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Facilitating hols for the disabled

The Famagusta region is faring well with the number of beaches that offer disabled facilities in ratio to its size, with a total of 14 accessible-friendly coasts.
As per information published by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO), out of 47 coasts island-wide, there are seven fully-accessible beaches, and seven partially accessible in south Famagusta.

Only the Limassol region offers more accessible beaches, with a total of 16; five fully accessible and 11 partially accessible.

Complete facilities for sand and sea

For a beach to be classified as fully accessible, it must offer wheelchair users easy access to the beach itself: disabled parking spots, disabled toilets, and a way for wheelchair users to get from the sand and into the sea.

The wheelchair devices for sea entry are all free-of-charge to use with assistance from the lifeguard tower and vary, with the most advanced being the Seatrac device.

The Seatrac device offers autonomous entry into the sea on a seat that drives along a track directly into the water – and out again – at the push of a button.
The other options include floating wheelchairs (with inflatables on the arms and wheels of the chair), or wooden or plastic ramps that allow wheelchair users to reach the edge of the sea on their own chair.

The seven fully-accessible beaches in the south Famagusta region are: Landa (floating wheelchair), Pantachou (floating wheelchair) and Vathia Gonia (Seatrac) in Ayia Napa; Ayia Thekla (floating wheelchair) in Sotira; Fig Tree Bay (floating wheelchair) in Protaras, and Louma (floating wheelchair), and Vrysi C΄ (Seatrac) / Yianna Mari (floating wheelchair) in Paralimni.

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Partial access

A partially-accessible beach offers access to the beach in general and on to the sand, but stops short of offering direct access to the sea. Beaches classified as partially accessible also provide disabled parking spots and disabled toilets.

The seven partially-accessible beaches of the region are: Ayia Napa’s Nissi and Makronissos beaches; and Paralimni’s Pernera, Vrysi A, Vrysi B, Ayia Triada and Mouzoura beaches.

In addition to the official facilities offered at the beaches, there are also many privately run establishments (restaurants, bars and the like) on several of the beaches that offer their own disabled access, covering entry and restrooms.

Thumbs- up from reviewers

Several sites dedicated to accessible holidays include Cyprus – and south Famagusta (Ayia Napa and Protaras) – on their list of destinations that can offer a complete holiday by providing facilities for the disabled at airports, hotels, beaches, leisure venues, tourist attractions, and drinking and dining establishments in general.

And on travel review sites, reviewers themselves have posted generally positive experiences.

The beaches, in particular, are given good reviews – from both wheelchair users and non-wheelchair users, who cite the presence of disabled facilities as a plus. One reviewer on the leading travel review site Trip Advisor wrote: “Agia Thekla (beach) has been transformed… it now has full changing and toilet facilities for the disabled and a wooden runway to the high-tide mark making it accessible for wheelchairs and buggies.

“There is even a parking turning point near the high-tide mark. This has turned it into the most disabled-friendly beach in the area. It has also had the addition of a very disabled-friendly restaurant adjacent to the beach entrance.”

On forums where UK visitors have discussed the suitability of Protaras as a destination for wheelchair users, the comments are also encouraging.

“I’d call Protaras very wheelchair-friendly actually, virtually all flat and good access to the beach directly on ramps. Great newly-revamped pavements too, in and around the whole resort,” said one visitor.

“My daughter uses a wheelchair and we find Protaras very wheelchair-friendly, especially with the coastal path,” commented another.
A third added: “The strip is very disabled friendly. The length of the strip is one- way traffic and there are dropped kerbs and slopes all along.”

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