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Want to travel? Costa Rica is an accessible paradise:
a perspective from those with disabilities
By Wheel the World

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Wheel the World recently did a trip to highlight the accessibility of Costa Rica. If you are hesitant to travel, Costa Rica is a perfect place to start. Local partners of Wheel the World, Costa Rican Tourism Institute have implemented accessibility measures to ensure all travellers can experience the best of their country.

Costa Rica’s accessibility: our disability influencers weigh in on Costa Rica before and after their disability.

Kerry Peterson travelled to Costa Rica pre-injury and travelled back post-injury. Her perspective sheds light on the accessibility of the country because she has experienced it in both ways. The part that might surprise you is that she was able to do almost everything she did the first time around, despite being in a wheelchair now.

“I was in Costa Rica six years ago when I was able to walk. Now here for the second time, we were able to do almost the same activities and I’ve been able to do absolutely everything—before when I was able to walk, and now in a wheelchair. That is unmatchable to me.”  – Kerry Peterson

One of the other things she noticed is that most of the tourism buses have accessibility ramps or lifts for wheelchairs and most of the national parks have paved pathways for those with mobility issues.

Kelcie, similarly, had also travelled to Costa Rica before becoming a wheelchair user. Of course, during that time, she wasn’t on the lookout for accessible ramps, beach wheel-chairs or trails that would be accessible for those with a disability.

Now years later, Kelcie travelled back to Costa Rica for the first time as a wheelchair user. She noticed most of the businesses have ramps installed for disability access, the beaches have platforms for wheelchair users, and overall the country is more accessible than she’s used to back in her home country, Canada.

Adaptive surfing: first time in the ocean in over 15 years! When Kevin Ortiz travelled to Costa Rica, he was able to get into the ocean for the first time in over 15 years. Not only that, he was able to try an activity that he never thought he would’ve been able to.

“I was apprehensive about trying adaptive surfing. I never thought I would ever be able to do it, but Adaptive Costa Rica was there to help me get on the board and assist me with anything I needed. It felt amazing being out there.”

When Kirk Williams went surfing for the second time in his life, this time as a quadriplegic, he noticed that the instructors were just as excited to be there helping him as he was to go surfing. Water is a major concern for those with disabilities, but the instructors of the adaptive surfing group made them feel right at home. “They were as excited to be there as we were to get into the water. They were ready to catch us and we knew we were in safe hands,” Kirk said.

Wheel the World partners with the best local tourism organizations with the goal to provide the best experiences for those with disabilities. The instructors are not only knowledgeable about surfing, but also assisting travellers with disabilities. This is why Costa Rica has been an ideal spot for travellers.

Experiencing the Pura Vida lifestyle

The unofficial slogan of Costa Rica is Pura Vida, meaning pure life. It perfectly embodies the local culture and its perspective on life: being grateful for the present moment and prioritizing the things that truly matter. The result is a stress-free and laid-back lifestyle that invites travellers to embrace the good life in its purest form.

We asked the four influencers about their favourite thing about travelling to Costa Rica and their answers all had one common theme—the people and the culture.

“The people are so friendly, so happy and so helpful. It makes your entire experience so much better,” said Kerry Peterson.

“Sometimes individuals can feel like a burden when they are travelling with an able-bodied group,” Kelcie Miller-Anderson pointed out. “You can feel like the odd one out, but Costa Rica is known for warm hospitality and a welcoming culture, and with the ever-increasing awareness in this country, you will feel welcome by the friendly locals.”

Costa Rica is proud of its accessibility but efforts are being made to become even more accessible for those with disabilities. The country has around 15 beaches with accessibility features, such as mats, beach chairs and more, and there are local initiatives to make more beaches available for wheelchair users.

Costa Rica is certainly a destination to have on your radar.

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