The island of Halki (or Chalki as it’s known locally) is part of the Dodecanses arghipelago belonging to Greece and being positioned in the Aegean Sea. The island itself lies approximately 6km west of the island of Rhodes.
Just 28 sq km in area, yacht charter Halki remains the smallest of the Dodecanese islands which is inhabited and the 2001 census revealed there are only 313 people living here, with the community divided into two parts: Chorio and Emporio (the port). It was during the mid 20th century that a large part of the island’s population living in Chorio emigrated, leaving it almost abandoned and heading for Tarpon Springs in Florida, US and establishing there a flourishing Greek-American community.
Among the best tourist sightseeing objectives there are the ruins of the medieval castle of the Knights of St. John which still overlooks the old town. Then there’s the Church of St. Nicholas, the Monastery of Stavros, the Pefkia with Apollo’s Temple and the islets of Alimia and Krev.
Fishing is one of the last traditions kept on the island and every day you’ll see some 50 men heading out in their boats for the day’s catch. Also, very popular here was sponge diving, the island’s main source of income until the 1940s, but high taxation and also an increase in fatal accidents from the hazardous conditions of diving has taken its toll on this means of life for the locals.
Because cars are still very limited on the small island, you’ll find transport on yacht charter Halki to be done the old fashioned way – by cart and donkey – which for some is a breath of fresh air and an escape from the luxuries or hassles of modern life. The rest of the fauna is made up of some 6000 goats which roam freely in the countryside and also a large number of cats, very present in the harbor area, ready to dine on the fishermen’s remains of the catch.
All in all, the island is worth at least a day trip to get a feeling of the real lifestyle of the Greek islands, before the tourism boom which sterilized much of the rest of the Dodecanese and indeed the rest of the country.