Sailing along Pelješac we somehow managed to go through the whole post without mentioning Mljet. Funny thing is we never skip it on our tours, and for good reason.
National park Mljet
Surrounded by the beautiful blue sea and maybe slightly hazy from the warm sun which browned your skin, you are probably in the right mindset for this stop. The greenest and most mystique of islands whose stories and myths will take you on a special kind of journey. There are not many places that tick so many boxes as Mljet. This island is home to one of the most beautiful and preserved national parks of Croatia. All the green is strongly accented by the two salty lakes which found their perfect place in the northwest part of the island. The dense woods surrounding the lakes seem to never stop and are a great part of the reason the blues and greens of the sea almost glow in the daylight. But, let’s take it a bit slowly for a moment, there is much to cover.
Green is the colour
Mljet holds, with Lastovo, the title of the greenest of them all in the Dubrovnik and Neretva county. Aside from the fact that one-third of the islands land is a national park and that 90 per cent of the island’s surface is overgrown with forest, the waters around the island are the oldest protected sea park in the Mediterranean. A little note here to keep in mind; you have to be aware of your surrounding and listen to your skipper or guide because it is all of our jobs to respect nature for everyone to be able to enjoy it.
Scattered all over the shores of the island, the ports of Saplunara, Okuklje, Sobra, Polače and Pomena offer diversity in all you potentially need on your trip.
Somewhere around the middle of the island, beneath the settlement Babino Polje, under the inaccessible cliffs on the south side of the island, the most mystique of the places, almost hidden from sight, has found its place – the Odysseus cave.
Originally named Jama or Pit, it was a most peculiar port and hiding place for fisherman and sailors seeking refuge. Today, it is an immiscible spot when sailing or visiting Mljet. The two names can’t be more opposite in the nature of becoming. Jama came to be simply by describing what the cave looks like from the land side of the island – a pit reaching to the sea.
The other name is one with the story. And what a story it is.
The sea entrance of the cave is guarded by Ogiran. The rock is during high seas or strong south winds almost impossible to see. It is because of this rock Odysseus’s ship was wrecked and he had to swim to safety into the cave. There he saw Calypso, the ruler of the island, and fell to her enchantments. He stayed captivated by Calipso and the beauty of the island for 7 years until the gods freed him.
About the cave
The entrance to the cave is around 5 meters wide and between 1 and 1,5 meter high. The tunnel leading to the cave is 20 meters long and the depth is between 8 to 10 meters. Around noon in the summer, when the sun hits the cave with all its might from above, the spectrum of colours in the cave is mesmerising. Perhaps it is this light phenomenon or the greenish beauty of the woods, or the two lakes with the island inside which make us believe the story of Odysseus happened right here on Mljet. Be as it may, we truly get why this is a place so many people fall in love with.