Alimia, Greece: A Secret Paradise in the Greek Dodecanese Islands
Alimia (or Alimnia, as it is also called) is a tiny (7.4KM2, with 21KM of coastline), deserted island located 6KM north of Halki and just west of Rhodes in the Dodecanese region of the Greek islands. While technically uninhabited, it is home to a few goatherds - and more than a few goats and donkeys.
The island is also home to two churches, ancient dockyards dating back to Hellenistic times, the ruins of an ancient castle high atop the island's peak, and more-recent WWII military barracks on the shore.
Alimia's Geography and Layout
Named Evlimnia or Eulimnia in ancient times – which translates to "with good harbours" – Alimia has two main bays which provide good, safe anchorage for visiting boats.
- Agios Georgios (St. George) is referred to as the south bay and accesses the white sand beach near the island's main settlement
- Emporeio is referred to as the east bay and is home to a underwater wreck which boaters need to be aware of
Many sources indicate that Alimia is an islet, rather than an island, but I beg to differ. A quick Google search indicates that islets are "small islands with little or no vegetation, and unable to support human habitation". Except for the notable absence of cell phone reception and reliable wifi, Alimia is home to plenty of vegetation. And it has supported residents throughout history. The biggest challenge has probably always been a good source of potable water. Barring that, what more is needed to make the picturesque island a home? Therefore, in my mind, it qualifies as an island!
As far as buildings go, the island's main settlement is clustered around the Agios Georgios church. A second church, Agios Minos, sits on a small peninsula which extends into the south bay. Both churches are maintained by residents of nearby Halki.
An assortment of abandoned military barracks and outbuildings, including a stone outhouse, dot the landscape along the east side of the island.
High on the hills on the west side of the island once stood a castle-like fortress used as an observatory or look-out. Now in ruins, the structure is still impressive and quietly beckons adventurous hikers to make the climb. It isn't an easy hike to the top, taking almost an hour through prickly vegetation and over loose scree, but you're guaranteed an amazing view of the surrounding Aegean Sea when you get there.
For those with a true interest in ancient history, there are also Roman-era tombs and the foundation of an ancient Christian Basilica on the island, but I do not possess the necessary expertise to find them.
The History of Alimnia
Alimia has never been a major metropolis. However, it has been inhabited by various groups until as recently as the end of World War II.
- The Knights of Rhodes built a fortress on the island's highest point (269 metres above sea level) in 1475 to monitor sea traffic in the area.
- The Rhodian Fleet built a shipyard on Alimnia during the Hellenistic period, when the island was used as a military anchorage and look-out point.
- The Italian army built barracks on Alimia during their occupation of the Dodecanese region between 1912 and 1943, and used the area as a submarine base.
- In April 1944, British Commandos unsuccessfully attacked the island. They were captured and eventually executed. After that, most locals moved away.
- Although uninhabited at the time, Alimia was declared a protected settlement in 1978.
- In 2016, Alimia was used as the filming location for Beyond the Borders, a "Survivor"-like Belgian reality TV show. Participants were dropped off without food or supplies and spent 10 days completing various challenges.
- Nowadays, the island is visited frequently by tourists on day boat tours from Halki.
Reconnecting with Life at Alimia
Alimia is only accessible by boat and does not have electricity, Wi-Fi or cellular coverage, making it a perfect "escape and recharge" location. Because of its remoteness, guests visiting the the island are almost guaranteed a peaceful visit, without interruption or distraction. The water in the bay is crystal clear and relatively shallow, lending it a stunning turquoise colour, truly a picturesque and relaxing Blue Cruise destination.
Alimia: A Photo Gallery
Click on any image to expand it.