From the salt spray to the gorgeous views, everyone should be able to experience the joys of a day spent near the ocean. Unfortunately, because of a lack of accessibility, these simple pleasures are sometimes more difficult than they should be for people with disabilities.
Beaches are being made more accessible through a combination of Mobi Mats, portable roll out pathways that make the beach easier to navigate; beach wheelchairs, which feature wheels that are much larger and wider than usual in order to more easily roll across the sand without sinking; and Mobi chairs, which combine the large wheels of a beach wheelchair with a might lighter frame and floatation devices.
And US beaches from Florida to California are taking up the call to make a day at the beach more accessible to everyone. For Disability Awareness Month spend some time at these 10 accessible beaches in the USA.
Gulf Shores in Alabama
Visitors to the beautiful white sand beaches that make up the Gulf coast of Alabama would be forgiven for thinking they’ve landed somewhere in Florida or the Caribbean. Alabamians are pretty proud of their beach and excited to share it with everyone. To that end, there are four access mats available here, three at the Gulf Place entrance and an additional one at the East Gulf Place entrance. There are also numerous companies that have beach wheelchairs for rent nearby.
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Cape Cod in Massachusetts
The beautiful landscape of rolling sand dunes and cliffs that draw people to the beaches in Cape Cod can also make them particularly difficult to navigate for people with mobility issues. To counter this, many of the beaches here have a variety of accessibility features that help counter this. There are 14 different beach entrances here with some kind of accessible beach access. These locations also offer use of either Mobi-chairs, beach wheelchairs or both on a first-come-first-served basis from the lifeguard station. One location, Menauhant Beach, also boasts a Mobi mat directly onto the beach.
Panama City Beach in Florida
Florida beaches are legendary for their beauty and the ones at Panama City are no different. With the addition of several accessibility features, the city has assured that everyone can enjoy the sugary sand and an inviting blue water. Panama City, Florida has two Mobi-mats that allow beach access to those with mobility issues or wheelchairs. Additionally, the location boasts several Mobi-Chair floating wheelchairs, which allow users to access not only to the beach, but the ability to actually spend some quality time in the water.
Mission Beach in San Diego in California
Spending time on the beach is an iconic way of life in Southern California and Mission Beach in San Diego is one of the state's most lively and beautiful spots for this. It's also one of several California beaches that's truly accessible to the whole family. The popular spot, near located near SeaWorld, has several accessibility features available for visitors, including beach mats and both manual and power beach chairs available for free check out.
Key Largo in Florida
While many of the resorts on this tiny island off the coast of Florida offer wheelchair accessible beach access, the real draw is Captain Mick’s Water Adventures. The company, run by polio survivor Mick Nealey, offers a variety of accessible boating adventures, from fishing to sightseeing to snorkeling. Guests can customize their adventure according to their needs, but the accessible dock, special lift that allows access to the water, and the Captain’s enthusiasm for getting everyone out into the water all come standard.
Hanauma Bay in Hawaii
Although the beach at Hanauma Bay is located at the bottom of a steep cliff created by the collapsing of an ancient volcano, it is still one of the more accessible beaches in Hawaii. Access to the beach is available via a transportation shuttle from the rim or by private car. Once at the bottom, beach wheelchairs are available free of charge at the beach kiosk.
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Myrtle Beach in South Carolina
Myrtle Beach is one of the most popular beach destinations in the US and as such it has made a major commitment to accessibility. There are over two dozen accessible beach entrances here and all vehicles with valid tags can park at any publicly operated meter near the beach for free. Beach-going wheelchairs are available here at no cost, though they are on a first-come-first-served basis, so visitors who need them are urged to come early.
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Tybee Island in Georgia
Just a 15-minute drive from downtown Savannah, Tybee Island is as popular with sea turtles (who nest here between May and October) as it is with visitors! Many attractions on the island are accessible to people with mobility issues, including the popular Tybee Island Marine Science Center and many parts of Fort Pulaski. The beaches here are also accessible via Mobi-mats at the beach access points on 16th Street, 2nd Avenue and North Street. There are also free wheelchair rentals available at the lifeguard station outside of the Science Center.
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Outer Banks in North Carolina
There are several beaches along the string of barrier islands known as the “Outer Banks” that offer accessible access to those who need it. Most have accessible parking, but both 8th Street and Jeanette’s Piece beaches also have Mobi-mats that allow closer access to the water to those in wheelchairs. There are also eight different locations along the beach that have beach wheelchairs available for even greater mobility along the sand.
Virginia Beach in Virginia
Virginia Beach is known to be one of the most accessible beaches in the US. Every street along the boardwalk here offers wheelchair access to the beach. Beach wheelchairs are available for free on a first come, first served basis at several locations up and down the boardwalk during the tourist season. There’s also an accessible beach park for children located at Grommet Island Park at the end of the boardwalk, one of the first of its kind in the US.
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