When the time came to sail away from Dubrovnik, I was pretty excited to see our first destination, the island of Mljet. For a while it looked as through we might be stuck on-board the boat, as we were rocked by storms from early that morning, but after spending the morning wrapped in blankets below deck, the rain lifted and things started to brighten up.
Located a short fifteen minute stroll from where the Sail Croatia boats dock in Pomena village, Mjlet National Park covers the north-west of Mljet Island. It surrounds two salt water lakes – Veliko and Malo Jezero (Large and Small Lake) – that stretch for around 4 kilometres.
The beautiful blue-green shade of water in the lakes is truly astounding. We had been advised that the Park was ‘only really worth seeing on a sunny day’ but this definitely was not true.
The water was so inviting that I couldn’t resist getting in for a swim – despite just intending to go for a walk around the lakes!
Our plans quickly became more ambitious and from the small lake where we were, we decided to swim over to the other side where we could see the connecting channel and bridge to the large lake. Now, when I say the small lake, it was quite a distance – particularly for someone who hadn’t been swimming in over a year! Here’s a photo from the other side: you can see where we started at the shoreline on the left.
Swimming through the lake was probably one of the most tranquil experiences of my life and one of those moments where you can’t quite believe it’s happening to you. It’s funny how something so simple can really stick with you in your memory.
One of the busiest parts of the National Park was where the two lakes connect: the lakes are actually connected to the sea by small channels so you can feel the current. This intensifies through the channel where the two lakes connect and you can lie back, letting it pull you through. But try as you might, it’s near impossible to swim back through against the current – believe me, we tried! In the middle of the large lake, there is a small island with an old Benedictine monastery now operating as a cafe. You can take the ferry across as part of your admission ticket to the National Park but we opted to just walk around a little futher and admire the stunning scenery around us.
You can catch a ferry to Mljet from Dubrovnik, Split, Korcula and Hvar between May and October. If you’re visiting a city like Dubrovnik and would like a break from the hustle and bustle, it would make the perfect retreat!