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Pink Bay, Kangaroo Island
Photograph: Tourism Australia | Pink Bay, Kangaroo Island

This spectacular Australian island beat Tuscany in the rankings of the world's best places to visit in 2024

South Australia’s Kangaroo Island was named as one of Lonely Planet's must-visit regions

Ashleigh Hastings
Melissa Woodley
Written by
Ashleigh Hastings
Melissa Woodley

Longing for a tropical island getaway but feeling the pinch of those overseas flights? Well, keep dreaming, because the (second best) travel gurus have ranked one of Australia’s very own pieces of island paradise as a must-visit destination in 2024.

In the lead-up to the new year, global travel guide Lonely Planet released its Best in Travel rankings for 2024, and Kangaroo Island (Karta Pintingga) in South Australia made the number two spot for must-visit regions.

As Australia’s third largest island, this sequestered treasure of a holiday spot boasts an abundance of native wildlife (yes, including a bunch of kangaroos), as well as a staggering length of scenic coastline. The shores of Kangaroo Island stretch more than 540km, and the island itself is six times larger than Singapore, yet has a tiny population of about 4,800.

Lonely Planet cited Kangaroo Island’s “otherworldliness”, “unique local produce” and “adorable wildlife” as key drawcards, alongside a “ridiculous amount of stunning coastline”. 

A trail along sand dunes.
Photograph: Rebecca Walsh | Unsplash | Kangaroo Island

Despite its remote feel, the island is actually pretty easy to reach, sitting 112km southwest of Adelaide and 13km off the closest inland shoreline. You can fly to Kangaroo Island from Adelaide in just 30 to 40 minutes, or hop on the ferry from Cape Jervis and you’ll be in paradise in just 45 minutes.

Once you’re there, you can enjoy the local food and wine scene, the natural wonders galore, and the adrenaline-pumping activities, including quad-biking and sandboarding. Alternatively, follow in Zac Efron’s footsteps and go swimming with dolphins, as he did for his Netflix docuseries Down to Earth with Zac Efron: Down Under

A new 3,364km transnational cycling route was the only region to beat Kangaroo Island in Lonely Planet’s 2024 rankings. The Trans Dinarica Cycling Route will link all eight countries in the Western Balkans (including Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia) when it opens this year, so you’d best start training now if you want to check it out. Third place in the region rankings went to Tuscany in central Italy, followed by Donegal in Ireland and Pais Vasco in Spain. 

Kangaroo Island is still on the road to recovery after devastating bushfires burnt around 38 per cent of the island during the Black Summer of 2019-20. Combined with the impact of the pandemic, it’s safe to say the island has had a rough few years. So this new accolade will likely help with an influx of keen travellers ready to stimulate the local economy. 


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