International support will help turn Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste, into a beach accessible to all.
Booking Cares, the humanitarian arm of the travel engine Booking.com, awarded funding to the Red Costarricense de Turismo Accesible (Costa Rican Network of Accessible Tourism) to develop a model for accessible beaches throughout the Central American country.
Their first project, at Playa Hermosa, will create a “beach club” featuring parking, showers, toilets, changing rooms, lockers, picnic areas, bicycle racks, elevated paths, retractable walkways and rentable equipment such as amphibious wheelchairs.
“The goal of this project is to create an environment where people with disabilities and their families are able to live the physical and emotional benefits of getting into the ocean,” the description on Booking Cares reads. “This project will create and design a prototype of what an accessible beach should be so that it can be replicated for beaches everywhere.”
A land-use agreement between Municipality of Carrillo and the Red Costarricense de Turismo Accesible was signed in February, allowing the organization to begin construction. The area is expected to be inaugurated later this year.
The Red Costarricense de Turismo Accesible was one of six organizations to receive funding from Booking Cares. Their proposal was selected as a finalist from hundreds of applications, and they secured the grant following a presentation in Amsterdam.
While Playa Hermosa may become a model for accessibility on Costa Rican beaches, it’s not the first such project.
Last year, Cahuita National Park created a handicap-accessible path across the sand and into the ocean. The popular beach town of Jacó, Puntarenas, also opened a universal boardwalk as part of Zero Discrimination Day in March 2019.