Once the centre of the Greek sponge trade, Kalymnos Town, also know as Pothia, sits in a lush valley at the foot of two hills. These form a natural amphitheatre around the large harbour.
The town has plenty to occupy visitors, with beaches, caves, museums, ruins and a wide choice of eateries all close by.
Harvesting of sponges brought great wealth to the island, reflected in the many fine houses you will find around town with their ornate iron balconies. One of these, the Vouvalis Mansion has been restored for visitors and houses the Archaeological Museum.
However, diving for sponges carried great risks with divers originally descending over 25m for several minutes.
The introduction of underwater suits enabled even greater depth to be reached but unfortunately the effects of decompression weren’t understood and many divers were killed or paralysed.
There are still plenty of sponges on sale and the Nautical Museum includes a display about the history. But sadly, disease hit the local sponges in the 1980’s and although stocks are recovering, many on sale come from elsewhere.
Just outside town are the Kefala caves, the best of a number on the island, open daily from 08.30 to 14.00 – take a torch. Just north of the town are the ruins of the Citadel of the Knights of St John (Golden Hand Castle), set high on a hill next to 3 derelict windmills and offering great views.
A couple of kilometres away is Therma beach, one of many on the island of which the sandy Masouri beach, about 9km away is one of the most popular. Buses & taxis will get you around, or there are scooters for hire. If that’s too far for you, try the Folklore Museum in town.
Lining the promenade around the harbour you’ll find a long one of restaurants, cafe’s and bars, offering everything from “traditional” Greek cuisine to the latest in junk food. Those seeking a bit more authentic experience might want to follow the locals to some of the restaurants away from the front, particularly those around the Town Hall and Prefecture Hall.
There’s something for everyone in Kalymnos, except perhaps those looking to get off the beaten track and away from tourists, though it’s not quite as busy as Rhodes or Kos Town!