Mjlet Island, Croatia

[June 2017]

The ferry from Dubrovnik to Mjlet departed around 4:30pm, took approximately two hours, and cost around $20. When I left Dubrovnik, I hadn’t booked a place to stay. I started looking online during the ride, but ultimately decided that I would figure it out when I got there. I arrived at Pomena, the northern bit in the national park. As I walked up towards the park entrance, I noticed a lovely terrace for meals, so I stepped in to ask if they had a room available.

Pansion Matana was a great place! I had an apartment in the back at the top. It had three twin beds, a small kitchen, bathroom, and air conditioning, with a goat and chickens out back. I don’t remember what I paid, but I remember it was fair and discounted because I was traveling alone. It is run by a couple. Their beautiful young daughters help with serving and cleaning at meals. They were charming. Inka, the wife of the duo, was an incredible hostess. Anything you need to know about Mjlet, she can tell you. I would absolutely stay here again without any hesitation. I would even plan ahead to make sure that I could stay there rather than showing up and getting lucky!

Two young women just a bit younger than myself arrived the same time. The first thing Inka recommended was that we go watch the sunset. She recommended a spot that we didn’t have enough time to walk to, so we started a delicious fish dinner and then watched the sunset from just near the boats. It was perfect.

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Croatia is known for its many islands. You simply can’t see them all. I chose to go to Mjlet because I wanted to see the national park featuring salt water lakes with crystal-clear water.

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After an incredible breakfast, I made my way into the national park. Tickets are sold in in a little booth just across the way before Pansion Matana and are checked throughout the park. Be sure to tell them how many days you plan to be on Mjlet because one ticket (125kn) is good for your entire length of stay.

It’s popular to hire a bike to explore the park. I decided to walk because I wanted to hike the trails. I started with a boat from the small bridge to St. Mary Island. The boat trip to and from the island once is included in the park entrance. The island is small, but the church and grounds are pretty. That said, I felt like I was there much longer than necessary.

I probably killed an hour waiting for the next boat to the Pristanliste. This is the starting point for the pink trail. I followed this well-marked trail all the way down to Soline where I devoured an octopus salad before beginning my walk back to the pansion.

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Along the trail, there were stunning views of the lakes, trees, and sea.

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As I hiked and stumbled along, I realized how much I talk to myself and how much I needed to think through. I know a lot of people think traveling alone isn’t for them, but it is so healthy. I need it. I need my time to recollect myself and put my pieces back together, so to speak. Nature does that to me.

On my way back to the pansion, I found a couple beautiful, secluded spots to swim. After all that time in the sun, the water was an immediate relief.

I used the app Maps.me on this trip. As I followed the trails and the path along the lake, I checked in with the app a couple times to make sure I hadn’t gone astray (cause, you know, my sense of direction is bad enough that I can get lost following the edge of a lake…). I noticed a cave marked on the way, so I made my way towards it. I didn’t climb all the way down, but it was worth the short detour.

When I got back to the pansion, I was more than ready to eat. I wasn’t in the mood for more fish, so I asked what else I could have. Inka recommended their spaghetti. I said, “Hmm…Spaghetti? I’m not sure I came all this way to eat spaghetti.” She assured me that their spaghetti was spectacular. “The recipe has been in the family for generations and we use cheese from our own goat.” After having the goat cheese at breakfast, I was sold.

That spaghetti… I think it may have been the best spaghetti I’ve ever had. If Inka says to eat the spaghetti, by George, eat the spaghetti!

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On my second day in Mjlet, I walked towards St. Mary Island via the path on the other side of the lake. I then veered off onto the yellow path you see on the map above down towards a viewpoint. Boulders covered the slope down to the sea. I wasn’t brave enough to climb down for fear of either tripping or never making my way back up, but it was a stunning place to take in the glory of the Adriatic. The best part? I was totally alone.

I think I would have enjoyed having a bike on Day 2. While I didn’t walk nearly as far and it wasn’t nearly as strenuous as Day 1, I walked the whole way, like a fool, with my swimsuit under my clothes. I was unbearably hot. As I made my way back, I kept trying to find the perfect, quiet spot to swim. Along the way, I spotted a stretch where everyone was spread out but totally nude.

This got me thinking.

I found my own spot where I could hear the occasional biker pass by, but I couldn’t see the trail. I laid out my towel, got in the water… and took off my suit.

Freedom. Perfection. No skinny dipping moment had ever felt so good.

I swam, wrapped myself in my towel, read my book, took a nap, swam again… As kayakers rowed by in the distance, I wondered how well they could see me, but I also didn’t care.

My next stop was Split. You can buy ferry tickets in the big hotel by the pier. I believe it leaves around 5:45?

I got back to the pansion with more than enough time to catch my ferry. I had the high hopes that dinner would be served before I left so that I could get one more plate of spaghetti, but that was, unfortunately, not the case.

I easily could have stayed on Mjlet another few days just to relax. It reminded me a bit of Ucagiz, Turkey that way. Alas, I still had more of Croatia and Slovenia to explore. I would like to have seen the southern part of the island. At the very least, I should have seen the Odysseus Cave. Inka said it was out of walking and biking range, but I’m sure I could have hired a ride. If you go to Mjlet, please see it for me.

Our boat stopped by other islands on the way to Split. While they all looked beautiful, they also looked busy. Maybe I’ll see the other islands on another trip, but Mjlet was definitely the right choice for me this time around.

 

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