Otok Mljet (pronounced 'mil-yet'), in Southern Dalmatia, is one of the larger islands in off the coast of Southern Croatia. Although many people live on the island (mainly in the port of Sobra on the east end), the west end port of Polače holds the entrance to the national park of Mljet. This park includes an inland sea and another small island nested within it, and is a must-see for visitors.
Mljet used to be a Roman possession (indeed, Polače means "palace" and holds some Roman ruins). Over the course of history, the isle traded hands with the rest of the Balkans (to the Ottomans, the Austro-Hungarians, etc.) It was promised to Italy at one point in the early 20th century. Once the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes was declared, the island became part of that country.
Ancient Greeks called the island "Melita", or "honey," which over the centuries evolved to become the Slavic name, Mljet.
Over 72% of the island of 1000 km² (388 sq mi) 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 they turn to brackish during dry seasons.
The climate is Mediterranean; an average air temperature in January is 9°C (48°F) and in July about 24°C (75°F).
There is an entrance fee of 125 kn per person to enter the Mljet National Park. If you are joining an excursion organised by a travel agency to Mljet, it may not include this entrance fee, so make sure you check before booking.
Sobra (east-end) and Polače (west-end) serve as ferry ports for the island.
- From Dubrovnik
The Nona Ana catamaran operates twice daily from Dubrovnik to Sobra and Polače on Mljet island. Tickets are 54 kn one way per person. Polače is nearer the National Park than Sobra.
- From the Pelješac peninsula
There is car ferry operating five times a day between Prapratno on the Pelješac peninsula and the port of Sobra on Mljet island.
- From Split
There is car ferry from Split on Saturday and speed boat from Lastovo on Tuesday and Thursday.
- From Korčula
From Korčula you can get to Sobra on Mljet island by car ferry operated by Jadrolinija  [formerly dead link] on Mondays and Fridays. The ferry leaves Korčula Town at 14:00 and arrives at Sobra at 16:15. Sobra is some distance from the National Park, which is located on the western side of Mljet island. Alternatively, join a day trip excursion from Korčula organised by a travel agency:
- Kantun Tours [formerly dead link] organises an excursion to Mljet by speed boat (the journey is around 30 min one-way) for 250 kn per person return (not including the 90 kn entrance fee to the National Park).
- Mediterano Travel Agency can provide a return boat journey between Korčula Town and Mljet for 180 kn per person or an excursion (including a guide and the National Park entrance fee) for 360 kn per person.
- Korkyra Info Travel Agency [dead link] offers an excursion (with a guide and including the National Park entrance fee) for 350 kn per person.
- Korčula Adventures [dead link] offers an excursion to Mljet by luxury yacht (guide, lunch, snorkelling gear and National Park entrance fee included) for 450 kn per person.
The island of Mljet has no airport. Dubrovnik Airport on the mainland provides the main international connection for the island.
There is only one major road on the island which runs through or near most cities. The road is paved, but condition is only fair. Speed limit is usually 40 km/h (24 mph). For most of its length, the road has long uphill or downhill includes.
If you come without a car, you can rent one at several local agencies:
- MiniBrum has a rental office at the Sobra ferry terminal. They rent a variety of small, often cutely decorated, cars. In our case, a small diesel Fiat for two days was about €120 plus fuel.
Mountain bikes can be rented in Pomena and Polače. This is a good way to get to and explore the National Park. However due to the island's size, topography, and road conditions, it's not realistic to expect to also explore the central and eastern parts of the island by bike from the west end.
- Mljet National Park (Nacionalni Park Mljet). The two lakes (jezera) and the monastery on the island in the middle of the large lake (veliki jezera). Boats leave for the monastery every hour or so, check the timetables within the national park. The monastery was a hotel until it was damaged in 1991 and now houses a cute restaurant called Melita. 90 kn.
- Saplunara beaches (Start at Saplunara Bay then work your way to Blace beach). There are three sandy beaches within Saplunara, starting with the bay itself. The bay is slightly overlooked, but as you work through, you eventually got to Blace beach which is 800 m (1/2 mile) long and secluded among stones of Mljet southern shores. This hidden bay and beach is surrounded by pine trees, faces South and looks like a lagoon. The entrance from the sea to Blace beach is only 8 metres wide so the sea water inside the lagoon gets very warm and is possible to swim here even at the times when sea water outside is still cold and not suitable for swimming. Because of it's isolated location, Blace Beach and Bay is popular among naturist and nudists too. Out of season, a lot of debris collects on the beach and is not cleaned making it significantly less appealing.
Swim around, snorkel and try to find the large mussels (about 60 cm (2 feet) long) in the smaller lake (malo jezero). Rent a mountain bike and ride around the big lake (veliko jezero) and small lake (malo jezero) which are connected to each other.
[dead link] X-Dream, Polace 8 (Directly on the sea, close to the harbour), ☎ . 08:00-22:00. Local company for bicycle and kayak rental. They have a good service and very professional staff. 100 kn. There are similar companies along the coast street in Polace.
- Rappel or Swim to Odysseus/Ulyssey's Cave, Odysseus's cave sits under the village of Babino Polje. (Pull over on the road parallel to Babino Polje then it's a 20-minute walk towards the south coast from there.). A large egg-shaped cave in the rocky coastline, accessed by a 30-metre tunnel used as a harbour by local fishermen. Legend has it that Odysseus found his shelter here after surviving a shipwreck, hence the name. He supposedly was shipwrecked here and due to the beauty of the island's nature and his love for the nymph Calipso, Odysseus stayed on the island for 7 years. When the sun gets to the highest point, the water illuminates in a fantastic way. There's also some gravity-defying, quite amusing graffiti around the rocks. There are two entrances: one from the seaside (swimming) and the other one from on high (rappelling). As you walk along the path towards the cave, look out for the cute road sign painting on the rocks! Once you're near the cave, it's a natural beauty and popular for rappelling. Free.
- Follow the hiking trail up to Veliki Grad, the highest mountain of Mljet (~500 m). The trail starts in Babino Polje.
There are several places to eat out in Pomena, around the harbour. Most appear to cater to the yachting fraternity and specialise in very fresh fish; live seafood are kept in tanks next to each restaurant. There's also a great restaurant between the harbour and the hotel. It looks like it's a private house but with a large barbecue area built on, and it does excellent barbecued fish. Besides that, there are several restaurants in villages Polače, Soline and in Babine kuće. There is also restaurant on the island of St. Mary.
There's not a lot of nightlife in Pomena; the hotel has an inside bar with a cheesy band, and an outside shack that sells drink. It's best for a quiet getaway rather than a party!
- Vila Mungos, Sobra 35, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com.
- Bourbon Hostel and Rooms Polace, Polace 8, ☎ . In the centre of the National Park Mljet, 5 m from the beach and 150 m from the main ferry port.
- Hotel Odisej (In the centre of the National Park Mljet), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Overpriced, dilapidated hotel with a perfect location. Could be fantastic, but seems to have barely been touched since the 1970s, complacent with being the only hotel on the island and within the National Park. There may not be many places on the island that advertise online, but there is plenty of accommodation on the island, no doubt cheaper and better than this.
- Stermasi, Saplunara 2, Maranovici (Go to Saplunara on the far east of the island and follow the big signs!), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 10:00. Accommodation on the far east of the island near the warm waters of Blace beach. Run by the Stermasi family, who seem to be expanding the number of places, each room has a personal touch to the decoration and with the excellent restaurant attached, it's a place to stay to explore a different side to the island. €40-75.
- [dead link] Vila Mungos, Sobra 35, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
On summer days speed boat goes from the port of Sobra to Dubrovnik every day at 06:15 (Tuesday and Thursday at 06:00) and at 17:35. From port of Polače speed boat goes every day at 16:55.
From Sobra car ferry goes every day to Prapratno (peninsula Pelješac) at 06:00, 09:00 and at 12:00, 16:00, 19:00 (on Sunday and holidays it goes at 10:00 not at 09:00).
With speed boat you can also go to island Korčula from Polače and Sobra on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, and with car ferry from Sobra on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. There is speed boat from Sobra and Polače to island Lastovo on Tuesday and Thursday.
To Split you can go from Sobra with car ferry on Saturday.