There’s no better place in Greece to explore hidden turquoise beaches and marvel at translucent seas than the hilly, rugged Chalki. With all the beauty of Rhodes, minus the overwhelming tourism, this Dodecanese jewel is gaining momentum as the next big thing for luxury charter cruises through the secluded coves and stylish port towns with pastel neoclassic villas. Just 5 nautical miles from Monolithos of Rhodes, this rugged island is often overlooked by travelers - their loss, your gain. If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle and simply enjoy the art of dolce far niente, there’s no better destination than the stunning Chalki, whose beauty and authenticity will leave you spellbound minutes after arrival.
The name translates to “copper”, because of the numerous mines that existed on the island and served as the main source of income.
Although inhabited since prehistoric times, the island was never in the limelight. This is a place to enjoy the unhurried Mediterranean tempo, colorful customs, and effervescent blue bays. Those who enjoy staying active on their vacation can enjoy hiking trails to the 518 meters tall peak of Prophet Elias or slightly more accessible peaks of Kapouli and Kapnikari.
The island has only 457 residents, because of a huge exodus in the 20th century, but the remains of rich history from the Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Venetian, Genoa, and Ottoman rule can still be seen in the well-preserved monuments scattered around the island.
Wave mundane worries goodbye from the sundeck of your luxury charter yacht and enjoy your adventure through this stunning Aegean island.
Places To Visit in Chalki
Chalki, sometimes referred to as Halki, has several scenic villages perfect for a romantic getaway, but the main town is perhaps the most beautiful. As soon as you approach the harbor with your yacht, you’ll notice it resembles Cinque Terre, but without the crowds. The brightly colored Venetian houses are perched on a mountain not high up from the harbor and give it an old-world allure - walk the streets and you’ll see that the town serves as a time capsule of sorts. It has some of the best examples of Neoclassical architecture in Greece, but most of the buildings are inhabited - today, this serene village has only 300 permanent residents.
Enjoy a long stroll through the maze of old streets to admire the old colorful mansions and whitewashed houses, backdropped by barren hills with an imposing castle built by the Knight Of Saint John in medieval times and old windmills. The castle is located in the old town of Chora that once served as the capital of the island, but now blended in with Emborios. According to mythology, Zeus and Hecate used to come here to enjoy the sunsets (and you can too), sitting on rock-hewn thorns where the fortress now stands. The castle was built around the 16th Century by Knights of Saint John on an ancient acropolis.
The energetic traveler might enjoy a visit to the solemn Monastery of St John, where you’ll encounter a zen-inducing atmosphere and lots of beautiful iconostasis.
Aghios Nikolaos church is also worth your time and features the tallest bell tower in the Dodecanese, built with ancient columns. To explore more of Greek spirituality, visit the Monastery of Ai-Yiannis Alarga, with a garden cafe where monks serve “souma”, a fig-based liqueur, with honey and cheese, under the shade of cypress trees.
Finish the day in one of the waterfront cafes and refresh with a glass of ouzo, locally produced on the island. Although Chalki is definitely not a party destination, there are wonderful tavernas with live music in the evening, charming shops with handmade goods, and beautiful galleries to visit nearby.
Best Beaches in Chalki
If you want to have the beach all to yourself, there’s no better place to visit than Chalki. Whether you prefer sandy or pebbly coves, this mountainous island offers plenty to choose from where you’ll enjoy complete privacy, without any diversions from the beauty of the environment and translucent seas. These are some of the most beautiful coves, but with the help of your experienced captain, you’ll find many more nameless beaches without so much as a foot trace in the golden sand.
Just 500 from the main town, Potamos Beach is a gorgeous sandy oasis with brightly colored blue seas. Perfect for families with kids, the beach is not affected by strong winds and is dominated by the view of a small church situated on a cliff that surrounds the beach. The sea is incredibly clean and perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
A pebbly beach surrounded by rocky cliffs that afford the most impressive views, Kania is located less than one kilometer from the Emborio and is a perfect spot for swimming and snorkeling. It has a taverna that serves snacks and refreshments and there are some parasols and sun loungers. You can find shade under the few trees and the environment is dominated by the pale cliffs and completely transparent seas.
Perhaps most admired for the brightly colored sapphire seas, Ftenagia beach is almost completely secluded and features shiny white pebbles and crystal clear water. Not far from Emborio, the beach consists of several coves, some of which are organized, with parasols and sun loungers just behind the Agia Aekaterini. If you can, try to visit in August so that you can marvel at the crimson red moon setting over Rhodes island.
The wild, rugged nature of this mesmerizing cove will make you fall in love at first sight. It’s located on a small peninsula and forms two electric blue coves, with limpid, warm water ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Perfectly quiet and serene, Trachea is great both for families with little children and couples who want a romantic beach day. It’s a bit further from Emborio, so it doesn’t get many visitors - if you’re lucky, you’ll have the beach all to yourself.
A small beach just 4 kilometers from Emborio, Yali beach has small, white pebbles and is surrounded by dramatic cliffs that give it a special allure. With clean, aquamarine waters that shine like nowhere else and spectacular scenery, this beach is almost completely deserted and is ideal for those who seek privacy and seclusion.
You’re in luck - Areta Beach is a small beach of ethereal beauty, located on the north side of the island. If you drop your anchor here for the day, you’ll be able to enjoy impressive scenery, tall, imposing rocks, and turquoise limpid seas without any distractions.
Islet of Ghosts
Although not technically a beach, this mysterious islet has superb waters for swimming and diving, and with the added bonus of plenty of on-land adventure. The uninhabited islet of Ghosts or Alimia islet is surrounded by glittery seas, but you can also explore abandoned buildings like barracks from the Italian occupation, remains of an abandoned village, foundations of proto-Christian basilicas, a Roman graveyard, and naval bases of Hellenistic dockyard.
The highest point of Alimia features a medieval castle that provides panoramic views of Chalki and Rhodes. The islet is a protected natural area - you might even stumble upon adorable dolphins playing in the water.
Best Restaurants In Chalki
Since the scenic island isn’t corrupted by mass tourism, you’ll be able to find many eateries that provide a real, traditional dining experience. Here, you’ll be dining with the locals, savoring age-old recipes, and drinking fabulous wine that is incredibly underpriced.
Named after the exotic-looking beach where the taverna is located, Kania has a Robinson Crusoe vibe evocative of the Bahamas hotspots in the 70s. Even if they didn’t serve food, it would be worth your time because of the scenery - but the delicious dishes are an added bonus. They’re famous for their fresh seafood, and the fried Halki clams are to die for. Once you book a table here, you’ll be coming back for more.
Some say the place serves the best moussaka in all of Greece, but you’ll have to check that for yourself. The family-owned restaurant is located right on the waterfront, perfect for a romantic dinner with mouth-watering dishes, paired with fine local wine. The owner is very friendly and likes to joke around with guests, creating a laid-back atmosphere that attracts both locals and the few tourists that come on the island.
Local dishes, fresh ingredients, and a gorgeous turquoise view - Nick’s Taverna offers all of this and more. Located on a lovely terrace on Pondamos Beach, this restaurant is great for a family-friendly lunch where you can easily spend the entire day, swimming, eating, and swimming some more.
A beach taverna located on the azure Ftenagia offers the perfect setting for endless beach days in the sizzling Greek sun. The garden is lovely, with vine leaves and flowers, and it’s just by the best section of one of the prettiest Chalki beaches. The food is simple but cooked to perfection and the menu offers options for vegetarians, vegans, and those intolerant to gluten.