Mljet is one of Croatia's hidden-gem islands. Situated about 70 minutes by ferry from Dubrovnik, Korčula or the Pelješac peninsula, the elongated island is home to one of Croatia's most beautiful Natural Parks. The island which is 32 kilometres long and about 3 kilometres wide rises like a sleeping green giant from the pristine waters of the Adriatic and believed to be the place where St Paul was shipwrecked on his way to Rome and is also reputed to be the bolt-hole of Odysseus and his nymphette Calypso. The island was once home to many poisonous snakes (vipers) but the problem was rectified by the introduction of the non-native mongoose, whose descendants can still be seen running between the trees of the thick pine forests.
Over 72% of the island of 1,000 km² is forest. The island's geological structure consists of limestone and dolomite forming ridges, crests and slopes. A few depressions on the island of Mljet are below sea level and are known as blatine ("mud-lakes") or slatine ("salt-lakes"). During the rain seasons all blatine are filled with water and turn to brackish during dry seasons.
Mljet houses one of Croatia's most important national parks despite the fact there is no official entrance point to the park you will be expected to pay at one of the official cabins you come across inside its boundaries.
The park's finest attribute, according to many, are the two inland lakes - which are in fact sea inlets. There is the small lake - Malo Jezero - and the large lake - Veliko Jezero. Both lakes are surrounded by delightful footpaths for walking and cycling.
In the centre of the Veliko Jezero a Benedicting monastery stands atop St Mary's Island - Otok Svete Marije). The island and monastery can be reached from Mali Most - the little bridge over the channel feeding the largest of the lakes (bicycles and kayaks may also be rented here) - by a regualar ferry. There is also a fine, if somewhat expensive restaurant and coffee shop on the island to keep you occupied while waiting for the next ferry home.
The climate is Mediterranean; an average air temperature in January is 9 °C and in July about 24 °C.
The Jadrolinja ferry from Dubrovnik sails to the Island's southern town of Sobra (20 kilometres from the park) year-round. There is also a daily Katamaran (the Nona Anna) from Dubrovnik between May and October which leaves you at the beautiful harbour town of Polace, this katamaran service returns each evening allowing for day-trippers as well as those who wish to stay longer on one of the most tranquil islands of the Adriatic. Polace hosts a small tourist office, shops, restaurants, bicycle hire and the newly arrived visitor to the island may avail of the mini-bus which travels to the nearby larger town of Pomena.
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