A truly global twist on the sport of polo, beach polo was first played in Dubai in 2004. Since then, beach polo tournaments have been recognized as some of the most spectator friendly, exciting polo events hosted globally. As an added benefit, they take place in some of the world’s most picturesque locations, from the North Sea Coast of Germany to Dorset in England, South Beach in Miami, and more.
The International Beach Polo Association (IBPA) was created in 2008 as a governing body to promote international cooperation within the sport and is in charge of defining official field conditions and rules of play. Beach Polo teams consist of two or three players at the discretion of the event’s organizers. A playing surface of 100 by 50 yards is the recommended size for a beach polo arena.
Barriers surrounding the playing arena are to be higher than those used in field polo and should have rounded corners to keep the ball in play as much as possible. Beach polo events are 4 chukkers (periods) of 6 minutes in length. The game is played with a brightly colored inflatable ball which is larger than the ball used in field polo. The ball can reach speeds of up to 100mph, keeping spectators engaged at all times.
New beach polo events are always being added to the annual schedule, though there are four tournaments that remain mainstays on the global tour: Sandpolo in England, The Miami Beach Polo World Cup, Patagonia Beach Polo, and The Julius Baer Beach Polo World Cup.
Since 2008, Sandpolo has taken over the beach at Sandbanks on the Dorset Coast for their annual beach polo tournament. With the backdrop of the English Channel, England’s top players battle it out for ultimate glory. While the polo action may end at sunset, the celebration continues long into the night.
Image: Gyorgy Kotorman
Considered one of the most exclusive seaside communities in England, the peninsula is home to some of the best beaches in the United Kingdom. The Sandbanks region has long been referred to as England’s Palm Beach.
Sandpolo is slated to take place on the 12th and 13th of July, 2024.
The World Polo League Beach Polo World Cup Miami
Taking place on the renowned sands of Miami’s South Beach, the Beach Polo World Cup is considered the world’s largest beach polo tournament. Held each spring, the event features up to eight international teams and attracts over 10,000 spectators annually. Miami’s love for all things luxury makes it the perfect location to host a beach polo tournament.
Image: Steven Hodel
The event continues to grow each year as sponsors and spectators flock to the sands of South Beach to experience the excitement. The town comes alive for the event with a series of offsite social events, including afterparties, fashion shows, and more. Don’t miss the tournament’s 18th edition in April 2024.
The Julius Baer Beach Polo World Cup
Located on the Friesan Island of Sylt off the coast of Germany in the North Sea, The Julius Baer Beach Polo World Cup celebrated its 16th anniversary in 2023. Played with two-player teams, the event attracts upwards of six teams as players flock to experience the excitement and hospitality of the island of Sylt.
Image: Rolf Simon
Renowned for its white sandy beaches and dunes, Sylt has long been considered Germany’s version of New York’s Hamptons for its ability to attract the who’s who of celebrity locals since the 1960s. There is no better location to host an exhilarating beach polo tournament. Mark your calendars for the next Julius Bar Beach Polo World Cup taking place on the island of Sylt on the 18th and 19th of May, 2024.
Patagonia Beach Polo
A newcomer to the global tour, Patagonia Beach Polo takes place at the southernmost tip of polo’s modern homeland of Argentina. Located in Patagonia’s Puerto Piramides, in the province of Chubut, the tournament attracts some of the world’s top male and female players as they battle it out for the Emilio Ferro Cup and the Diana Spencer Cup, respectively. The tournament takes place annually in early December after the high-goal polo season wraps up near the capital of Buenos Aires.
The town of Puerto Piramides is the only town located on the Valdes Peninsula, an area also known for whale watching. The town’s mayor Fabián Gandón has been quoted singing the event’s praises; “These four editions of Patagonia Beach Polo have surely opened up a new option to visit the Valdes Peninsula and Puerto Piramides, and combine polo with tourism in one of the most extraordinary and virgin places that still remain in the world.”
Beach Polo is proof that the age-old sport of polo is always finding new ways to reinvent itself. If visiting some of the world’s most exotic locales and experiencing the excitement of polo are on your list, a beach polo event won’t disappoint.