There are a number of interesting islands in the vicinity of Kos which you should definitely consider visiting. Kastri for one is a must see. It is practically a part of Kos island. Situated in the Kefalos bay Kastri is one of the most picturesque landmarks on the island of Kos. You can swim over quite easily (it is around 200 meters away from the shore) and visit the church or jump off the rocks. You could also rent a pédalo if you feel lazy and just slowly pedal your way over.
Islands to the South of Kos
On the Southern side of the island the most popular day trip is the one to Nisyros out of Kardamena. You get to visit the volcano and to spend the afternoon in Mandraki a village that has maintained a more traditional feel. For the more adventurous amongst you there are quite a few places to visit including Emporios, Nikia and Paloi but you will need to rent a scooter or a car to get there. There are also trips to Gyali out of Nisyros if you fancy something different but that might be a bit of a complicated endeavor and in any case you might need to spend at least a night in Nisyros to make it worth it. Between Kos and Nisyros there is also the island of Strongyli but it is a rugged island that is very difficult to access. Last but not least there is also the option of going to Tilos out of Kos Town but you will definitely need a few days to actually get to see the island. Have a look at an Octopus in my ouzo an interesting blog with some insights on the island of Tilos.
Islands to the North of Kos
Towards the North there is a plethora of islands that are easily accessible from Kos. Kalymnos is very close to Mastichari (20 minutes by fast boat and 50 minutes with the ferry that has the added advantage of transporting cars) and there are frequent connections throughout the day. Kalymnos is a big island but it is rather arid especially in comparison to Kos. It is currently one of the top destinations for climbers and quite busy all year round. The landscape is quite beautiful although rugged but here and there, there are also a number of very nice coves where you can take a dip in the clear turquoise waters. There are plenty of things to see including a number of villages: Myrties, Vlihadia, Vathy, Emporio just to name a few and you would probably need a few days to cover the whole island if you put your mind to it. Kalymnians are seafarers and are renowned for their sponge diving skills (This explains their presence in countries where they used to dive for sponges including places such as Tarpon Springs,Gary, IN, and Campbell, OH- in the United States and Darwin and Melbourne in Australia) and their seafood. So don’t forget to grab a bite to eat if you are into seafood in general. On the western side of Kalymnos lies Nera which is a relatively large island on which there is just a church. It is mostly populated by seagulls and can only be reached during the summer via occasional trips out of Kos. On the other hand, there is the easy option of Telendos which is very close to the Kalymnos mainland and has regular connections (every half hour) out of the village of Myrties. On Telendos you can spend the day swimming and eating at the tavernas, go and visit the monuments that abound or even explore the caves in the mountainous areas if you don’t mind going for a hike.
Islands to the East of Kos
East of Kalymnos there are also a couple of Islands that are relatively close to Kos. The island of Platy can be reached via the three island tour out of Mastichari or Kos Town that includes the islands of Kalymnos, Platy and Pserimos. It is a very small rocky island and there is not much to do. A few years ago a house was built and a family moved there in an effort to populate the island. The island of Pserimos can be reached from Kalymnos throughout most of the year and from Mastichari during the summer on a daily basis (you can actually spend the day there). It is a relatively big island with a small population that makes a living catering to the few tourists that visit during the summer. There are a number of beaches and places you can visit (Marathonda, Vathi, Grafiotiosa) if you are in an adventurous mood but most people prefer to remain in the village next to the harbor and just swim and grab some lunch in a very laid back atmosphere.
Islands out of the Beaten track
Beyond these relatively easily accessible options there are a number of other islands you can visit and we have included some of them in this website. Lipsoi and Leros are easily reachable on a daily basis while Levitha, Kandeleousa and Syrna are somewhat more difficult to reach as you would need to hire a boat to get there.