It’s a unique old place really! My beautiful little gem in the heart of the Aegean… The island of the Sponge Divers
Naturally, if you ask any Greek islander which island is the best, he or she will tell you it’s their island – so in many ways, this is my pitch to you all. Kalymnos is the best – remember that!
Firstly, imagine you’re on the back of a small moped (it’s the best way to travel on this island). Now, imagine I’m in front of you and we’re driving through the main town centre of the island: Pothia. This is the capital of Kalymnos, the main port, and also the place where I love to get a cold coffee every summer morning.
This part of the island is the most inhabited, boasting two thirds of the 16,000 strong population. This makes it very congested, and very densely populated; however this changes as you drive through the valley behind the town and onto the rest of the island. Things slowly start to spread out, and everything becomes a lot greener.
There are three things you can never be far away from in Kalymnos: a café/bar, a church, and a beach. There are plenty of all three and if anything it keeps the island very quirky, even in the winter months. I’m proud to say it’s an island that hasn’t been spoiled by mainstream tourism. There is still an element of ‘traditional Greek’ culture which dominates the setting everywhere you go, but this is paired with a very successful nightlife and links to the rest of Greece and Europe via the port and the new Municipal Airport.
Kalymnos is famous for its historic association with natural sea sponge diving. This is a profession which has traditionally been at the heart of the island’s culture for the last two centuries and continues to boast healthy revenue for the island even today. The sporty alternative to this in Kalymnos is Skandalopetra Diving; the diver plunges to the depths of the sea whilst holding a heavy stone as ballast. In addition to this, the island has enjoyed international success as a world top venue for mountain climbing and hosts its own International Climbing Festival yearly.
Though it’s not all sports in Kalymnos. The local cafés and tavernas offer a traditional Greek setting for those who wish to see the day to day culture of island living and perhaps even sit down for a spot of grilled Calamari & Octopus with a glass of Ouzo. But for those in search of something a bit more adventurous and less tame, the clubs and beaches on the Massouri coastline ensure even the most extreme party-goer has the time of their life!
My favourite thing about Kalymnos is Easter. Religion is a big part of Greek life, and Kalymnos is no exception. Kalymnian Easter is celebrated by the throwing of dynamite off the mountain overlooking Pothia. On the top of this mountain lies Saint Savvas Monastery, boasting the most breath-taking view of the whole island.
I hope if your travels ever bring you to Greece, you decide to add Kalymnos to your map and visit this beautiful place.