While it may not be the first name to mind when youâ€™re planning a wheelchair-friendly beach holiday, Israelâ€™s Eilat coast is a fine choice. With sandy beaches, well-appointed hotels, and â€“ crucially â€“ enough presence of mind to cater for disabled travellers as well as able-bodied ones, it offers a perfect combination of sun, sea and accessibility.
Hereâ€™s a list of some of the fabulous sandy stretches in Israelâ€™s southernmost city, where the lower point of the country opens out onto the Red Sea.
Eilatâ€™s tourist board describe this as â€œone of Eilat’s most tended to and beautiful beachesâ€, and I agree. Set against a seaside row of shops and restaurants, Rimonim is a 150-metre long strand of fine white sand, surrounded by gardens and vegetation, which can be a welcome change considering Eilatâ€™s desert climate. Thereâ€™s plenty of shade if you need it, and wooden decks that make it especially wheelchair friendly. Beachside cocktails and food are on offer till late, while many of the best hotels in town are nearby. The only drawback is that it can get busy, so you might have to stake your claim early.
The Village Beach
Tourist authorities describe this as a â€œyoungâ€ beach â€“ with volleyball courts, a tanning raft and a pub playing modern music with a wide array of drinks, Village Beach definitely has a buzz about it. No food is allowed on the beach itself, but thereâ€™s a handily located restaurant serving local fare. Disabled travellers are well provided for, with wheelchair access right down to the water. The bathroom and shower facilities too are accessible by wheelchair. Friendly beach attendants are on hand if assistance is needed.
Described as one of Eilatâ€™s most beautiful stretches of shoreline, Coral Beach has a conservation and wildlife reserve where non-disabled visitors can check out the flora and fauna up close. At Aqua Sport Diving Club, open year-round except Memorial Day and Yom Kippur, itâ€™s possible to swim with an amazing array of sealife with professional instructors and a range of scuba or snorkel equipment. Wheelchair users too can access the beach, which we think is well worth the visit whether youâ€™re diving or not.
If you have reduced mobility, though, hereâ€™s a thought: Egyptâ€™s Sharm El-Sheikh is on the same stretch of the Red Sea as Eilat. So if you do want to swim with the fishes, make a special trip along the coast to Camel Diving Club, which offers special courses for disabled diving. Over a day or two instructors will teach you how to use specialised diving equipment, and get you up close with the coral reefs and wildlife including sharks, octopus and hundreds of species of tropical fish.
If any of the above interests you, I advise speaking to a travel agent with a particular interest in disabled travel, who can help make the arrangements in a professional, thoughtful manner.
Philip Scott is the owner and founder of Can be Done, a fully licensed UK tour operator specialising in worldwide holidays for disabled individuals and groups. With over 31 years’ experience organising long and short breaks for disabled travellers, Philip has built a reputation for helping his clients select hotels that offer high standards of accessibility, from specially-equipped rooms to a wheelchair friendly beach nearby, to ensure that those with special needs can experience truly relaxing and carefree holidays.
This article is copyright free.