This was my second trip to Kalymnos, an island which is a paradise for rock climbers. I loved it so much last year that I had to come back, and this time, John and Nicole joined me. The trip was mostly about rock climbing, but of course, we managed to fit in some water activities and of course, lots of great Meditterean food.
There are now over 4,200 routes in Kalymnos, and they continue to bolt. I had the 2019 guidebook and it was certainly out of date. There is a new book that was released in 2023, but I can imagine that by next year, it’ll be missing routes too!
There are so many different crags to choose from, and the decision of where to go is dependant on sun exposure (it’s too hot to climb in the sun), the length of the approach and the grades you are looking to climb. In our case, we chose to explore several areas: Summertime (great shady crag for evening climbing close to Masouri), Arginonta Valley, Poet (walking distance in Masouri), Grande Grotte (also walking distance with iconic tufa climbs), The Secret Garden (a long approach but such an amazing crag right on the water), Kastelli (cool crag over the ocean but with very sharp limestone), and Little Eden (a cool crag a short boat ride from Vathy on an amazing beach)
Not only was all the climbing amazing, it was so nice to have the crags fairly quiet with just enough people to make it social. We made a bunch of friends from around the world, but still had our choice in routes, as there was usually only a handful of other people at each location.
August may seem like a hot time of year, but climbing in the shade was totally fine. And it was the perfect time of year to come off the wall and take a dip in the sea, which we did regularly.
Beaches and Swimming
Depending on where we were climbing, we chose a beach nearby to swim in and have some food. This included:
Beach near Secret Garden
Vathy: This was one of the best as well. It’s a little beach that you need to take a boat or kayak to. We went primarily for the climbing, but at the end of our session, took a dip before returning back by boat. There are so supplies at this beach so bring food and water and towels with you. Beautiful clear blue water and a bit of life in it as well.
Katounia: This was a bust for us. We had heard it can be the best, but the day we went the winds/current were not in our favour and the water was just filled with seaweed, literally everywhere. We also didn’t like the restaurant options on the beach and generally wouldn’t recommend it.
Emperios: We went to lunch at Captain Kostas and swam while there. It was a nice beach.
Pirate Beach: This was the stop on the boat. Also decent swimming and next to Emprerios.
Massouri – this was our local beach and still our favourite. The water was nice, there was Zorbas if you wanted a beach chair and of course, it was easy.
While we climbed every day, we did chose to spend a half day sailing around Telendos and boy, was this an experience. We had a private sailboat, with Manny the owner of the boat as our skipper. No amount of words can describe this experience. Manny was a conspiracy theorist, so while the sailing and swimming was wonderful, the conversation was “interesting”. We sailed around Telendos, stopping for a swim along the way. We also made a stop at Pirates Beach for drinks and a light snack before heading back, just before sunset.
The food on the island is pretty fabulous. Here’s our restaurant list:
– The market: We bought several things from the local market, most notably the fresh made spinach pie and apple pie were delicious and great crag snacks.
– Theo Taverna in Arginonta: best meat on the island. Call ahead to figure out what day they are roasting goat and pig and reserve your portion in advance. Perfect spot for post-Argoninota evening climbing
– Babba Yannis – probably the best restaurant on the main strip in Masouri. Recommend the saganaki mussels and roasted potatoes.
– Aegean Taverna – once again, this place was disappointing. Cute atmosphere but food is hit or miss. The sting ray bruschetta was the highlight as it was delicious and the first time we were all trying string ray.
– On the Road – supposed to be great local fast food (chicken souvlaki) but it was closed on Monday, the day I wanted to try it. Next time!
– kokkinidis: We went here our first night and enjoyed the food but were disappointed at the service. It just felt like we weren’t very welcome.
– Captain Kostas: Best local fish on the island. They show you their local catch, you choose your fish and have it grilled.
– Local place that produces its own dairy
– Panos: Disappointing food but the free dessert was leukomidas and was out of this world. So light…who knew donuts could be that light?
– Gelato: we tried all the gelato shops in town and they were all good. The one coming down from poet is worth it but don’t go all the way down the hill and miss the entrance!! Best flavours
– Charcuterie on the balcony – we decided to buy produce from a product cart / truck after Captain Kostas and then stopped at teh mini mart in Elena village for bread, cheese, honey and tapenade. Delicious!!
– Bars: Nadir, Scorpion. T (one with Serge)