This is Odyssey country: Dubrovnik and the Dalmatian Coast have long been the stuff of sailor’s dreams, but they’re especially suited to a holiday sailor with clear, clean looking waters and lots of islands of varying sizes to mess around and about, as well as regular, predictable breezes in May and June (after that it gets a bit still. And hot.), and great local food and drink.
Most people plan trips between Dubrovnik and Korčula, the largest and most populated of the Dalmatian Islands, stopping off at the smaller islands along the way. Dubrovnik is a good place to visit for its own charms, but for island hoppers it's a convenient gateway to the for the Elaphiti islands and Korčula.
From Dubrovnik it's a 50 minute ferry to north to Šipan, which is the largest of the Elaphiti islands with a population of 500, living on a couple of limestone crests on top of which olives, figs, almonds, oranges and carob are grown, in amongst the endemic palm trees. People have been living on Šipan since the middle ages when it was known for its vineyards, but more recently it's became a choice spot for wealthy families from Dubrovnik to build their summer places. Part of the island's charm lies in, or on, its lovely beaches.
From Šipan travel to long, narrow Mljet, separated from the Pelješac peninsula by the Mljet Channel and covered in ancient forests, which hide many dramatic gorges and chasms now protected by National Park boundaries. Its two lakes, Malo and Veliko are much photographed for their sparking green shades. The lakes are also well set up for watersports.
Wooded Mljet is supposedly the island of Calypso from the Odyssey, and around half of it is a national park, so its pretty coastline is well protected and au naturale, except for the inhabited areas, which had some of the best seafood restaurants of the trip. Okuklje and Pomena are nice towns on the island, with mooring ports and facilities, from there you can get to the lakes which are apparently the island’s pride and joy.
The island's Saplunara beach is one of the nicest along this stretch of coast. Sobra, the main port on the island, is connected to Dubrovnik-Gruž and Ston via a car ferry and there's a 50 minute Catamaran journey to Korčula.
Korčula's Venetian architecture in ancient walled towns and sandy secluded bays and vineyards only cover about a third of this island, the rest is covered in pine woods making Korčula one of the greenest Adriatic islands. Korčula's folk history suggest it was founded by a Trojan hero in the 12thCentury BC, and the remains of several different civilisations have been found on the island, including Neolithic cave dwellers, semi-nomadic Illyrians, ancient Greeks, who referred to it as Black Corfu and pirates from the Slavic nations. But it's the Venetian's whose marks are most clearly visible today in the architecture of the ancient walled towns.
Korčula's main town is especially beautiful, it has a medieval wall around it and cobbled streets with interesting cafes and restaurants which made a nice change from the secluded golden coves we’d been stopping over in on the smaller islands.
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