Many people associate the beach with summer. However as we age, the beach can become less enticing since it can be difficult to access. Wheelchairs make it even more challenging so many people who use them give up going. If you or a loved one has given up this summer pastime, keep reading to find out how you can return to a beach adventure!
There are different ways that the beach can be made accessible for everyone. Some beaches have boardwalks that let you view the beach but not necessarily get to the water. Other beaches have beach mats that provide a sturdy surface through the sand that lets people with assistive devices or wheelchairs get onto the beach itself and sometimes get to the water. There are even sand or all terrain wheelchairs available that give access to the entire beach – often for no cost!
If the beach you want to visit doesn’t have a beach wheelchair available, there is an organization called SMILE Mass that has beach wheelchairs available to borrow for a trip to the beach or lake. They also donate approximately 20 beach wheelchairs to public beaches each year. You can contact them through their website: https://smilemass.org/initiative/beach-wheelchairs/
Below are state parks that have accessible features in the New England region. Some town beaches or lakes may also have accessible features. Please contact your local town hall to find out if there are facilities in your area.
In Connecticut, there are five state parks with beach wheelchairs that are available on a first come, first served basis. These include Hammonasset Beach in Madison, Rocky Neck in East Lyme, Sherwood Island in Westport, Silver Sands in Milford and Squantz Pond in New Fairfield. SMILE Mass has also provided beach wheelchairs to several town beaches along Long Island Sound including Compo Beach in Westport, Lake Mohegan in Fairfield and Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk.
Hammonasset Beach and Silver Sands have boardwalks that make it easy to stroll along the beach as well. Accessible bathrooms are available at all of these beaches and Hammonasset Beach and Rocky Neck have a separate individual restroom that allows a caregiver to assist.
Maine has many state parks with beaches but not all are accessible. Beach wheelchairs are available at ten of the state parks though most recommend assistance to get to beach. The beaches with beach wheelchairs are Crescent Beach in Cape Elizabeth, Damariscotta Lake State Park and Ferry Beach State Park in Jefferson, Mount Blue State Park in Weld, Peaks-Kenny State Park in Dover-Foxcroft, Popham Beach State Park in Phippsburg, Range Pond State Park in Poland, Reid State Park in Georgetown, Sebago Lake State Park in Casco and Naples and Swan Lake State Park in Swanville.
In Massachusetts, 12 state parks have beach wheelchairs available for use. These include Carson Beath in Boston, Constitution Beach in East Boston, Houghton’s Pond in Milton, Demarest Lloyd State Park in Dartmouth, Fort Phoenix State Reservation in Fairhaven, Horseneck Beach State Reservation in Westport, Nahant Beach Reservation in Nahant, Salisbury Beach State Reservation in Salisbury, Revere Beach State Reservation in Revere, Scusset Beach State Reservation in Sandwich, South Cape Beach State Park in Mashpee and Lake Wyola State Park in Shutesbury. In addition, SMILE Mass has donated many wheelchairs to local swimming areas. Please check with your local area or vacation destination to see if one is available.
Boardwalks or paved walkways are available at Carson Beach, Ashland State Park in Ashland, Nahant Beach Reservation, Salisbury Beach State Reservation, Revere Beach State Reservation, Houghton’s Pond, Fort Phoenix State Reservation, Horseneck Beach State Reservation, South Cape Beach State Park and Lake Wyola State Park.
Beach mats are available during summer months at Carson Beach, Constitution Beach, Nahant Beach Reservation, Salisbury Beach State Reservation, Revere Beach State Reservation, Houghton’s Pond, Demarest Lloyd State Park, Fort Phoenix State Reservation, Horseneck Beach State Reservation, Scusset Beach State Reservation, South Cape Beach State Park, Erving State Forest in Erving and Lake Wyola State Park.
State parks all have accessible bathrooms available.
New Hampshire has beach wheelchairs available at four state parks. These are Hampton Beach State Park in Hampton, Mount Sunapee State Park in Newbury, Pawtuckaway State Park in Nottingham and Wellington State Park in Bristol.
Vermont has a beach wheelchair available at one state park: Sand Bar State Park. One local beach also has a beach wheelchair available – Fairlee Town Beach. Fairlee Town Beach requires a beach pass for residents and non-residents.
Please note: The COVID 19 pandemic has affected schedules and access to amenities throughout the country. Bathroom access, parking and capacity of many parks is reduced or limited to local residents. Please check the website of the park you are interested in before heading out to make sure it is open and you are able to access the features you are interested in.