Jeju Island is well-known for its beautiful beaches, various hiking and walking trails, and dozens of museums and other tourist attractions. But there are also numerous sports to play for the athletic-minded visitors and expats who come to Jeju. Besides regular games of soccer, ball hockey, ultimate frisbee, basketball, badminton, and table tennis, there are regular tournaments held for the best beach sport – beach volleyball.
Beach volleyball on Jeju is perhaps the most actively participated-in sport. There are usually at least two, and often four, BVB tournaments held annually. Since June 2009, Jeju Furey – a local charity organization which raises funds for under-privileged families and orphans here on Jeju – has consistently held two large weekend tournaments (in May and October) and a couple of one-day ‘swing’ tournaments (July) each year.
This past Sunday, Oct. 18, the Jeju Islanders ball hockey team and members of Jeju Furey held a one-day BVB tournament. It was another raving success for beach volleyball on Jeju.
How the Tournament Works
I’ve played in every tournament since I’ve been here (I think that’s 6), and each time has been loads of fun. I’ve never had the exact same teammates but teams generally get mixed up each time, based on the level of the players.
Read below to learn more about how tournaments usually work (also check the Facebook event page) for more information:
- Games are played 6 vs 6 with teams being made up of three guys and three girls. For this past tourney, a 7th player was allowed to register for a team, but in other tournaments this wasn’t possible. Normally, if a player leaves or is absent for a game during the day, teams are allowed to find a registered player of a similar level to replace the missing player.
- There are 4 divisions (A, B, C, D) of skill levels for teams to enter into. “A” level teams consist of the best and most competitive players; these are guys and girls who play regularly or who have played competitively in high school/college in the past/now. “B” level teams usually consist of competitive and athletic individuals who enjoy a good competition and can play decently, but who aren’t “volleyball players” per se. “C” level teams consist of slightly competitive people and many beginners who have more than likely signed up to just have a good time, play some sport and socialize. “D” level teams register as true beginners and/or as people who want to take the competition as just an excuse to socialize and get as drunk as possible. The “D” level games are entertaining to watch for the characters and antics, but not for the rallies!
- Usually, there are champions for each bracket, but for this most recent tourney there was only an “A” and “B” champion crowned.
- Teams usually play 3-5 morning games and then enter a double elimination bracket in the afternoon. The final games are usually played quite late in the evening when the sun is setting, but they are always very competitive and exciting to watch.
- Not a rule, but there is often a lot of effort put into the naming of a team. For example, here are some of the better names from this past tournament: SET-sy and we know it, Jalapeño Pussy, That’s what she Set, Sparkle Cats: Masters of the Universe (G.T.L. Memorial Edition), Rough Sets, The Ecumenical Council, etc.
Beach Volleyball on Jeju to Me
I love playing in the BVB tournaments. In my opinion, playing beach volleyball on Jeju at one of these tournaments is the best combination of sport and fun possible on the island.
I’m able to indulge in all of my passions and loves in the same day. Sport and competition – check. Sunny beach and great landscapes with (nearly always) nice weather – check. Setting up a tent and hanging with the family – check. Socializing, having a few beers with friends, and meeting new friends – check. Taking photos of a naturally photogenic event with people in bathing suits – check. I can’t stress how much fun these tournaments are; if you have a chance to play in one, do it, you won’t regret it.
Below are some of the photos I managed to take throughout the day. I was very busy playing or helping out with my family, so I didn’t take too many shots. In fact, our team ended up making it to the 3rd/4th place game which was played at the same time as the finals, so I barely had time to take any photos after the morning. Usually I try to get some great shots of the final “A” level game, but this time I wasn’t able to.
Click on any photo to open the gallery in Lightbox and read about the shot.
Although I wasn’t able to take too many photos, my very talented friend Jessica Zafra took many excellent shots after she asked to use my camera. I’m often apprehensive about giving my (expensive) camera to friends, but I felt like I could lend Jess my camera while I was busy playing. As you can see from the shots below, it was definitely a good idea.
In the future, I’d like to lend my camera to others who wish to take some shots if I’m too busy to shoot. Photography is a very subjective thing, both in the viewing and in the taking, so I welcome any chance to allow others to give their unique perspective a chance with a camera more capable than a cell phone (her shots were taken with a Canon 6D and wide-angle Canon 17-40 mm f/4 lens).
I did edit the photos to my liking, but lots of props to Jess for getting some great shots. Click on any photo to view the images in Lightbox.
Playing beach volleyball on Jeju is a magnificent experience. I believe that these BVB tournaments cater to all types of people, so if any of this looks in any way like fun to you, then you need to come to Jeju for the next tournament (sometime in May probably).
I don’t know what else to conclude. I love it. You would to. Join us next time.
Here are a few of my favorite shots that I took at previous BVB tournaments: