Islands off of Dubrovnik
Boat to an Adriatic National Park - Mljet, Croatia
Dubrovnik's fairytale charm isn't a secret. The city's walls and old town fortress architecture attract swarms of day visitors from cruise ships. It remains, though, one of the most enchanting places that I have visited. Once you have spent a few days exploring the steep, hidden alleyways; indulging in a seafood lunch at a "Shirley Valentine" cove, riding the cable car to the hilltop war museum and descending the rocky ladders to swim in the Adriatic off of the ramparts, it's time to turn your attention to the islands.
The two hour evening ferry ride from Dubrovnik's new port to Mljet, the National Park, is bewitching. The sun starts to sink, altering proportion and making the passing islands seem like paper cut outs against the deep red sky. Some of the land looks so remote that it could be inhabited by dinosaurs.
Docking at Sobra's jetty, the boat is met, as in most Adriatic ports, by the island's matriarchs offering private lodging. If you are staying at the island's only hotel, there is a turbulent hour and a half bus journey ahead. It's sensible to fixate on the stunning coast line, vineyards and forests to distract yourself from the driver happily smoking, talking on his mobile and precariously squeezing between passing vehicles and the steep drop.
As the clacketing of crickets gives way to daylight, the full beauty of the UNESCO protected park is revealed. The island has two salt lakes which you can walk around, sail over, bike past or float happily in. Mljet's kitchens burst with local produce to satisfy the fresh air appetite. Choose from local wild boar, fish, goat's cheese, wine, olives or book ahead to try the speciality of goat cooked under a bell. When you are ready to leave this island Eden, you can onwards hop to another one of the thousands of islands or back to the red-tiles of Dubrovnik's roofs.
Further information - Dubrovnik:
- I flew to Dubrovnik with British Airways from London Gatwick.
- The cosy Guesthouse Peter (book via Late Rooms) has a fantastic location and is run by Anka and her very charming son.
- Buy boat tickets to Mljet from the jetty in the New Port but triple check the complex and ever changing timetables.
Further information - Mljet:
- If you want to book ahead, Hotel Odisej is modern and reasonably priced or take one of the quayside ladies up on their offer.