Accessible Coastline— Part 2: The Gulf & East Coast

Aaron Baker
Spinal Cord Injury Lifestyle Specialist | Shield HealthCare
05/12/23  8:01 AM PST
accessible beach for wheelchair

The weather is warming up and beach days are drawing near. In Part 1 of this blog series I profiled ten of my favorite locals along the West Coast of the United States (read here). But now, we look east to the Atlantic coastline and even south towards the Gulf of Mexico for some amazing, and accessible adventure fun.

Below are some accessible east coast and southeast U.S. beach destinations that are on my radar.

Traveler Tip: I always make sure to contact the pertinent website or the visitor’s bureau for my chosen destination to ask about parking lot availability, distance, mode of accessible transport to the beach, rental costs of chairs, and the existence of Mobi or other mats. Peace of mind is priceless!




Travelers come from all over the world to enjoy the beautiful beaches along the Gulf Coast of Mexico. Texas has made it a top priority to promote accessibility and beach access for its major waterside destinations. Here is a General Beach Accessibility Guide for Texas, and below are three points of interest you may want to consider.

  1. South Padre Island

The City has 24 beach access points along the less than 3 mile stretch of Gulf Boulevard. Of the 24 Beach access points, 18 are developed providing over 200 parking spaces with 19 of those being handicap spaces. Of the 18 developed beach access points all have a walk-over, stairs or Mobi-Mat with 4 being wheelchair accessible.

Here’s a useful website for South Padre Island.

Here is South Padre Island on Google Maps.


  1. Corpus Christi

In Corpus Christi, they say every season is beach season. And with the city’s free beach wheelchair program, Mobi-Mats and easy access points, everyone can feel included. The warm Texas sun and chill surf beckons me to explore this city. As their community website says: Surf’s up for everybody!

Here’s the visitor website for Corpus Christi beaches.

Here is Corpus Christi on Google Maps.


  1. Galveston

It’s Island Time! The Galveston Island Beach Patrol and the Galveston Park Board of Trustees want to share the Gulf of Mexico and the beach experience with as many people as possible. All Park Board operated beach parks (East Beach, Stewart Beach and Dellanera RV Park) offer water friendly beach wheelchairs at no cost or reservation requirement.

Here’s the visitor website for Galveston.

Here is Galveston on Google Maps.



Some of the best Gulf Coast beaches can be found in the Yellowhammer State. The soft white sands and pristine waters of Alabama beaches make them the perfect place to escape the hustle and the bustle of daily life and just relax.

  1. Gulf Shores

With its beautiful sandy beaches, visitors to the Gulf coast of Alabama would be forgiven for thinking they’ve landed somewhere in the Caribbean. To access the sand there are four Mobi-Mats available: three at the Gulf Place entrance and an additional one at the East Gulf Place entrance near the resident parking area.

There are also numerous companies that provide beach (electric) wheelchairs for rent nearby. Here is a general link: Google Search

Here’s the main visitor website for Gulf Shores.

Here is Gulf Shores on Google Maps.



 Known for their sugar white sand and tropical weather, Florida boasts some of the world’s most iconic seascapes. Below are a few destinations on my bucket list!

  1. Destin Beach

Located on the Gulf of Mexico, Destin is a resort town that is conveniently sandwiched between Panama City Beach to the east and historic Pensacola Beach to the west. The locale offers a plethora of accessible beaches to choose from. Many beaches in and around Destin offer wooden walkways and ramps right down to the beaches. The city of Destin itself offers free beach wheelchairs, but reservations are recommended.

The Destin Fire Control District provides a no-cost Beach Wheelchair Program that allows residents or visitors access to the beach from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Here’s the visitor website for Destin Beach.

Here’s a link to the Destin Beach Wheelchair Program.

Here is Destin Beach on Google Maps.


  1. Siesta Key Beach

Siesta Key is a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Sarasota, Florida. It’s known for its sandy beaches and shallow waters, with shops and cafes abound often appearing on lists of the Best Beaches in the United States.

The town boasts that it is an accessible vacation destination for all with parks, beaches and attractions that are fully wheelchair accessible. At Siesta Key you’ll find a 400-foot Mobi-Mat stretching from the paved parking lot to the shoreline and other lifeguarded Sarasota beaches (including Lido Key, Longboat Key, Venice, Casey Key, and Manasota Key), beach wheelchairs can be obtained from the lifeguard towers free of charge every day.

Here’s the visitor website for Sarasota beaches.

Here is Siesta Key on Google Maps.


  1. Miami Beach

Miami Beach sits directly across from the city of Miami, located on a barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay. It is a fabulous destination for wheelchair-accessible beaches as it offers Mobi-Mat paths and free rentals for both manual and motorized beach wheelchairs.

Swap out your personal chair for the beach version at Beach Patrol (1001 Ocean Drive) and South Pointe Park, or access the more than 20 beach entrances with Mobi-Mats or IPE (an exotic hardwood that is naturally resistant to rot and decay and is hard-surfaced) boardwalks.

Also check out Hollywood Beach, the first destination in Florida to offer wheelchair-access mats leading to the beach. Only fifteen miles north along the coast, Hollywood Beach offers eight access areas to the water for wheelchair users along its famous Broadwalk.

*Note: The Sabrina Cohen Foundation launched its free Adaptive Beach Days program in Miami Beach to provide access to the beach and ocean for disabled individuals, veterans, children with special needs, and the elderly.

Here’s the visitor website for Miami Beach with all the ADA information.

Here is Miami Beach on Google Maps.



Even though Georgia only has roughly 110 miles of shores, the Peach State’s coastline is dotted with marshland, beaches, and barrier islands. Their natural wonders and coastal treasures make for an ideal getaway.

  1. Tybee Island

Just a 15-minute drive (18 miles) from historic downtown Savannah, Georgia Tybee Island is consistently named as one of the top-rated beaches in the US, and is as popular with Loggerhead sea turtles (who nest here between May and October) as it is with visitors! Many attractions on the island are accessible, including the popular Tybee Island Marine Science Center and many parts of Fort Pulaski. Tybee has beach access points with Mobi-Mats on 16th Street, 2nd Avenue and North Street. There are also free floating wheelchair rentals available at the lifeguard station outside of the Science Center.

Here’s the visitor website on Tybee Island, with information on how to explore without limitations.

Here is Tybee Island on Google Maps.


South Carolina

The coastal towns and picture-perfect beaches of the Palmetto State are ideal for family vacations. Even though Myrtle Beach is one of the region’s most popular vacation hotspots, there are plenty of hidden gems to uncover along the Grand Strand.

  1. Myrtle Beach

South Carolina has over 180 miles of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean with arguably sixty of the most famous miles being, Myrtle Beach. This destination is full of life and perfect for family vacations. Broadway At the Beach is an area known for its restaurants, shops, nightlife, and other attractions. You’ll be happily overwhelmed with all of the choices. Also, the SkyWheel, Ferriswheel is fully wheelchair accessible!

Along the shoreline there are 114 public beach access points, but only nine of these are fully accessible or have a beach access ramp, so make sure that you find the right one

Here is the visitor website for accessible Myrtle Beach.

Here’s more information on beach-going wheelchairs & beach access in Myrtle Beach.

Here is Myrtle Beach on Google Maps.


North Carolina

With 300 miles of pristine coastline, it’s no wonder North Carolina is one of the nation’s top beach destinations. In addition to its stunning white-sand beaches, it is also home to historic sites, diverse wildlife and enjoable activities.

  1. Outer Banks

The fragile ribbons of sand tracing the coastline for more than 100 miles, is a string of barrier islands known as the Outer Banks. Although most of the parking lots and beach access points are behind the times, there are two known accessible areas of interest, both 8th Street and Jeanette’s Pier beaches have Mobi-Mats that allow access to the water.

Here is visitor information for Eighth Street.

Here is visitor information for Jannette’s Pier.

Here is a general accessibility pdf for Outer Banks.

Here is Outer Banks on Google Maps.



Though Virginia might not be the first place most people think about when it comes to U.S. beaches, this coastal state has some of the best beaches in the country. It’s not hard to see why when you consider the more than 7,000 miles of shoreline in the state.

  1. Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach, on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay has been cited as one of the top ten most accessible beach towns in the world. Grommet Island Beach Park and Playground For EveryBODY is the first of its kind in America: a 100% accessible oceanfront park. This 15,000 square foot beach park features wheelchair-accessible entrances and a playground that includes poured-in-place surfacing, raised sand tables for sandcastle building at an accessible height, a sensory board for children who are autistic and visually impaired, and a sway boat.

There is a smooth, flat three-mile-long boardwalk along the shore, with shops, hotels, restaurants, and free beach accessible wheel chairs that can be obtained up and down the boardwalk.

*Note: The locations that offer free beach accessible wheel chairs and other handicapped items are available on a first come, first served basis. (Available April 1 to October 1)

Here’s the visitor website for Virginia Beach, with access information.

Here’s visitor information for Grommet Island Beach Park.

Here is Virginia Beach on Google Maps.



Colloquially known as the Bay State, Massachusetts borders both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Maine. Its spectacular coastline is filled with with charmingly quaint seaside towns and villages.

  1. Cape Cod

The beautiful rolling sand dunes and cliffs that draw people to the beaches in Cape Cod can also make them particularly difficult to navigate for people with mobility issues. You can still find a number of beach towns throughout the Cape that provide beach wheelchairs (free of charge), accessible boardwalks and ADA changing areas.

A few of the most accessible beaches are Brewster Beach (they offer 3 beach wheelchairs), South Cape Beach (accessible picnic tables) and Old Silver Beach. Brewster is famous for the Brewster Flats, a phenomenon created by the ebb and flow of the daily tides when the waters recede out of Cape Cod Bay over 1 mile to reveal sandbars, clam beds and tidal pools teeming with sea life.

In total, there are 15 different beach entrances with some kind of access that offer the use of either Mobi-Mats, beach wheelchairs or both on a first-come-first-served basis from the lifeguard station.

Here’s more information on exploring Cape Cod.

Here is a link to wheelchair-accessible beaches in the Cape.

Here is Cape Cod on Google Maps.



Happy Exploring,




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