MLJET – 10 days on the greenest Dalmatian island

KAT CROATIA, CROATIA 2012 - today, DESTINATIONS WITH KIDS, TRAVEL WITH KIDS 2 Comments

Mljet is the most southerly and easterly of the larger Adriatic islands of the Dalmatia region and also the greenest and most forested of them all. A big part of it is also a protected area of a national park. Many tourists come for the amazing nature and are seeking peace, recreation and good food. Some are only coming over on a day trip from other islands in the near, like Korcula and visit the main attraction – the national park. We were lucky enough to spend 10 days in a rented house in Sobra, just at the beach. Of course we did not only lay around the pool and at the beach, we also explored most of the islands corners, villages, beaches and hills.

Who: 5 adults + 1 child (3 years old)

When: August 2015

Visited: Sobra, Saplunara, Mljet NP, Babno polje, Polace, Prozurska Luka

How: with our car

Stayed in: a rented house

USEFUL INFORMATION

GETTING THERE

If you are flying in, the nearest airport is in DUBROVNIK, but you can also fly to SPLIT and catch either a boat / ferry or rent a car / hop on a bus to the PELJESAC peninsula – from here it´s a short ferry ride to Sobra on Mljet. From Split it will take you about 2 hours to the ferry in Praprotno, Peljesac. You need to pass a small part of Bosnia (around 40 kilometres), but the coastal road is really nice. We were coming from Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina, because we were just at the end our short road trip. The ferry costed us 200 kuna (26€) one way, for the car + 2 adults, Lu did not have to pay. For more information, check the prices and scedules at the official page of Jadrolinija ferrys. The ferry ride was quick and you have everything on board, food, drinks, toilet and a nice big deck to catch some sun ;). You arrive to Sobra which is kind of in the middle of the island. There is also a ferry from Polace (Mljet NP) to Trstenik (Peljesac).

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You know that feeling when you reach the goal after a long day of travelling and you use the last bits of energy to bring the luggage from the car to the room /house before you finally relax and sit down with something good to drink & eat – with a view that´s hard to beat? In that second you know the long way down was totally worth it!

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ACCOMMODATION

The last years since we have Lu we always search for a bigger APARTMENT or even better, a WHOLE HOUSE, because a part of my Slovenian family always joins us also. As we searched for a suitable house on Mljet, House Ana immediately stood out. The traditional stone house can host up to 6 people, has a pool, a large outside area with two terraces & grill and a direct access to the beach (just a few stairs). The rooms are fully equipped with everything you might need. Ana, the owner, was amazing! Highly recommend the place, just don´t forget to book well in advance!

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You can contact Ana directly via email: anastojano@gmail.com and check out the house here: www.mljet-sobra.com.

MLJET WITH KIDS

Mljet might not be the ideal place for your holidays if your kids are used to long stretches of sandy beach, animation clubs or hotels with minimum 5 pools. You also won´t find big playgrounds, trampolines or similar. Actually you also will not find that many families with small children. There will also most probably not be many shops and vendors selling toys and all those usual plastic things they would sell in the evenings on the most busy pedestrian streets of an average Istrian town. But quite frankly, we prefer not to have those things anyway, so we did not have even the slightest problem with being left in peace. Lu was the first one to jump into the pool in the morning and the last one to get out in the evening. In between he was jumping off the SUP in the sea and tried to dive with his brand new mask, but that didn´t turned out like I planned, maybe next year ;). There are still some sandy beaches, perfect for the little ones, in Saplunara or in Mljet NP for instance. Mljet is RICH WITH VEGETATION and it is very likely you can find a nice spot under a pine tree.

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You will not find big hospitals on Mljet, so in case you think you will need MEDICAL CARE, it might be better to stay on the Croatian mainland. You can get fresh fish, vegetables and bread – in bigger shops they also have everything for babies. Don´t forget sunscreen and something against the mosquitos. So, if you like amazing nature, delicious food and recreation on top of a good portion of peace and quiet, Mljet is a great choice, especially of your kids don´t mind stepping on stones & rocks instead of sand every day.

WHAT WE SAW & DID

Mljet is only abouT 60 km LONG so it is not a problem to doscover its corners on daily trips from where ever it is that you are situated.

mljet points of interest
1. SOBRA

Sobra is a SMALL BAY which primarily served as a port for the bigger settlement called BABINO POLJE, which has no access to the sea. It is nowadays still a very relaxed small town, rather a village actually with many locals offering apartments. There is NO HOTEL HERE  and only one small shop where you can also buy fresh bread. In Babino Polje, just a few kilometres up the road, there are two bigger SUPERMARKETS with more products to choose from. There are also a few nice RESTAURANTS, but if you rather cook on your own – check out the fresh caught fish sold close in a small hall, next to the restaurants. Just a few kilometres from the town there is the main ferry port of Mljet. It will take you about 45 minutes drive to reach MLJET NP at one end of the island and around 30 minutes to Saplunara at the other end.

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For some recreation or an evening walk you can take the gravel road hidden between the pine trees towards the LIGHTHOUSE, which seems to be impossible to reach on foot, but you can finish the walk at one of the small bays on the other side of the peninsula. It will take you about 30 minutes each way, depends on how fast you are.

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There are nice views on Sobra town and the surrounding hills from the walk, you see the local FISH FARM up close.

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The sea water in the bay is normally calm so it´s perfect for SUP (Stand Up paddle). We did not see any renting possibilities, but we anyway had our own with us.

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2. PROZURSKA LUKA

This is an even smaller village not so far from Sobra, it has a total population of LESS THAN 50 PERMANENT RESIDENTS. Because the bay is dotted with small islands it´s a nice place to cruise around with a sailing boat – if you decide to visit the little fishing village, you can have lunch at its two restaurants or just head to the beach for a swim. There are also many private apartments but other than that, not much going on. Probably a great place to really relax!

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Don´t forget to look out of the window here and there while you are driving around Mljet – the views on the other islands and the Adriatic sea are spectacular!

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3. SAPLUNARA

The name Saplunara comes from Latin and means sand. At this last eastern tip of the island one finds a BEAUTIFUL GREEN AREA WITH 3 SANDY BEACHES, hidden between the rocks and pine forests. Saplunara is not only a wonderful place to take a swim at, but is also an important habitat because it hosts several plant species that are found nowhere else in Croatia. The place remain isolated for some reason and seems untouched from the massive tourism. In the village there are only a few apartments, no hotels. Many come with sailing boats and spend the night at the bay.

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(1) In this LARGEST REMAINING COASTAL SAND HABITAT in Croatia you first reach the longer sandy beach and can park free of charge at the beach restaurant. Then there are only a few stairs to take down to the beach where you can rent chairs and “umbrellas” which look more like palm trees. Perfect for the kids! It never gets too crowded.

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(2) If you drive a bit further you come to the second small cove with a beach bar and a nice beach. There is also a parking under the pine trees and a restaurant at the end of the “real road”.

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(3) After that you can walk (or drive if you really have to) to the beach number 3. We decided to walk even though the sun was already pretty high but the jump in the sea was even nicer afterwards. The views from the gravel road are worth it!

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You finally reach the largest cove and as you approach it through a small stretch of PINE FOREST this amazing view opens in front of you! Somehow I expected a beach with many people, but no. There were almost none! I must say the beach was nicer to look at than to swim in, because the water was really shallow and therefore warm, it did not feel like a real refreshment. It seemed more like a lake. I was more interested in all the rock formations, plants, shells and sea animals and I must say, there was much to see!

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(4) Everybody who you talk to on the island will tell you you have to go for lunch to STERMASI RESTAURANT in Saplunara. So, we did. Twice! Food was delicious, a bit pricey but the views from the terrace made up for it 😉

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Clams, fish, black risotto, octopus salad, shrimps, fish, fish and more fish. Some of it from our house grill, some from the restaurant. Both yummy!

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I did mention to look up and around here and there while driving around the island, didn´t I? Gin also CYCLED THE ROAD SOBRA – SAPLUNARA AND BACK, but said it was rather exhausting. Looked like people mostly cycle on the other side, closer to the national park.

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4. MLJET NATIONAL PARK

The main attractions of the national park in the west of the island are the 2 SALT WATER LAKES, Veliko and Malo Jezero (Large and Small Lake). You can enter the park either through POLACE town – you can start in the town or drive a bot more to the bigger parking. Many RENT BICYCLES bikes already in Polace but I would advice this only for those who are more on the fit side. Eventually you come to a closed section of the road and a parking on your left side. Park ad pay the entrance fee at the small kiosk. We paid also for a boat that first took us to the SMALL ISLAND island of the Largest Lake where we had about 45 minutes time for sightseeing, before the boat continued to the Small Lake. You can also walk to the Small Lake (but don´t see the island then) or enter the park in the town POMENA on the other side.

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On the Large Lake there is a small island (st. Mary´s island) with a former BENEDICTINE MONASTERY from the 12th century. The monastery building is nowadays turned into a restaurant, but one can easily explore the small island on foot and see the remains of other chapels, walls and pillars, walk between olive trees and take a short swim. From the nearby shore there are small boats for a few people who will take you to the island for little money.

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After we visited St. Mary´s island we caught the next boat to the SMALL LAKE where many had the same idea – a longer stop for SWIMMING. The place was rather full of tourists, surprisingly many Australians. The Large and the Small Lake are connected with a SHORTER NARROW CHANNEL where the currant is very strong and many have fun at trying to swim towards it – we have not seen anyone succeed at that, but it was fun to watch 😉 The small Lake is nice for the kids, the temperature is also warmer than in the open sea.

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Since we had our grandma´s/grandpa´s and aunts/uncles aboard we left Lu with them and rented bicycles. In just 1 HOUR YOU CAN CIRCLE THE BIG LAKE and take a few shorter stops. If you wish to swim in between then rent the bikes for 3 hours at least. The was is party asphalt and partly gravel road, mostly in the shade and you can stop in some restaurants on the way. It is impossible to cycle the whole lake around, at one point you need to turn and go the same way back, or catch a water taxi which will take your bikes and you across the lake to the other side. We opt for the boat! Unfortunatelly there was no more time to rent a KAYAK – maybe next time!

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Summer was coming to an end and our time was running out once again – one last evening, ONE LAST SUNSET, fish dinner, wine at this amazing terrace over looking the sea. Then the ferry to Peljesac, 700 kilometres to Ljubljana where we just had a sleepover and then a little over 1000 kilometres to our home in Germany.

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One last shot from the ferry. `till next year, Dalmatia!

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