Betina - The Cradle of Traditional Boatbuilding

Betina - The Cradle of Traditional Boatbuilding

The island of Murter is at the heart of nautical tourism in Croatia, located just in front of the World famous Kornati Archipelago and its residents have been the masters of the Kornati for centuries. The island is connected to the mainland by a drawbridge in Tisno and surrounded by the densest concentration of small islands, offering 413 kilometers of lush, green coastline.  The population of the island of Murter has historically relied on traditional wooden boats powered by lateen sail as the islanders have long owned many estates on the Kornati, Modrave, and shell-islands east of the island of Murter all the way to Kaprije, Žirje, Kakanj and Obonjan. 

Betina, located on the northeast coast of the island has been the cradle of traditional wooden shipbuilding which is still active today, defining its cultural identity and fueled by the interests of the many tourists that visit the town. The name Betina comes from the Celtic word "bet" which means - mouth and describes the appearance of the naturally formed port of Betina which was called "the mouth of the Šibenik region". The fertile land of the Betina "Poja" rich in olives, figs, and vegetables has traditonally fed the whole region.

Betina's shipbuilding is built on a three-century-old tradition that dates back to 1740, when Paško Filipi moved from Korčula to Betina to found the first shipyard. Betina shipbuilders developed specific types of vessels that were ideally suited to the region and this is why they are still in use today.  The Betina gajeta stands out as the best example. A wooden ship between 5 and 8 meters long, and 2 to 2.6 meters wide, this vessel had no deck, but was more robust than the competing falkušas of Komiža or the gajetas of Korčula. The proportions and shape of this vessel were adapted to the needs of the local population for fishing and transport, which became the lifeblood of the local economy.

We would recommend a visit to the Betina Wooden Shipbuilding Museum to gain an insight into the maritime and folklore heritage of the island.  We also recommend visiting the first Croatian open-air maritime museum in Betina, with 45 exhibits and specimens of the most beautiful local wooden ships. Information panels describing the history of local shipbuilding and types of vessels bring the whole story to life.

To truly experience the traditional boating lifestyle, you can visit or participate in one of the eight regattas held annually on traditional wooden vessels. There is even a women's rowing regatta Palm and paddle, which will be held this year on August 7 in Betina, and the Soul and Body Regatta featuring wooden boats under lateen sail which will be held in Betina on August 14th. Palm and Paddle Regatta is co-financed by the European Union from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. Betina has many opportunities beyond its beautiful beaches for an active vacation.  There are numerous themed bike trails, water sport courses, or you can even try your hand at the sport of water polo.

The historical old town of Betina is well preserved with narrow cobbled streets where you can learn about old crafts, folk costumes and dance, as well as taste the local gastronomic delicacies. At the top of the Artić Hill is the imposing Church of St. Francis with a baroque bell tower built in 1736 by the architect Ivan Skok. For those craving the sun and sea, visit some of the beautiful sandy beaches with turquoise blue sea with a beautiful view of the Kornati archipelago.