Greek Guide

Kalymnos Island Greece Kalymnos

Kalymnos Island, Greece Pothia ferry connections

Kalymnos is one of the Greek Dodecanese Islands located in the Aegean Sea 300 kilometres south east of Athens and 100 kilometres north west of Rhodes. It's known as the sponge diving island because the men folk here still practise this most hazardous of professions which was the island's prime source of income for centuries. Tourism is starting to take over as the main money generator these days but the island has managed to retain much of its Greek charm and age old traditions. Most tourists by pass Kalymnos in favour of nearby Kos. Those who stop off here as part of their island hopping tour will find rugged mountainous scenery interspersed with fertile valleys, some of the finest fresh fish tavernas in the archipelago and lovely unspoilt beaches, some of which can only be accessed by boat.

The island has good ferry connections with the mainland port of Piraeus (about 12 hours) and with the other main Dodecanese islands. There are also regular hydrofoil and catamaran services linking Kalymnos with most of the islands in the group. Kos has an international airport with regular flights to and from Athens and several European destinations you can take a bus from Kos airport to the north coast resort of Mastihari and from there it's a 40 minute boat ride to Kalymnos.

You'll arrive at the picturesque port of Pothia which is the island's capital and the second biggest town in the Dodecanese, after Rhodes. It's a bustling town, sandwiched between two mountains with brightly painted houses and neoclassical mansions built on the hillsides which curve round the bay.

The capital is home to the last sponge diving fleet in Greece. It's an age old profession which lingers in the blood of the local men despite the advent of synthetic sponges and a blight which devastated the eastern Mediterranean's sponge supply in the 1990s. The fleet used to travel as far afield as Africa to fish for sponges but these days the divers restrict themselves to Greek waters.

If you visit in the spring when the divers are about to set sail on their seven month sponge fishing tour you'll be able to join in the elaborate send off which involves much feasting, dancing, general merrymaking and more than a few tears shed by wives and girlfriends.

Beyond the capital you'll find starkly beautiful mountains which are a magnet for rock climbers, lush valleys carpeted with vines, lime and mandarin trees, pretty fishing harbours and some awe inspiring stalactite caves.

The west coast has a couple of busy beach resorts geared to the needs of the package holiday market. From here you can take an excursion boat over to the striking, traffic free islet of Telendos which was separated from Kalymnos by a cataclysmic earthquake in 554 AD.