Kangaroo Island has one main, two lane, paved road that makes a ring around the small island. Looking at an illustrated tourist map, I see cartoon kangaroos at the animal park, seals at Seal Bay, exaggerated jolting rocks and a small lighthouse. Not too far from Seal Bay there are two small drawn mountains with the words Little Sahara snaked around the ridges.

Unsure what Little Sahara meant, I asked the bee keeper at The Honey Farm, responsible for providing the local honey and various honey flavored treats on the island, about those two small mountains. Without saying much, he takes our map out of my hand and draws his own directions to get to the sand board rental company, not too far up the paved road.

Now, sand boarding was never on our itinerary.

We had two days on Kangaroo Island and this wasn’t one of the activities we had narrowed down to spend our limited time doing. Without saying a word though, it was decided. We all jumped into our rental car, the one we didn’t pay the extra money for insurance on, and sped down the paved road towards Little Sahara.

As we approached the rental company, the only building we came across driving down the road, one other car was driving off in the opposite direction. It was later in the day and many people on Kangaroo Island don’t drive at night, in fear of hitting a kangaroo and damaging their car. We pulled up to the rental company around 3pm, just as all the tours were leaving for the day.

We walked in and surveyed the area. There was one guy sitting behind a counter, the room not much larger than a small trailer. He checked his watch and said for us to have the boards back before 6, and only charged us for one board and 2 hours. Grabbing the boards from him, we hopped back into the car and followed our map and some dodgy white painted arrow signs guiding the way.

As we are driving through a deep green forest, I almost feel like we’re in the movie Jurassic Park, making our way to discover new animals and lands. We stopped when we drove dead into a row of trees and a small clearing where sand has trickled out onto the road. I was a little confused as we got out of the car. I didn’t see any sandy mountains, or even a few hills.

Walking up towards the sandy outpouring, we hear screams and giggles. Each of our eyes widen and none of us say a word to the other. As we rounded a few big sets of bushes, we saw them. Little Sahara was right in front of us. From the bottom of the hills, the endless sandy peaks seem like Everest and walking up to the top seemed just as hard.

Digging your toes and gripping the sand, we crawled up to the top of the mound. In the movie version in my mind, this is the moment where there would be a huge sweeping helicopter shot looking down on us and how far we still had to go.

When we finally made it to the top, we looked over and could see our car behind the bushes. We really hadn’t traveled that far even though we were breathless and sweating. Taking time to regain a little composure, we sat down in the sand and starting contemplating what we are actually about to do.

Some sports are just dangerous from start to finish; sand boarding is one of those sports. While in theory it should feel similar to riding a wave on a surfboard, sand boarding is a completely different beast. Surfing has the comfort of knowing that if and when you fall off, you just splash into water. With sand boarding, the sand is smooth, fast and hot. The sand is unpredictable; the sand is hard and compact, and could really hurt you if you fall the wrong way.

Not the bravest adventurer of the group and a surprise to everyone including myself, I decided to go first. After kicking off my shoes and taking a deep breath, I put my feet up on the board and tilted the board downhill.

Within seconds I flew down the hill, screaming so loud it hurts my own ears and I closed my eyes so tight I was unsure they’d ever open again. As soon as it looked like I was kind of slowing down, I put out my feet to come to a full stop. Except they got stuck in the sand and I flipped over myself twice while my board flew into the air.

Now I was laughing. Sure, I could have killed myself. But my worst fear came true. I fell off the board, flying down the hill and I was still alive.

While it wasn’t part of our plan and definitely wasn’t on the itinerary, sand boarding was one of those serendipitous travel moments that happens to you without you realizing it was exactly what you needed until it has already happened. I left Kangaroo Island with a huge purple bruise on my hip as my souvenir, and a lifetime of memories in Little Sahara.