Holiday in Kalymnos

Prelude: from Leros to Kalymnos

The ferry Katarina leaves at 8 from Xerokambos in the Greek island Leros. We are going to Kalymnos, the island just south of Leros. We'll spend a week in the town of Myrties, and then our Greek holiday will be over.

The ferry Katarina Myrties in evening light seen from Telendos
Click to enlarge

Katarina looks like a fishing boat and rolls merrily in the calm sea. There are only four passengers: us, and a man and a woman both dressed in black.

The faded green hills of Leros disappear behind, and in front the cliffs of Kalymnos rise straight from the sea.

The crossing takes about an hour. Myrties faces a strait to the west, and a towering mountain behind throws its shadow over the town in the early hours.

Across the 700 metre wide strait lies Telendos, a small but very high island. An earthquake separated Telendos and Kalymnos in the 6th century, and a city sank to the bottom of the sea. Some earthquake!

A taxi is waiting by the pier in Myrties. Up the small hill, round the corner and we're at Katina Studios. I barely have time to fasten my seatbelt.

The hostess speaks fluent English with Australian accent. Fortunately the room is ready. The single room apartment is smaller than the one in Leros, but better equipped, and we have our own terrace facing west. The holiday in Kalymnos has started.

The holiday

We spent most of the week in Kalymnos with determined relaxation, strolls, trips to the main city Pothia and evening trips to Telendos.

A diary about relaxation and laziness is a bit boring, so instead I'll write about:

More factual information can be found on the page Facts about Kalymnos.

The island Kalymnos

The mountains in the Greek island Kalymnos are high and wild. Along much of the coastline they rise vertically from the sea. The crust of the earth has brutally squeezed the rocks towards the sky.

There is nothing gentle about Kalymnos. It is a product of nature's brute force, a passionate landscape.

The island lies north of Kos and close to the Turkish mainland. It is fairly small and has about 17,000 inhabitants, of which 13,000 live in the main city, Pothia.

There are a couple of valleys with agriculture, but otherwise the rock island is rather barren and impassable. So through history many have had to earn a living from the sea; as fishermen, sailors or as sponge divers.

Sponge fishing

Sea sponges in Pothia
Click to enlarge

Kalymnos is home to the last sponge fishers in Greece. The sponge industry brought wealth to the island many years ago, but now the ships have to go far away to find natural sponges.

Sponges are still processed in factories on the island and can be bought everywhere. It is a great souvenir that gives no weight problems on the plane!

It is a dying trade for several reasons. Sponges are getting scarce, and it is difficult to compete with the synthetic products.

Cliffs and climbing

The wild cliffs attract climbers from all over the world, and there are "routes" for everybody.

I wonder, if the climbers ever think about the many earthquakes in this region? Imagine hanging from a robe over an abyss, and the next second an earthquake makes the rock spit out the steel bolts like water melon seeds.


Tourism is still moderate and concentrated in the tourist centres Myrties and Massouri on the west coast. There isn't much to do there except swimming, sunbathing, strolling and enjoying the view to Telendos.

If it gets too dull, you can go on a trip to the main city, Pothia, rent a vehicle or take the ferry to Telendos. From Myrties you can also sail to Leros in the morning and return in the afternoon. From Pothia you can visit other islands or Turkey.

In general people are very kind, and many speak excellent English.