Kalymnos Climbing in the Greek Islands
Kalymnos is a gorgeous Greek Island close to Turkey. The island has a rocky, rugged landscape making it attractive for climbers from all over the world. Climbers started bolting the limestone back in 1996 and today it has become a world-class sport climbing destination with more than 3,400 bolted routes!
While climbing is relatively new, Kalymnos has a rich history of sponge diving. Although this tradition has been lost for a while, life on the island still revolves around sea-related activities like fishing.
We decided to make a trip to Kalymnos because of the rock climbing, which is mind-blowing. It’s hard to find a place with such well bolted routes, diverse terrain and stunning views. There are plenty of other activities to do as well, but we stuck to climbing and in our down time, swimming and scuba diving.
Getting to Kalymnos
Kalymnos has a small airport but there are very few flights. We flew to Kos and upon arrival, took a taxi to the port about 15 mins away. We had some time to kill so we had lunch along the beach in Kos. Then, we boarded a ferry and 30 minutes later, arrived at Kalyminos port where we then picked up our rental car and drove to Masouri. It was a long journey and we had the added misfortune that our luggage didn’t make it. But despite all that, it was still worth it to get to this oasis.
The Climbing Town of Masouri
Like all rock climbers, we stayed in Masouri. This little part of Kalymnos is filled with hotels, restaurants and more climbing shops than you can imagine. Plus, it’s walking distance to several crags, right on the beach and has incredible views of Telendos. We made Masouri Blu our base, a small boutique hotel on the sea, just down the steps of the main street in Masouri.
Even in our short stay on the island, we developed an amazing community here. Within a day, we had met climbers from all over the world as well as a number of friendly locals. The shop owners recognized us and we exchanged pleasantries daily. We made friends at the crag and continued to hang out with them throughout the trip. We bumped into people at Sofrano Cafe in the morning, while climbing and at the beach post-climbing.
This community was so helpful that we even managed to acquire the necessary rock climbing gear that was lost in my missing luggage. We had packed a rope and helmets in our checked luggage and my bag never arrived. It’s not possible to rent a rope for liability reasons, but we made some friends who loaned us a rope!
Rock Climbing in Kalymnos
We only had three days to climb in Kalymnos, which was not enough to experience even a tenth of what the island has to offer. Our first day was at Grande Grotta, the iconic cave with epic views of the Aegean and Telendos island in the background. This cave is famous for tufa climbing which is like 3-D climbing on huge icicle-shaped rock formations that jut out of the wall.
We also visited Arginonta Valley, a crag with great afternoon shade. Just around the corner from Arginonta, there is an amazing sunset view which made for a spectacular end to a day of climbing. On our last day, we visited Poet which is a walking distance from Masouri. Poet also has great views and relatively easy grades making it very approachable.
We hired a guide for a day, took a course and also climbed on our own. Hiring a guide was helpful to get to know the area and to climb harder than we could on our own. But in general, Kalyminos is unbelievably friendly to any level of climber. The guide book is well written, the approaches are easy to find, and the routes are well bolted and even labelled!
Diving in Kalymnos
On our rest day, we went diving with Anna and Dmitri at Kalymnos Diving Club. While the island has its sponge diving history, there is little to see under water these days, with the exception being the dolphins. We started our morning in an area where there are fish farms and dove to 25 meters. The dolphins frequent the area hoping for food and there are large tuna in the deep water below them, making it super interesting. For our second dive we went to visit some shipwrecks. There was not much life to see other than a few small fish.
Kalymnos wins the prize has my favourite Greek island. Something about this island is so special. The scenery is spectacular, the climbing is legendary and the community made me feel at home. I will certainly be back, hopefully for a much longer visit. And maybe next time, I’ll even see more of the sites as there are plenty of non-climbing attractions that we just didn’t have the time for!