After being introduced to rock climbing 7-8 years ago, a new world unfolded in front of me. I stopped looking for comfort and amenities when choosing how to spend my holidays. I started looking for experiences, physical activities, exploration, a connection with nature and leaving my comfort zone for a while. My desire after every holiday is to return feeling that I learnt things about myself and the place I visited. Kalymnos has been a milestone in this life journey, because it was the first time I decided to get on a plane alone, visit a place I’ve never been to and spend my summer holidays with people I’ve never met. This decision was life changing and soon led to other exciting adventures, including another two visits to this beautiful island.
Kalymnos is the 4th largest of the Dodecanese Islands, with a population of more than 16,000 people. It is situated between Kos and Leros and is surrounded by other smaller islands: Telendos which was part of Kalymnos until it was separated by an earthquake in 535 A.D., and Pserimos, with its lovely beachside. The capital and the main port of Kalymnos is Pothia, which in built amphitheatrically around the port. Other villages are Chora, Argos, Skalia, Panormos, Myrties, Masouri, Emporios, Vlychadia and Vathy. Myrties and Masouri located at the west side of Kalymnos, are the most popular for rock climbers because a lot of popular crags are within walking distance, but also have minimarkets, restaurants, bars, climbing shops and of course beautiful beaches.
How to get there:
Even though Kalymnos has a small airport, direct flights are rare and costly.
The best way to get to Kalymnos is to fly to Kos island, take a taxi or the bus to Mastichari port (10-15 minute drive) then take the ferry to Kalymnos (30-40 minutes to Pothia). There are several ferry connections between Kos and Kalymnos every day. Here you can find the updated ferries schedule and make sure you check the schedule before you arrive. When you arrive to Pothia you will find taxis waiting at the port or you can rent a bike or a car.
Another way to get there is to fly to Athens and then fly directly to Kalymnos.
Fly to Athens, then go to Piraeus Port and take a ferry to Kalymnos (12-hour ferry trip)
Fly to Rhodes and take a ferry from Rhodes to Kalymnos
Kalymnos with its fantastic limestone cliffs is now rightfully one of the most popular sport climbing destinations in the world. The variety of climbing is endless, with over 3400 sport routes, makes it suitable for beginners, intermediate and experienced climbers. I would definitely recommend getting the Kalymnos Guidebook to help you plan your climbing itinerary and to bring the necessary equipment. Routes are graded according to the French grading system. About half of the routes on Kalymnos are graded up to 6b+, more than one-third are between 6a–6b+ and more than 700 routes graded 7b and up, with the hardest confirmed grade on Kalymnos is a 9a. The bolting of the routes is close together and maintained, but always keep your eyes open. As far as your equipment 20 quick draws and a 70-meter rope is the minimum requirement, but there are some amazing longer routes so bringing an 80-meter rope would be ideal – and never forget to tie a knot at the end of your rope! For more information and updates about rock climbing in Kalymnos you can check out www.climbkalymnos.com. If you are looking for a rock climbing guide to create a tailor-made schedule for you or to help you improve your climbing skills check out Climb Mediterranean. Climb Mediterranean also offers rock climbing and multipitch courses, climbing retreats and climbing & yoga retreats (highly recommended!). Find out more here.
Before Kalymnos became so popular for its rock climbing, it was also known as the sponge diver’s island. Sponge diving has always been a popular occupation for Kalymnians and sponges have been the main source of income and making the island well-known in the Mediterranean. When visiting Kalymnos, it is worth visiting the local sponge workshops and see the traditional processing of natural sponges, to learn more about the history of sponge diving. As the years passed, there was a huge decrease in demand after the rise of synthetic products. Also, after so many decades of sponge fishing, there are only a few areas left still rich in sponges.
Kalymnos has a lot of trails to choose from. Some are stone paved, other are small rocky trails, the shepherds’ trails, as they were only known and used by Kalymnian shepherds. Many trails are easy and suitable for everyone, such as the paved trail “The Italian Path” which connects Vathy and Pothia. For a more adventurous hike you can reach the highest point of the island, Prophitis Elias, at 676 metres above sea level. Most trails lead you to remote churches, castles, caves, archaeological sites and secluded beaches. Also, for an even more intense hiking experience, with a bit of rock-scrambling, you can always try the Kalymnos Trail. Kalymnos Trail is a 100km trail which takes you around the island, to beautiful beaches, at the top of cliffs, remote chapels and castles offering a 360 scenic experience.
The sunsets in Kalymnos are so magical, but I'll let let the pictures speak for themselves!
Located just 700 meters from Myrties port, jump on a boat and visit Telendos and enjoy the tranquillity and relaxation this tiny island has to offer! Telendos was part of Kalymnos, until an earthquake in 535 A.D. separated it from the rest of the island. Telendos has a tiny port, a few taverns, a few shops and a few rooms available to let. On this picturesque island live around 60 inhabitants. There are no roads, therefore no cars or bikes! Following short trails from the port you will find the family-friendly beach of Potha, the secluded nudist Paradise beach, and on the southwest after a 10-minute walk Hohlakas and Travilia beaches and a bit further Pnigmenos beach. Telendos is also a climbing destination. It offers many sport climbing routes on the East and South coasts of Telendos. The spectacular terrain of Telendos, its peacefulness and incredible hospitality will win your heart.
Even though Kalymnos is known as the ultimate climbing destination, that’s not all this island has to offer. Kalymnos has a rich history, friendly and hospitable inhabitants, magical sunsets, beautiful beaches, fantastic food and many other activities to try out, like scuba diving, mountain hiking, kayaking, snorkelling, yoga and cave exploring.
Anita Desai said, “Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow” and Kalymnos will always be a part of me and forever in my heart.