Halki, Greece: The Greek Island of Peace and Friendship
A few years ago, we had an extended stay at the Greek island of Halki due to extreme winds. The unplanned stop-over provided us with the perfect opportunity to start exploring the smallest inhabited island in the Dodecanese. We've been back several times since, and will continue our regular visits because there's so much to see and do!
Some random facts and trivia about Halki:
- The main town on the island of Halki is named Emborio, and is home to about 300 people year round. The population grows considerably during the summer as tourists flock to the island for a peaceful holiday break.
- The rugged and hilly island was once a prosperous copper mining community (10th century to 5th century BC) and was home to more than 3000 people.
- There is no natural source of fresh water on Halki – and water shortages are not uncommon, especially during the heat of summer. Islanders rely on rainwater (collected in cisterns), a local desalination plant, and frequent tanker deliveries from Rhodes for potable water.
- Nowadays, the island's primary industry is tourism, followed closely by fishing.
- There's no airport on Halki, so the island can only be accessed by boat.
- Halki is home to many beaches - a few are white sand, others are pebbled. The more remote beaches are nude-friendly.
- The clock in the clock tower in front of the Halki town hall was disconnected because it chimed every 15 minutes, disturbing the residents.
- There are very few vehicles on Halki, lending it a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere. The island's entire "public transit sytem" includes a taxi, a minivan, and a small bus. Given that there is only one road on the island, the system works quite well.
- Everything you could reasonably need while on vacation is available in Emborio. There is an ATM machine (but no bank), post office, and small medical center. There are plenty of markets and souvenir shops scatted through town, and tavernas and cafes line the piazza around the harbour. Accommodation is available in charming boutique hotels and studio-type apartments. There are no major chain hotels on the island.
- Halki's single road is called "Tarpon Springs Boulevard" and was built with donations from a group of Greek expats (and their decendents) who relocated to... Tarpon Springs, Florida, beginning in the early 1900s.
- Ruins of a medieval Kastro castle built by the Knights of St. John overlooks the the main town site. The original settlement of Chorio lies just down the hill from the castle. Chorio residents would escape to the safety of the castle whenever pirates threatened to invade the island. Over time, piracy was eliminated in the region, and island residents slowly relocated to more convenient, coastal locations. Nowadays, almost everyone living on the island is located in Emborio, the settlement adjacent to the main harbour.
- At 28 KM2 and 34 KM in circumfrence, the island is relatively small but is home to over 35 churches, monasteries, and religious shrines.
- The bell tower at the St. Nicholas Church in Emborio is the tallest free standing bell tower in the Dodecanese. Built in 1861, the bell tower is suppored by an arch made of ancient columns that were found on the island.
- According to an article in the Greek City Times (March 3, 2021), Halki has been proposed as the next Greek island to "go green" with zero carbon footprint.
- Halki is frequently referred to as "the island of peace and friendship". While I can find no official source for the moniker, the characterization is evident within minutes of arriving on the charming and hospitable island.
Halki, Greece: A Photo Gallery
Click on any image to enlarge.
Map of the Halki, Greece
Our map of Halki does not list bars, restaurants, and hotels on the island. (They surround the main harbour and you don't need a map to find them.) Instead, it focuses on sites of cultural and historic interest.
Click to enlarge.
(Please accept our apologies for the size of the font on the map image. Rest assured that the downloadable, PDF version of the Halki map is quite legible when printed over 2 sheets of A-4 paper.)