July 3, Day 13: Jean and I enjoyed 4 days and nights in Luka Ston, on the Croatian Peljesac peninsula an hour or so north of Dubrovnik. The area remains a bit off the beaten path, and is rich in salt, oysters, seafood, olives, and wine. Is it our favorite Croatian place so far?
Definitely maybe. 🙂
Idyllic Oyster Town
We stayed in Luka, a fishing village about 2 miles from Ston. Luka is small, clean and bubbling. There are no restaurants, no shops, no tourists. Rather, a small harbor full of boats, a tiny locals-beach, and the sounds of kids playing in the seaside ball court each night. We saw parents swimming across the small harbor after dusk with their kids, learning the sea.
Our hosts, Marijana and Dario, operate an oyster business. They nurture, grow and harvest famous Mali Ston oysters, primarily for consumption in Dubrovnik hotels and restaurants. Dario’s commute each day is about 10 meters from his front door to his boat. The couple hosted us and an Estonian family on the boat one evening for the best oysters we have ever had – straight from the sea. Yum…
Salt and Stone in Ston
Salt has been harvested in nearby lowlands for hundreds of years. It is still harvested in the old ways here today. If interested, you can get free room and board in exchange for your labor. The work is too hard for me! During ancient, salt was, arguably, as valuable as gold. In the 14th and 15th century, the Dubrovnik Republic built imposing stone walls from Ston to Mali Ston (little Ston), and up over a ridge to protect the salt works. Now, the walls are the gold – attracting tourists!
The wall goes all the way up… see that tiny fortress at the top? We decided NOT to climb!
Local economy is a mix tourism, agriculture, and the sea. Wine is excellent with small wineries everywhere. Most all focus on Pošip (po-ship), a white, and Plavac Mali (Plah-vitz Mah-lee), a red. Mike Grgic, famed American winemaker and winner of the “Judgement of Paris“, is from the area and opened a beautiful winery here a few years ago to focus on these two grapes. Our favorite winery here is Matuško, in the Dingač region. Their Plavac Mali wines are velvety and taste like dark cocoa, no kidding. More on Croatian wine later post!
Early on our second day, I laced up and went for a run in the area, surveying the salt works, vineyards, olive orchards, and the seaside at Mali Ston. Part of my route was along the old Napoleon Road, and I’m pretty sure no American has ever set foot in this area. It was a beautiful addition to my run collection!
I learned later that there is a Ston Marathon, where the route includes running atop the walls. Uh, no thanks. Again, too much work for me!
Is Ston our favorite Croatian place so far? Maybe. It is hard to decide, each is wonderful in its own way. But definitely maybe.