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Historically, Kalymnos was a favoured peaceful backwater for those who knew and liked old Greece; in the eighties and nineties the big tour operators moved in, encouraged the building of a few large hotels mostly at Masouri above its splendid sandy beach and thus imported the Martians. After a few years, they suddenly they tired of it and Kalymnos was left with a lot of empty hotel rooms.
Today Kalymnos is an island which has really worked on developing its natural charms and attractions. First and foremost, it is one of the finest places in Europe in which to learn or practice mountain climbing: the huge massif backing the west coast of the island is nowadays dotted with little black insects which, on closer inspection, turn out to be climbers. The rock faces are varied and numerous, yet the climbing starts within a few metres of the coast road and the nearby hotels. Diving has also been brought into the picture and there are several well equipped and well organised day trips in caiques with instruction and guiding in clear waters with a bit more to see than in many parts of Greece.
The island is great for walking; the capital Pothia is a bustling and unashamedly Greek town with a huge busy harbour from which boat excursions run to the neighbouring peaceful island of Pserimos with its lovely beach backed with tavernas, to Kos and to neighbouring Turkey (Bodrum).
Just off the west coast – a few minutes by caique – is little Telendos, with a delightful waterfront of tavernas, a very attractive shaded village street and a couple of quite good beaches. You can enjoy its peace by night but explore Kalymnos by day – even the night-life of Masouri because the caiques run till very late.
A holiday on Kalymnos can very easily be combined with a stay on Leros, Lipsi or Patmos. Although the island has a hill-top airport of its own, the international airport of neighbouring Kos is almost as convenient and rather better served.