Emerald green paradise
Mljet island, Croatia
Mljet is one of Croatia’s most attracting islands, a thriving escape to unspoiled nature, surprising history, rustic villages, delightful beaches. Mljet is a rich, emerald green paradise just south of the Peljesac peninsula. It is nicknamed the “Green Island” due to the rich forest of Alepski Bor (Aleppo Pine) that extends from the sea’s bed to the highest point of the island’s surface.
The Aleppo Pine was brought to Mljet from Alepa (Israel) before the time of Christ. The sap of the trees produces an aroma that is hypnotic, especially for first time visitors. It is a perfume which scents the air across the island.
Mljet’s main attraction is its National Park, which occupies the western part of the island. Here, visitors will find pristine natural beauty; untouched and protected. In the center of the park lie two enchanting cerulean saltwater lakes, Veliko Jezero and Malo Jezero (Big Lake and Small Lake).
In the middle of the large lake lies the small Isle of Saint Mary, home to a 12th-century Benedictine monastery. Around the lakes, a blanket of thick forest stretches across the island interrupted only by olive groves, vineyards, and a handful of tranquil settlements.
National Park Mljet
Mljet is one of the 8 National Parks in Croatia – and is one of the places you should not miss while sailing in Croatia.
Not only while sailing, you can also visit the National Park all year round. Of course the summer season is the peak of visiting the Park, the area is an unspoiled oasis of tranquility, the lakes are excellent for swimming and snorkeling, with crystal clear water of turquoise color.
To access the park, local authorities require an entrance ticket, which you can purchase at a kiosk in Sobra, Pomena, or Polače.
Mljet island / Shutterstock
The National Park is a large area that borders two saltwater lakes – Veliko and Malo Jezero (Large and Small Lake). The Lakes stretch for about 4 kilometers.
Right in the middle of the Large Lake, there is a small island/islet Melita (Sveta Marija) with a large building of the former Benedictine monastery, erected there in the 12th century (see photo above).
The monastery’s building is now a café/restaurant. The small island is connected by boats that sail there from both sides of the Lake. A similar landscape with lakes and small islet you can also visit is Plitvice Lakes national park which is situated in the northern part of Croatia.
Mljet island / Shutterstock
What to visit
Goveđari is the village established in XIIII century according to the document.
8 IV. 1793. the monks of the Benedictine monastery Benedict Gled and the others with the consent of the monastery representatives, procurators, signed an agreement settling above fields of Pomjenta, and they became the first residents of the village Goveđari . The village was soon increased with people from Babino Polje : Hajdić, Strazicic, Matana and Srsen.
The village relates to Polace and Great Lake. Nearby is the village church of St Nicholas, built in the early 20. century with the parish office.
Goveđari is the only place in the National Park, which is not by the sea.
Polace Roman Palace
Polace, a village in the western part of the northern coast of the island of Mljet. It is the largest and the safest bay on the whole Island, as it is secluded and sheltered by 4 small islands Tajnik, Moračnik, Ovrata and Kobrava. Due to its sheltered position, the bay is very popular among sailors and yachtsmen to do their anchorage there. The bay itself is 5.6 km long and about 4 km wide. Polace is also one of the ferry ports on Mljet where passenger catamaran ferry arrives from Dubrovnik.
The village has just over one hundred permanent inhabitants. It has a couple of restaurants and cafes, as well as a shop for basic provisions. Polace is pronounced Pola-che.
Swimming In Okuklje
Beautiful little bay on the northern shore of the island, Okuklje is a popular summer destination for visitors to Mljet. The bay is also a popular anchorage spot for sailors as a haven (in case of bad weather) on their way along the coast to Dubrovnik. Facing Croatian Mainland, this relaxed seaside small and quiet village offers several holiday houses and apartments, a couple of restaurants and cafes. A lot of good swimming spots to enjoy the clear waters. Hills around the bay are excellent hiking locations offering great views over the channel.
Snorkeling in Big Lake
The Coral Reef is something you don’t want to miss if you are going to snorkel. You will find the Reef within the Big Lake and it is extremely popular.
Within Mljet National Park, you’ll find the Big Lake, and within that lake, you’ll discover Mljet Coral Reef. An almost endemic reef builder, sod coral (Cladocora caespitosa), has inhabited Mediterranean waters for at least three million years. Its largest and most developed populations are located in Croatia, in the Mljet National Park.
The ridge of sod coral in the Great Lake on Mljet covers an area of as much as 650 square meters, and is located at a depth of between 4 and 18 meters and is one of the largest in the world, and is the largest coral reef in the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, rising sea temperatures threaten the survival of the coral reef.
The story we will find about the cave is told by people of Mljet and it occurred three thousand years ago and the ancient hero Odysseus was coming home from one of his journeys.
“Somewhere near Mljet, he was caught in a big storm, causing his ship to smash against the sharp rock Ogiran. One of the most popular characters in ancient Greek mythology had to swim to the nearest patch of land to save his neck, and amid the raging sea, a hole in the ground opened in front of him, which he swam into. It was an entrance to a cave where he found shelter from the storm”
For several years, it was the natural habitat of one of the rarest mammals in the world – the Mediterranean monk seal.
Babino Polje is the village from which is the easiest way to reach the Odysseus’ cave. The path leading to the beach that touches the turquoise sea leads through vineyards and olive groves.
The cave is accessible by land through a set of steep stairs, but jumping into the sea and swimming inside just like Odysseus is always a better choice. During the summer months, around noon, when the sun is at its strongest, the sea displays so many shades of blue that you’ll wish you could stay at least seven years like Odysseus.
Our Lagoon 620 “Adriatic Lion” in front of the Odysseus’ Cave
There are only two kinds of people on the planet; those who visited the island of Mljet and dream about returning and those who have yet to fall in love with the “green forest” of the South Adriatic.