Dubrovnik

Mljet

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Mljet gets a growing share of tourists, but as one of the more remote and less developed islands, with a limited ferry service, it lacks the kind of mass tourism of much of the Dalmatian coast and some other more accessible islands. This isn’t the place to come for late night bars, concerts or discos. One might hope it never will be.

Be prepared to fall in love with nature all over again, for this island has a stunning quality waiting for you to discover. Croatia’s 8th largest island is approximately 3km wide and 37km long making attractive to explore for a short or lengthier stop. It has an area of roughly 100 square km with 131km of coastline and many little niches and coves to discover, so you’d be forgiven for wanting to stay. With five distinct forest tree varieties, abundant fauna and lush vegetation, it’s easy to see why Mljet is called the “Green Island.” Mljet offers a panorama of coastline, cliffs, reefs and numerous islets as well as the rich topography of the hills that rise steeply above the sea and plummet back into deep valleys sheltering ancient stone villages. The submarine world includes quite an array of fish and several types of corals. With fantastic weather, sailing, recreational sports, swimming, scuba diving, hiking and bicycle paths are only a fraction of the pleasures that you can enjoy here. The western end of Mljet has been protected as a National Park since 1960.

Getting there and around
Two ferry types are available to/from Dubrovnik, a car ferry and a catamaran mostly provided by Jadrolinija ferries. Mljet is only 8km away from the peninsula of Pelješac, 18km from Korčula and 30km from Dubrovnik. There are a number of harbour ports in Mljet. Polače is its largest and main port of call in the north, however, you can also access the island from Sobra which is best used to reach Maranovići and Babino Polje. Other harbours include Pomena which has daily connections to Dubrovnik (watch out for reefs and shallow water), and Lokve or Gonoturska port where you can throw anchor just before the entry canal toward the Big Lake.

What to See
Mljet National Park (Nacionalni Park Mljet) Pristanište 2, Goveđari, tel. (+385-20) 74 40 41, np-mljet@np-mljet.hr, www.np-mljet.hr. Established in 1960, the park is Mljet’s top attraction. The park, encompasses 54 square kilometres at the western end of the island, with an astonishing interior and coastline beauty. Veliko Jezero and Malo Jezero (Big Lake and Small Lake), and the villages of Soline, Babine Kuće, Pomena, Polače and Goveđari all lie within the park boundaries. Of interest, this park represents the first institutionalised attempt to protect the native eco-system in the Adriatic.

Benedictine Monastery on the islet of St Mary (Samostan Sv Marija) This tiny island, in a lake on the island of Mljet, is at the island’s cultural and spiritual heart.

Polače The village is named for the ruin of a significant Roman palace and fortifications – one tower is 20m high - built between the 2nd and the 5th century. Second in size to the Palace of Diocletian in Split, you can’t miss it: The road to Pomena slips right between its high walls.

Pomena Located on the western coast of Mljet in the National Park, about 200 m from Malo Jezero. This village, built after World War II, has only about 50 inhabitants living among charming thick forests and working in agriculture, fishing and tourism. The bay of Pomena is perfect for small yachts, which can pull up to the pier while you enjoy the hotel’s amenities.

Goveđari Settlement began here in the late 18th Century when two families of land workers and fishermen from Babino Polje were given permission to settle by the Benedictines to work as cattle-breeders (goveda means cattle in Croatian). Located in the national park, 5km inland, this ethnologically interesting site is a great place to be surrounded by peace, serenity and lush vegetation.

Babine Kuće This picturesque little fishing village is located on the shores of the Veliko jezero just beneath Goveđari. It offers a splendid view of the islet of St Mary. There are a number of private rentals here, too.

Babino Polje The central and largest inhabited area with around 350 people, Babino Polje is the administrative centre of the island. Stretched along a ridge above a bypass road and a field (the name means “Grandma’s Field”), Babino Polje is surrounded with pine woods, groves of old, twisted olive trees and vineyards, and 514m Veliki Grad, the highest hill on the island.

Odysseus’s Cave (Odisejeva Špilja) Technically that would be Calypso’s cave; Odysseus, shipwrecked on his way home from the Trojan War, only stayed with the nymph seven years, and most of the time he was pining for his wife and his home. After walking along a path lined with rock walls and wildflowers, which takes you out above a deep grotto and the crashing waves, you may wonder why he was in such a hurry to leave. You can pick your way down into the cave; come back another day by boat to squeeze into it through a 30m tunnel. Local fishermen use the grotto as a harbour.

Prožura This medieval village was used by Ragusan nobles who – a bit like yourself – were looking for relaxing getaway. Perched on a hill over a Blato (an intermittent lake) and the sea, Prožura has a 17th Century watch tower and three beautiful churches: the Church of the Holy Trinity, the Church of St Martin and the Church of St Rocco.

Maranovići The 18th Century Baroque house of the Peš family is in the middle of the town. The 19th Century parish church of St Anton rests on the foundations of an older church and features Gothic architectural elements.

In nearby Korita, the ruined 14th Century Church of St Mary of the Hill mixes Gothic and Renaissance elements, and demonstrates features typical of the island’s churches. A roughly square plan with a deep porch extending to the front, and a picturesque belfry “na preslicu” (“on a distaff,” that is, the belfry has a split where the bell hangs, the way a distaff’s end is cleft to hold wool). Some of the manor houses have Renaissance-Baroque elements. The town has its own 17th Century defence tower with loopholes for firing. Korita is named for the stone troughs, common on the island, that are used to capture rainwater.

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