Greece // The Dodecanese //


Despite its size and beauty, the island of KÁLYMNOS has long been overshadowed by Kos. Kálymnos fought in the Trojan War as a vassal of its southern neighbour, and to this day its tourist industry remains largely dependent on the overspill – and the airport – of Kos.

In most respects, however, Kálymnos is very unlike Kos. It’s much more mountainous, consisting of three high limestone ridges that fan away from the continuous rugged cliffs of its west coast, to create two long sloping valleys that hold most of its settlements and agricultural land.

The island’s capital and largest town, the busy port of Póthia, faces Kos from the midpoint of its southern shoreline. Most visitors head instead for the west coast, where a handful of small resorts have struggled to survive the collapse of a short-lived experiment in mass tourism. The pick of the pack, Myrtiés, stands close to some attractive little beaches. This craggy shoreline has found deserved fame among climbers and hikers, who keep businesses ticking along in the cooler spring and autumn months.

For a beach holiday, you’d do better to head for the separate islet of Télendhos, (a spectacular sight at sunset), or further north up the coast to Emboriós.

The prosperity of Kálymnos traditionally rested on its sponge industry, but blights have now wiped out almost all of the eastern Mediterranean’s sponges. Only a few boats of the island’s thirty-strong fleet remain in use, and most of the sponges sold behind the harbour are imported from Asia and the Caribbean.

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