Match Made in Heaven: History Meets Oysters and Wine in Ston & Mali Ston6. June 2023.
Take a daytrip from Dubrovnik to conquer ancient walls, roam fascinating salt pans, and savor the freshest oysters paired with indigenous local wines.
Whether you are looking for a daytrip from Dubrovnik or a fun-filled break from your travels between Split and Dubrovnik, the adjacent towns of Ston and Mali Ston are always a good choice. Pairing historic walls with ancient salt pans and the freshest oysters with famed Pelješac wines, these towns are a fun outing for all who seek an extraordinary experience off the beaten path.
Some 60 kilometers, or an hour’s drive, from Dubrovnik, Ston and Mali Ston sit nestled at the entrance to the elongated Pelješac peninsula, which runs parallel to the Croatian coast in its full length of 77 kilometers. At the very isthmus, these towns are easy to reach and offer a plethora of possibilities for exploration and enjoyment.
Back in the heyday of the Dubrovnik Republic, Ston salt pans were an important contributor to the economy. In fact, they were the reason that Dubrovnik purchased this territory in 1333; at the time, salt was a treasured resource and an important food preserve. Its value equaled that of gold: one kilo of salt was traded for one kilo of gold.
The salt pans are still in operation, churning out some 500 tons each season. Visiting during the summer is a special treat, as you can witness salt in different stages of production before the harvest, which usually takes place in August and September.
To protect their treasure, Dubrovnik built massive walls that today exist at a length of 5.5 kilometers and were carefully restored in the past decade. Walking these walls is a special experience. The full-length journey starts in Mali Ston and traverses a hill to Ston, abounding in ascents and stairs that come rewarded with spectacular views and magnificent immersion into nature and history. If you prefer a less strenuous taster-walk, the 20-minute run above Ston delivers a sweet panorama of the town’s red roofs and salt pans.
Walking the walls makes for a great excuse to proceed with nothing but foodie treats. The bay that Pelješac encloses with the mainland is one of Croatia’s prime spots for oyster and mussel farming. Sheltered from major waves and thus quite calm, with giving currents that bring plankton, the bay also abounds in underground freshwater sources that dilute the seawater, so it is a perfect place for growing oysters and mussels.
Venturing out on a boat to visit shellfish farms and learn about the demanding trade of oyster farming and the easy-going mussels is always crowned with tasting these delights fresh from the sea. Pulled out of the sea right there and shucked before your very eyes, tasting oysters in Mali Ston gives a whole new dimension to the idea of ‘fresh’.
The oysters of Mali Ston pair perfectly with a local wine called pošip, an authentic sort from the island of Korčula that is now also grown in the vineyards of the Pelješac peninsula. For lovers of reds, Pelješac delivers the internationally acclaimed reds of Postup and Dingač vineyards.
But that’s a whole other story, starring a private driver and many lovely wineries.