Ditch Crowds On Croatia's Greenest Island With A National Park You'll Never Forget

Situated along the Croatian coastline is an extraordinary strip of paradise covered in unspoiled natural landscape. Located 23 miles from Dubrovnik and covering 62 square miles, Mljet, Croatia, is home to acres of lush greenery, aquamarine waters, and rocky coastlines that captivate visitors with their enticing beauty. Unsurprisingly, this gorgeous island is known for its fringed coral reefs, prospering diving scene, and must-visit national parks. This small island trades a high tourist season for authentic, natural beauty. Mljet is so tiny that it has only one hotel, located on Pomena inside Mljet National Park. 

Mljet isn't just known for its stunning topography and photogenic landscapes. It's rich in historical culture and mythological legends. Mljet has long been associated with the story of Odyssey and the nymph, Calypso. However, according to historical evidence, Mljet was first settled by Illyrians and later came under the control of Greeks and Romans in 167 BC. Later in the 12th century, Benedictine monks from Puglia founded a thriving agriculture scene on the island's shores before falling under captivity of Yugoslavia in 1912. Mljet wouldn't obtain its independence until 1991. With no high tourist season, summer is the best time to visit Mljet, particularly between June and September. This season allows you to experience the warmth of the sunshine and sparkling white sand beaches contained within the splendor of its national park.

Roam the grounds of the Green Island

Mljet has long been known as the "Green Island" because of its alluring emerald-green forests and sea-green reefs. Mljet National Park is the center of attention on this fringed island and covers its entire western portion. It's home to two breathtaking saltwater lakes, sheltering the isle of Mary and surrounded by mall hamlets, groves of olives, and flourishing vineyards.

A short ferry ride away, the village of Sobra is a must-visit on Mljet. This tiny hamlet doesn't house much aside from a small fishing harbor. Except for its fishing scene, you'll only find a few small residential homes and waterfront restaurants. Yet, the views from the cliff tops are well worth the journey to this secluded stretch of paradise.

A trip to Mljet wouldn't be complete without visiting the Odysseus caves. These are some of the most beautiful sea caves around the world and have long been associated with the ancient poet Homer. Legends say that the great hero, Odysseus, spent seven years in these caves, located on the northwest side of the island, after finding shelter from a great storm. Today, its only inhabitants are the Mediterranean monk seal species — one of the rarest mammals on earth. To reach the Odysseus caves, you'll want to travel to Mljet's largest village, Babino Polje, where a small hidden path leads to the mouth of the caves. 

Embrace the local grape harvest on a wine tasting tour

As if its scenic beauty wasn't enough, Mljet is also home to an ancient Roman Palace known as the Rimska palača. Located on the Polače waterfront and remaining from the 5th century, this magnificent feat of architecture contains the remains of two early Christian basilicas. It's situated on Mljet's largest and most sheltered bay, tucked on the northwest coast of the island.

Sheltered within the Mljet National Park are several stunning vineyards that produce a fruitful harvest of grapes. While locals of the island are fiercely protective of the natural landscape, the quantity of these grapes is limited. Mljet contains two types of grape varieties: marastina and Plavac the Little, both of which are uniquely native species to the Adriatic coastline. 

Visitors can tour the wine taverns and vineyards of Kozarica for a chance to sample authentic wines from Mljet. The Taxi Mljet Wine Tour includes an introduction to the sacred wine-making process, a tour of the grounds, as well as multiple tastings of the local grape harvest. Complementing the island's unique terroir responsible for its flourishing wine production, olive oil and goat's cheese are two other local delicacies. These pair beautifully with a glass of Mljet's famous red or white wines.