After overnighting at Dubrovnik, we sailed after breakfast on Day 5 and passed the Elaphiti Islands heading for Mljet and its National Park. We sailed up the coast of this island, passing the small town of Polace (100 residents) and its ruined ‘palace’ after which the town was named. There appeared to be a couple of ruins in this landscape but the largest is the remnants of a Roman palace. It is said to be the largest surviving Roman building in all of Dalmatia.
Our target for the afternoon was the National Park but along the way there was time for a swimming stop. Further into the bay near Polace, we stopped at the closest mooring to where we would hire our bikes and head off to find the official entrance into the National Park. It was easy, pleasant riding in this National Park and the tracks were well maintained and took us through forest paths with regular views of the lake system surrounded by the park
As can be seen on the map above left, the primary attractions of Mljet are the two salt-water lakes, Veliko Jesero (Great Lake) and Malo Jezero (Small Lake). Once we arrived across from the small island (also called St Mary Island), we had a great view over the water to a former 12th century Benedictine monastery called Crkva Sv. Marija. Today there is a ferry that collects visitors as part of the ticket into the National Park and you can cross over and inspect the monastery. This facility wasn’t available to us in 2016 so we missed the chance to visit the 800 year old monastery.
We continued on from the Small Lake and it wasn’t long until we came to an old stone bridge that crosses a narrow channel that is the outlet of the Great Lake. This bridge is called ‘Mali Most’ and is the connecting link that enables bikers or walkers to do the full circuit around the lakes back to their entry point into the park. Apparently this channel can be used for cooling down as well as gaining the minor thrill of being taken by the lake’s tidal currents backwards and forwards into the lake.
The buildings in the image to the right are those of the workers and administrators who look after the water system attached to the Great lake. Our guide decided this was the end point of our tour of the National Park and we would be turning back the way we came, to make our weary way back to the boat. The photo below shows our last view of the monastery on St Mary’s Island as we passed by the Small Lake on our return ride. We would be spending the night sleeping off the coast of Mljet.