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Accessible Coastline – Part 1: California

Aaron Baker
Spinal Cord Injury Lifestyle Specialist | Shield HealthCare
07/04/22  9:59 AM PST

Explore The Seashore With Shield HealthCare!

The western edge of California has some of the most spectacular coastline in the world. The Golden State is graced with hundreds of miles beautiful beaches and stunning seashore. I, like so many, love a day at the beach with family and friends, but because of my mobility challenges I must research accessible points of entry for my enjoyment.

Fortunately, the California Coastal Commission’s Educational Program compiled over one hundred accessible beaches that offer facilities adapted for people living physical challenges. Here is a map for the enthusiast to explore! MAP OF CALIFORNIA’s ACCESSIBLE BEACHES.

These are a few of my favorites.

Northern California:

  1. Beach Front Park Crescent City

Crescent Beach’s Beachfront Park is part of an impressively large accessible family-friendly park on the ocean. The Kidtown playground has acres of lawns, a swimming pool, and picnic tables just feet from the beach.

In addition to the convivial grounds there is a marine rescue center and the famous Crescent Lighthouse (the first lighthouse built in California) two hundred yards off shore, accessible by foot when the tide is low.

Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/oahqbVTYvA9LpFxK8

  1. Mac Kerricher State Park

The Mac Kerricher State Park has wildlife galore and is unique for being the only state park system that used to be included in the Mendocino Indian Reservation. The beach offers a few different accessible facilities found between Ten Mile River and Fort Bragg, including two boardwalks at Laguna Point and Haul Road making it one of the most popular accessible beaches in California. You can reserve the beach wheelchair here by calling the number (707) 937-5721 a few days in advance of arriving.

Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/umDUqAGhLTgGj66P6


Central California:

Follow this link for Beach Wheelchair Information for all Central California Beaches: https://www.discover-central-california.com/beach-wheelchair.html

  1. Half Moon Bay State Beach

Half Moon Bay Beach is a postcard-perfect California beach, four miles of golden sand. The area offers fishing, sunbathing, and picnicking with a campground for an extended stay.

There is a paved, wheelchair-friendly path that runs along the sand and all-terrain beach wheelchairs provided on a first come, first serve basis, but can also be reserved free of charge. Access them at the entrance station to the Francis State Beach along Kelly Avenue.

Francis Beach may be reached at (650) 726-8820 or (650) 726-8819 and Año Nuevo State Park at (650) 879-2025.

Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/RMCwkYiqps2Yzkvy9

  1. Carmel River State Beach

Carmel River Mouth is where the Carmel River meets the sea. It’s a quaint little bird sanctuary right on the lagoon and also happens to be the backdrop to my elementary school, Carmel River School.

Monastery Beach, also known as San Jose Creek Beach (popular for scuba diving) is a stunning sand enclave near the famed Point Lobos Natural Reserve. Standard wheelchairs can reach as far as the edge of the parking lot (about 400 feet from the edge of the water).

Beach wheelchairs are unfortunately not offered at this beach so you need to bring your own or borrow one free of charge at nearby Monterey Bay Beach (831) 373-5357, or Asilomar Conference Center (831) 372-4076.

Note: The ocean here is dangerous due to torrential rip tides, so take caution when exploring.

Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/pNGLpakMNHwRBV6i7

  1. Pismo State Beach

Pismo State Beach is located eighty miles north of Santa Barbara on the California Central Coast. The climate is temperate year round with walking trails that meander along sand dune habitats and the freshwater Oceano Lagoon. A unique attraction is the presence of Western Monarch Butterflies from November through February in the Monarch Butterfly Grove.

The City currently has two beach wheelchairs available to the public and visitors of Pismo Beach at no charge. Any requests for the wheelchairs can be directed to the Sand Castle Inn by calling (805) 773-2422

Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/VKWKy6egEVWmwBEB7


Southern California:

  1. Harbor Cove

Ventura California is a seaside community lush with ocean activities. The wheelchair accessible harbor boasts restaurants, shopping, guided tours, fishing trips and more. Access to the waters edge has recently become easier with the installation of a Mobi-Mat; a portable Beach and Ground Reinforcement designed for greater accessibility on sand, soft soil, or grass for pedestrians, wheelchair users and strollers. The mats are made from 100% recyclable materials!

The Ventura Port District also offers beach wheelchairs equipped with large, wide wheels which can roll across the sand without sinking. They are available at Harbor Patrol on a first-come, first-served basis. Please call ahead for availability – (805) 642-8618

Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/1r9hEDnyiWkR5a549

  1. Leo Carrillo State Beach

Leo Carillo State Beach is a beautiful 1.5 miles strand of sand 28 miles northwest of Santa Monica along Pacific Coast Highway. There are coastal caves, tide pools, and reefs to enchant visitors looking to explore.

Currently, accessibility at this park is limited, since the Woolsey Fire destroyed much of the wheelchair accessible infrastructure. However, visitors can bring their own beach wheelchairs to enjoy the long stretch of sand. Park info (805) 488-1827

Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/YZ8TK2hFCcti33us8

  1. Crystal Cove State Beach

Crystal Cove State Beach is one of the biggest and best wheelchair accessible beaches in California. The nationally registered Historic District is 3.2 miles of coastline and 2,400 acres backcountry wilderness with 46 vintage cottages that were constructed to be a seaside colony in the 1930’s and 40’s. They are located at the Los Trancos Creek mouth.

The state park offers beach wheelchairs to visitors at the entrance kiosk of the Moro Beach and Beachcomber Restaurant in the historic district. More info here: Crystal Cove Conservancy

Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/K3jxD1TrrNQnsfAh8

  1. Oceanside City Beach & Pier

Oceanside City Beach and Pier is a renowned beach town known for international surfing competitions, outrigger races, and endurance events— there is always something happening here.

The historical Oceanside Pier is among the longest stretching wooden piers along the West Coast of America— an impressive 1,942 feet!. Along the pier visitors can watch surfers on the waves, cheer fishermen hauling in a catch, and even dine at the famed Ruby’s Diner found on the pier’s end. There are two manual beach wheelchairs available at Lifeguard station headquarters below the pier on a first come, first serve basis between 8 am to 5 pm. For reservations and more information, call (760) 467-4565.

Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/zDHDJFFxZDX6mu4z5

  1. San Diego

San Diego has some of the most accessible shoreline in California. There are nine accessible beaches that offer accessible beach mats, manual beach chairs, and power beach chairs.

Follow this link for a complete list of beaches, maps and more: Access San Diego Beaches

Happy Days Ahead!


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