Kalymnos is a Greek island belonging to the Dodecanese island group in the southeast Aegean Sea, close to Turkey. It lies 8 miles north of the island of Kos and 1 mile south of the island of Leros. The nearest international airport is on Kos, with Kalymnos Airport catering for internal flights only. Pothia is the island’s main ferry port. Kalymnos is a mountainous island, with rocky crags and limestone cliffs.
Kalymnos has a warm Mediterranean climate, with dry hot days in the summer and mild winters. November to March is the rainy season. Between May and September the rainfall is at a minimum and temperatures average 27°C (80°F).
The local economy was based on sponge collecting, for which the island was famous throughout Greece, however today tourism is becoming increasingly more 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 has an indented coastline with dramatic fjords, secluded coves and limestone cliffs. Because Kalymnos is arid, vegetation is sparse. The best beaches and main resorts, Massouri and Myrties, are along the west coast, offering views of the volcanic islet of Telendos. Smaller resorts on the west coast include Panormos, Emborios and Plati Gialos. Alternative tourism is offered on the island, including rock climbing and sea kayaking. The best area for rock climbing is Armeos, near the resorts of
Myrties and Massouri on the west coast. The nightlife scene is low-key, the livliest places being Pothia and Massouri. Kalymnos offers basic but authentic dining, the Pothia harbourside is lined with Greek tavernas and fast food eateries.
The best beaches are on the west coast, especially the sandy beach at Massouri which has watersport facilities and the fine pebble beach at Myrties. From Myrties, taxi-boats take holidaymakers over to the nearby volcanic, car-free islet of Telendos, which 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.
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. Kalymnos also offers some interesting routes for hikers and cyclists – mountain bikes can be hired in Massouri.
On the island there are excursion boats which take visitors to the nearby islands of Pserimos, noted for its good sand and shingle beaches, and Kos, where the capital, Kos Town, is home to Hippocrates’ ancient plane tree, a 14th-century castle, and two mosques from the Ottoman period.