Kalymnos, (Greek: Καλυμνος, Italian: Càlino, Turkish: Kilimli) is a Greek island in the south-eastern Aegean Sea. It is known for its sunshine and limestone rock climbing cliffs. Kalymnos belongs to the Dodecaneseand is located to the west of the peninsula of Bodrum (the ancient Halicarnassos), between the islands ofKos (south, at a distance of 12 Km) and Leros (north, at a distance of less than 2 Km): the latter is linked to it through a series of islets. Kalymnos lies between two to five hours away by sea from Rhodes.
The island has a population of 20,000, making it the third most populated island of the Dodecanese, after Kos and Rhodes. It is known in Greece for the affluence of much of its population, and also stands both the wealthiest member of the Dodecanese and one of the wealthiest Greek islands overall.
Kalymnos is most commonly visited during the summer months as Greek nationals and tourists escape the mainland heat for the ocean breezes. Still, the summer months of July and August can be quite warm with daily high temperatures ranging in the mid-thirties Celsius. Spring (May – June) and autumn (September – October) tend to be more comfortable but more variable in terms of daily temperatures. Towards the end of October, the colder winds come in from the north, bringing winter, and the temperature drops drastically.
The island is roughly rectangular in shape, with a length of 21 km and a width of 13 km, and covers an area of 109 km². Moreover, on the north side there is a peninsula which stretches in a Northwest direction.
Kalymnos is mainly mountainous, with a complicated pattern. There are three main chains going from W-NW to E-SE, and a fourth one which innervates the peninsula. The coastline is very irregular, with many sheltered coves. There are some springs, one among them being thermal. The soil is mainly made of limestone, but in the valleys there is a compact bank of volcanic tuff, relic of an ancient volcano, located near the village of Kantouni. The island is mainly barren, except the two fertile valleys of Vathi and Pothia, where olives, oranges and vineyards grow.
Earthquakes are a frequent occurrence around Kalymnos.
Kalymnos is neighbored by the small island of Telendos, which was part of Kalymnos, but after a major earthquake 554 A.D. was split and separated from Kalymnos by a strip of water (about 800m wide).
Between Kalymnos and Kos there is the islet of Pserimos which is inhabited and, with an area of 11 km², is one of the largest among the lesser islands of Dodecanese. Near Pserimos lies the islet of Platí, and about 5 Km to the NE there is the small islet of Kalolimnos.
Inhabited originally by Carians, during the ancient ages Kalymnos depended on Kos, and followed its history. In the Middle Ages it was Byzantine, and during the XIII Century it was used by Venice as a naval base. In 1310 it became a possession of the Knights of Rhodes, and later (mainly in 1457 and 1460) was often attacked by the Ottomans, which conquered it in 1522. Unlike 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 1947, when the Dodecansese finally were united with mainland Greece.
Being mostly barren (only 18% of the land can be cultivated), agriculture played always a minor role in economy of the island, except for the valley of Vathi. The island is famous for its citrus fruits.
Kalymnos owed its past wealth to the sea, mainly with trading and boat building, but the main industry of the island was Sponge fishing. Here the island was the main centre of production in the Aegean, and still now is a traditional occupation with related exhibitions, along with other local folklore, at three local museums. Another industrial activity typical of Kalymnos was the production of painted head scarfs, which were the most original component of the female dress. Lately, the most important activity became tourism.
Since the beginning of last century there has been a very strong emigration abroad (in 1925 the population amounted to 24,000 inhabitants), especially to the USA and Australia. The cities of Tarpon Springs, Florida USA, and Darwin, Northern Territory and Melbourne, Australia, house large Greek communities of Kalymnian descent.
Kalymnos has a new airport that commenced operations on August 10th 2006. The airport is located at Argos, Kalymnos (IATA CODE: JKL), located a few kilometers from Pothia. Olympic Airlines has scheduled service daily from Athens International airport.
Airsea Lines also flies schedule seaplane service from Lavrio Port, a few kilimeters west of Athens, to Kalymnos AirSea Lines website.
The next closest airport is on nearby Kos (airport code KGS) which has a regularly scheduled service on Olympic Airlines, and is well-served by low-cost airlines during the summer months to Central and Western European nations.
Most visitors arrive from the nearby island of Kos via frequent ferry service. There are two services; ‘Anem Ferries’ runs a large boat which can take vehicles, if necessary, and the ‘Kalymnos Dolphin’ is a smaller, faster, passenger boat. Both vessels arrive in Pothia on Kalymnos while in Kos the Anem Ferries travel from Kos (city) and the Dolphin travels into Mastichari, near the Kos airport. Each makes several sailings a day, the number depending on the season and trade.
There are also a number of direct ferries from Kos town which stop at Pothia – they run every day from Rhodes to Athens and stop ‘en-route’. Also the ‘Dodecanese Express’ – a fast and classy catamaran runs almost every day from Kos town also, as do the ‘Flying Dolphins’ – cigar shaped hyrofols.
It is also possible to travel directly to Kos as well as Bodrum, Turkey, and other nearby Greek islands. There is regularly scheduled ferry service to/from Athens.
Bus – Bus services run around Pothia and to various other destinations (every significant settlement on the island). The buses criss-cross the island hourly and fares are generally 2€ for a single.
Taxi – A taxi stand can be found in Pothia, a few blocks north of the harbour front: otherwise, you’ll have to call and request one. Many bars and restaurants will call a taxi for you.
Scooter – Many visitors to the island opt for renting a scooter. They are inexpensive (from about 10 € per day), can be rented in the tourist areas and with the limited traffic on the island, make for an enjoyable way to get around.
Church of Saint John the Baptist
Sea World Museum
Being a mostly barren island with little agriculture, on the island there are few established villages. Vathi(being an exception is a small village on the east coast with a beautiful “hidden” harbour.
Massouri is the most touristic location of the island with plenty of hotels and night life. For those who are looking for a quieter place, Panormos, Emborios and Plati Gialos are the answers.
Telendos island off the coast of Myrties and Massouri can be reached by boat from a small pier in Myrties. It is a good day trip. The island features secluded beaches, good restaurant, as well as an opportunity for walking and climbing.
Emporios is a picturesque and unspoilt village on the north western coast of the island. Take a taxi, or a bus, from Pothia to the top of the island. Massouri and Myrties are pretty busy and right on the road. But, the last village on the island, Emporios, is a haven of tranquility with a great beach (some of the hungriest, most persistent goats you’ll ever meet), convivial bars and restaurants and a discerning crowd of visitors from around Europe. Harry’s Paradise on Emporios is located in an olive garden with a lot of flowers where you can taste traditional dishes with unique receipes and also enjoy your stay at the really wonderful studios and apartments located in the beautiful garden. You could also take a one-way boat trip here from Myrties, a breezy, enjoyable way to arrive. There are plenty of rooms for rent in the village.
Pserimos is an even smaller island lying between Kalymnos and Turkey. It is has beautiful sandy beaches.
The Arch, one of many natural rock wonders on Kalymnos
Limestone cliffs with a multitude of caves and overhanging areas have made Kalymnos a destination for international rock climbers; and more specifically for sport climbing. The huge yellow cave full of stalactites above the town of Masouri (The “Grande Grotta”) and the long and tall walls that surround it are most popular. The other small hamlets of Kalymnos are Vathy, Myrties, Emborios and the small village of Agios Petros at the north end of the island.
Rock Climbing season spans year round though the most popular months tend to be the spring and fall when the heat is less intense and there are fewer visitors. At last count, there were almost one thousand sport routes on the superb limestone crags. The routes are almost entirely bolted (sport climbing) with fixed anchors, most featuring lower-offs. A 60m rope will suffice but more and more routes that are being put up (including many of the well-worn classics) require a 70m rope. You’ll also want to have no less than 16 quickdraws.
If you are in Kalymnos to climb, your first trip should be to the Outdoor Athletic Association (called such because they coordinate and track the climbing on the island). The association runs a small office north of Myrtes (near the Poets wall) and is open daily during the mornings. Here you’ll be able to get the latest route information and a free print-out of the routes — a listing of the grades with directions on how to get to each crag, from there you’ll find the routes as they are painted at the base of each route.