Kangaroo Island is full of nature experiences, however visiting Seal Bay, might just be the highlight. Offering tours with a guide and self guided tours, you can choose which way you would prefer to admire these incredible creatures in their natural habitat from afar.
This is the top tourist attraction on Kangaroo Island and definitely a tour you will not forget.
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Seal Bay Conservation Park Kangaroo Island
In this guide, all of the below points will be discussed in greater detail. We will also go into how to get to Seal Bay where you should stay nearby and what the other nearby sights and attractions are.
- What to expect at Seal Bay?
- How to Get to Seal Bay
- Where to Stay near Seal Bay
- What to Pack for Seal Bay
- Other Sights and Attractions near Seal Bay
What to expect at Seal Bay
When you arrive at Seal Bay, you will enter into the gift shop, where you will also choose your tour time and ticket type. We will discuss the tour types and costs in more detail below. In the gift shop you can also look at the information around the walls to learn more about the endangered sea lions.
You may be expecting to arrive at Seal Bay and see seals, however, it is actually sea lions that come to stay on Seal Bay and don’t be surprised if you see that some of them have come up the path off the beach. Don’t worry though as you won’t be able to get to this area unsupervised.
When we went, we were advised to arrive early to purchase tickets as they are popular and sell out quickly. If you want to go on the guided tour, it is also a good idea to book onto the first tour of the day to avoid the busy bus tours. The sea lions are also less active when it is warm so the cooler mornings would be the best time to visit.
If you want to see the baby sea lions, trying to time your visit is a little difficult. Sea lions breed every 18 months, alternating years between birthing in the winter and the summer. It is therefore hard to show up and see babies at one specific time of year, however, with a little online research you should be able to find out when the next window might be.
Apart from the Seal Bay Visitor Centre, there are no facilities at Seal Bay and the nearest towns are Vivonne Bay and Pandarna.
The guided tour at Seal Bay allows you to go down to the beach with the very experienced guides. You will learn all about the Australian sea lion and they are even able to give you knowledge on the individual sea lions.
Make sure you arrive and get your ticket at least 10 minutes before the tour is due to leave as they like to leave on time.
On the 45 minute tour, you can enjoy the incredible surrounding scenery of white sandy beach and sea views, as well as observing the numerous sea lions interacting with each other on the beach.
You are allowed no closer than 10m to the sea lions and the guide will ensure that everyone is kept safe. Every tour will be unique as the tour guide interprets what is happening in the colony at that time.
The cost of the guided tour is Adult $37, Child $21
Tour times – 9:15am, 10:00am, 10.45am, 11.30am, 12.15pm, 1:15pm, 2:00pm, 3:00pm, 4:00pm
Duration – 45 minutes
Before we arrived at Seal Bay, I wasn’t sure what to expect, how far away was the boardwalk? Would I spend the money and see any sea lions? Well, that answer is yes. We saw loads of sea lions, sunbathing in the morning sun on the sandbanks.
We were even lucky enough to see a baby sea lion who had been born only an hour before. We thought it was dead as it looked like birds were pecking at it, turns out it just hadn’t been able to take its first steps yet and the birds were trying to eat the placenta. This was such a precious moment, we sat watching for ages.
The other ticket option at Seal Bay is for access to the boardwalk. This is a 900m wooden viewing platform that is wheelchair accessible and unlikely to get overcrowded. It meanders through the sand dunes and limestone cliffs where you can start to see the sea lions going about their daily life. The boardwalk is open throughout the day whilst the centre is open between 9am and 4pm. We would still advise to visit early to avoid the crowds from the tour buses and choose your spot.
There are a number of viewing platforms and benches along the boardwalk and you can spend up to 45 minutes admiring the animals and soaking up the information on the signposts. It would also be a lovely place to sit and eat a picnic.
You can also see below the skeleton of a humpback whale that washed up on the beach many years ago.
The cost of the boardwalk is Adult $16.50, Child $10
Tour times – between 9am and 4pm
Duration – 45 minute time limit during busy times. Allow half an hour to fully experience the boardwalk.
How to get to Seal Bay
Seal Bay is located on the southern coast of Kangaroo within the Seal Bay Conservation Park. It is 88km from where the ferry arrives onto the island at Penneshaw and 57km from the town of Kingscote. Due to the popularity of Seal Bay, it is well signposted and you shouldn’t miss it. The road leading to Seal Bay is sealed, allowing you a smoother journey.
Seal Bay also lies within the Southern Kangaroo Island Marine Park, which is a protected area where fishing is prohibited. All of the marine animals and plants within this area can be conserved and protected.
Although the road to Kangaroo Island is sealed, if you are setting off from an area with an unsealed road, make sure you leave in plenty of time to get there.
Other Attractions near Seal Bay
Another great place to visit on Kangaroo Island is Little Sahara. As the name suggests, this is a small desert. The sand dunes at Little Sahara cover around two square kilometers on the south coast of Kangaroo Island and are the only sand dunes on the island. The size of the dunes varies, however, the highest dune is approximately 70 metres above sea level.
Here you have the option to hire a sandboard or a toboggan. For 2 hours this will cost $37 per board (can be shared between multiple people) and an additional $10 for a helmet. If you go during the quieter seasons (like we did) you will most likely get more than 2-hours as it is just so quiet!
Nearby to Seal Bay is another popular spot, Vivonne Bay. Vivonne Bay was voted as one of Australia’s best beaches, due to the cleanliness, clean water and privacy of the beach. Take some time out here to go for a swim and cook up some lunch. The white sand and clear water make for some spectacular views.
If you are lucky, you will have this beach all to yourself.
Before You Leave for Kangaroo Island
Before you set off on your adventure of a lifetime to Kangaroo Island, there are several things you will need to get organised to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip. These include sorting out travel insurance, transport to and around the island, packing for your trip and finding the best place to stay. All of these will be discussed below in more detail.
Applying for an Australian Visa
If you have yet to leave for Australia then this is a section of interest for you. There are a LOT of different visa options for people arriving into Australia, from tourist visas to permanent residence visas. The most common visas, however, are the 3-month tourist visa and the Working Holiday Visa.
If you are only visiting Australia for a short period of time then a tourist visa is your best option. These are easily obtained and relatively cheap, costing roughly $140AUD, and allow you to stay in the country for up to 12months. These can be applied for on the government website here.
If you wish to work and travel in Australia, a working holiday visa is your best option. These cost around $480AUD and allow you to stay in Australia for up to 12months, whilst working and earning money to travel. This visa also gives you the opportunity to extend your stay in Australia by up to 24months by working in certain job sectors.
What to Pack for Kangaroo Island
Being an island, Kangaroo Island will be at risk of experiencing some mixed weather. Depending on the season your visiting will depend on what you pack. At the least, we would always recommend a warm layer, a waterproof and, of course, suncream!
During the summer months, Kangaroo Island can reach temperatures in the 30’s, meaning it should be warm enough to get in the water for a swim. This also means that you will need plenty of lightweight clothing for getting around and exploring in the heat of the midday sun.
In the winter months, you would need to be very brave to get in the water as the temperatures average at half that of summer, peaking at around 14 degrees Celcius. Warm layers and a waterproof is a must for these months!
If you need more inspiration on what to pack for your trip, check out our full packing guides for all-weather conditions over here.
When it comes to toiletries, we recommend that you pack as much sunscreen as you can. The sun in Australia is strong, and even the darkest skin tones can get easily burnt. No matter what the season is or how warm you may feel, you should always wear sunscreen in Australia.
Given the beautiful sights and scenery that you are no doubt going to see around Kangaroo Island, we highly recommend packing a good camera for your trip. If you want to read more about the cameras we use and why we love them, check out the link below.
What is the Best Travel Insurance for Kangaroo Island
Regardless of what type of trip you are heading on, one thing that is essential for everybody is good travel insurance. Accidents can happen anywhere and at anytime and unexpected hospital bills will ruin a holiday. Remove the stress from your next adventure and get covered for the worst.
World Nomads Travel Insurance provides budget reliable travel insurance that will keep you covered for any level of adventure.
How to get to Kangaroo Island
Unfortunately, getting to Kangaroo Island is the reason that it is not as popular as many other areas in Australia. There are only two options for getting to the island (and only one if you wish to bring your own vehicle).
With a larger vehicle and passenger ferry and a smaller passenger-only ferry operating to the island, the prices of transport are very monopolised, resulting in the most expensive ferry (per metre of travel) in the world.
Sea Link offers passenger and vehicle crossings from the tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula on mainland Australia to Penneshaw on the island. This is an expensive option, however, by bringing your own vehicle it means when you arrive onto the island you can get straight into exploring.
This ferry leaves 5 times a day and takes 45 minutes to get across.
Did you know – The Kangaroo Island ferry is the most expensive ferry in the world per distance!
Kangaroo Island Direct Ferry
This ferry leaves for KI 4 times a week, so it is much less regular than the SeaLink option. It is also only a passenger ferry, meaning you will not be able to bring your own transport with you. This ferry is a much cheaper option if you are wanting to go across as a passenger only, however, once you are on the island you will need to pay a lot more money for transport.
Flying to Kangaroo Island is another option, however, this can be an expensive option and you would be restricted on your luggage. Flights from Adelaide tend to go for roughly $150 each way. You will also need to organise a method of transport for getting around the island when you arrive.
How to Get Around Kangaroo Island
When it comes to getting around the island you have a few different options available. If you did not bring your own transport, you can rent a car or campervan and travel the island yourself at your own pace. This is the best option if you are not short on time, as it means you can dictate the pace of your adventure.
As for getting around the island, a 4wd is advisable, however not necessary. Many of the beautiful beaches are off the beaten track and can be up to 20km of gravel roads. The same goes for a lot of campsites in the more isolated areas, so beware if you are using a hired campervan or bringing your own.
There are car hire services available when you arrive at Penneshaw or you can book this as a package with your ferry. We would recommend hiring a campervan during your trip on Kangaroo Island due to the flexibility it gives you. You can park up wherever you are and cook your next meal, not wasting any time travelling back and forward.
The last option for getting around Kangaroo Island is to book yourself onto a Kangaroo Island tour and enjoy a more relaxed and controlled adventure around the island. This can either be with a private car driver or an organised group tour.
The organised group tours will take you to the most popular sights on the island and will show you all of the best things you can see in a short period of time. The advantage of these kinds of tours is the efficiency of getting around and the information provided about the island. Your tour guide will be able to tell you a lot of interesting things about the sights that you are visiting that you would not learn on your own.
The downside of tours is the lack of flexibility in your schedule. You will be herded from one location to the next, on as quick a schedule as possible to ensure that you see the maximum number of sights as quickly as you can.
Private tours are available for booking online or in visitor centres around the island. These tours will give you the same benefits as a group tour with less of the stringent timeline as if you want to spend more time somewhere you have that option. There are lots of different tours available, however, we have listed a few below.
Where to stay on Kangaroo Island
If camping is not your thing, there are many other accommodation options on the island as discussed below.
Luxury – Kangaroo Island Wilderness Retreat lies right on the entrance to Flinders Chase National Park. This environmentally friendly accommodation offers free wifi in an area that has limited mobile service in a beautiful natural setting.
Mid-Range – Mercure Kangaroo Island is situated in the American River region on the island and offers free wifi, a pool and some amazing views over the calm sea.
Budget – Flinders Chase Farm is located at the west end of the island and offers great accommodation nearby to the island’s most popular attractions.
Check out our guide to Kangaroo Island Camping for available campgrounds and caravan parks.
So there you have it, the must know tips for visiting Seal Bay on Kangaroo Island. If you are visiting this breathtaking island and have any other questions on what to expect, leave us a comment down below. We love to chat about this stuff! If you have already been, let us know how it was! What wildlife did you see on your trip? What was your favourite thing about Seal Bay? Let us know in the comments below!
Also, remember to share this with your friends and family that you are going to tour with. Sharing is caring and we want to inspire as many people as we can to visit this unbelievable part of the world.
If you are planning an Australia trip soon then check out our other Australia content right here. Come and find us on social media to see where we are currently exploring. Tag us in your photos from Kangaroo Island and we will share them with the rest of our community of explorers and backpackers.
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