The Island of Sponge Harvesters & Climbers
George Papadellis | SG Head
Panagiotis Papadellis | SG Team
Kalymnos Rock-Climber at Sunset | Photo by: iStock.com, photobac | 25.11.2017
In 1903, the Maniat Ioannis Kokkoris reached New York (USA), Tampa city, Florida, specifically the fishers’ village Tarpon Springs. There, in 1905, he started with Spyros Vouteris the activity of sponge harvesting with Aeginites and Hydriots divers. Soon, the Kalymnian specialists got informed. This was the moment that a new type of colonization for the Greeks had started, but this time away from the Mediterranean and for a specific cause. They brought the traditional way of sponge harvesting to Tarpon Springs, an area rich in sponges, and they created the American cradle of sponge-diving. The Kalymnians were those that knew very well the tough and dangerous work of sponge harvesting, which, over time, accumulated a lot of pain, but also wealth. Testimonies of these facts (mansions, museums, statues) are everywhere on the island of the refractory and adventurous divers. Sponges bring farewells, cries, returns, fests, and unfinished love stories into the mind of travelers. But times change and reverse. The Kalymnians succeed again in the period of recession and reduction of sponge demand, without stopping its collection. Because their place is blessed and the people are progressive and open-minded. This time also, nature and its gifts guided them. They exploited the beauty of the sea and the land of Kalymnos, and also the wilderness and toughness of the landscape and they organized tourism, especially thematic tourism of climbing, exploration of rich caves and sea diving in the world of wreckages and local posidonia.
Kalymnos is one of the wealthiest islands in Greece. It has a population of 16.000 inhabitants approximately, it belongs to the Dodecanese islands group, and it is located between the islands of Kos and Leros. It is actually a block of islands, with Kalymnos being the largest, and smaller ones being Telendos, Pserimos, Plati and Kalolimnos.
Sponges at Kalymnos | Photo by: Nabokov at English Wikipedia (Required attribution is: "Photo by Tom Oates"), Sponges, cropped by Shiny Greece, CC BY-SA 3.0 | 06.04.2022
The basic characteristics of Kalymnos are its mountainous topography, a fact that made it since 1997 a popular rock-climbing location with more than 1700 climbing routes, and its sponge-diving tradition and history. Sponge diving has long been an occupation of the island’s men (free divers and harpoon users) and sponges (throughout the Mediterranean, from Kalymnos to North Africa) the traditional main source of income of the Kalymnians, which brought them wealth and fame. Problems with diseases hit sponges from mid 80s until today, damaging the industry significantly.
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The island is also known for the annual celebration “Sponge Week”, occurring a week after Easter to honor sponge harvesting, the Temple of Apollo, excavated by the British archaeologist Charles Newton in the nineteenth century, the citrus fruits grown in the valley of Vathi, the production of painted head scarfs, which were the most original component of the female dress and the ancient volcano located in Vigles.
The visitors of Kalymnos are served by the international airport of Rhodes (RHO), the international airport of Athens (ATH), port of Piraeus and port of Rhodes.
Our Hotel Proposals
MasouriBlu is an exclusive boutique hotel, literally situated on the waves with the enchanting view of the picturesque island of Telendos and offering also the most exciting experience for climbers, a few meters away from Grande Grotta rock. The hotel consists of 13 rooms, 6 of which are junior suites, all combining discrete luxury with timeless elegance.
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Myrties Boutique Apart.
Myrties Boutique Apartments offer deluxe two-room hotel apartments ideal for families and small groups of friends close to the beach and famous climbing sectors in a relaxed environment. With high standards and all modern hotel facilities, the apartments offer a magnificent panoramic view of the isle of Telendos and the Bay of Myrties blending perfectly with the natural elements of Kalymnos.
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