bring one across, or rent one on the island. There are quite a few companies who do this, including KIC itself.
If you don’t have a car, I’d consider taking an organised tour. It’s pricey to get to Kangaroo Island, so you might as well make the most of it!
If you are sure you don’t want to hire a car then you can explore Penneshaw by foot. If you want to get to Kingscote, the other major town on Kangaroo Island, Sealink does operate a coach. It’s $20 for an adult and $10 for a child.
For more information on travelling around Kangaroo Island without a car, I suggest checking out my guide where I provide some information about the (admittedly limited) public transport options.