Florida has some of the most gorgeous beaches in the United States because of its breathtaking shoreline along the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. But at the same time, Florida is unique among the states because of its commitment to accessibility, making it more special.
Our in-depth guide shows you around some of Florida’s best public beaches, explaining what makes each special and why it’s ideal for sunbathers of all abilities.
Top Handicap Accessible Beaches in Florida
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection estimates that the Sunshine State has 570 beaches, covering 902 miles, making it one of the longest saltwater shorelines in the United States.
Most of these Florida beaches go above and beyond to make the beach experience accessible to people who use wheelchairs. These welcoming spots provide more than just a beautiful natural setting; they also have the infrastructure and services to make the coast accessible to everyone.
Here are a few worth mentioning Florida beaches.
Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island
The City of Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island has several attractions suitable for all ages and easily accessible by wheelchair. And the cherry on top, Amelia Island offers the first accessible mini golf experience, featuring a handicap-friendly putter, all-abilities playgrounds, beach wheelchairs, river cruises, and an accessible historic fort.
A Mobi Mat has been installed at Main Beach for the convenience of wheelchair users. Main Beach also provides a wheelchair-accessible viewing area, allowing up to eight wheelchair users to sit together and enjoy the waves.
A video showing Mobi-Mat at Fernandina Beach at 0:50 seconds
One can borrow one of three beach wheelchairs at no cost from the Atlantic Recreation Center. For floating wheelchairs, there is a $100 refundable charge, and one may only use the wheelchairs at officially designated city beach accesses.
Parking spaces are also available free of charge.
One of the best wheelchair-accessible beaches in the United States is Clearwater Beach, Florida, on the Gulf Coast. It is a popular, people-chosen, year-round destination for pleasure, partying, or business. It has plenty of sun, mild weather, fantastic food, and outdoor activities on land and at sea.
Beach wheelchairs and three Mobi-Mats are available to ensure that people of all mobility levels can take advantage of the beach’s beautiful sands and warm waves.
Clearwater Beach has three mobility mats: a 50-foot mat near public restrooms and accessible parking, a 125-foot mat in Parking Lot #36 near a large dune, and a 100-foot mat parallel to Pier 60.
A video showing an early morning wheelchair run on Clearwater Beach
Also, there are six accessible parking spots with multiple public parking spaces for a small fee. Free manual beach wheelchairs are provided on the beach close to Pier 60, near the lifeguard station, on a first-come, first-served basis with an ID card or license requirement.
Daytona Beach Shores, spanning 23 miles of coastline, is a popular vacation spot for families and a popular party destination in Florida. It is wheelchair-friendly, offering easy parking on the sand for wheelchair users.
The hard-packed sand makes it one of the best wheelchair-access beaches in the state. Apart from all the above, the Daytona Beach Boardwalk and Pier is a beautiful and accessible beach path for people of all abilities and contains a variety of stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues.
Viagem Acessivel, a wheelchair user, shared her wheelchair-riding experience on the Daytona Beach shore.
All four lifeguard stations on Flagler Avenue, Dunlawton Avenue, Beach Headquarters, and Cardinal Avenue stock power beach wheelchairs. The rental of beach wheelchairs at Daytona Beach is subject to a waiting list, unlike other beaches in the area, and may only be used for a few hours.
But one can also rent wheelchairs via beach wheelchair rentals.
Regarding easy access, Daytona Beach permits parking directly on the beach on 11 of the shoreline’s 23 miles. Beach parking is free of charge for handicapped-marked vehicles.
Destin Beach, Florida, is a popular vacation spot in the Gulf of Mexico, situated east of the Florida Panhandle. It is often called “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.”
In 2020, beach authorities installed wooden boardwalks and ADA-accessible ramps to accommodate visitors with mobility issues, including wheelchairs, in several areas of the beaches. These trails often end with beachside lookouts, picnic sites, or other attractions.
Destin’s city government also provides free beach wheelchairs from March to October at five of the most accessible beach locations, although reservations are required to guarantee availability.
Also, Destin Fire Control District provides a free beachfront wheelchair program for residents and guests.
Hollywood Beach is a retreat for beachgoers looking for accessible experiences on sandy beaches. The 2.5-mile-long Hollywood Beach Broadwalk is wheelchair accessible and features several restaurants and shops.
One of the first Florida beaches to use Mobi-Mats was Magnolia Terrace, which installed four mats at various intersections in the commercial district in 2009 and four more at Oregon, Harrison, and Carolina streets and Keating Park.
Hollywood’s Fire Rescue and Beach Safety Department offers free rental of manual beach wheelchairs on a first-come, first-served basis, recommending pre-arrangement. But the beach also provides beach mobility rentals via Sun and Fun Cycles. Floating wheelchairs can also be rented via Joy on the Beach (J.O.B.).
Indian Rocks Beach
Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Indian Rocks Beach has taken steps to make the area more accessible to those with disabilities.
The MobiMat at Indian Rocks Beach is located at the beach entrance between 17th and 18th Avenues, allowing people of all abilities to access the shoreline safely and conveniently.
Apart from it, two wheelchair-friendly trails, Baypointe Stormwater and Conservation Area, covering approximately 3.4 kilometers, and a small 0.5-kilometer Town Square Nature Park Boardwalk, are wheelchair accessible.
Four parking spaces are available near wheelchair-accessible restrooms, and there are almost 40 free spaces in the parking lot of Indian Shores Beach.
Across Biscayne Bay from the city of Miami lies the barrier island of Miami Beach, which separates the Atlantic Ocean from the bay. The walkways made of Mobi-Mats, or IPE, may be found at over 20 of Miami’s beach entrances.
The Ocean Rescue Headquarters in Miami Beach offers power beach wheelchairs and manual beach wheelchairs to guests year-round, available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., February–October, and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., November–January.
Beach wheelchairs are offered on a first-come, first-served basis at 1001 Ocean Avenue and South Pointe Park, so guests who want to use them should do so as soon as possible.
The video shows how to get an accessible electric beach wheelchair in Miami, Florida.
For people who need extra help in the water, the Sabrina Cohen Foundation runs a monthly program called Adaptive Beach Days that provides beach wheelchairs, access decks, and other aquatic mobility assistance with the help of trained staff. The group plans to create the East Coast’s first 27,000-square-foot adaptable exercise and recreation center on Collins Avenue.
Pensacola Beach, with its powdery white sand and emerald ocean, is now handicap accessible owing to installing five Mobi-mats for better beach access.
Here is where they can be found.
- A Mobi-Mat is located east of the Public Safety Building on Casino Beach, and another is west of The Dock Bar.
- One mat is located on the north side between the two pavilions in Park West.
- One is stationed near the lifeguard tower at Mom’s Beach (Quietwater Beach).
- A mat is located just east of the shell on Quietwater Beach on the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk.
- One iis on the waterside of Avenida 18 at Baby Beach.
Wheelchair users, strollers, and pedestrians benefit from Mobi-Mats because of their traction and ease of use on sand.
Beach wheelchairs may be rented at Johnson Beach, Opal Beach, and Langdon Beach in Pensacola, allowing you to go further than the Mobi-Mat locations.
Siesta Key Beach
The sand of Siesta Key Beach, not far from Sarasota, is wonderful and soft in texture. The beach’s gentle incline towards the Gulf of Mexico makes it accessible to people of varying physical abilities.
Siesta Beach is also known for its many amenities for visitors with mobility impairments, with a Mobi Mat of 450 feet installed in 2016 that almost reaches the water’s surface. There is consistent compacting of sand under the mat, making it the only nearby beach offering such facilities.
If you wish to access the beach from Siesta Key, rent a manual beach wheelchair for free until 3 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. To learn more, please visit the link.
The parking lot offers ample van parking, ramps to beaches and eateries, wheelchair-accessible facilities, and a staircase leading to an observation tower.
Beaches accessible for wheelchairs may be found around the United States, not only in Florida. To learn more about them, you can read the dedicated article here.
Things to Know Before You Go On Wheelchair-Accessible Beaches
Before heading to a wheelchair-accessible beach, you should know and consider a few things to make your trip go more smoothly and pleasurably to ensure everyone has a good time.
Some of the essential considerations are outlined below.
Access to Beach
Contact the city’s tourist information center or parks and recreation department to learn about wheelchair-friendly beaches and accessibility. Inquire about the parking lot’s proximity to the beach, as those with mobility issues will appreciate it.
Investigate the beach’s accessibility features to learn more about what’s offered. Wheelchairs, designated parking lots, handicap-accessible changing rooms or restrooms, and beach mats or Mobi-Mats that make it simpler to move on the sand are all examples of what can fall under the category.
Beach Mats and Mobi-Mats
Wheelchair riders may move more readily on the sand when special mats are set up. Make sure these mats are available at the beach you intend to visit.
Mobi mats are non-slip mats that create a stable walking path over sand to the shoreline, allowing wheelchairs to roll.
Boardwalks are paved or decked walkways located near beach access, frequently incorporating promenades, boardwalks, or parkways to facilitate wheelchair and pedestrians.
Beach wheelchairs are free or inexpensive at several beaches that welcome people with disabilities.
It’s a good idea to inquire ahead of time and arrange a beach wheelchair because supplies tend to be limited and not all beaches provide the same types of wheelchairs.
Manual Beach Wheelchairs
Manual wheelchairs require assistance from someone, even with water wheels and floats.
Electric Beach Wheelchairs
On the beach but not in the water, power chairs allow the user to be completely mobile, give them independence, and are hand-controlled. So, choosing a wheelchair as per one’s preferences is recommended.
Before planning a trip to the beach, ensure free beach wheelchairs are available or a nearby company rents them. The best is to contact them ahead of time, as some businesses require three days’ notice.
Use of Wheelchair Scooters
The widespread availability of electric scooters has also allowed people with mobility impairments to enjoy many beaches.
Our picks are the Red Elephant Mobility Scooter due to its all-terrain capacity and longer battery life, and the AFIKIM Afiscooter S4 Mobility Scooter, as it provides a nice ride on sandy beaches without recharging with a 28-mile range. Its broad seat, smooth suspension, high ground clearance, and 11.3-degree inclination rating make it ideal for beachgoers seeking comfort and mobility over varied terrains.
The United States has approximately 100,000 miles of shoreline, so beachgoers have plenty of options. However, the magnificent beaches of Florida are accessible because of the state’s dedication to inclusive tourism.
There’s a Florida beach for everyone, from the quiet solitude of Siesta Key to the broad walkways of Daytona Beach. Florida’s most easily accessible beaches are perfect for family vacations and solo getaways. So make sure to take advantage of these stunning beaches that welcome everyone.