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 and Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Broad Haven in 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.
Hanauma Bay, Hawaii, USA
A family sunbathe together at Hanauma Bay in Hawaii
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 its own private lagoon (with staff trained in accessibility best practices), a full-service spa, numerous restaurants and an unbeatable view of Hanauma Bay.
Pattaya Beach, Chon Buri Province, Thailand
An aerial view of Pattaya Beach in 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.
Portstewart Strand, Northern Ireland
Portstewart Strand beach in 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.
Mission Beach, San Diego, USA
Sunset at Mission Beach in San Diego
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 that 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.
Umag, Istria, Croatia
Wheelchair ramps into the sea are an easy way to make beaches accessible
Though the dense forest and 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 reach the beach. Sol Aurora and Sol Garden both have moving ramps and specially adapted wheelchairs to help guests with reduced mobility to explore the sands and go for a dip in the sea.