We devoted our first day on the island to exploring the 54 square kilometer Mljet National Park, for which the entire western part of the island is reserved. The park was gorgeous, uncrowded, and had a discounted entrance fee as we were still months ahead of peak season for the region. We wasted no time beginning a moderate hike to Montokuc lookout point, which is perched on one of the park’s rocky hills and offers some of the best views of the area. From the old fire watch cabin we could see the crystal waters of the Park’s saltwater lakes (named Veliko and Malo, ‘large’ and ‘small’) and the Adriatic stretching out into oblivion beyond.
We hiked down from Montokuc to head towards the ferry (complimentary with a national park ticket) which would take us to visit a small island in the middle of the park’s larger lake. Sveti Marija is home to a Benedictine monastery that dates back to the 1100’s along with some scattered roman ruins. On the island we popped in and out of a cool old cathedral that had some impressive stained glass, walked around the ruins a bit and then headed to a lakeside promenade where we took a dip in the pellucid waters and read our books until the ferry returned.