Check out more of the stunning imagery from my stay in Kalymnos, plus some travel tips for your next trip to this adventurous island.
Navigating an Ocean of Stalactites
Coming to Kalymnos as a rock climber is like discovering Nirvana. It's a little island off the coast of mainland Greece, and it might have the highest concentration of sport climbing routes anywhere in the world. The style of the rock climbing is varied, but often very steep and three-dimensional. Many times I've found myself in an ocean of stalactites sticking out from the rock walls wondering which way to face my body. The broad variety of the difficulty of the climbing makes this place fun for climbers at all levels. You can often see people who are climbing for the first time in their life and elite level climbers at the same crag.
There are actually also some really good multi-pitch climbs both on Kalymnos and on Telendos, the little island next to Kalymnos.
During the high season, you've got climbers migrating here from every corner of the world and you’re guaranteed to meet new people and reconnect with old friends. The climbing community is a quite interesting group of people. We are almost like different species of migrating birds who, year round, are chasing the weather for the best climbing condition. We all have different preferences of what temperatures we like to climb in. Some people prefer to spend their holiday in the sun and don't mind the hot temperatures; and others, myself included, seek out the dry, cold and crisp conditions to optimize our performance. This makes it very likely to run into the same people in different countries year after year, and to bond with people from across the world.
We all come from different backgrounds with different stories, but with a common intention in mind: play on rock.
Travel Tips For Kalymnos
Rent a Scooter Early
There is no need for a car in Kalymnos. The roads are narrow and it's hard to find parking. Not to mention that part of the experience of being in Kalymnos is to cruise around on a scooter. It is walking distance to a lot of the classic crags if you stay in Masouri, the little village where most of the climbers stay. If you are planning to come during the main season, it's smart to rent a scooter in advance because they are popular.
Getting to Kalymnos
Parts of the year you can fly to Kalymnos from Kos or Athens. If it's windy though, the flights often get canceled, so the safest bet is to fly to Kos and take the boat over to Kalymnos.
Skip Camping - Rent a House
Kalymnos is not really the place for camping. There are no campgrounds, or places to pitch a tent. Rent a studio or a house!
Buy a Scooter for Longer Stays
If you're planning on staying for months, buy a used scooter instead of renting one. You can find an OK scooter for around 500 Euro and sell it when you leave for the same price.
Winter Weather in Kalymnos
If you're planning to stay over winter, bring warm clothes because the northern winds blasting at the crag can make it really miserable. Rent a place with your own kitchen since most of the restaurants are closed from the end of November to end of March. That being said, when you spend some time in the winter there, you’re able to find places to climb throughout the season. On sunny days, the ocean can still be quite warm in December, and can quickly learn how the weather impacts the crags to find places that are protected from the wind and warmed by the sun. I think there was some luck involved during our stay, because the weather was really dry and cold and crisp. Typically the winters are pretty wet, so be aware of that as well. As long as you plan your rest days around these fluctuations, there’s plenty of good climbing time.
My habits would change with the season since most of the restaurants are closed mid-winter.
But usually I started my days with a ten minute yoga session followed by coffee and breakfast at home. I would check my emails, grab my scooter and drive down to Sofrano, my favorite coffee place at the end of the village Masouri, for a second coffee. That's were a lot of the climbers meet in the morning for breakfast and it's a good place to find a climbing partner if you're traveling alone.
We would pick our crag for the day—shade, sun, wind, no wind—depending on the conditions and grab some local cheese, fruit, and bread from the little supermarket on the way out of town. After climbing all day, we would finish with a swim in the ocean followed by an ice cold draft beer at Fatolitis, the colorful bar in the middle of town. If we wanted a treat we would go eat ice cream at the famous Gelateria.
Than we would go back to the apartment and work or study before going out for dinner or cooking at home. It's cheap to eat out and the Kalymnians like their Greek food. They put pride in their meals made from local ingredients. Everything is so fresh, and you can hand pick grapes, oranges, olives, lemons, figs, and clementines. It's not that hard to eat a meal that is completely local.
What To Do In Kalymnos
Anyone who loves the water, playing on the beach, and hiking scenic trails will love Kalymnos. Diving is big there, so is spearfishing and snorkeling. We found plenty to do on our rest days at the beautiful beaches and trails.
My three essentials for Kalymnos:
1. Drive a scooter around the island
2. Eat fresh tuna at the restaurant Aegean
3. Hike to the small chapels on the hillsides
Miss the First Kalymnos Postcard?