First things first, Halki isn’t short for Halkidiki – it’s a gorgeous island that certainly holds its own. This is the place to go if you’re looking for the true essence of an authentic Greek holiday that will have you remaining tight-lipped when your friends and family ask you where you’re going on your next getaway – you’ll want to keep it all to yourself. A tiny island in the Dodecanese reached by a ferry ride from Rhodes, Halki is a location where time stands still, so laidback you can almost hear the silence which is only mildly interrupted by the gentle crash of the waves, the rustle in the olive groves and the melodic chirping of the beautiful wildlife. UNESCO characterises Halki as “the island of peace and friendship” and it certainly lives up to its name. You’ll automatically be on a first name basis with everyone you encounter here as locals welcome you with open arms as if you were a long-lost friend. Add into the mix delicious cuisine, serene beaches, fascinating culture and comfortable accommodation and it’s truly the place where your dream relaxing holiday comes to life.
You’ll feel like the only people on the island
No, seriously! Tranquillity reigns in Halki, and that’s largely down to the fact that there are only about 300 permanent residents on the island who mostly live in Emborio, the capital. Recently, the island welcomed the first baby born in almost fifty years! It’s the smallest inhabited island on the Dodecanese and possibly the quietest thanks to the lack of vehicles – there’s only one real main road so you’ll find yourself playing “spot the car” during your stay! Don’t worry about getting around as the easiest way to travel is on foot; nothing is too far away but there is also a minibus that runs regular excursions to the fascinating Halki Medieval Castle and boats that provide a water taxi service to some of the beaches. To really be surrounded by serenity, be sure to visit the deserted town of Chora which was once home to about 3,000 people when Halki was a rich centre of sponge fishing. That all changed in the 19th century as people gradually descended from the hilltop town and turned it into a ghost town of empty storefronts, ruined houses, a school and a church. But just because Halki is quiet, doesn’t mean it isn’t full of life…
Exploring Emborio is a picture-perfect moment
Also known as Niborio, the gorgeous fishing village of Emborio is both the main resort and capital of Halki, curving elegantly around the turquoise bay in a magnificent horseshoe shape. The small blissful port is almost entirely pedestrianised, a delightful mix of locals and visitors alike as well as the odd friendly cat that wanders around the cobblestone streets. Pastel-coloured houses with red-tiled roofs climb up the hillside in tiers, and, combined with the colourful boats bobbing in the water and the lively chatter of the fishermen, create the most magnificent scene that looks as if it’s straight out of a storybook. Don’t forget your swimming costume when visit Emborio – while there is no beach, the inviting crystal-clear waters can be accessed by ladders dotted around the harbour for a refreshing swim under the beaming Grecian sunshine. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, visit one of the enticing tavernas and cafés with their traditional chequered tablecloths and sample the likes of Halkian pasta, a selection of local cheese and xerotigana, which is a honeyed pastry dessert.
It couldn’t be safer to relax
Remember when we said that Halki is only home to about 300 residents? Well, with such a small number of locals, it meant that this Dodecanese gem was one of the first islands to be fully vaccinated in Greece as of April 2021. And, not only is it medically safe, but the island has aims to become fully ‘green’ and environmentally conscious. An agreement was signed between the Greek Ministry of Environment and Energy and the French Embassy and six major companies so as to install a 1 MW PV park, donate electric vehicles to local authorities, upgrade the telecommunication network to 5G, recycle waste and apply circular economy principles on the island.
The beaches are heavenly
What’s a Greek holiday without a beach day or several? There are plenty of beaches within walking distance from Emborio harbour including Pondamos, Halki’s biggest beach with fine, white sand and a waterfront taverna and umbrellas that line the shore. Kania Beach is also a popular choice, a beautiful bay with crystal clear waters that’s best reached on foot to admire the sheer beauty of the surrounding area. The food served at the taverna is to die for and if you dine there, you get a complimentary sun bed on the beach. Pondamos Beach and Ftenagia Beach are both just a ten-minute walk from the harbour, with the latter being a perfect choice for snorkelling thanks to the vibrant underwater world abundant with colourful coral.
The accommodation options will spoil you for choice
It might be cliché, but home is where the heart is, and it doesn’t get more homely than the properties that Olympic feature on Halki. Most are self-catering to allow you that authentic experience at the tavernas or to cook your own food in the apartments if you so choose, but no need is unmet thanks to the welcoming hospitality at these family-run abodes. The likes of Villa Tsandou, Zifos Studios, Villa Avra, Petraki Apartments, Villa Chrysanthi and Elena Studios tick all the boxes for a traditional Grecian stay that captures the authentic essence of Halki, utterly comfortable, well-equipped and in prime positions to enjoy all that the island has to offer. If you’re seeking something a little more modern, Aretanassa Hotel will be right up your street. A boutique-style property with 19 sea-facing rooms, this three-star hotel boasts culinary options that fill the air with aromas of Greek delights from seasonal vegetables and fine cheeses to tender meats and fresh seafood. Other stylish stays include Villa Lola, Anna’s House, and Villa Chrysodimi.
Look out, another cliché is coming your way but if there was anywhere in the world to stop and smell the roses, it’d be Halki. This gorgeous island is full of charm and wonder, unique in every way and offering a holiday that’s truly exclusive in its experience – there’s really no other place like it. Let Olympic Holidays assist you on your adventure to Halki and get ready for blissful happiness to wash over you…