If you’ve ever tried to use a manual wheelchair on a sandy beach, you’ll know immediately that wheelchairs and sand do not mix!!
Earlier this summer, I went on a beach day with my friends to Oval Beach in Saugatuck, Michigan. It was the most accessible beach I’ve ever been to! It was such a wonderful and unexpected gem and I must share it with y’all!
The reason why I love Oval Beach so much is because of the boardwalk, located on the north end of the beach. It goes right from the handicap parking area to about halfway down the beach. While it doesn’t let me go down to the water, it still gets me a good distance on the beach, which is great!
My friends and I were able to go on the boardwalk and then set up camp right next to the end of the boardwalk. We weren’t in anyone’s way, but we still had the boardwalk directly next to us for easy access!
I loved being able to park my car right next to the boardwalk. I overheat pretty easily because of my injury, and it was really easy for me to hop up into my chair and go take breaks in my car with some AC!
The boardwalk was really nice because it meant I didn’t have to have a beach wheelchair or a friend to carry me across the sand. While I love that beach wheelchairs are able to get me across long distances of sand, they are big and clunky- I always feel like people are looking at me, even if they are not. I can’t operate them independently, and they are not always available at beaches (Oval Beach does not have them, for example). The boardwalk allowed me to independently access the beach, which is huge. I don’t mind asking those around me for help, and it is absolutely ok to get help from others- but I like to do things independently when I can! I want to be able to access the beach as easily as everyone else- and this was the first time I was ever able to do that. I was even able to play catch because I could move myself independently across the boardwalk!
I personally don’t like getting in the water at the beach, so it didn’t bother me that the water was inaccessible to me. But it is important to note that the boardwalk doesn’t take you to the water!
One of my goals in life is to never use a port-a-potty. When we got to Oval Beach, I was nervous that my 21 year streak of never using a port-a-potty was going to come to an end. Thankfully, I discovered there are accessible bathrooms right next to the parking lot (on the other side of the parking lot from the boardwalk, but there are accessible parking spots right next to the bathroom if you’d like to drive across the parking lot to get there).
After spending the day on the beach, my friends and I explored downtown Saugatuck a little bit and got some ice cream! The ice cream shop we went to had a few stairs to get into, but there are plenty of ice cream shops around so if you don’t have people to help you up the stairs there are other places to go!
Will definitely be returning to Saugatuck and Oval Beach!!