The mantra of going to the beach is “Leave only footprints.” Wheelchair tracks are part of that, too.

 

Ramps, free beach wheelchairs, and friendly lifeguards make experiencing the quartz sand, iconic emerald waves, and stunning sunsets along the Gulf in Destin-Fort Walton Beach accessible to everyone.

 

And it’s constantly improving. As part of a $12 million makeover of Norriego Point Beach, Access and Park in Destin, an 8-foot-wide boardwalk that’s accessible for those with disabilities will be built along the entire Destin Harborside. A 50-foot flexible “Mobi Mat” will help wheelchairs cross over the soft sand to reach the boardwalk. ADA-compliant restrooms also are in the works.

 

There are plenty of ways to enjoy the beach in a wheelchair now, though.

 

Don’t have a beach wheelchair? No problem

Beach wheelchairs have wide wheels that roll across the sand instead of frustratingly sinking in. Some need to be pushed, while others are motorized.There are multiple rental companies in the area. The following also offer use for free on a first-come, first-served basis:

 

Okaloosa County offers six free beach wheelchairs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from March 1 to Oct. 31. They even will deliver them to beach access points and any of the condominiums or hotels on Okaloosa Island, from Beasley Park to the El Matador Resort. Call (850) 259-4131 for a reservation.

 

Destin Fire Control District has three wheelchairs available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day. They can be used at James Lee Park, and at the Shirah Street and June White Decker public beach accesses. Call (850) 837-8413 for a reservation.

 

Henderson Beach State Park, which is ADA accessible, has three beach wheelchairs available during park hours. Stop in at the park office for a key, then retrieve them where they’re stored. Keys must be returned by the end of the day.

Now that you have the chair, here’s where ramps to the beach are:

  • Blue Dolphin Beachwalk - 372 Santa Rosa Boulevard, Fort Walton Beach
  • Emerald View Beachwalk - 399 Santa Rosa Boulevard, Fort Walton Beach
  • Seashore Beachwalk - 530 Santa Rosa Boulevard, Fort Walton Beach
  • Jerry Melvin Beachwalk - 600 Santa Rosa Boulevard, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548
  • Doris Jordan Freeway Beachwalk - 700 Santa Rosa Boulevard, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548
  • Mike Mitchell Beachwalk - 820 Santa Rosa Boulevard, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548
  • Emerald Promenade Beachwalk - 900 Santa Rosa Boulevard, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548
  • John Beasley Park – 1550 Miracle Strip Pkwy, Fort Walton Beach
  • June White Decker Park - 1950 Scenic Highway 98, Destin
  • Shores at Crystal Beach Park - 2966 Scenic Highway 98, Destin
  • Pompano Street Access-  Pompano Street South and U.S. Highway 98 East, Destin.
  • Shirah Street Access -  Shirah Street and South U.S. Highway 98 East, Destin.