ADA Beach Access
If you have mobility challenges, getting to the beach can present difficulties. Things are getting better as
beach access features are gradually becoming more accommodating, but we still have a long way to go.
Getting to the beach generally involves parking the car at some distance from the beach in a parking lot. All
major public beach access points provide “handicap” parking spaces as close as possible to the beach. Even when the
parking lot is not paved, the handicap spaces are usually paved with concrete which connects to a sidewalk.
Beach Wheelchair Availability
The next step in getting to the beach is crossing the dune. Most beaches in Florida have very low dunes, so
height is not much of an issue. Boardwalks often referred to as “dune crossovers” provide a path across the dune
and get you onto the sand. This is where the problem is. Ordinary wheelchairs cannot function in the soft sand of
Florida beaches. They just bog down. So, if you are unable to walk across the sand to the water, you’ll need the
use of a special beach wheelchair. Most full-service public beaches have such a wheelchair on site. On some
beaches, the lifeguards are in charge of the chairs. All you have to do is get the attention of the lifeguard.
Often, signs are posted near the handicap parking access with a phone number to call to reach the lifeguard or
whoever is in charge of the chairs.
Above photo: Beach wheelchair info visible from the handicap parking space at Fort Desoto Park.
On other beaches, the beach concession vendor or a ranger station may be in charge of the chairs. Wherever
possible, I’ve indicated in this book who to contact to arrange for beach wheelchair access. These chairs are quite
expensive, so they are often kept locked up when not in use.