Kalymnos Ferry Port
Not many nations across the world can boast to have a moniker as unique (or indeed as strange) as the “Sponge-diving Island”, of Kalymnos. The odd nickname is a throwback to the Greek island’s thriving sponge trade when local divers, armed with just a harpoon and a lungful of air, trawled the bottom of the surrounding Aegean Sea in search of so-called “Kalymnian gold”. Such is the importance of sponges to the island’s culture that an annual Sponge Week celebration is held to honour the bravery of divers through the telling of poems, the singing of songs, and even the showing of tribute films.
Nowadays Kalymnos is a millionaires’ playground, teeming with wealthy Greeks who want to while away the hours in the glorious warmth of the Mediterranean sun. The island is shaped by a rough and ragged coastline and a landscape of barren hills; their steep slopes marked by solitary pine trees clinging desperately to the rocks. Yet the desolate backcountry is a stark contrast to the beauty of Kalymnos town, where a pristine promenade hugs the deep-blue waters of a bay and narrow streets play host to white-washed buildings topped with terracotta tiles. The entire town is huddled at the foot of a valley; one side coloured by a rare swathe of deep-green where the lemon and tangerine groves of Pothia grow.
The port in Kalymnos covers most of the town’s waterfront and consists largely of small piers and jetties lined with yachts that roll with the gentle swell of the waves. The ferry terminal is found on the largest of these piers at the western edge of the bay, just beside a sharp-angled, S-shaped breakwater. It is a small facility consisting of little more than a car-park and a designated section of the roadside where ferries make anchor.
Though the port is located in the heart of Kalymnos’ main urban centre, travelling further afield can prove difficult due to the island’s harsh terrain and largely remote nature. The best way to get around is by following the single, main road that circles around the spine of mountains that cut across the region from the south-east to the north-west. This route – regularly traversed by local buses - leads directly from the ferry terminal, slices through Kalymnos town, and snakes away to the smaller villages of Mirties, Arginonta, and Vathis.
A wide range of ferry routes currently operate from the port throughout the week, most hopping to the multitude of neighbouring islands. Services hosted by Dodekanisos Seaways sail to Arki, Fournoi, Agios Kirikos, Pyhagorio, Agathonisis, Lipsi, and Chalki as well as sharing the journey to Symi, Rhodes, Tilos, Patmos, Nisyros, Leros, and Kos with Blue Star Ferries. Blue Star Ferries also travel to Astypalea, Kastelorizo and the city of Piraeus on the Greek mainland.