Cayman Islands is ideal for beach volleyball, whether you’d like to play with the pros or simply dress the part.
Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman’s western coast may be one of the most famous on the Island for its picturesque white shores and turquoise water, but the spot is home to more than beach bars and luxe Caribbean resorts. The beach offers up a blank canvas when it comes to sports, from water-driven activities like parasailing and snorkelling to those more popular on the sand, such as beach volleyball. A favourite for locals, Seven Mile’s Public Beach hosts weekly Sunday volleyball tournaments, in addition to events that put the Island on an international level.
Last April, more than 15 countries competed in the 2016 NORCECA Beach Volleyball Continental Tour on Public Beach next to Calico Jack’s for the eighth year. That Sunday, beach volleyball duo Jessica Wolfenden and Stefania Gandolfi advanced to the third-place game against Mexico, the farthest a local team has made it in this level of competition.
The site had a bit of a revamp before the tournament took place last year. Public Beach’s new layout switched things up, creating three competition courts that sit side by side overlooking the ocean, so audience members can see all of the games played while sitting in the same spot.
Play Like a Pro
The NORCECA Beach Volleyball Tour is Cayman’s most popular, but the Islands also have local club and league tournaments that range from amateur to more advanced levels. One way to prepare is by arranging groups of players to meet and practice, in addition to solo work running sprints and doing basic drills with a high quality ball on the beach. “I would suggest practicing at least weekly for a month for players with experience, and several months for new players,” suggests Dr. Taylor Burrowes, public relations officer for the Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation and former member of the national women’s team. “These are fun leagues, but most people underestimate the conditioning necessary to play the sports of volleyball and beach volleyball. We are also starting up a double’s league on the beach, and that requires a lot more readiness — so you would have to come prepared to play the best on the Island.”
Dress the Part
Sunglasses are one of the most essential parts of a beach volleyball player’s uniform, offering protection not only from the sun but also from the glare of the sea nearby. Since the sport requires a lot of ducking and diving, opt for a pair that features a wraparound fit and adjustable nose pads to ensure they won’t easily fall off.
When it comes to hitting the court, style is a small part of the equation. Most athletes opt for sunnies that focus more on sports performance than the latest trend. For example, Oakley’s Prizm lenses filter wavelengths to make some details appear sharper than others, separating colours and getting rid of bad light. With polarised lenses, you’ll reduce the strain from the sun on your eyes, while contoured sunglasses benefit peripheral vision, allowing your eyes to focus on different points and angles around the sand court.
One spot you can snag a pair of shades that not only look the part but also serve just as serious of a purpose is at George Town-based Peripheral Life & Style. The Caribbean company also donates up to 50 percent of proceeds to a group or cause, including nonprofit events like NORCECA in the Cayman Islands.
Photographer: Photo courtesy of Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation