Just like every big manufacturer would tell you their product is the best one on the market, every tourist board claims their town is the most beautiful one on the Croatian Adriatic. Unlike the first statement, there’s some truth in the second – picking just one destination on the coast is like choosing which child is your favourite.
Meet today’s contender for Miss of the Adriatic: Betina, a little town on the northeastern coast of Murter island.
Betina gets its name from the Celtic word bet that translates to mouth, describing the appearance of the bay that houses the port – it does look like an open mouth, protecting boats in Betina’s waters from strong winds. Another layer of symbolism comes from the town’s historical nickname, as Betina used to be called ‘the mouth of Šibenik area’ thanks to the large, fertile plain where the locals cultivated figs and olives, but also large quantities of vegetables, keeping the whole area well-stocked on food.
One of the things Betina is best known for is boatbuilding. Apart from Korčula, it’s the oldest centre on the Adriatic where boatbuilders called kalafati used to make traditional wooden boats with Latin sails; their most popular product, the Betina gajeta, dates back to 1740! Literally and metaphorically, the boats were a way of staying afloat, as they were used by Betina’s residents who sailed to their fields located far away on Kornati, Modrave, Prosica and Vransko Lake. To keep the tradition alive, a Regatta for the Soul and Body is organised every year, honouring the rich heritage of the vibrant little town. If you want to find out more about the shipbuilding practice, stop by the Betina Museum of Wooden Shipbuilding to learn about local customs and tradition, take a look around the permanent collection, or sign up for one of the worskhops!
Another Betina trademark? Clams. What we consider to be a delicacy and a subject of discussion on whether it’s an aphrodisiac or not, used to be one of the most basic foods on the island, as many generations of Betina residents were raised on clams called kunjka. Clams were used for more than just nutrition: they were crushed into powder to get a colour pigment used to paint fabric, and were mixed into construction material as well. Many people in Betina specialised in clam harvesting throughout history; clams were collected and raised from the sea using a tool called brganja. The town makes sure to pay homage to its history with a festival called Day of Brganja that has been taking place on first Sunday in August for more than 40 years.
This year, that Sunday falls on August 6, and Betina is enthusiastically preparing for the 47th edition of the festival. The beloved fešta used to include a competition in harvesting clams that were later prepared for the hungry crowd on the waterfront. As mass clam harvesting is forbidden by law these days, the contest was replaced by an even better event, a female rowing regatta Dlan&Veslo (Palm&Oar). And don’t worry, the town still makes sure to get a hefty batch of clams and other delicious seafood to keep their guests happy. Dišpet band and singer Maja Šuput will liven up the atmosphere with an energetic show, crowned by fireworks at midnight!
How to get there?
Murter island is connected to the mainland by a bridge in Tisno town, located a 10-minute drive from Betina.
If you’re sailing, Betina has a marina with 240 wet berths. You can find more information on their website.
Image source: Tourist Board Betina