KALYMNOS island holidays
Fourth largest island of the Dodecanese and situated between the islands of Kos and Leros, Kalymnos is generally mountainous and rocky with fertile valleys only where the two largest cities are located : Pothia and Vathi.
Kalymnos has a total surface of 110,581 square kms, a coastline of 69 kms and is surrounded by several islets. A visit to Kalymnos can be rounded off nicely with two delightful sea trips to the nearby isles of Telendos and Pserimos, ideal spots for swimming and fishing.
Kalymnos is best known as the island of the world’s best sponge divers as the sea has always been a focal point for the island life. The land is mountainous with a major rock escarpment all along the west coast and in the past this barrenness drove locals to the sea for a living.
Nowadays, Kalimnos is renowned to climbers throughout the world due to the excellent quality of its rock and its mild climate, but it is also popular to divers because of the extreme clarity of its waters that many times reveal a cave or and old shipwreck.
Castles, remnants of fortresses, archaeological finds and old churches bear witness to the continuous importance of Kalymnos in the history of the Aegean. Its natural attractions – caves, lovely beaches, unspoilt scenery – make it an ideal holiday destination both for families and individuals. Don’t miss trying the seafood appetizers for which Kalymnos is famous – they are served in local ouzeries!
KALYMNOS SPONGE DIVING
Kalymnos is known and billed as the "Sponge-divers' island." Sponge diving has long been a common occupation on Kalymnos and sponges were the main source of income of Kalymnians, bringing wealth to the island and making it famous throughout the Mediterranean. The Kalymnians harvested sponges from the sea-bed as close as Pserimos or as far as North Africa. Early diving was done without equipment (free diving), using a harpoon. Sponges are still fished individually, by hand.
KALYMNOS | cultural INFORMATION
Castles, ruins, archelogical finds and churches testify to the continuous presence of Kalymnos in the history of the Agean sea.
According to Greek mythology, Kalymnos got its name from the Titan Kalydnos who was one of the sons of Gaia (mother Earth) and Uranus, but there is no proof or evidence to confirm this myth.
The island’s first settlers in Antiquity were the Carians, to be followed by the Phoenicians and the Dorians.
The rest of the story is similar to that of almost all the islands of the Aegean Sea : during the 5th century it belonged to the Athenian League (who fought against Persians), then the Macedonians and during the 2nd century BC, the Romans conquered the island.
In 1310, it came under the rule of the Knights of Rhodes and later (mainly in 1457 and 1460) was often attacked by the Ottomans, who entually conquered it in 1522 until 1912. Unlike the islands of Rhodes and Kos, during the Ottoman period there was no Turkish immigration to Kalymnos. On May 12, 1912, during the Italo-Turkish War, Kalymnos was occupied by Italian sailors of the Regia Marina. Italy took control of the island along with other islands of the Dodecanese until 1948, when the Dodecanese were finally united with mainland Greece, as part of the modern Greek state.
- Archaeological Museum - amongst admire the statues of the famous Maiden of Kalymnos and the unique dressed Kouros statue dating back to 530 BC. (Aghia Triada, Pothia –tel 22430 61500).
- Maritime Museum - dedicated to the marine life and customs of sponge divers (Pothia, tel 22430 51361)
- “Valsamidis” Sea World Museum – a private collection where you will admire all kinds of findings of the sea; from monster-fishes from the great depths of the seas to German guns of World War II (Vlihadia – tel 22430 22156).
- The Kalymnian Home in Vathyni is a private folk art museum replicating a traditional local home. You will feel like you walked straight into a previous century, and talking with the friendly owner will give you a different perspective on what daily life on Kalymnos was like.
What to see
The castles of Kalymnos present considerable archaeological interest.
- Megalo Kastro or Palaiochora – It dates back to the 11th century and it is one of the four medieval castles of Kalymnos (the other three are the Castle of Chrysocheria or Pera Kastro (located opposite of Megalo Kastro), Kastelli (on the NW coasts of the island) and across, on the islet of Telendos, the Byzantine fortified settlement of St. Constantine.
- The Castle of Chrysocheria was built by the Order of the Knights of St. John in a prominent position between Hora and Pothia; in the area of the castle there is evidence of continuous human presence since the Neolithic era. Three stone-built windmills are nearby.
- Other important archaeological sites are scattered throughout the island, such as the foundations of the ancient acropolis of Pothia; the 4th-century temple of Apollo, over which Christian worship sites were built at a later date; ancient and Paleochristian ruins in Vathy; and ruins of a fortified Byzantine settlement and a Paleochristian necropolis on the island of Telendos, opposite.
- Church of Panaghia Keharitomeni (Virgin of Grace)- it is a 2 century old church whose screen was gilded with gold from the jewelery that the village women donated.
- Christ of Jerusalem (or the Sanctuary of Apollo) : it is the island’s most important archaeological site (2 kms from Chora). According to the findigs, it was the political and religious center of ancient Kalymnos.
- The Monastery of St. Savvas (tel & fax: 2243028991) above the town of Pothia.
DO NOT MISS
- The old shipyard – it is one of the few surviving shipyards in Greece and is located on the eastern edge of of Pothia. It is worth a visit!
- Visit one of the many sponge proccesing units. The owners are always keen to explain the processing of natural sponges and-why not? - Perhaps you will uncover the secrets of their profession!
- There are thermal springs in Thermae, at the edge of the port of Pothia, the capital town. They mainly treat rheumatism and arthritis. For more information, call the Municipality of Kalymnos 22430 59141.
KALYMNOS | Villages
From the port of Pothia, the road to the east leads to Vathy with its green valley and the cave of Daskalio. A second route follows the tree lined valley of Pothia with its many attractions : the Castles of Chrysoheria and the remains of a temple dedicated to Apollo (Christ of Jerusalem). The west coast of Kalymnos is more accessible and it is protected by the islet of Telendos with which there is continuous connection from Myrties. You will go to Pserimos with its golden beaches, SE, from Pothia.
Arriving at the port and capital of the island, one comes to a first contact with the mountainous nature of Kalymnos.
Pothia is built amphitheatrically around the harbor. An old church dedicated to Christ the Saviour adorns the waterfront. Dozens of restaurants, taverns, cafes and bars will reveal a different face of Kalymnos, more modern and vibrant!
On the right hand side of Pothia you will see the old Italian headquarters, behind which stands the Transfiguration, the metropolis of the island. Another beautiful church is the one of St. Nicholas.
You will visit the Archaeological museum, the Maritime Museum of the island, the monastery of Aghios Savvas, the Vouvalis' family Mansion, where you will get a taste of the Kalymnian urban architecture and the many sponge factories.
Vathy is one of the tourist resorts of Kalymnos, on the east of the island.
Vathy stands out for its very narrow and picturesque harbor in which the setttlements terminates which is also known as the Gulf of Rina.
It offers natural protection to many sailboats that tour the Aegean Sea.
It is the greenest region of Kalymnos – Hidden behind lemon and orange trees are many churches with remarkable frescoes.
You can visit the ones of Kyra Hosti and of the Archangel Michael or the ruins of ancient prisons.
The seaside villages of Panormos, Myrties and Masouri are "perched " on the west coast of Kalymnos and they stand out for their pebble beaches and vibrant nightlife!
Panormos is worth your visit as it is built in a verdant location with pine and eucalyptus trees and has been inhabited from ancient times when the place was known for its ceramic workshops
Starting from Panormos, in just a few minutes you will find yourself swimming in the crystal clear waters of the lively beach in Massouri. Extend your stay in the area until the evening to experience Kalymnos by night! The fun in the bars will keep you awake until the morning!
Massouri is located next to Myrties northwest of Kalymnos. This is the most touristic area of Kalymnos with a number of hotels and other accommodations.
Myrties is located in the northern part of the island, very close to the small island of Telendos which was connected to Kalymnos before their separation by the earthquake. Telendos is only a few minutes away from Myrties and it is worth a visit.
From Myrties you can take a boat that goes daily to Leros (in the southern port of Xirokampos) at 13:00.
KALYMNOS | Beaches
The only sand beaches on Kalymnos are those of the west side. Myrties and Massouri are popular beaches; you will also enjoy the pebble beaches of Arginontas and Aghios Petros. Paradise beach is a beach with nudists.
- Sandy beaches : the popular and organized beach of Masouri, the juvenille Kantouni beach with its many beach bars and next to it the quieter and more adequate for families Linaria beach full of fish taverns.
- Pebble beaches : in the peaceful beach of Platis Gialos (North of Kantouni), in the shallow waters of Myrties (near Masouri), the alternative Emporio (24 km north of Pothia) with the plane trees and the winds that are perfect for windsurf and kitesurf, and the secluded bay of Arginonta (16km NW Pothia).
- For dives go to Therma, the closest beach to Pothia, within 2 kms, that is organized, has a dockside location and deep water.
- Almyres, Kambi and Dasontas are untouched beaches with tamarisk trees and fine pebbles in the eastern part of Kalymnos. Accessible only with excursion boats.
- Local bus service, Taxis, Car, moto, bicycle rentals
- Tourist Information Kiosk (port of Pothia)
- Automatic Laundry
- WiFi cafes
- Prefix for Greece: 0030
- Local prefix : 22430
- Town hall : 59143
- Health Center : 22166 & 28851
- Police: 29560 & 29301
- Port Authorities : 29304
- Taxi Station in Pothia : 50300
- Airport : 59370
- Climbing info desk: +30 22430 59445
- Kos-Kalymnos Slow Ferries (ANEM Ferries): +30 22420 59124 / 59027
- Kos-Kalymnos Fast Ferries (ANEK Ferries): +30 22430 29612
Kalymnos has air and sea connection. Its airport is a small airport, which essentially serves domestic flights.
By air: Olympic Air - duration of trip 60’ from Athens Elefterios Venizelos airport. You can catch a charter flight to Athens and then fly to Kalymnos. Alternatively you can catch a charter flight to Kos island – when in Kos take a taxi or the bus to Mastichari port. Mastichari port is 10 minutes by taxi from Kos airport. Ferries depart frequently from Kos (Mastichari) so that you can be in Kalymnos in less than 1 hour.
By sea: Blue Star Ferries duration of trip 12 hours from Pireaus port. Kalymnos is also connected to other islands via local flying dolphin companies that connect Kalymnos to other islands such as Astypalaia, Lipsi, Nisyros, Rhodes, Kos, Symi, Leros, Patmos, Tilos, Samos.
Kalymnos is also connected via sea to Crete and the Cycladic islands of Amorgos and Naxos.
‘KALYMNOS” is a small ferry (Sea Line Anek) based in Kalymnos that connects daily Kalymnos to Leros, Lipsi, Patmos, Arki, Agathonissi Astypalaia, Samos.
The local buses connect Pothia with some beaches, as well as the villages of Myrties, Masouri, Vathy and Emporios. There are also taxis and car/moto rentals. A transportation means is recommended.
KALYMNOS | SPORTS & ACTIVITIES
Sailing & Yachting
In the city of Pothia you can moor at the dock of the port and you will be safe from all weather. Good anchor spots are the little port of Rina, in the natural small bay of Vathy. Furthermore, the not particularly large vessels, up to 6-7 meters, can moor in Arginontas, in Emporios and Melitsahas. Pothia and Vathy offer limited refuelling options so it is recommended to contact a local fuel station.
Festivals & Events
- An annual celebration, Sponge Week, occurs a week after Easter to honour this "Kalymnian gold.” Much has been written, sung and filmed about the legendary courage and recklessness of the sponge divers themselves.
- June 23 & 24 the celebration of St. John with fires and dancing over the fire.
- July 20th the traditional feast of the Prophet Elias
- July 26 &27 the celebration of St Pandeleimonas
- At last the celebrations of Easter are very special in Kalymnos as the locals throw great quantities of dynamite on the evening of the Resurrection.
Excursions & Sports
There is, of course, lovely Telendos, but it hardly qualifies as a ‘day trip’. It is so close that you can cross over at a moment’s notice; boats to Telendos leave every half hour from the jetty at Myrties. Other islands you can visit for a day are Leros, Kos and Pserimos. Pserimos is a small island between Kalymnos and Kos, and there are beautiful beaches and tavernas. Tours are organized daily to Pserimos from Pothia and this may be a good idea for a daily trip.
Finally, excursion boats make daily trips to Bodrum in Turkey. Alternatively, you can hire a sailing boat in Pothia with or without crew and set sail to all nearby islands and the beautiful – but otherwise inaccessible – inlets along the NE coast of Kalymnos.
Water sport activities and diving can be practiced on the island.
Climbing: For those who love climbing, Kalymnos these last years has become a very popular destination for climbers from all over the world. The island is ideal for practising this sport because of the good quality of its limestone rock and its many caves.
Hiking : Kalymnos is embroidered with hiking trails, short and long; walking through its wilderness landscape, while listening to the silence, is better than psychotherapy. Make sure you bring your hat and remember to stay hydrated. Full descriptions of the hiking trails of Kalymnos alongside a large-scale map (1:25.000) can be found in the Kalymnos Hiking Map by Terrain, which is readily available in Masouri.
Snorkeling : The rocky coastlines of both Kalymnos and Telendos are excellent for snorkeling, as rock formations and fish abound. Basic, inexpensive masks, snorkels and fins are sold at all tourist shops on the island. Explore them, but remember to watch out for passing boats. It is best not to stray too far from the coast. Watch out too for sea urchins and, occasionally, moray eels.
Trekking: There is an important network of market trails
Caves: There are several caves with exceptional stalactite and stalagmite decorations in Kalymnos; prehistoric findings suggest that many of these caves were ancient ritual sites.
Unfortunately only two can be visited :
- Kefala Cave - Free entrance, SW of Pothia, necessary to supply your own flashlights, accessible by road, there is a guardian.
- Daskalio Cave – Port of Rinas, accessible only by sea and after climbing rock steps.
- For amateurs of speleology looking for strong emotions, the Skalia Cave (S of Emporios, with an adventurous access through an opening in the mountain) is the ideal choice! More information: George Chatzismallis, T. 22430 29299.
Kalymnos is a good base for visiting the nearby islands of Patmos, Lipsi, Leros, Kos and Nisyros since they are all accessible for day trips.
In Kalymnos, you will also find boats that offer trips to Turkey.