The island of sponge divers - this how they call Kalymnos, as sponge diving is one of the main occupations of the island and also a main source of incomes. Due to his predominantly mountainous and rocky landscape, it is also famous for rock climbing and in the last two decades it has developed as one of the world top rock climbing spots.
Kalymnos is part of the Dodecanese island group, located between Kos and Leros and covering an area of about 21 km length and 13 km width. Pothia, the main port, is connected via ferries to all islands of the group, and especially to Kos via its ports of Kos Town and Mastichari. There is also a small domestic airport on the island which serves flights from and to Athens, and a bigger airport can be found on the neighbor Kos.
Due to its volcanic origin, Kalymnos is almost entirely mountainous and barren, except for two valley in the south part, where the major settlements are located. Approximately one third of the island is not reachable by car, especially in the northeast area. Its predominantly rocky landscape is what makes the island paradise for climbers, and Kalymnos is known as having 65 different rock climbing spots. One of the most thrilling places for climbers is the Sikati cave, a huge cave without roof located in the north, by the sea and above a scenic isolated beach. The cave is reachable by boat or by foot (the walk on the hiking trail takes approximately 50-60 min). Another favorite spots of climbers are Grande Grotta above the villages of Armeos and Massouri, and a big rock called Ghost Kitchen. The islet of Telendos which used to be part of Kalymnos but separated after an earthquake, is also trying to develop climbing as the whole island is occupied by huge rocks. Telendos has only one small village with a couple of restaurants and beaches and it a nice destination for a daily trip.
The capital town of Kalymnos is Pothia, also known as Kalymnos Town. It lies in a large bay in the south and it is densely populated, with many public buildings and services. The old capital of the island called Chorio ("village") is 3 km away from Pothia but both have merged. Walls and ruins of an ancient castle rise high above Chorio and this castle is the main historical sightseeing of Kalymnos. The tourist resorts of the island are concentrated in the west - Panormos, Myrties, Massouri and Armeos. Emporios, which is the northernmost settlement of Kalymnos, is a quiet village which offers less tourist facilities but much tranquility and relax. Most of the island beaches are pebbly or mixed but there are also some sandy beaches on the west coast. Such are Kantouni, Platis Gialos and Linaria, all located around Panormos.
Interesting places to visit on and around Kalymnos:
- The ancient castle of Chorio
- Chrysocheria Castle hosting the church of Panagia Chrysocheria ("Virgin Mary with the golden hands"), built on a hill between Pothia and Chorio
- The nautical museum and the sponge factory in Pothia
- The ruins of Kastri fortress above Emporios, revealing wonderful views toward the islet of Telendos and Emporios gulf
- The sanctuary of Dilio Apollo between Chorio and Panormos
- Agios Savvas church, located on the top of a hill above Pothia, offering great panoramic views
- Daily trip to the islet of Telendos (reachable by boats from Myrties) and to the islets of Pserimos and Plati (from Pothia)
- The cave monastery of Panagia Kyra Psili in the east, above Vathies (part of the route includes walking and climbing on steep steps)
- The caves of Kefalas, Epta Parthenon and Skalia for enthusiasts (not recommended for small children)
highlights: the island of sponge divers and rock climbing, island in Dodecanese Islands, Greece