While sandy beaches are an iconic part of any Cape and Island trip, they weren’t always designed for wheelchair accessibility and available to those who rely on wheels to get around! Luckily, many Cape and Island beaches have been re-designed to be handicapped-accessible, allowing all visitors to enjoy the sand and surf.
How are the beaches designed for wheelchair accessibility?
Many beaches are equipped with mobi-mats to stabilize sands on the approach to the beach, making it easier for wheelchair accessibility and for strollers to get down to the shore. Others features like wooden boardwalks with scenic observation decks like the ones at South Cape Beach and the Marconi Station Site in Wellfleet offer more wheelchair accessibility. A number of beaches have handicapped accessible restrooms and designated parking spaces.
In addition to the approaches to the beaches, many of the accessible beaches offer over-sand wheelchairs at no charge! These wheelchairs have beach-ball looking wheels and are made to roll across the sand easily, gliding where a conventional wheelchair would get bogged down. Most are available when lifeguards are on duty, though some do need to be reserved in advance, especially in the height of summer.
While the over-sand chairs are great to roll along the sand, for those looking to cool off in the waves many beaches offer mobi-chairs. These amphibious chairs are equipped with floats and allow for smooth over-sand travel and for lots of fun in the water! The non-profit, SMILE Mass (Small Miracles in Life Exist) donates an average of twenty floating beach wheelchairs to public beaches each year and as a result many Cape and Island beaches have accessible options to enjoy the sand and surf! Visit their website to donate to their efforts, learn where the chairs are, or suggest a location that could benefit from Mobi-Chairs.
While many beaches are technically handicapped accessible, due to natural topography some still feature steep dunes and treacherous terrain, so it’s worth doing your research before arriving. Others are level and easily accessible and have many other amenities like food! A few spots like the Salt Pond Visitor Center and Marconi Station Site have surfaced loops that accommodate wheelchairs. The 0.6-mile Doane Trail and short loop at the Marconi Station Site are certainly worth a stop!