The ‘Wimbledon Of Beach Volleyball’ A Big Part Of The Los Angeles South Bay Culture
When traveling, I always like to find something of local culture, something unique to the area that lets me know I’m in some place other than home.
Now some might joke that in order to do that in Los Angeles, all you have to do is get stuck in a traffic jam on a freeway.
Perhaps that’s true, but there’s also other things besides that and the Hollywood sign to see while you’re in L.A.
On the weekend of Aug. 16-19, the Association of Volleyball Professionals is in town and not only this beach volleyball like you see in the Olympics (other than the fact players play on two-person teams instead of playing for a country) is at the Manhattan Beach Pier.
Folks, get down to it. This is a huge part of the culture of Southern California. You all hear about and see surfing but beach volleyball is bigger. Way bigger.
Just look up and down the beach, the 4-mile stretch from north Manhattan Beach to south Hermosa Beach. Every block has two beach volleyball courts. The sport was born in Manhattan Beach (on Marine Street, half a mile north of the pier).
There’s a Walk of Fame on the Manhattan Beach Pier of all past winners.
The tournament is the one the players want to win more than any other around the world. It is so revered it is known as “the Wimbledon of Beach Volleyball.”
Going to the tournament is free. The only cost is if you want to buy reserved seats or get into a VIP sky box. Otherwise, just show up and walk onto the sand.
I recommend going any of the first three days rather than for the finals on Sunday. That’s when you can walk right up to games on the outer courts and sit a few feet – inches in some cases – away from the players.
Be sure and check out all the sponsor tents, too, in order to see what goodies they are giving away that day.
After the tournament, hit the off-the-beach bars Shellback Tavern and Shark’s Cove just up Manhattan Beach Blvd.
There, you will see the true part of beach volleyball culture – drinking lots of beer around people wearing board shorts and bikinis.