The peninsula of Pelješac looks like an image straight out of a postcard, with its long shingle beaches. A true rarity in every sense of the word, it stretches out to Korčula from north of Dubrovnik. This Dalmatian getaway doesn’t get those tedious crowds of tourists and welcomes a small number of wine lovers and windsurfers instead.
Pelješac is famous for its mussels and oysters that are no doubt the best ones you can find in the entire Croatian region. Originally the northern outpost of Ragusa Republic, the presentd-day Dubrovnik, Pelješac still serves as the home to Walls of Ston, a one of a kind historic attraction and is the longest fortification in Europe.
If you have plans to visit anytime soon, here are some activities you shouldn’t miss once you set foot in this mystic place.
1. Go on a Trek in Sveti ilija
Sveti Ilija is the peninsula’s highest point located just northwest of Orebić and there are a few starting points for trekking it. Probably the easiest and simplest route you can try starts from the abandoned village of Gornja Nakovana, a short drive from Viganj. There is a marked trail from there that takes you little by little to the 961-meter peak, with the hike taking 2 hours.
Take note that the ascent is a rocky one so wear strong shoes or boots. Drink lots of water and don’t set off during a hot summer afternoon. These slopes also serve as a habitat to horn-nosed vipers, though, so wear your long trousers to stay on the safe side.
Don’t worry because all of these exertion and preparation will reward you with the chance to see Dalmatia in all its glory spread out before you. With the right conditions, this scenic view can even stretch out as far as Montenegro.
2. Visit the Legendary Winery
It was in 1996 when Miljenko ‘Mike’ Grgich, the legendary winemaker who cemented his international reputation in California, opened Grgić vina at Trstenik. Grgich is the one who created Chateau Montelena, that famous Chardonnay that beat its popular French competitors in 1976 during Judgment of Paris. He decided to go back to his homeland to introduce the contemporary techniques of winemaking to Pelješac peninsula’s steep slopes.
It resulted to his acclaimed Plavac Mali with its deep red color with flavors that were harmonized for more than 2 years, including the ageing for 15 months in the special France-imported oak barrels.
Sold for a very affordable price at the best restaurants in Dubrovnik, it is best and more affordable to sample this high quality tipple at Grgich winery on ordinary days of the week.
3. Fill Your Tummy at Mali Ston
Vila Koruna is among the topnotch dining spots in the peninsula with a menu divided based on the provision of a complete experience for local dining, from apéritif to coffee with some courses in between. A good choice here is to start with Dalmatian cheese and prosciutto followed by cream of asparagus soup, and move on to grilled rump steak with butter-tossed boiled vegetables.
Dessert is also available, like the strudel of the day or Ston tart. There is also an oyster menu featuring fresh samples to begin with, cream of oyster soup, oysters in seaweed, oysters grâtinées, slow-roasted oysters and more.
If all these dishes left you too full, you can also enjoy sipping a glass of quality wine. Finally, finish off the day resting in your four-star room on the site with a stunning view of the sea.
4. Go Windsurfing in Viganj
Viganj is cozily nestled on Pelješac’s southwest coast just halfway along the narrow Korčula channel, putting it right at the vortex of the wind tunnel. This is where the acclaimed summer Maestral blows two times harder than anywhere else along Croatian Adriatic.
It was during the 1980s when these parts saw the likes of windsurfing, which also happened around the same era when the sport took off in Europe. From then on, schools and clubs started opening in Viganj’s coastal village as well as campsites, bars and shops catering to those surfer flocking to the area during the months of summer.
Some of the long established schools in the area are Water Donkey and Liberan. The month of July is considered as the best month to go surfing. The light south-easterly breeze that blows in the morning aids the beginners while experienced surfers can fight against the stronger winds during early afternoon and beyond.
5. Drop By at Ston to Slurp on Oysters
It was in the bay of Mali Ston where the Romans cultivated oysters for the first time. Farms were established during the 1980s to form a flourishing industry that remained to this day. A luxurious delicacy in Parisian restaurants, you can buy quality oysters in the area by the roadside just like how you buy affordable seasonal produce.
You can devour oysters in a more formal environment like Bakus, the local dining spot right in Ston’s historic center. Sold at only a little bit over €1 per pop, the sublime oysters in the area can be enjoyed breaded, as a starter, in oyster soup or as part of the must-try shellfish platter.
6. Go Diving in Duba and Divna
On Pelješac’s less-travelled north coasth, a good distant away from the wineries of Trstenik and windsurfing spots of Viganj, the beaches here are not only emptier but are also more pristine. Just a quick drive from Trpanj, you will find the idyllic Divna. Some lucky souls have their homes in the area that overlook the gorgeous smooth-pebble seafront and bay. Since you won’t find restaurants or bars here, make sure you have your own refreshments and snacks with you.
A bit further along, you will discover Duba or Duba Pelješka that is equally alluring with its crystal clear sea, white pebbles and some bobbing boats. At the back of the beach is a modest fishing community that gets on its everyday business. There are locals who will be very happy to rent out their apartments close to or on the waterfront itself.
These are just some of the many activities that you must try yourself if you ever find yourself wandering the Pelješac peninsula.
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