Oysters have been harvested in Mali Ston bay on the Pelješac peninsula for centuries. The region, just north of Dubrovnik, is also famous for its Dingač red wine.
Ston – Been There

Ston is well worth a seafood pilgrimage

Photo by Pixabay

Ston – Been There Ston is well worth a seafood pilgrimage

During the relaxing winter months in the Croatian harbor city of Dubrovnik, fishing is one of the most popular recreations.

Neil Geraghty
Neil Geraghty Travel Writer

I join Ante Maršić, a local business owner and keen fisherman, on a drive up the coast to Ston, the seafood capital of southern Dalmatia. A mild drizzle is blowing in from the sea but Ante seems in good spirits.

“Don’t worry,” he says. “It always rains when the Jugo wind blows from the south but this afternoon it will switch to the Bura, a colder northerly wind. We love the Bura. By the time it reaches Dubrovnik it is bone dry and the days become crystal clear. When it blows we feel full of energy and it’s the perfect wind for fishing.

“It causes the sea water to circulate and brings small fish to the surface. The big ones like tuna and blue fish follow them and it’s also a great time of year to catch squid. All you need to do is drop a line in the water with a sardine attached and before you know it you’ve caught 20 or 30 of them. By the time the night is through, your arms and clothes are covered in black ink.”

True to his word, as we approach Ston, the clouds begin to clear and the landscape is flooded with golden autumnal sunlight. I’m struck by the town’s medieval walls that zig zag over the hills like a miniature Great Wall of China.

Ston was one of the most important towns of the Ragusan Republic, a maritime state centered on Dubrovnik which in its 16th century heyday rivaled Venice in wealth. Ston was a major salt-producing town and the 5.5-kilometer walls, unique in Europe, were built to protect this precious commodity. I set out on an exhilarating hike along the walls and from the top have sweeping views of the long finger-shaped Pelješac Peninsula, sheltering a tranquil bay dotted with neat rows of oyster cages.

Back in the village I join Ante for a seafood lunch in Villa Koruna, a cheerfully decorated seafront restaurant. “You’re in for a treat”, he tells me. “The oysters in Ston are so good that people travel from as far away as Sarajevo, a good four-hour drive, just to have lunch. The secret is the freshwater springs that bubble up from the bay’s floor. These create a constant circulation of water which gives the oysters an incredibly fresh taste.”

On cue, the waitress arrives with a plate of oysters arranged on a bed of sparkling ice. “Koruna has its own oyster beds just in front of the restaurant,” says Ante. “These will be no more than two hours old.”

He pops one in his mouth and I soon follow suit. Effervescent zings of delicate salty flavour dance over my taste buds. They seem to capture the very essence of the sea.

Do your friends often come to you for travel recommendations? TRVL is a peer-to-peer booking platform that enables you to tailor-make trips for your friends (and earn up to 10% per booking). TRVL is free, sign up today.

Other stories about Dubrovnik