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The world’s best wheelchair-friendly beaches

Wheelchairs and sand are never going to be the best of friends but the last few decades have seen some amazing developments in mobility technology, especially when it comes to all-terrain chairs.

So for travellers with reduced mobility who are keen to top up on their tans, here are the world’s best, most accessible beaches.

Broad Haven in Pembrokeshire, Wales

Broad Haven in Pembrokeshire, Wales

Broad Haven and Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Pembrokeshire’s beaches are known not only for their pristine, wide stretches of sand, great surf, and coastal walks, but also for their excellent accessibility. Visitors to Broad Haven can rent all-terrain wheelchairs which are designed to cope with both sand and shallow water.

The nearby Saundersfoot beach also has child-sized chairs, donated by a local charity. And for visitors hoping to stay near the coast The YHA Broad Haven combines facilities for disabled guests with a knockout sea view.

Wheelchair ramps into the sea are an easy way to make beaches accessible

Wheelchair ramps into the sea are an easy way to make beaches accessible

Umag, Istria, Croatia

Though the dense forest and soaring cliffs of Croatia’s mesmerising coastline haven't always been wheelchair accessible, local hotels around Umag Beach in Istria in particular have been making a real effort to ensure that guests with reduced mobility can still access the beach.

Sol Aurora and Sol Garden both have moving ramps and specially adapted wheelchairs to help guests with reduced mobility to enjoy the beach and go for a dip in the sea.

A family sunbathe together at Hanauma Bay in Hawaii

A family sunbathe together at Hanauma Bay in Hawaii

Hanauma Bay, Hawaii, USA

The Mobi manual chairs available to rent at Hanauma Bay are suited to both sand and the warm Hawaiian sea. The Kahala Hotel & Resort caters to wheelchair users and has it’s own private lagoon (with staff trained in accessibility best practices), a full-service spa, numerous restaurants, and an unbeatable view of Hanauma Bay.

An aerial view of Pattaya Beach in Thailand

An aerial view of Pattaya Beach in Thailand

Pattaya Beach, Chon Buri Province, Thailand

Beautiful scenery, diverse nightlife, and endless shopping options have brought a tourism boom to Pattaya Beach, fuelling investment in the industry, and travellers with reduced mobility have not been overlooked.

The A-One Resort was specifically designed to maximise accessibility for wheelchair and stick users. The whole resort is connected by ramps, some of which stretch out over the water and down to the beach. All the resort rooms are fully accessible, as well as the nearby boardwalk.

The view from the fully-accessible Punthill Williamstown, Victoria

The view from the fully-accessible Punthill Williamstown, Victoria

Williamstown Beach, Victoria, Australia

Just 15-minutes’ drive from Melbourne, Williamstown Beach has all the convenience of a city beach with the scenery of a coastal town. This Australian beach has Mobi-chairs to rent but wheelchair users who prefer to stick to their own chairs can also use the beach matting, which is available 24/7.

Everything at Williamstown Beach is fully accessible, including the bathrooms, showers, changing rooms, and toilets, so all holiday makers have to worry about is making sure they get a flawless seaview selfie from the top of the fully-accessible Punthill Williamstown.

Portstewart Strand beach in Northern Ireland

Portstewart Strand beach in Northern Ireland

Portstewart Strand, Northern Ireland

Visitors to the Blue Flag awarded Portstewart Strand in Northern Ireland are allowed to drive their cars right up to the beach, making it a great choice for wheelchair users. There are plenty of wheelchair accessible restaurants nearby, a fully-accessible bird hide for keen twitchers, and plenty of disabled toilets.

This accessibility carries over to the local accommodation, with the Cul-Erg Guesthouse, the Strandeen Bed and Breakfast, and the New York Inn all catering to guests with reduced mobility.

Sunset at Mission Beach in San Diego

Sunset at Mission Beach in San Diego

Mission Beach, San Diego, USA

San Diego is often named as one of the best cities in the United States when it comes to fully accessible beaches. Nearly every beach is equipped with manual and electric all-terrain wheelchairs which can be rented free of charge from the lifeguards, who are also trained in helping visitors transfer between chairs. For a room overlooking Mission Beach (and with easy access to the beach ramps) check out the Tower 23 Hotel.

Laguna de Terminos, Campeche, Mexico

Laguna de Terminos is a tidal lagoon in the Campeche region of Mexico and its shores are home to Hotel Freedom “La Gringa” Hotel. This luxury resort was designed and built by a quadriplegic war veteran, specifically for wheelchair users.

Access to the beach is made possible via chair-friendly promenades, local taxi drivers are experienced in transporting wheelchair users, and La Gringa also provides recommendations for fully-accessible boat rides and dolphin watching.