Life's a Beach in the World's Top 11 Accessible Shores
By Cory Lee, CurbFreeWithCoryLee.com
Is there anything like going to the beach? The sea air, the surf, the incredible vistas…the sand gumming up the works of your wheelchair. OK, so beach bumming it in a chair is not without its challenges. Nevertheless, many exotic locales throughout the world offer beaches that are wheelchair friendly, you just need to know where to look. Some provide access through boardwalks or ramps and some even offer specially designed beach wheelchairs that you can rent. (Take THAT, sand!) Here are my favorites from around the globe…
California, USALocated on the left coast of the United States, California boasts one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. Many people are familiar with hot spots such as Santa Monica and Malibu. Those offer boardwalks and ramps, but are crowded much of the time due to their popularity as a travel destination. You can expect Santa Monica to also feature a very eclectic mix of people. Just ask that homeless man on the Santa Monica Pier who thought throwing Cheetos at me was the greatest game ever.
Other beaches such as Rehab Point in Oxnard, feature a paved path that is approximately 900 feet long. The path winds around sand dunes offering great views of the ocean along the way, and I can almost guarantee you won't end up with a lapful of Cheetos!
Located on the other side of the country, the east coast state of Virginia boasts some of the most picturesque beaches to be seen. In particular, Virginia Beach is quite popular as a tourist destination. Boardwalks span much of the terrain, making travel easy and convenient. There are a few levels on the parking deck that offer direct access to the boardwalk so be sure to look for those when you go. Several Virginia beaches also offer beach wheelchair rentals, but be sure to call ahead to reserve them. Virginia Beach may still offer free use of beach wheelchairs that were used in their pilot program a few years ago. They only have two though so make sure to reserve them in advance.
A-One Pattaya Beach Resort, ThailandOne of the more popular tourist destinations for globetrotters (and my number one dream destination!), Pattaya offers luxury and quality at every turn. The entire property is connected by ramps that stretch out over the water connecting the massive property. All of the rooms are accessible and the beach offers ramp and boardwalk access. This is one of the few resorts in Thailand that has travelers with disabilities in mind.
Sirens Resort, Loutraki, GreeceSirens offers one of the best wheelchair travel experiences in the world. This Mediterranean resort is equipped with wheelchair accessible rooms throughout as well as showers that offer roll in access. The property features nice wide walkways that make navigation a piece of cake. It also has the distinction of being one of the only resorts in the world that offers direct access to the ocean. A ramp extends into the sea. Yes, it really is as epic as it sounds! You can roll right into the ocean for a total immersion experience, but I recommend not doing so in a powered chair. Could be shocking!
Freedom Shores, Isla Aguada, MexicoA war veteran who was injured in the Vietnam War created this resort property. This entire development was crafted with wheelchair users in mind. Beach access is made possible via a large promenade designed specifically so travelers with disabilities could enjoy the beach. Many other perks such as scuba diving and local taxis were made to transport wheelchair users back and forth on the property.
Hotel Tranquility Hill, Palmares, Costa RicaThis resort is owned by a quadriplegic and is one of the most accessible in the world. There is great access to the nearby beach, but you may not want to leave as they offer one of the few swimming pools in the world that features roll in access. If you do decide to stop drinking margaritas while floating around in the pool for a little while, the beach contains a boardwalk for up close viewing, making this a world-class property for travelers with disabilities.
Hanauma Bay, HonoluluThis beach is located on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. For users with special needs, they offer free use of specially equipped beach wheelchairs, which makes wet or dry sand easy to navigate. The resort here is also more than accommodating and feature accessible rooms and walkways.
Cancun, MexicoIn addition to proffering some of the most stunning scenery on the planet, Cancun is one of the most wheelchair accessible beach destinations. Plenty of boardwalks are located along the beach, and the resorts offer wide paths—enough space for you and the countless iguanas that are plentiful in Mexico—and private beach access as well. Umbrellas can even be rented for a small fee if you want to spend the day on the sand without roasting like a lobster.
Key Largo, Florida, USAThe beach is accessible via ramps and wooden walkways. However, one of the strongest appeals of this exquisite area for travelers with disabilities is the ability to go snorkeling and diving. A few local companies specialize in outfitting wheelchair users for unforgettable underwater experiences. Boats feature lifts for easy transfer on and off, making this a great, safe way to explore subaquatic life.
Manly Beach, AustraliaA short ferry ride from the mainland will land you at Manly Beach. Very accessible with a plethora of cafes, restaurants and shops, there is plenty to see and do beyond just spending time on the beach itself. Be sure to eat some pizza at Hugo's if you visit. I had some back in February and am still daydreaming about it... DEEE-licious!! However, if lounging seaside is on the agenda then there is a nice walkway between Manly and Shelley Beach with beach wheelchairs available if you desire.
Tuscany, ItalyThis great Italian region has several accessible beaches. Ramps and boardwalks are abound in this tourist Mecca you can't go wrong on Tuscany's Alcione Beach, Bagno Auroria, Fossa Maestra or Stella del Mare. A few of these picturesque beaches have such practical amenities as showers and changing rooms. Many of the resorts in Tuscany offer accessible rooms as well. Just make sure you call ahead to check availability or you might get booked in a regular room even if you requested an accessible room online.
The world is becoming a lot friendlier for wheelchair users now thanks to communities and countries that seek to include all types of people as a part of their tourism programs. The beaches and resort areas on this list are some of the best in the world, but they are by no means the only accessible beaches. The only way to find the others is for you to continue traveling. You never know what undiscovered gem you might find waiting for you in a small corner of the world!
Join self-proclaimed travel addict Cory Lee on his worldwide adventures at CurbFreeWithCoryLee.com. His hope is to inspire you to start rolling around the world!
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