Magnificent Chalki, a hidden gem
Characterized by Unesco as the island of Peace and Friendship, Halki (also known as Chalki, or Khalki) is a hidden gem, an island small and rocky, situated some 6 km (4 miles) west of the island of Rhodes in the Dodecanese Archipelago. With an area of 28 km2 (11 sq miles) and a population of a few hundred people in the summer, it is one of the smallest inhabited islands not only in the Aegean but in all of Greece.
This unspoiled, unique, colorful and undiscovered by mass tourism fisher-island is lately seeing a steady flow of visitors who come for its relaxation value. Almost abandoned at the turn of the 20th century, when the sponge-fishing industry took a nosedive, Halki existed in forgotten silence for many years.
The climate of Chalki is very dry and therefore very pleasant for vacationing. Normally the last rains fall by the end of April and start again at the end of October, providing ample opportunity for swimming in the meantime. The region is famous for long, sunny summers with temperatures ranging between 25° and 35° Celsius.
Halki is an “anti-stress” destination where bibliophiles, poets, writers, spiritually motivated individuals, religious walkers, romantic couples, families with kids or just people that want to get away from “it all”, swim in crystal clear waters, take a deep breath of sea breeze, sit by the port, hear and watch the fishing boats leave or return, hear the church bells inviting them to Liturgy, observe the night sky with the countless stars, and the glowing moon reflected in the sea. The days in Halki are filled with calmness, romance, sea dives, fishing, snorkeling, exploring the island, tasting the local Greek cuisine and enjoying the local aperitifs and wines.
Most commercial services and accommodation options are within 200m of the harbor. The streets of the village are paved with stones, and the village justifiably holds a leading position in the list with the most picturesque villages of the Greek islands.
The inhabitants, two hundred and fifty in total, are occupied with fishing, farming, and tourism. Summer evenings are “filled with life”, but not with noise.
Cars are not needed and there is no pollution at all. The water is crystal clear even inside the “harbor” and the houses are built on the seaside, giving the unique opportunity to jump into the water even directly beneath your house.
Worth visiting in Emborio are: the church of St. Nicolas, the building of the City Hall, recently renovated; in front of it, the impressive Clock Tower (the clock was stopped years ago by the inhabitants because it was… too noisy); and nearby the only School of today, that constitutes a special and impressive building. Halki’s traditional house-museum is also nearby. From traditional embroideries and crochets to crockery, from the olden-day cooking utensils to the delicate yet beautiful decoration of the rooms, the traditional house of Halki opens a window to all visitors who wish to learn more about the lives of the people on this glorious and much-loved island.
Cars or motorcycles are banned in the center after 19.00 unless there is a boat coming or leaving. During August more traffic is to be seen caused by the many boats that are coming or leaving. There is not much of nightlife. Nevertheless the café-bars play, at a lower volume, international or Greek hits till the early morning hours. There are also two small sound isolated air-conditioned “clubs” where the younger ones transform the heat (or the alcohol) of the day into dancing sweat.
How to get to Halki
Coming to Halki was in the past (and still is during winter) a small adventure. Nowadays at sunner period is just a piece of cake !! If you choose the right flight (arriving at Rhodes till 13.00) you can swim at Halki’s crystal clear sea 3 hours after landing. As long as you would need to arrive at a Hotel somewhere in Rhodes par example.
1) Through Rhodes
The most common way to reach Halki (or Chalki) is through the island of Rhodes and its International Airport. Just choose one of the many charter or regular flights (preferably arriving till 13.00 at Rhodes) Here are all the options after you arrive to Rhodes airport
a) From Kamiros Skala port (a small fishermen harbor at the West coast of Rodos island, approx 38 kms from the airport and 50 from Rodos town)
After landing in Rhodes (till 13.00) you can catch the correspondent and one and only bus (13.45 from the airport-except Sundays- to Kamiros skala port and correspondent boat (14.30) from Kamiros skala to Halki. You can take a taxi too as there are taxis outside the airport. Taxi from the airport to Kamiros skala costs approx 50 euros and takes approx 40 minutes.
More specific the daily (during summer) ferries (caiques) from Kamiros skala to Halki are: Sunday at 9:00am and 18:00pm, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 14:30pm, Wednesday at 17:30pm and Sunday mostly at 09.00 and 18.00. It is a 75 minutes trip.
As there are also daily excursions from Kamiros skala (especially during July and August) please check the following facebook names to see by yourself the latest news concerning timetables (usually at the beginning of every month there is a new timetable). There are three boats a) Fedon (the fastest one but no cars. Tel 0030-6937252525 facebook:”Fedon Halki” b)Nissos Halki tel 0030-6973460968/6956435026 facebook: “Nissos Halki” and c) Nikos express tel 0030-6946826905 (facebook: “katerina Fragkaki”)
The caique often change their timetable. It is advised to contact them and confirm the departure time when possible.
Another option for getting to Halki is a taxi speed boat from Kamiros skala. It can carry up to 22 people, the trip lasts about 45 minutes and the cost is around 250 euros. (For information/reservation call Alevandros 0030-6944434429)
b) From Rhodes Town- main harbor (14 kilometres from the airport-approx 22 euros by taxi). There you can catch the big ferryboat of ANEK Lines (www.anek.gr). It needs 2 hours to Halki. Usually during summer time it departs three times per week to Halki. On Sunday early in the morning at 03.00 am, on Tuesday at 20.00 and Thursdays at 09.00. Have a look to the following link as timetables change often. (http://web.anek.gr/portal/page/portal/ANEK_prod/Routes_Timetables)
c) From Rhodes town- Kolona harbor (just opposite of the entrance of the old town of Rhodes).Dodekanisos Seaways with speedboats catamaran. Duration of the trip is 1 hour. every Tuesday and Thursday around 9.00. Check and verify the routes at www.12ne.gr. To return to Rhodes you can use the same means of transportation.
2) Through Kos, Nisyros & Tilos
Only possible on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The Catamaran from Dodecanisos seaways departs from Kos at 14.35, arrives at Nisyros at 15.30, Tilos at 16.15 and Halki at 17.00. Check and verify at http://www.12ne.gr/en/itin_search.asp.
3) Through Karpathos, Crete, Santorini, Athens
The island of Chalki (Halki) is linked by boat with Athens (Pireas port) and many islands like Creta (Iraklio & Sitia), Karpathos & Diafani, Kassos, Santorini, Anafi (Check timetable at www.anek.gr),
Port Police Halki, telephone 22460 45220.
We are always at your disposal for any kind of help, in order to arrive at Chalki quickly and at the most easy way.
Excursions: Beside the island’s excursions (beaches, castle, monasteries etc) the main destination offered for excursions is Rhodes (old town, Butterfly valley, Ancient Kamiros, Castle of Monolithos, Lindos etc) and the neighboring islands Alimnia, Karpathos, Kos, Nisiros and Tilos
Fishing: For a small fee fishermen accept visitors to accompany them for fishing on their “caique”. Caught fishes are consumed either on site at some makeshift barbecue next to the sea or packed to be backed at home. Tavernas allow the customers to bring their own fish and bake it for them
Local Kitchen: Fish, veal, pork and chicken cooked in the tasteful Dodecanese-Mediterranean way are served at the Tavernas. Pizza and Pasta also easy to find. Dishes are cooked in olive oil using local herbs. Many fruits and vegetables are available at the super markets as well. Try the local dishes: Halki pasta (with onions and goat cheese), Giaprakia (very small stuffed vineleaves), Halki shrimps (small unique shrimps caught around Halki), Stuffed Kalamari, Ofto (local lamb stuffed with minced meat, pine nuts, small pieces of liver, local herbs), yoghurt with Halki’s famous Thyme Honey. Halki is a fishermen island and there is daily plenty of fresh fish that you can either fish, buy or consume at the restaurants such as mullet, grouper, sea bream, cuttlefish, sword fish, small shrimps, squid (kalamari) and many others
1st of May: The inhabitants of the island scoot with their families in the fields, and especially in Pefkia, picking flowers, make amberjack wreaths and revel.
Eastern: Throughout the Holy Week, Easter is celebrated in Halki’s unique traditional way in an atmosphere of devotion, with an impressive procession of the epitaph, the two resurrections culminating in the burning of Juda’s effigy in the churchyard of St. Nicholas on Easter Sunday.
St George: Especially celebrated in Alimnia where pilgrims are going from the previous days and sleep in the cells of the monastery.
St John of Melas on the 23rd of June where the first Halki’s honey of the year is collected.
The battle of Sikalies on the 6h of August. Those living on the left side of Emborio are “in war” with those living on the right side and figs, eggs, flower etc are thrown against each other. The “battle” ends with a dive in the sea in front of the piazza.
The 14th of August in the old village takes place one of the two major feasts of the island celebrating the Holy Virgin Mary. The Icon of the Virgin starts at St. Nicolas’ church in Emborio and is carried by women of the island to the church of the Holy Virgin at the OldVillage for the mass. After the Vespers comes the celebration and dancing.The feast continues the next night as well in Emborio.
The 28th of August at St.John monastery takes place the other major celebration of the island which continues as well the next night in Emborio.
The 14th of September at Stavros monastery just above the OldVillage. On the eve there are Vespers, Holy Loaves, and free food offered by the Church Committee or by individuals who want to offer something to their compatriots.
The 8th of October Archangel Michael is celebrated in the traditional way at Panormitis monastery and finally St.Nicolas on the 6th of December in Emborio.
Internet: Free WiFi Internet is available from the municipality as well as at the cafés and at many rental houses.
Telephone: Three mobile companies are accessible (3G) in Halki (Vodafone, Cosmote and Wind). Some call boxes exist as well, that accept phone cards available on the island.
Currency: Currency is Euro. There is a Postbank and an ATM (cash mashine). Credit cards are accepted at most tavernas nowadays. Exchange is possible either at the Postbank or at one of the agencies.
Animals-Pets: Everywhere in Halki there are scattered sheep and goats. Some donkeys, plenty of dogs and cats as well. Pets are mostly allowed everywhere. Very often dolphins are following the boats to Halki, forcing passengers to capture the moment by endless photographing.
Rentals: There are no rental cars or motorcycles.
Doctors: One Doctor and one Nurse. Medication is available at the Pharmacy. Specialists like pediatrician and gynecologist come once a month. Halki has no dentist.
Massage: Contact us to arrange an appointment
Post Office: Mail comes and goes 2-3 times a week, sometimes more often during the summer period. Stamps are available at the Super Markets as well.