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Mljet is truly unparalleled Mljet is truly unparalleled Mark Thomas

Travel Report – Mljet Explore the National Park

By  Jul 01, 2016

I always have two problems when writing about the island of Mljet, firstly I am biased and secondly words fail me. This is nature at its most spectacular. The National Park is without doubt the most stunning cornucopia of natural beauty I have ever seen. “Mljet is my favourite destination in this whole region,” I explained to a couple from Scotland sitting opposite me. We were headed from Dubrovnik towards the Pelješac Peninsula on the first leg of our full-day Mljet excursion with Croatia Excursions. “Why's that, what makes Mljet so special?” they replied. “Just wait and see,” I smiled.

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Mljet is a long, thin island in the Adriatic Sea. It seems to float off the Pelješac Peninsula and is also visible from Dubrovnik, just. The western end of the island is a National Park, and encompassed in that park and two lakes and another island…yes, another island. I have lived in Dubrovnik since 1998, and during that time I have covered every mile of the Dubrovnik – Neretva County. The region is rich in diversity and teeming with sights waiting to be discovered, but Mljet is special. Yes I am biased, there I have admitted it.

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We made our way on the luxury coach to Ston, our first stop of the day. Quaint and charming Ston is around 45 minutes from Dubrovnik and gave us time to stretch our legs, catch a coffee and explore the historical stone town. We continued along the green peninsula, observing the endless vineyards and olive groves. “So tell me why is Mljet so special,” again the Scottish couple were curious. “I really don’t want to spoil the surprise for you both,” I replied. Our rather pleasant boat was waiting in the bay of Trstenik and now a short ride across the channel and the island of Mljet awaited.

“Wow, I can almost feel how peaceful it is,” I heard an English tourist say as we pulled up to dock in the Mljet National Park. We were in the seaside village of Pomena, the coastal entrance to the park. “From here we have a short walk to the lakes,” explained the guide as we disembarked. I have a feeling; no more than a feeling I am sure, that out of the twenty people in our group only the guide and I had ever been to Mljet before. This was going to be fun, to observe their reactions.

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“What a lovely smell,” commented the man in front of me, to which his wife corrected “It isn’t a smell it is an aroma.” Pine is the smell, or aroma, and is permeates Mljet, this is a green island. Over 84 percent of the island is covered in dense forest. Our party had its way through that forest and then view opened up and the lakes revealed themselves in front of us, wow! Cameras were drawn faster than a cowboy drawing his six-shooter on a Western. “Incredible, fantastic, magnificent, splendid,” these were just a few of the words that our group repeated. As I said it isn’t easy to sum up the beauty of Mljet on paper, words are always not enough.

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We made our way around the Small Lake; yes there are two lakes, the rather unimaginatively named Big Lake and Small Lake, where a small boat was waiting for us. Another unique point about Mljet, it has an island on an island. On the Big lake there is a small island called Melita. And on that island is a 12th century Benedictine monastery, history, culture and nature, an intoxicating combination. And that small island on the island was our next point of call. On the island, believe it or not, is a spacious restaurant with a terrace in front of the monastery, a great location for a spot of lunch. And we had time to explore and swim! “I can see right to the bottom,” my Scottish friends exclaimed as they floated in the crystal clear water.

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Mljet is truly extraordinary, no it is extra extraordinary, sorry I have run out of extras. And this day-trip highlighted the amazing gems that the island holds. As I sat drinking a cool glass of wine on the terrace of the monastery the Scottish couple approached me, “Now we understand,” was all the said their faces full of smile. Another pair of Mljet devotees, I thought as I sipped my wine in the Mediterranean sunshine.

By Mark Thomas

The Mljet: Explore the National park is a full-day excursion offered by the Gulliver Travel agency. For more information, including prices, dates and how to book, please visit the Gulliver Travel website here.

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