Croatia was at the top of my best destinations list after my 2011 travels. Quaint terracotta topped towns, majestic walled cities, and pristine crystal blue waters were the alluring factors. I loved Croatia so much so, that I insisted my family meet me there on my 2019 round the world trip. This time around, Croatia did not capture my heart in the same way it did in 2011.
City centers overflowing with cruise ship passengers, shops advertising Game of Thrones tours on every corner, and expensive accommodation had infiltrated my favourite country. The place had been discovered and there was no turning back.
Amidst it all, we still had a great time in Croatia. We rented a car driving from south to north allowing us to see smaller towns, untouched seaside, and get off the beaten tourist track a bit!
During our Croatian road trip adventures I discovered a new gem – the Ston Peninsula – a wine and seafood oasis just an hour and a bit from Dubrovnik.
Ston is famous for its hundreds of oyster and mussel farms lining the Adriatic Sea shoreline. You can simply stop into one of the farming shacks alongside the road and pick up the freshest seafood around.
The larger towns in the Peninsula are Ston and Mali, boasting impressive sets of city walls which is the second-longest preserved fortification system in the world, stretching for 7km. Tread further down the peninsula and you’ll find sleepy towns dotting the seaside, family operated cellar doors, and fisherman shacks serving up fresh mussels and oysters.
There aren’t many tourist attractions apart from gastronomy, the beautiful seaside, and towns that don’t seem to have a lot going on. The beauty of the peninsula is the lazy lifestyle and feeling that you’ve been transported to some ancient Croatian coastal region that has yet to be discovered.
We spent the day driving to Loviste, a town at the tip of the peninsula, popping into wineries along the way and stopping for a fresh seafood feast. The family who owned the fish farm didn’t speak any English, but we managed to communicate a simple order of mussels and oysters to them.
After we placed our “order” the husband walked a makeshift board plank to his fish traps, pulling live oysters and mussels from the water. We watched him shuck and clean the fish, then his wife cooked a pot of seaming mussels in tomato and wine sauce served with freshly baked bread and local wine. Talk about farm to plate food!
We finished the day with a stop at Grgic Winery. The cellar door is an architectural masterpiece built from sandstone bricks, stationed on the waterfront with views of the hilly vineyards behind. They serve up one of the best whites (posic) on the peninsula.