If you want to soak up some sun next to the sea this summer, you’re in luck! There are lots of great accessible beaches across the UK’s coastline, whatever your mobility needs. Take a look at some top picks below, as well as some handy tips to help you prepare for your day by the seaside.
Holidays, mini-break, a getaway or ‘holibobs’ – whatever you call it, a summer holiday isn’t complete without the beach. And luckily, here in the UK, you don’t need to travel too far to find one.
Great Britain is peppered with sand dunes and stunning stretches of coastline, giving you plenty of options for a memorable summer break. Plus, many beaches are accessible and wheelchair-friendly, too – making them a great option for an inclusive summer day out.
With Britain boasting over 10,000 miles of coastline, its beautiful beaches aren’t in short supply. To help you narrow down your options, here are a few top picks of accessible beaches across the UK.
Some of the most accessible beaches in the UK include:
- Boscombe Beach, Dorset. Where better to have a sunny staycation than in Dorset, the UK’s (hopefully) scorching Jurassic Coast? The award-winning Boscombe Beach, situated in Bournemouth, offers the opportunity to hire the country’s first-ever purpose-built disabled accessible beach huts. They’re designed to house four wheelchairs at once – which is great if you’re travelling with several people who use a wheelchair.
- Brighton Beach, Brighton. If you can forgive Brighton for its pebbly shores, this sunny seaside town is a perfect summer getaway. Not only can you hire all-terrain wheelchairs, but there’s even a designated wheelchair-accessible area near the shore. There’s also Blue Badge parking nearby, an accessible Changing Places toilet, and a handy lift from the pier to the shore.
- Whitley Bay, Newcastle. Marvel at St Mary’s Lighthouse, with a backdrop of the North Sea on this North East seaside escape. You can hire a mobility device called an ‘Hippocampe’ (an all-terrain beach wheelchair) along with a variety of other mobility equipment from the charity Beach Access North East. And best of all? It’s free to borrow – you just need to give them a minimum of 24 hours notice.
- Balmedie Beach, Aberdeen. Scotland’s very own Balmedie Beach, in Aberdeen, is nestled by ancient sand dunes – and is known as one of the best beaches in the country. It’s close to Aberdeen train station, and offers the free, volunteer-run ‘Balmedie Beach Wheelchairs’ service. Be aware that the main hours for this are on Sundays between 12-3pm, so if you want to visit outside of these hours, make sure to contact them in advance to see if they can accommodate. In terms of other facilities, there is a Changing Places toilet, accessible with RADAR key, in the Country Park car park.
- Whitmore Bay, Barry Island, Wales. Made famous by the hit show Gavin and Stacey, family-friendly Whitmore Bay, on Wales’ Barry Island is beautiful and fully accessible. Hire free all-terrain wheelchairs to explore the crescent-shaped shore, and benefit from the beach’s new Changing Places facilities, too. It also boasts accessible showers and Blue Badge parking nearby.
- Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is home to many accessible beaches, thanks to the Mae Murray Foundation – a charity that makes beaches inclusive and offers a range of facilities for wheelchair users. An ‘Inclusive Beach’ planned by the Foundation includes wheelchair access, parking, and disabled toilets – as well as free beach equipment loan schemes, including floating chairs and all-terrain wheelchairs. Current ‘Inclusive Beaches’ include Benone, Cranfield, Groomsport, Portrush and Portstewart.
How to be prepared for your accessible beach day out
To help you prepare for visiting one of the UK’s best accessible beaches, we’ve also compiled some handy tips to make your next summer holiday as stress-free as possible:
- Bag a Blue Flag. If possible, try choosing a beach with a ‘Blue Flag’ – an annual award that celebrates beaches, marinas and tourism operators that boast high environmental, and quality standards.
- Parking. Before you set off, it’s worth doing some research into your preferred beach’s parking amenities. Is there parking nearby, to limit your travel to the shore? Is it accessible, and safe for wheelchair users? Are you able to use your Blue Badge?
- Toilets. This is an essential thing to consider when choosing a seaside spot. Is there an accessible toilet, or Changing Places facilities nearby? Do you need a RADAR key, or are there staff on hand to help?
- Accommodation. If you’re making a long weekend of it, it’s worth checking out accommodation first. Are the rooms, and the hotel itself, wheelchair-friendly? Are there lifts, an emergency cord in the bathrooms, and accessible washing facilities? Check out our article on how to book accessible accommodation for your summer stays.
- Sand wheelchairs. Pushing a wheelchair across the sand is extremely hard work, so sand wheelchairs (sand buggies for wheelchair users with bigger wheels) are here to help at many of the UK’s accessible beaches – some can even get wet, too! It’s worth booking them in advance at peak season, though.
With a range of accessible beaches peppered across the length of the UK and Northern Ireland, there are plenty of great options for everyone. Enjoy your day by the sea!