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Accessible San Diego

Everyone Can Enjoy the Water in San Diego

Paralympian Alana Nichols has competed around the world as a multi-sport athlete and Gold Medalist, but her favorite place to get out on the water is right here in San Diego. You’ll find her surfing Cardiff Reef, kayaking the caves of La Jolla Cove, sailing on the open ocean and even training in Mission Bay for sprint kayak in the Paralympic Games! As an athlete with a disability, she also knows San Diego’s adaptive community and the accessible ways to get out and enjoy the water.

What makes San Diego’s coast so accessible?

  • “The Challenged Athletes Foundation, based in San Diego, is a hub for all things adaptive sports. They are always holding events for people with physical disabilities. Then there’s the International Surf Association, based in La Jolla. They’re the main spearheading organization for adaptive surfing development. It’s organizations like these that help set the tone for the whole community. Also, there are beach wheelchairs at many of the life guard towers at the beach so that people with disabilities can get in and out of the water easily.”
What makes San Diego’s coast so accessible?
  • “Surfing, paddleboarding, kayaking and waterskiing are all sports that kids and adults can partake in in the San Diego area. There are several adaptive surfing programs, specifically, in San Diego including The Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program of San Diego, The Challenged Athletes Foundation, The Junior Seau Foundation Adaptive Surf Program (for kids) and The Stoke for Life Foundation.”
What are some unique ways for someone with a physical disability to get out and explore San Diego’s coast and water?
  • “There is actually an electric beach chair at the beach in Coronado which allows people with disabilities to ‘take long walks on the beach’. Also, there are several boat tours that will accommodate for people with disabilities and special needs.”
What businesses help make San Diego more adaptive for athletes and adventurers?
  • “The Challenged Athletes Foundation, hands down, has changed the way people with disabilities are able to interact with the ocean and be active participating members of the community. Also, Adaptive Surfing Magazine (www.adaptivesurfing.com) is based out of San Diego and is a major hub for people that want to get involved.”
What role does the San Diego community play?
  • “Because San Diego is so inclusive there is a large community of active people with disabilities that are more than willing to create opportunities for others to get on the water or back into healthy and active lifestyles.”
What role does the International Surfing Association (headquartered in San Diego) play into the city’s accessible water sports?
  • “The ISA is leading the adaptive surf movement and plays a huge role in building and keeping the momentum of adaptive surfing throughout the world. They host the World Adaptive Surfing Championship event right here in La Jolla, which is awesome. When the global community comes to La Jolla it creates awareness around the community and with that, more support and inclusion in general. It’s been amazing to watch the community embrace adaptive surfing!”
Is there support for deaf travelers in San Diego?
  • Yes! The Deaf Community Services of San Diego will provide paid interpreters by request.  Check them out here

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