While staying in Dubrovnik in 1929., George Bernard Shaw said:
"If you want to see heaven on earth, come to Dubrovnik".
His immortal words do not only praise the rich and glorious history of Dubrovnik, but also the natural features of the whole region, known today as the Dubrovnik-Neretva county. Few places on earth exhibit such harmony between nature and men, a harmony still preserved till today. From the clear Adriatic waters, the interiours karst system, to the rich Neretva river in the Northeast, a magnificent combination emerges, taking your breath away every time you visit this region.
The defining characteristics of the landscape are the evergreen flora, pine and oak forests, macchia, karst fields, all creating the beautiful tropical and subtropical vegetation in Dubrovnik Region. Many natural phenomena can be found; Europe's longest underground river Ombla, the bay of Mali Ston famous for oyster beds, the national park on the Island of Mljet, Arboretum Trsteno, Lokrum Reservation, Konavle, the Elafiti Islands and many more. The real joy is to explore this region by yourself, finding your own secret spots of harmony and peace.
Ecology - Dubrovnik Region
The Neretva River dominates the scenery in the hinterland of South Dalmatia. This is mostly a marshland region, with occasional limestone areas. Shallow riverboats characteristic of the region glide up and down the river, and there are endless fields all around where people grow a variety of produce. The Neretva is the habitat of one of the largest species of trout-the marble trout, which can weigh more than thirty kilograms. Near the mouth of the Neretva, there is an unusual bay called Malostonski zaljev, where the sea abounds in different kinds of shellfish.
On the road to Dubrovnik to the south, lies the Trsteno arboretum, one of the oldest designed parks in Croatia dating from the 16th century. The park has many exotic plant species grow in. Rijeka dubrovačka is the place of a harmonious coexistence between the villas of Dubrovnik aristocracy and the natural environment.
Other examples are found on the Elafiti Islands (Koločep, Lopud, Šipan, Jakljan, and Olipa), Island Lokrum and other islands off the coast of Dubrovnik. As the many villas show, these wooded miniature islands have been a pleasant retreat for centuries. Equally wooded are the islands of Lastovo and Mljet. One third of Mljet and a part of its sea are within the boundaries of the National Park Mljet. The special and magical beauty of Mljet led many to recognize Mljet as Homer's lost island Ogygia, the place where Ulysses and the nymph Calypso met. Amid all this natural beauty, there are two historic monuments: the ruins of a late-antiquity palace in Polače, and the former Benedictine monastery on an islet in in the lake of Veliko jezero in the middle of Mljet National Park
Sea water quality
The results of the sea water analysis, made in the criteria prescribed by the European Union, show that the Adriatic Sea is of the highest quality, the only exception being several major seaports. Along Dubrovnik Region visitors will enjoy in the crystal clear sea and clean environment. The only exemption where swimming is not recommended are the port of Gruz and the Old Town harbor. Due to many ships and sewage water the sea quality in those areas must be improved before swimming can be recommended. The control measurements of the sea water quality around Dubrovnik is done yearly, before the tourist season. Unfortunately, there are no beaches around Dubrovnik that have yet received the Blue Flag award, an European award that recognizes beaches with high standards regarding both sea water quality and supporting facilities. The only received Blue Flags in Dubrovnik Region are held by the ACI marina Miho Pracat in Komolac, 6 km from Dubrovnik and the ACI marina on Korčula.
Drinking water in Dubrovnik is of very good quality, constantly controlled, and comes mostly from the Ombla river, 5 km from Dubrovnik. Don't miss the opportunity to refresh yourself at the Big and Small Onofrio fountains in the Old Town of Dubrovnik, the big Onoffrio fountain is located at the entrance, right after Pile gate.
The Blue Flag
The Blue Flag is an European project that rewards achievements within the preservation of the sea and coastline that started 15 years ago, and includes beaches and marinas. From the year 2000 it has extended throughout the world.
From the year 1997 Croatia is a member of this project, when the non governmental organization "Our Lovely" was nominated by the Foundation for Environmental Education in Europe to be a national coordinator and carrier of this project in the Republic of Croatia. The Blue Flag symbolizes unpolluted, safe and healthy environment, but it also includes an elaborated system of managing coastal resources, and emphasizes sustainable development within the hospitality industry.
Beaches and marinas that carry the Blue Flag are recognized as properties offering a high quality services, carrying for their environment, and have properly equipped supporting facilities. The Blue Flag is not only a symbol of quality and ecological perseverance, but the carriers of it can count themselves as top tourism destinations.
This prestigious symbol is awarded only to those beaches and marinas which meet all the requirements which are set according to individual criteria, but have in common the fact that they always take care of the quality of the sea and the coastline. The Blue Flag is a symbol that communicates high standards that the marinas and beaches have meet. The Blue Flag is awarded for the period of one year, and it is proudly raised at the beginning of June. For each year it is necessary to maintain the standards and fill out a questionnaire for the license to be extended.