Tuesday, September 10, 2013

On the road again, at Pelješac peninsula

While touring Croatia we tried to find some nice, peaceful, interesting places with lots of nature and we ended up going to the Pelješac peninsula - it was also conveniently "on the way" from the island of Brač to Dubrovnik. To get back to the mainland we drove from Bol to Sumartin and barely made it to the ferry leaving to Makarska (and possibly made an island record with those mountain roads as we noticed the ferry schedule a bit too late). The view of Makarska from the sea is quite impressive with the Biokovo mountain range looming right behind the city, going from 0 to 1700m in altitude within quite a short distance. Makarska looked like a lovely town too - shame we couldn't stay everywhere!

From Makarska we drove the picturesque coastal road to Ploče where we would get on another ferry to Trpanj, on the Pelješac peninsula (nothing to see in Ploče btw, an industrial town). Another short, one hour ferry ride and we were on the peninsula's northern side in Trpanj from where we continued straight to the southern side of the peninsula, to our next destination: Orebić.

Pelješac peninsula

"Orebić has the best beaches of Southern Dalmatia" says the Lonely Planet. The town is lovely, more quiet than Bol (with its outdoor nightclubs) and there are beaches left, right and center. We had another superb apartment right in the center, close to all the lovely restaurants, old stone buildings and the turquoise blue sea.

Orebić shores
You can get around the peninsula by car, bike or as we found best, with a quad. We had the quad for one full day and drove around the western part of the peninsula, discovering all the quaint seaside villages and hidden beaches. The Duba beach (watch for a small sign with a picture to "U. Duba" on the road between Orebić and Lovište) was possibly the best on the trip, partly because of its hard-to-find location, and the obvious white pebbles, clear as ever water and silence... The odds are you may not be completely alone but as close to it as is possible even in the highest of high seasons. Would make it to my top ten list of beaches!

U. Duba
In Lovište

Besides all that, Pelješac is know for for fresh fish & seafood so eat plenty of that - usually restaurants offer their best fishes at "per kilo" prices. You can also do hiking and frankly it was a shame we didn't have the time to climb on top of the range - next time definitely, the views are stunning! Also if you're into windsurfing or want to learn it then this is the right place. There are lots of surf camps and they host even some serious competitions in Viganj.

Admiring the views at the Fransiscan monastery
Windsurfers in Viganj - you can see Korčula town on the other side of the bay
Even if you may have not heard great things about Croatian wines, I can tell you I was pretty delighted with all the wines we tasted. Pelješac is one of the best places to do some wine tourism and we also did some wine tasting on one of the nuuumerous vineyards there. The local wines are very easy to drink and there were lots of pleasant surprises to be found. Most families still live a very modest farming life, growing all they need for their own use - this includes making their own wines for friends & family. And some offer these wines for sale as well and you can pop in for free tastings. If you're traveling with a car just keep looking at those "vino" signs for a one you like and stop by - you'll be a welcome visitor at the small local wineries (all in all, Croatians seem to be one of the most hospitable and friendly people I've come across!). Just remember not to drink & drive!

Special tip: there's a fun side-trip you can do on the Pelješac peninsula by driving though a tunnel (created for the farmers?) from Potomje to the south side of the mountain range! Great views of the vineyards and the bays!

We also stopped by in Ston for a quick lunch and views of the 5km long walls going up the hill - impressive! From Ston you can get back to the main part of the coast and we continued our trip to Dubrovnik......

Somewhere on the coast.... plenty of beautiful little town for detours while driving up & down the coast!

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