A beach wheelchair is a particular type of off-road wheelchairs. That is, they are specifically designed to be used outside of common spaces, such as pavements, roads or at home.
Let’s have a look at the different types of beach wheelchairs:
Classical beach wheelchairs are meant to access the beach and move smoothly in sand. Examples are the Beach Access Chairs produced by Aqua-creek.
More sophisticated chairs allow you to enter the ocean or lake full bodied. Some give you even the possibility to get off the chair in water and swim, while the wheelchair is floating and waiting for you to come back. Most beach wheelchairs are push wheelchairs or manual wheelchairs because this makes them waterproof and you can get in contact with salty sea water without any problem.
There are also electrical beach wheelchairs out there. However, being motorized is both their biggest advantage and their most significant disadvantage. While you can drive them independently, you shouldn’t bring them into contact with water because this is damaging the motor.
We will not discuss power beach wheelchairs here because their use and features are very different as compared to push beach wheelchairs.
The goal of this article is to present the chosen best wheelchairs, which can be utilized both on the beach sand and in water.
(But if you are interested in motorized wheelchairs and off-road wheelchairs, you can read about them in separate articles specifically dedicated to all-terrain wheelchairs and in power wheelchair reviews.)
What Does a Beach Wheelchair Look Like?
They look quite differently from regular manual or power wheelchairs because their structure is adapted to move in sand and water. Beach access chairs look like simplified chairs, whereas the top end off-road beach wheelchairs look a little bit like simplified racing cars.
Beach Wheelchair Wheels and Tires?
Wheels are often much smaller, but the tires are broader and lighter as compared to wheels of everyday manual wheelchairs.
All presented models have rubber pneumatic balloon flotation tires. That gives the chairs extra stability.
Beach wheelchair tires are built from light anticorrosive, waterproof materials, so that they can be brought and used efficiently and safely many years in water (f. ex. Aqua-creek and Sand Rider use Wheeleez wheels).
Many models have at least two big back wheels and one or two in the front. Some models, however, have two small articulated back wheels (f. ex. one Aqua-creek chair model), for better maneuverability. And the Hippocampe chair can be purchased with either balloon tires or dual rear tires – both are perfectly suited for the beach and water.
How Much Is a Beach Wheelchair?
New Beach Wheelchairs
The cost of a beach wheelchair depends mostly on the features and accessories. The fanciest ones can even cost 10000$, but these are really top-end products that most of wheelchair users find too expensive.
Most common and affordable beach wheelchairs usually rank somewhere between 1000$ and 4000$.
Used Beach Wheelchairs
But you can also look for used beach wheelchairs on sale, if you don’t want to invest in a brand new wheelchair. A good place to start are websites like eBay or Craigslist to see if there is currently a beach wheelchair for sale.
Ebay: This is probably the safest place to buy a used beach wheelchair. Ebay is involved in the transaction between buyers and sellers. They care about the quality of items they sell, because it is also good for their business That limits fraud a lot, compared to open websites like Craigslist.
On the other hand, if the item you like is on auction, you cannot be sure about the final price to pay. In that case, you might not be sure, whether you will eventually be the next owner, or someone else, who made a larger bid.
Craigslist: the advantage is that you might be able to visit the owner and try out your potential new beach wheelchair before buying it. Keep in mind, that Craigslist does not guarantee any quality and does not interfere in transactions. So you take a chance whether the seller is an honest person or not.
DIY Beach Wheelchair
The adventurous option is to build your own wheelchair. It will be much less expensive, but you will need to spend a lot of time to make good quality diy beach wheelchair. Make sure to focus on safety first. The quality and mobility options will depend on how much time and skills you are willing to invest.
You might be taking certain risks if you have no experience with building wheelchairs. But if you know what you are doing, it can be a very fun and rewarding thing to do!
What Are The Most Popular Beach Wheelchairs?
AQUA-CREEK BEACH ACCESS CHAIRS
The most affordable beach wheelchairs are courtesy of Aqua-creek. The brand is on the market since 2002 for a reason. It is because their beach access chairs are sturdy all-terrain wheelchairs, suitable for soft soil such as beach sand and snow. That means that these beach access chairs are made to access the beach at any season.
Here are some of the key features:
Noncorrosive PVC puncture-resistant wheels and hardware made of stainless steel make the chair not only beach- but also water-accessible.
Thanks to the sturdy construction, the big balloon wheels (19 inches diameter or 15 inches diameter for articulated tires) and the anti-tip design the chairs are very stable.
Each model comes with a free umbrella with a 6 feet diameter, so that users can take shelter from shelter from the sun.
Dual action lever parking brakes and an adjustable safety belt with a wide hook and loop fastener guarantee your safety.
The chairs can be disassembled with release pins into three pieces (base, seat, and wheels) to make transport easy.
The cushioned back and seat, a sliding leg rest and a storage bag provide comfort.
With a seat 25 inches high * 22 inches wide and a weight capacity of 250 lb, the chairs also fit large people.
Beach Access Chair with 2 Articulated Wheels
This chair has two small articulated swivels. That makes the chair well maneuverable for small and precise movements.
Beach Access Chair with 4 Large Wheels
This model is the same as the previous one, but with one exception:
For extra stability, this model has not only two large balloon wheels in the front but also in the back.
Reclining Beach Access Chair
What makes this chair different from the one above is quite a nice feature: this one has the option of reclining the back seat in five different positions. That is particularly interesting for people that like to rest and sunbathe on the beach comfortably.
A less attractive point can be the weight of the chair. As compared to the other beach wheelchairs in this review the Aqua-Creek chairs are significantly heavier. But, combined with a solid PCV Construction, this is exactly what makes them so stable.
Despite their weight, they are still safe to transport, because they are very easily foldable and fit in a regular car trunk.
Because of its sturdy construction, you cannot take the chair to swim in the sea. However, this is also the very reason why these chairs are so sturdy! So if you value stability over swimming, this is a great solution.
Plus, you can go close enough to the water as the chairs are perfectly water-resistant.
You need an assistant to push your chair because the rears wheels are not easily reachable to steer it. That’s because they are smaller than in regular manual wheelchairs. But that is also what makes the chair so much easier to maneuver in sand.
These are the cheapest (but robust and functional) chairs for beach access!
They are stable and sturdy, so even people with motor disorders can feel safe and relax in these chairs.
They come with a big (6 ft) umbrella for sun protection.
For whom are the Beach Access Chairs? Mostly for people that value stability or for individuals with a lighter budget to spend on beach access chairs.
For whom not? For those, that want to get into the water or be more active. They might prefer one of the following three beach wheelchair options below.
The Mobi-chair is one of the cheapest beach wheelchair that you enjoy both on the beach AND in the water. That is possible because:
The aluminum frame and the other parts of stainless steel are all noncorrosive and thereby safe to take into salty water.
Armrests are detachable, which gives a greater sense of freedom in the water.
Despite its relatively light weight (60 lbs), this wheelchair is stable and robust, which gives an excellent weight-safety quality.
For greater security, it is recommended to use safety strap or the harness while in motion, especially on uneven terrains.
The quick-drying upholstery is made of a hypoallergenic, water- and UV-resistant fabric, which adds additional comfort in the water and on the beach.
For the same reason as the Aqua-creek chairs, this chair requires being pushed by an assistant. People that like to move autonomously might get a bit frustrated. In this case, it could be a good idea to invest in a somewhat more expensive beach wheelchair (like the Sand Rider or the Hippocampe, described below), that gives more autonomy options. But for people that are already using a push wheelchair, this won’t make any difference.
In a case of uneven sand or severe weather condition, pushing the wheelchair might be uncomfortable for the pusher and the user. However, as commented by a wheelchair user on Amazon: in this case, you should simply use the belt to prevent people from falling. The belt is part of the accessories coming with the Mobi-Chair. Its purpose is to prevent falls on any kinds of uneven terrains. Another user recommends purchasing a roll out mat to have a better control on deep sand or uneven ground.
It is not much customizable, but it has an adjusting reclining seat with three different heights and can have armrests removed in water!
More active or athletic persons that like autonomy might want to consider investing in an off-road chair. That way they can be able to go to other types of off-road terrains. For these people, we recommend the Sand Rider or the Hippocampe below. However, people that are not so athletic, or that only want to relax, enjoy the beach and go into the water will be perfectly safe and comfortable with the Mobi-Chair.
The Mobi-Chair is lighter than the Aqua-creek chairs, which makes it convenient for carrying it a longer distance for a setup.
Another advantage of being so light is that it can float in water – and without flipping over!
It can also be used in snow and the swimming pool!
The bottom line is: for that price its functionalities are a significant upgrade compared to regular beach access chairs.
For whom is the Mobi-Chair? Practically anyone can use this wheelchair. Not only regular wheelchair drivers can use it, but also children and larger persons (up to 300 lbs).
For whom not? The advantage of this chair is to be pretty universal. If you want extra stability for a lower price, but without floating in water – you can go for one of the beach access chairs. If on the contrary, you value autonomy and want to invest in a chair you can use in multiple nature terrains – you can go for either the Sand Rider or the Hippocampe (see below).
The Sand Rider is a popular beach wheelchair that has been designed to be easily pushed in sand and snow. The biggest asset of the Sand Rider is to be customizable to the user’s liking.
The Sand Rider is all over American beaches displaying its advantageous features:
You can customize the color of the frame (5 colors) and the upholstery (4 colors) and choose the width of the armrests (standard or wide).
The optional accessories include movable armrests, parking brakes, a seatbelt, a holder for an umbrella, cup or a fishing rod and a rolling travel bag.”
Thanks to its ergonomic push handle and front pull point, this wheelchair is easy to push.
Well, that might be the price, but it depends on the customization. If you don’t need an umbrella- or cupholder and don’t care about customizing the look of your wheelchair, you might want to opt for the Mobi-Chair. It comes with all what is here the extra safety accessories like the seatbelt and armrests. However, if you are looking for an off-road wheelchair that you can also use on other terrains, you might want to invest in the Sand Rider and at least some of the extra accessories (parking brake and seatbelt), which is sturdier to go over rough terrains than the Mobi-Chair.
It only comes in one standard size. However, this chair is designed to fit people up to 350lbs, and you also have the option to choose the width of your armrests.
As a lightweight wheelchair, it is easy to carry around before setup.
It floats in water, so you definitely can go to the sea to swim or simply enjoy the water floating around you.
It is customizable, and you can choose both the colors and accessories you prefer on your wheelchair.
For whom is the Sand Rider? Most people, especially adults, will be happy using this wheelchair, including larger people up to 350 lbs.
For whom not? It is a universally fitting chair, although athletes and sporty, independent wheelchair users will probably enjoy the Hippocampe better.
Children might prefer the Hippocampe though, especially for extended use. That is because the Sand Rider has one standard size, while the Hippocampe comes in four sizes – including a small one especially well suited for kids and young teens. That being said, children can have a great experience on the Sand Rider as well.
The Hippocampe is THE choice for active and sporty wheelchair users. The brand is on the market since 2002 and doing very well: it is now present in over 200 beaches in over 30 countries all over the world.
No worries: it is not limited to athletes, even though they would surely make the best out of this chair. The Hippocampe comes in four sizes (small to extra-long), so that even children can use it.
What makes the Hippocampe so special, is the universal off-road potential. Not only can you customize the size, color, and accessories, but you can turn it into a skiing chair, a hiking chair, a swimming pool access chair.
Key features of the Hippocampe are as follows:
It can be pushed, town or self-propelled. The producers provide the active users with autonomy, while the others can be either pushed or towed by an assistant.
For a greater comfort, the outer tubes don’t heat up in the sun, and the seat is made of thick, waterproof foam.
Like the Sand Rider, you can customize your Hippocampe. You need to decide the size (small, medium, large, extra-long) and the color (blue or pink). Accessories are a significant upgrade in comfort, especially worthwhile for long-term use of the wheelchair. A recommended set of accessories set contains arm rests, a head rest, a waist belt, a transport bag, a positioning harness, wheel locks.
It is convertible to other types of off-road wheelchairs to ride on snow, forest grounds, hiking trails or even kayak trips: you can exchange the back balloon wheels bigger standard wheels or skis, and turn the front wheel into a single ski.
The Hippocampe is officially certified by both the French Norms NF Health, NF Community and the Centre for Study and Research on Equipment for Disabled as well as by the US Food and Drug Administration.
The wheelchair is not designed to be a heavy-duty wheelchair per se, so if you are over 250 lbs, the Mobi-chair (maximum weight is 300 pounds) or the Sand Rider (maximum weight is 350 lbs) will be better for you. It might be a bit of a struggle for people with not much strength in their arms.
The Hippocampe is addressed in the first place to active wheelchair users, for sporty and autonomous people. That is why the wheelchair can be converted into skiing-chair or an otherwise all-terrain wheelchair.
For some people, the price might be discouraging. Note, that the price increases with the number of accessories. If you are an active outdoor person, and you want to use the same wheelchair for all kinds of terrains, buying an Hippocampe is the optimal choice, because you don’t need to have several separate specialized wheelchairs.
But if the price too much for you, you might as well refrain from getting all the extra accessories – the wheelchair in its basic form is perfectly functional on the beach and in water and you can get it for a much lower price. You will always be able to purchase accessories later on if you want. However, if you know for sure that you won’t need any extra accessories nor the option to convert your chair into other types of rough terrains, the Mobi-Chair might be a much more suitable choice for you.
The wheelchair is very light (38 lbs) and very easy to assemble and disassemble. It comes with a transporting bag. All that makes it very easy to travel.
The Hippocampe is the most relevant choice for active or athletic people, because, compared to the previous beach wheelchair models, it gives the most options for outdoor use.
The biggest assets of the Hippocampe is the ease of use in multiple terrains, autonomy and the ability to interchange the standard self-propelling rear wheels into balloon wheels or all three wheels into skis. That makes it very convenient to use in multiple off-road terrains, not only the beach.
You can use this chair all year round on all kinds of terrains.
For whom is the Hippocampe? First of all, for active, sporty people and all those, who may be less athletic, but enjoy an active opportunity on the beach. For nature loving people, that like to off-road.
Who is it not for? This wheelchair is not suited for people weighing over 250 lbs. Instead, the Mobi-Chair fits people weighing up to 300 pounds, and the Sand Rider can carry up to 350 lbs.
See for yourself:
How Much Does It Weigh?
Beach access chairs (such as those from Aqua-creek) are heavier, as their primary goal is to assure stability. Floating chairs are lighter (around 35-60 pounds), so you can handle them more when passing from water to land. The following numbers specify the vehicle’s weight and the recommended maximum weight of the occupant:
|Wheelchair weight||Maximum user weight|
|Aqua-Creek||160 lbs||250 lbs|
|Mobi-Chair||60 lbs||300 lbs|
|Sand Rider||49 lbs||350 lbs|
|Hippocampe||38 lbs||250 lbs|
Can the Wheelchair be Transported? Will It Fit In a Car Trunk?
Yes, all the models we present in this review have been selected to match the criteria of being most user-friendly and that includes transport!
Many beach wheelchair manufacturers conceive their products to ensure a convenient transported to the beach. The models presented in this review are all foldable and you can dismantle them, so that they fit in a car trunk nicely.
What About Warranty?
All beach wheelchairs discussed here have warranties.
Aqua-creek beach access chairs and the Mobi-chair come with warranties for one year after purchase.
The Sand Rider has a guarantee of 3 years for the frame and all elements except for wheels and tires. These have a six months warranty if you are a Consumer and a three months warranty for rental businesses.
The warranty for the Hippocampe lasts two years. But it does not cover tires, inner tubes or the outer tube coating.
It is important to note, that warranties do not include damage caused by natural disasters, normal wear, negligence or modification of the vehicles by the user.
To Buy or To Rent a Beach Wheelchair?
Many beaches have beach wheelchair rentals available. That is a fantastic solution if you need one for a very limited number of days. Typical rental prices are between 50-100$ per day.
However, you need to be aware, that you might not find your ideal equipment available at the exact location you are planning to go. On the other hand, it is an occasion to try out very expensive beach wheelchairs that you would not usually buy (some models can cost up to 10000$).
If you regularly go to a beach, then it might be way less costly to invest in a wheelchair once for a long time.
Let’s try a calculation:
Say you are staying two weeks on a beach, and three additional weekends afterward. You need to rent a wheelchair for 14 days, say you take a cheap and simple model for 50$/day, plus the six days of the weekends. That adds up to 1000$ (20 days * 50$).
Clearly, this is cheaper than buying your personal chair (see above for the prices). So if you have a mobility issue for a limited time, for example during one summer, renting a beach wheelchair is surely wiser.
However, if you have a permanent mobility challenge, it is a sound investment to make. All the models present above are made of waterproof, anti-corrosive materials designed to last for a long time. You can fold or disassemble all of them, which makes transporting them in a car trunk or storage very convenient.
When buying your personal equipment, you can choose your favorite model, adapted as best as possible to your needs and your finances.
Conclusion: Which Model to Choose?
It all comes down to what you want to do and to your finances. It depends on what shape you are in, how crazy you want to go to the beach or the water. The question is, if you care about being autonomous or if you prefer to have reassuring company during the whole beach experience.
Below is a table where you can compare key features of all mentioned wheelchairs.
|Aqua-creek Beach Access Chairs||Mobi-Chair||Sand Rider||Hippocampe|
|Maximum weight capacity||250 lbs||300 lbs||350 lbs||250 lbs|
|Weight||160 lbs||60 lbs||49 lbs||37.5 lbs|
|Dimensions (H*W*L)||41’’ * 34.5’’ * 40’’||50’’ * 42’’ * 60’’||60’’ *38’’ *75’’||39.5’’ *20’’ * 66-79.5’’|
|Seat dimensions (H*W*D)||25’’ *22’’||19’’ *18’’ *17’’||19’’ *18’’ ‘16’’||14.5-18.5’’ * 16.5’’ (26.5’’ for double wheels)|
|Front wheel/s (diameter)||19’’||12’’ * 6.5’’||11.8’’|
|Rear wheels (diameter)||15’’||16’’* 7.5’’||19.3’’||11.8’’ or 14’’|
|Assistant required**||yes||yes||yes||no (but helpful)|
|Wheels||2 front, 2 rear||1 front, 2 rear||1 front, 2 rear||1 front, 2 rear|
So in short, here is what makes the biggest difference and what justifies the price difference:
Take a moment to think, whether you
- want to relax and have a good time at the beach, but you don’t necessarily want to swim in the sea
- want to have a chair, that is also suitable for getting into a swimming pool
- don’t particularly care about being autonomous
- have a budget to keep
Then one of the AQUA-CREEK beach access chairs is for you.
- If you like sunbathing and relaxing, you might want to have the reclining back seat option. In that case, the Aqua-Creek Reclining Beach Access Chair might be the best choice. Get it here.
- If you prefer to be armed for bumpy beaches, then the Aqua-Creek Beach Access Chair with 4 Large Wheels might interest you. Buy it here.
- Are you are the energetic type and want to have better steering options for small and precise movements? If so, you could consider the Aqua-Creek Beach Access Chair with 2 Articulated Wheels in the back. ITs back swivel casters make precise steering easy. Find it here.
- are looking forward to having a good time at the beach and you want to get or swim in the water
- want to experience floating in the water
- don’t particularly care about being autonomous
- need a foldable chair, that you don’t need to disassemble for transported
- know that money is a decisive choice factor
Then the MOBI-CHAIR is for you. You can get it here.
for those who
- long to have a good time at the beach and you want to get or swim in the water
- seek to experience floating in the water
- want to use your wheelchair in different off-road settings (forest, snow)
- prefer to customize your wheelchair<
- are looking for a high-quality all-terrain beach wheelchair for a larger person
- seek a good cost/performance trade-off
the SAND RIDER seems to be the optimal choice.
- can’t wait to have a great time at the beach and you want to get or swim in the water
- wish to experience floating in the water
- plan to use your wheelchair in different off-road settings (forest, skiing)
- …and be able to use the same chair with various types of tires or even skis
- care about being autonomous
- value opportunities to have physical activities
decide for a long-term investment in a higher end wheelchair
Then the HIPPOCAMPE is for you. Check it out at Amazon.