The Best Wheelchair Accessible Beaches in Florida

Top 5 Wheelchair Accessible Beaches in Florida

Having been born and raised in South Florida, visiting the beach used to be as routine for me as going to the grocery store. However, losing my ability to walk slowly diminished my ability to walk across the sand, and eventually my ability to swim. I went eight years without going to the beach, and thought it was unattainable for me forever. This was until I discovered two revolutionary inventions – the beach mat and beach wheelchair – that reopened the magic of my native Florida beaches to me again. I’m even more thrilled to know that today, wheelchair users have access to dozens of accessible Florida beaches – a number that’s growing every year. Here’s my personal list of Florida’s best wheelchair accessible beaches.

1. Daytona Beach. Known for NASCAR and Spring Break, Daytona Beach has a certain reputation among some – one that the city has worked hard to dispel. The city has invested heavily in making the area more family friendly, and beach accessibility is among these improvements. Daytona is somewhat unique among Florida beaches in that the sand is hard-packed; cars used to be allowed to park on the beach, which means that rolling beach wheelchairs across the sand is a breeze. There is even a company called Beach Mobility Rentals that offers power beach wheelchairs, which I LOVE because I don’t have to rely on someone else to push me around.  For persons needing assistance, beach wheelchairs are also available for use from any of the four lifeguard stations. There is a limited supply, and they are available first come, first served at no charge. People can check them out from a lifeguard station and use them for a couple of hours, depending on the waiting list. The beach wheelchairs are available at the following lifeguard stations:

• Flagler Avenue, New Smyrna Beach
• Dunlawton Avenue, Daytona Beach Shores
• Beach Headquarters, Daytona Beach
• Cardinal Avenue, Daytona Beach

wheelchair accessible siesta key beach2. Siesta Key Beach. It’s hard to hide my bias towards the white sand beaches of Florida’s Gulf Coast, and especially the wide and friendly beaches of Siesta Key. In 2016, the city installed a Mobi-Mat on the sand, which almost goes down to the water. Fortunately, you can use the free beach wheelchairs to make it down to the water’s edge. Just make sure you check one out before 3PM, and they’re available on a first-come, first served basis. The parking lot is large and has several van-accessible parking spaces with ample ramps to the concessions and beach access areas. There are also accessible restrooms located in the concession area, as well as ramp access to an observation tower. You won’t be too far from Myakka State Park, where later during your visit you can go on a fully accessible airboat ride!

3. Hollywood Beach. This Florida beach, located roughly halfway between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, was the first in the state to roll out a wheelchair beach mat. In 2009, four mats were installed in the commercial district at Tyler, New York, Johnson and Connecticut streets. Later, four more mats were installed at Oregon, Harrison, and Carolina streets, and Keating Park at Magnolia Terrace. Hollywood Beach also offers some great beach mobility rentals through Sun and Fun Cycles, which has partnered with cruise mobility vendor Special Needs at Sea. The Joy on the Beach (J.O.B.) Wheelchair features innovative, air filled balloon wheels that make it easy to roll the beach’s sand; the beach wheelchair can also be rolled into the ocean’s open water for leisure as the inflatable wheels provide flotation. Hollywood Beach also has a fantastic wheelchair friendly boardwalk for cruising.

4. Rish Recreational Park. The William J. (Billy Joe) Rish Recreational Park is a 100-acre recreational park located on Cape San Blas near Port St. Joe in the Florida Panhandle. The park is a fabulous getaway with beautiful, sugar-white sand, sea oat covered dunes, refreshing sea air, and shimmering turquoise-blue water on the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. The uniqueness of Rish Park affords individuals with disabilities a safe beach experience that is completely ADA accessible. This park has been developed specifically for people with disabilities and their families and shows how some vision and planning can magnify one of nature’s treasures by expanding access. Rish Park has approximately two miles of boardwalks and ramps connected to spacious dormitories and family cottages. Amenities include a multipurpose event hall with a complete cooking facility and an Olympic-size swimming pool. The park has two wheelchair accessible family cabins that can house up to seven people. They each contain a living room, kitchen, two bedrooms and two bathrooms, complete with a roll-in shower. The cabins are maintained in a rustic fashion and users must bring personal items such as sheets, towels and groceries. Through the available beach wheelchairs and Mobi mats, wheelchair users can equally enjoy the beach with their family.

 5. Fernandina Beach. Fernandina Beach, Florida, a resort community of 8,800 residents on Amelia Island between the Atlantic Ocean and the Amelia River, is Florida’s second oldest city and the State’s first resort area. With its 50-block downtown historic district, golf courses, parks and nature areas, beaches, and a resident shrimping fleet, the community welcomes visitors and vacationers from all corners of the country. The city has constructed a beach walkover at the Main Beach, and constructed an accessible viewing area connected to the accessible beach path, allowing as many as eight people using wheelchairs to sit together on the beach and enjoy an unobstructed view of the surf. The city plans to construct two additional walkovers at opposite ends of the city at the North Park and Seaside Park Beaches to provide wheelchair users access to the beach nearest them. The city also purchased two beach wheelchairs for those wishing to join family and friends near the water on the sandy beach. The City of Fernandina Beach has a Mobi-Mat semi-permanently installed at the Main Beach boardwalk access ramp.  This environmentally-friendly ADA-compliant matting provides safe and easy access for wheelchairs, strollers, and walkers to maneuver on the beach sand.  The Parks & Recreation Department has three beach wheelchairs available for reservations at the Atlantic Recreation Center.  A refundable security deposit of $100 per chair, paid with a current and valid major credit card (Visa or MasterCard), and driver’s license are required.  Please call the Atlantic Recreation Center at 904-310-3350 for availability and reservations. Accessible parking near beach access can be found at North Beach Park Access: #12N, Dolphin Street Access: Main Beach Park, Seaside Park Access, and Mantanzas Access: #34.

Are you ready to book a fantastic beach vacation in sunny Florida? Contact me at Spin the Globe/Travel for assistance!

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11 Comments

  • Gail Hayes June 10, 2018 at 8:20 pm Reply

    I’m conserving a pride go pro scooter. You’ve traveled with one.

    Coukd you help me –

    Do you have to take a converter with you for Europe? Or does the play g have a built in voltage converter like an iPhone?

    How many hours do you average on a charge?

    Thanks

    • Sylvia Longmire June 10, 2018 at 8:23 pm Reply

      Hi Gail! I use a Go Go UltraX with a 12V/15aH battery pair. How long it lasts depend on the terrain, if it’s cobblestones, if it’s uphill much of the way, etc. If it’s a flat surface most of the day, I can get up to 8 miles/12 km out of it. The charger is variable voltage, so I don’t need a converter when I travel, just a plug adapter.

  • Kate Lilly June 15, 2018 at 1:00 pm Reply

    Hi Sylvia! As a resident of St. Petersburg, I love your new blog! FYI, the city of Treasure Island just installed a MobiMat. It’s at Gulf Front Park, 10400 Gulf Boulevard. Keep up the great work with your informative and educational wheelchair accessible travel blogs!

    • Sylvia Longmire June 16, 2018 at 2:24 pm Reply

      Thank you so much for the info and the compliment!!

  • How to Reach Over 30 Accessible Beaches in Florida • Spin the Globe June 16, 2018 at 2:17 pm Reply

    […] beaches. I usually balk when I hear the word “beach,” until we discovered that nearby Siesta Key Beach is one of the three dozen or so locations in Florida that have a Mobi-Mat® installed on the sand. […]

  • Explore Florida's Accessible Beaches with Special Wheelchairs • Spin the Globe June 16, 2018 at 2:20 pm Reply

    […] these hiccups are well worth dealing with just to get out on the sand! Here’s my list of the top 5 wheelchair accessible beaches in Florida where you can use one of these awesome beach […]

  • Debra Sutton June 19, 2018 at 7:09 am Reply

    My husband is a huge nascar fan. He also used to race hydroplane. Once he even raced his inboard in Daytona and one. That would have been I believe in 1975. He had a accident in st Pete lake Marjorie in 1987 witch left him a guadupligic and he does not speak or hear has a trach and tube fed but mind is still there. I know he would love to do something like this we live about 2 hours or so away so we would have to get a motel. Which brings me to the point of where would be a good place to stay and 2nd how much would it the hole package cost we are retired now so live on fixed income but in the 32 years since his accident we have had maybe 3 vacations I would really like to do this for him if at all possible but don’t even know where to begin. How much do you charge to set something like this up.and than how much would it all cost? Maybe it’s just a dream but I sure would like to check it out for him. Than you so very much. Mr and mrs David Sutton

    • Sylvia Longmire June 22, 2018 at 3:43 pm Reply

      Hi Debra! I don’t charge anything just to make an accessible hotel reservation for you. I can’t buy the tour tickets for you as they are sold on a first-come first-served basis, but you can call to let them know you have a wheelchair user in your party who would like to take a tour on a certain day.

  • ACCESS REVIEW: The Aloft Hotel in Sarasota - Spin the Sunshine State June 22, 2018 at 3:59 pm Reply

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  • 10 Ways Wheelchair Users Can Beat the Florida Heat - Spin the Sunshine State June 28, 2018 at 1:53 am Reply

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  • A List of Wheelchair Accessible Beaches in Florida by County • Spin the Sunshine State July 16, 2018 at 12:43 pm Reply

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