About Kalymnos beaches
The arid, mountainous island of Kalymnos, is one of the 12 Dodecanese islands in the southeast Aegean Sea. Historically, the local economy was based on sponge collecting, for which the island was famous throughout Greece. Today, thanks to its dramatic landscapes, unspoilt nature and lack of commercialisation, tourism is becoming increasingly important. The island’s main port is the large town of Pothia, where the sponge industry was based. Pastel-coloured Italianate mansions are built into the hillsides around the port, forming an amphitheatre-like impression. The rest of the island offers an indented coastline with dramatic fjords, secluded coves and limestone cliffs. Being arid, vegetation is sparse; the small fertile valley of Vathi offers the only cultivatable land, and citrus fruits are grown here. The best beaches and main resorts, Massouri and Myrties, lie along the west coast, affording views of the volcanic islet of Telendos. Smaller resorts on the west coast include Panormos, Emborios and Plati Gialos. Since the late 1990s, there have been moves to encourage alternative tourism on the island: the limestone cliffs and rocky crags make it a ideal rock climbing destination, and Kalymnos is one of the few Greek islands where sea kayaking is on offer.
The best beaches lie along the west coast, notably the sand beach at Massouri, which has sunbeds and umbrellas to rent, plus watersport facilities, and the fine pebble beach at Myrties. From Myrties, regular taxi-boats take bathers over to the nearby volcanic, car-free islet of Telendos, which also has several good sand and pebble beaches, including one reserved for nudists. Various watersports have been promoted in the sea channel separating Kalymnos and Telendos, notably windsurfing and sea kayaking. It is possible to scuba-dive in the area around Vlychadia Bay off the south coast.
Beyond the beach:
In Pothia, the Nautical Museum traces the history of the local sponge diving industry, and incorporates a Folklore Museum showing traditional costumes and furniture. In the village of Vlychadia, the Museum of Ocean Finds displays objects collected from the seabed, including sponges, shells, amphorae and pieces salvaged from shipwrecks. The island is a favourite destination of rock climbing enthusiasts, with the best area being Armeos, near the resorts of Myrties and Massouri on the west coast. Kalymnos also offers some interesting routes for hikers and cyclists – mountain bikes can be hired in Massouri. For the less energetic, it is possible to take an organised coach tour around the island.
The island offers very limited activities aimed specifically at children, but the unspoilt beaches and back-to-nature atmosphere should appeal to most kids up to the age of 10.
Daily excursion boats take visitors the nearby islands of Pserimos, noted for its good sand and shingle beaches, and Kos, where the capital, Kos Town, is home to Hippocrates’s ancient plane tree, a 14th-century castle, and two mosques from the Ottoman period. It is also possible to take a day-trip to Bodrum in Turkey. Boats depart from Pothia, and visitors have plenty of time to explore Bodrum’s 15th-century portside Castle of St Peter, enjoy a hammam (Turkish bath) and shop in the bazaar.
Kalymnos has no luxury hotels, but several idyllically located and tastefully furnished houses offer romantic bolt holes. One of the most popular is Peristeraki (http://peristeraki.kalymnos-holidays.gr), a hillside cottage designed for two, with wooden floors, a cosy pink bedroom with wrought-iron bedsteads, and stunning views. It lies in Myrties, just a 5-minute walk from the beach.