Nestling in amongst the 50 or so other islands that make up the Dodekanesos in the southeast Aegean Sea, Kalymnos is a relatively small island in geographical terms, but massive if adventure is your thing. There are many things to see and do in Kalymnos (more info here) as it offers up some world-class climbing and diving.
Scuba diving in Kalymnos
Although it’s unclear exactly when or how sea sponges first came into use on the island, Kalymnos has a long tradition of sponge fishing and is an industry that still contributes to the island’s economy today – no wonder it’s known as ‘sponge-divers island’.
It’s not all about sponge diving, though, as the warm sea that surrounds the island is home to moray eels, octopuses, nudibranchs, crinoids, starfish, and plenty of small colourful wrasse and parrotfish, so plenty for divers of all degrees to see.
Scuba diving off the coast of Kalymnos really comes into its own when you take in the island’s underwater topography, most notably the plunging cliff walls and the colourful caves and reefs of this rocky ecosystem.
And it’s also a great destination if wreck diving is your thing, with many wrecks now partly submerged below seagrass and sand. Wreck diving can be dangerous at the best of times, but you need to take extra precautions as drop offs can appear seemingly from nowhere as the submerged vessels become part of the sea floor.
The best dives usually take place off the more sheltered southwest coast and once you’ve done your diving, you can learn more about sponge diving and buy some local samples at the Factory of Natural Sponges in Pothia.
Kalymnos isn’t all about scuba diving though, so here are some other things you can do while on this picturesque Greek island…
Rock climbing in Kalymnos
The unique mountainous landscape has made it one of Europe’s go-to destinations for rock-climbing thrill-seekers of all ages and abilities – beginners can take to the rock faces with experienced instructors, while more seasoned climbers can take on some of the island’s more treacherous overhangs.
And whatever your ability, climbing the island’s rock faces is one of the best ways to check out its breathtaking views and scenery.
History and culture in Kalymnos
Once you eventually run out of energy (even the most determined thrill-seekers will at some point) it’s worth taking the time out to relax in the historic town of Pothia – a place rich in culture and heritage.
History lessons are provided by the town’s two museums – one archeological, the other naval – while the rather wordy Cathedral of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ is home to a spectacular marble sculpture from Yannoulis Chalepas, the celebrated Greek sculptor.
Food and drink in Kalymnos
No trip to a Greek island would be complete without sampling the local cuisine, and Pothia has a number of traditional tavernas offering up an array of traditional Greek and seafood dishes – places of note include Hammer’s Wine Bar and Smuggler’s restaurant.
And if you’ve got more of a sweet tooth, check out Apostoli’s Kafeion for some outstanding desserts and pastries, especially the Galaktobourekoia, which is somewhere between a semolina dessert and baklava and will have you going back for more.