An Afternoon in Mali Ston: Oyster Farming and Walking The Walls of Ston

An Afternoon in Mali Ston: Oyster Farming and Walking The Walls of Ston

On the way to Korcula Island from Dubrovnik, it was finally time to stop at Mali Ston. Mali Ston is less than an hour away from Dubrovnik (towards Split) by car and located in a small village on the Peljesac peninsula. Mali Ston is famous for it’s salt, oysters and majestic 5.5km fortification. The best way to travel is by car and you’ll need some good driving skills as you’ll need to navigate through the one lane windy roads to get there. You’ll pass by wineries, oyster and mussell farms and villages with authentic stone houses, it’s very green and picturesque. Don’t rush on Peljesac, take your time to stop and explore the small local businesses, especially if you have time and a car.

We decided to rent a car for a month to give us access to Croatia’s hidden gems, this tiny medieval town being one them. Considering that in 2020, Croatia is in the middle of a global pandemic, renting a car was the easiest, safest and best way to get around, without having to rely on public transport.

Our first stop in Mali Ston was an organised oyster farming tour with local restaurant Bota Sare. My husband and I had dined at Bota Sare three times during our extended stay in Dubrovnik, we loved it so much that we decided to book ourselves in for oyster farming! We weren’t expecting much, I must admit but the entire few hours exceeded all our expectations!

Here I am with the Mali Ston town behind me in the background.

Oyster Farming with Bota Sare

We were picked up by boat from the main port in Mali Ston and taken across the water to a little bay area to what resembled a floating home. It took no longer than ten minutes. The waters around here were bright blue and emerald as you can see in the pictures.

I felt like I was in a dream.

Oyster farming in Mali Ston ended up being one of the best experiences of our entire trip in Croatia and I highly recommend it if you get the chance. Due to Covid-19 and the small number of tourists in the country at the time (June 2020), we were given the tour on our own, just the two of us with a staff member from the Bota Sare team. Usually they expect up to 200 people for the oyster farming tours but we were able to have a far more intimate and informative experience.

My outfit was well suited for the oyster farming experience, don’t you think?

My husband calls this the “Indiana Jones” outfit but I don’t care, I love it and it was perfecty styled for the adventure of the day.

Oysters need about a year to mature and these waters offer the ideal breeding conditions for oysters to grow organically. Mali Ston is very well known in Croatia for it’s oysters and mussels. Next time you’re in a restaurant in Croatia, ask them where they got their oysters from, there’s a very high chance they are from Mali Ston.

Mali Ston also produces mussels, another famous dalmatian speciality.

We literally pulled the mussels out of the sea and straight onto the hot plate. As you can imagine, it was sensational, it doesn’t get any fresher than this!

The mussels didn’t need any seasoning, we simply dipped them in local olive oil and ate them like that.

They were full of flavour and melted in our mouths!

We were also offered the extra-large oysters to try (older than 3 years). They are known to have less flavour and are much more difficult to swallow. I definitely preferred the younger ones.

Walking the Walls of Ston 

The experience at Mali Ston doesn’t stop at the oyster farming tour, I was fully energised to also climb the famous Walls of Ston, the longest fortification in Europe and second largest in the world, second to The Great Wall of China. The Walls of Ston are 5.5km long, have 40 towers and 5 forts. The walk from Mali Ston connects with Ston, the next town over that is slightly larger and more inland.

Just like in any other dalmatian old town, there are plenty of stairs so make sure you’re wearing comfortable attire and footwear because the effort is well worth it…

The Walls of Ston were completely restored in 2009, following a 50 year renovation. It took that long as the locals wanted to rebuild the walls and forts identically to how it once was, stone by stone. This seems to be a common narrative in Southern Dalmatia in Croatia, one I truly respect and admire.

A Lesson of Local History at Vila Koruna

As we were kicking on to Korcula Island next, we decided to buy some oysters for our hosts in Korcula and stopped by Vila Koruna (around the corner from the port at Mali Ston) which operates as a hotel and restaurant. My husband and I ended up spending a good hour there while getting the grand tour by owner, Svetan Pejić who gave us a run down of the history of the saltworks in Ston. Salt is harvested in Ston between July and August by local students and still to this day is harvested by hand.

“This is the best salt in the world,” Svetan tells us as he passes on half a kilo for us to test out and try at home.

As you enter the restaurnt area which overlooks the entire Mali Ston bay area, you’ll notice tanks with live fish and lobsters, along with fresh oysters in water on the right. It’s not really something you see everyday in Croatia and we kind of wished we had eaten here for lunch.

I’ve never actually seen my husband this happy before.

We left just in time to make it to the last ferry from Orebic to Korcula Town. If this is a route you are planning to take before Korcula Island, I would leave just over an hour to get to Orebic for the car ferry.

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