Kali, the Island of Ugljan
At the entrance to the Zadar Canal, on the north-eastern side of the island of Ugljan lies Kali, the most fertile place in the central Adriatic. For a long time, Kali was the home to sardines and anchovies, as fishermen sailed from there to the waters of Kornati and the northern Adriatic, rich in oily fish. The sardine and anchovy processing plants fed the entire region and this place has become synonymous with oily fish and its specialties. The first sardine fast food in Croatia was also launched in Kali, while nowadays Zadar hosts the Tuna and Sushi Festival, celebrating the gold-finned fish specialty caught by many fishermen from Kali. Since there were never enough freezers for fish, Kali was the capital of dried fish, and the so-called tiramoli on which sardines, octopus, rays and other catch was dried, were found next to every house. Sail to another time, while trying the best that island living offers.
Island of Zlarin
Perhaps it does not have the greatest number of tourists nor is it the most famous in tourist guides, but certainly one of the most typical island fishermen parties on the Adriatic is the Zlarinska srdelada, which takes place at the end of July or beginning of August, on the island of Zlarin, in the Šibenik archipelago.
On an island that itself looks like a cleansed and open sardine ready for throwing on the grill, there is a large fishing party starring sardines in the main role, the island’s queen among fish, which has fed this region for centuries. The Zlarin locals, famous for being the inhabitants of one of the few Adriatic islands without cars, once a year for the fishermen’s party create a giant grill, several square meters in size, where they grill delicious sardines, accompanied by red wine of the Babić variety from the vineyards in the Šibenik area, which is a guarantee of good food and a fun party!
Komiža, the Island of Vis
If there were no fish, there would be no Komiža – this is the motto which has guided this beautiful small town since ancient times. The fate of the entire town depended on the catch. The most elegant and fastest fishing boat on the Adriatic was built here – the Falkuša, while the patron saint of the town is St. Nicolas, the patron saint of sailors and fishermen.
Every day the town market is filled with fresh catch, but some days are more special than others – the days when the so-called jaglice, the Komiža term for garfish, the biggest sea delicacy in this town, show up in the market. You need to have a well-elaborated strategy to get yours, because that day, the entire city will be buzzing about them and the different ways to prepare them. But you do not have to worry that you will go hungry – in Komiža you can always find plenty of fish delicacies at every turn!
On the southern slopes of Učka, the mountain overlooking the Kvarner Bay, there is a medieval small town of Mošćenice, with views stretching all the way to Cres, Krk and the rest of the Kvarner Bay. At the end of the 19th century, when the Mošćenica locals built the first fishermen’s houses in Draga, they couldn’t even imagine what the town would one day become. Along with its more famous neighbours Lovran and Opatija, Draga was a well-known resort and pulmonary spa during the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, so in many places the influence of the imperial glamour and architecture can be seen.
Apart from the longest beach in the northern Adriatic, where the perfect maestral wind blows in the summer, it is also known for its cherries (črišnje), chestnuts (maruni) and asparagus, all used for making delicious specialties. If you are romantic, love fish or simply want to relax, Mošćenička Draga is just the place for you.
Betina, the Island of Murter
If there is a place on the Adriatic that is synonymous with quality construction of wooden boats, it would be Betina on the island of Murter. This town, first mentioned in the 15th century, is home to superb shipbuilders who have been building ships for decades and looking for the perfect boat – the one that sails equally well, which can be used for fishing, as well as for transporting things, fish or cattle to the mainland or nearby islands. This is how the famous Betina gajeta was created. It is equipped with a Latin sail; it is the theme of the most famous regatta of traditional boats on the Adriatic – “Latinsko idro“, which is also called the “Body and Soul Regatta”. For centuries, the regatta was the place for the Betina master builders to measure their strength, with the winner crowned as the best Betina master builder. A few years ago, the skill of building this ship was declared an intangible cultural heritage.
Prvić Luka, the Island of Prvić
Along with Šepurine, Prvić Luka is one of the two towns on the small island of Prvić in the Šibenik archipelago. This place, situated on the south-eastern part of the island, hidden in a beautiful bay, closed to the summer maestral and bura winds, but open to the wind from the south, the jugo, is a summer destination for visitors who want to experience the authentic atmosphere of the Adriatic islands.
Prvić Luka is inhabited by fishermen and descendants of the former Šibenik noblemen who had summer villas on the island. One of them was Faust Vrančić, in whose honour the “Faust Vrančić Memorial Centre” was opened in Prvić Luka. In the museum, you can find out how this versatile scientist and inventor considered using the parachute (homo volans) and was one of the most prominent writers, philosophers and inventors of his time. Otherwise, the island of Prvić, also known as Faust’s Island, is most likely named for being the closest to the mainland.
If you are looking for the perfect vacation spot and enjoy delicious fish specialties, you have found it. Now you just have to decide which place to visit first. But these are sweet worries. Or rather, savoury!