You’ve probably never thought of visiting this tiny island, but if you do, you certainly won’t regret it! Located just six kilometres west of Rhodes, the little island of Chalki (Halki) lives in the shadow of its famous neighbour. It’s the smallest inhabited island in the Dodecanese, at just 28 square kilometres. Around 500 people are proud to call Chalki home, however thanks to large-scale emigration in the mid 20th century, the place was all but abandoned. Nowadays there’s two thriving settlements, Chorio and Emporio, with portside homes that have been restored to their former glory. Many of those that have come back and settled here are descendants of people that moved to Tarpon Springs, Florida, in the 1950s. There’s also plenty of residents from the UK and even Australia.
The attraction to Chalki lies in the simplicity of the life it provides. It’s a stunning landmass, with a strong community spirit and historic sites that inspire wonder. There’s little in the way of tourist traps and development, so it has a certain authenticity about it that you only really get on these small, far away Greek Islands. Access is by ferry from Rhodes, with daily services making a daytrip from the big island well worth it.
Beyond the incredibly relaxed atmosphere, the main highlights are the secluded beaches, the 14th century castle built by the Knights of Saint John, and the church of Agios Nikolaos with its stunning frescoes. There’s also quaint taverns serving local fare and hikes into the hills and remote beaches. So as much as a day trip might seem like ample, I suggest you spend a few nights here and really get to know the place.
See Chalki in Episode 5 of series four: