Ηalki is a small island of the Dodecanese which seems to be right out of a movie scene. Its magic and charm hits you as soon as you arrive at the harbor.
Wherever you look, you see color – from the neo-classical houses to the multicolored fishing boats that floods the harbor’s perimeter and embrace the port of Nimborio, the only part of the island which is inhabited.
Nimborio is a strictly preservable settlement and all renovations and restorations of buildings must be made according to certain criteria in order to preserve the unique character of Halki. The frontline houses are literally built in the harbour and their occupants dive from their balcony/courtyards into its crystal clear waters.
As soon as you land, your attention is drawn to two places - the Café Theodosia which is famous for its wonderful homemade ice-cream and desserts and of course Stergos the parrot who welcomes you to the café, and the one and only bakery on the island where Mr. Dimitris makes one of the best cheese pies as well as sweet ‘bougatsa’ (a pie with cinnamon and sweet cream).
Halki has three beaches which are near enough to walk. Pontamos is the largest and is a white sandy beach with shallow waters.
It is preferred by a large number of locals and tourist as it is a 10 minute walk from Nimborio. Ftenagia is another beach which is a 10 minute walk but much smaller than Pontamos and last but not least, there is Kania beach which you could walk to but it is a bit further – around half-hour. There is a minivan which does the rounds to all 3 beaches at set times. All three are well organized with beach-chairs and a restaurant where you can enjoy a home-cooked meal.
There are many choices for lunch in Nimborio – each with their own specialties of meat and sea food. A Halki speciality that you will find in all restaurants is the ‘halkitika makaronia’ – home-made pasta with caramelized onions.
Traditional products of Halki are jams, liqueurs, cheese, herbs, and spices and of course honey.
From Pontamos and going on the main road, you will arrive at the ‘Palio Horio’ (Old village) which was abandoned in 1967. It was inhabited from the 4th century and is one of the oldest in the Dodecanese.
Palaio Chorio has been declared a cultural landmark by UNESCO and its architectural integrity is protected by strict criteria.
The Church of Our Lady dominates the wild landscape. The building dates back to 1400-1600 and the interior have wonderful icons painted on the walls.
The church is celebrated on August 15th and on the eve of the feast, the whole village gathers there to eat and dance. The feast usually ends at sunrise.
There is a path in the Palio Horio which will take you to the castle on top of the mountain. The castle was built by the Knights of St John between the 14th and 15th centuries.
It was recently restored and the view from the top will compensate you for the 20 minute climb. You can see the west coast of Rhodes and some of the 18 islands which surround Halki.
From the Palio Horio and at the end of the winding road up the mountain, you will reach the monastery of Ai-Giannis Alarga (St John).
There are rooms hosting pilgrims who come mainly for the big festival on the 28th and 29th August which is when the saint is celebrated.
They come from all over the world especially for this festival which is held in the courtyard under a 700 year-old cypress tree. Needless to say that this feast also carries on until sunrise and the minivan has a schedule a routine to the monastery daily.
If you plan to stay more than a day, another choice is a boat ride around the island to discover its hidden beaches or to the nearby islet of Alimia.
There are daily departures from Kamiros Skala to Halki as well as every Tuesday and Thursday from Rhodes Town.