Bermuda for physically handicapped

 
I decided to create this section and the forum discussion that follows after receiving these questions from some of the viewers: 
 
1) I wanted to know about transportation for wheelchair people in Bermuda. Do you have a company that services people in wheelchairs like taxis or converted van services? I was planning a cruise in June or July and wanted to know how is Bermuda equipped regarding these tourists? - Bernice LeBlanc 
 
2) What are the provisions for physically handicapped persons for getting around Bermuda? Are there public transports for handicapped? Or any tour operators with special provisions who conduct sightseeing tours for the physically disabled? - Janice 
 
3) Hi, can the public ferries in Bermuda take wheel chairs? - Riya 
 
4) Hello, can you let us know about getting around Bermuda for elderly persons like us. We are planning to visit Bermuda later this year. We can walk but slow and need to take short breaks. Are there hilly stretches in Bermuda? Is the sun too hot during summer? Are there chairs and umbrellas available on rent at the beaches? - Timothi 
 
5) Is there wheelchair rental in Bermuda? - Pat Tipton 
 
Getting around Bermuda for handicapped persons 
 
I wish Bermuda had far better provisions for the people with special needs like those requiring wheelchair access or having personal mobility problems. Having said that, there do exist some services and arrangements for those who are physically challenged. 
 
Keith Simmons in Bermuda organizes tours and airport pickups for people with special needs. He has a custom built van with side entrance and an attachable ramp to make it easily wheelchair accessible. This purpose built vehicle also has auxiliary services for ventilators and recharging of electric wheelchairs. 
 
 
 
From his company Access Bermuda, he operates several sightseeing tours including:  
1) A 3 hour scenic west end tour of the island which covers places like Horseshoe Bay Beach, Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, Botanical Gardens, Grove Gardens, Hamilton City etc 
2) A 3 hour east end tour that covers Aquarium, Museum & Zoo, the heritage & historic town of St. George, Spittal Pond Nature Reserve, John Smiths Bay Beach, Hamilton City and more. 
3) A 5 hour full island tour covering both east and west ends of the island. 
 
All tours are conducted with certified blue flag tour guides. On request, he can also organize glass bottom boat tours for the physically challenged. Keith himself has disability challenges and has been a longtime advocate in Bermuda to help the physically handicapped with mobility options. You will need to contact him for rates and reservations. Here are his contacts: 
 
Phone: (441)295-9106; Email: keithsimmons@logic.bm 
 
There are few others from the community who have also come forward to help the physically handicapped with transportation services. Contact Vince Minors (Phone: 441/337-2438) or Disabled Transit (Phone: 441/505-9106) for the services and rates. 
 
There is another private operator Unique Vacations with certified tour guides who organizes personalized tours in minibuses with limited wheelchair access. 
Phone: 441/331-8687. Email: uniquevacations@logic.bm 
 
The private operator Destiny Water Tours has a luxury cruise boat which is wheel chair accessible. It has a ramp that can handle manual or electric wheel chairs. They organize Glass Bottom tours both during the day and night time offering great view of Bermuda's marine life & corals. They also offer coastal sail showing you the homes of rich & famous, and also a boat tour for Harbor Nights celebration in Hamilton City. The boat departs from various places in the island including Royal Naval Dockyard, Hamilton City and Grotto Bay Beach Resort. Phone: (441) 292-7103, Cell: (441) 705-9509 
 
Here are some more information about Bermuda's Transportation for physically handicapped or disabled: 
 
1. Bermuda public buses unfortunately do not have wheelchair access. 
 
2. One can easily access a public ferry on wheelchair from the Hamilton Ferry Terminal, which is the main ferry terminal in Bermuda. Only two other Ferry Points or docks are wheelchair accessible - The Dockyard (where the Kings Wharf cruise pier is located) and the Rockaway ferry point in Southampton. No other ferry terminal in Bermuda has proper wheelchair access. Also note that only the lower deck of a ferry is accessible by wheelchair.  
 
The ferry terminals at Warwick and Paget parishes do have flights of stairs, but extreme caution needs to be taken for those on wheelchairs. For latest wheelchair access at the various ferry points, call up the Hamilton Ferry Terminal: 441/295 4506. 
 
 
 
3. While Taxis in general are not wheelchair accessible in Bermuda, some do provide such access. There are operators who have minivan taxis that open sidewise and have ramps. Would suggest that you contact a taxi service to check availability and book in advance if necessary. You can find all such contact information here: Bermuda Taxi 
 
Wheelchair Rentals in Bermuda 
 
Bermuda Red Cross, a humanitarian organization offers wheelchair rentals. Other than wheelchairs, you will also get several other medical equipment like crutches, canes, walkers, cribs, car seats, high chairs etc also on rentals. 
 
9 Berry Hill Road, Paget Parish. 
Email: redcrossrentals@logic.bm; Phone: (441) 236 8277; Fax: (441) 236 8267 
Operating Hours: Monday - Friday 10:00am - 4:00pm;  
Saturday 10:00am - 12noon; Sunday closed. 
 
Getting around Bermuda for elderly persons 
 
Bermuda's terrain in general is strangely quite hilly at several places. So for elderly people who can walk but for short distances, you need to be careful about choosing the place of your stay in Bermuda. 
 
If you are docked at Kings Wharf (dock), the good news is that the Royal Naval Dockyard area is quite flat. There are ample shades, trees and benches to sit. There are also several restaurants in the dockyard. So it is quite easy to walk around the dockyard complex. 
 
If you are staying in a hotel or resort, then watch out! While many resorts in the island have beach access, there are often plenty of steps that go all the way down and finally lead to the beach. Climbing back may not be easy at all for elderly persons. Some resorts of course provide carts to bring you back from the beach to the lobby, but not all. So if you are staying in a resort, ask for such provisions. 
 
There are actually two beachside resorts, Cambridge Beaches and Pink Beach Club which are on flat terrain and offer easy accessibility around the resort property. However for Cambridge Beaches, the nearest bus stop is about 450 yards away. The resort provides a shuttle service up to the bus stop though. 
 
There are advantages staying in Hamilton City like in Hotel Rosedon. The shops and restaurants are all within 10 minutes easy walking distance. You will also have an easy access to the buses and ferries that connect various places in the island. 
 
However note that most restaurants that are located in upper floors do not have elevators. Some like Pickled Onion have very steep stairs to climb. In fact many even on the ground floor would have no ramps for wheel chair access, instead there would be few steps. However Flanagan's is one of the very few restaurants in Hamilton which has an elevator access. It also has a bar. 
 
St George, the historic and heritage town of Bermuda is another favorite tourist destination in the island. While the narrow alleyways and lanes in the town reflect the original lifestyle in Bermuda, most can involve up and downhill walks. On a summer day, it can be very grueling under the scorching sun. While taxis won't be able to move through such narrow streets, you can consider Horse Carriages for a tour of the town. Otherwise go there in the evening or dusk. 
 
 
 
The main town center at St George (known as Kings Square) is in a flat terrain. It is easy to walk around. The shops and restaurants around the square are also at the same level plain. Wear comfortable walking shoes, cotton clothes, carry a water bottle, and an umbrella during the day time to beat the heat. 
 
 
Thank you so much for your help, this gives me hope that we are going to have a great vacation on the island.  I do appreciate all your help in this matter.  
 
Thanks 
 
Bernice (April 2011) 
 
 
Wheelchair accessible beaches in Bermuda 
 
Which are the best beaches for handicap visitors to access easily? Do any beaches have Beach wheelchairs or can be accessed with a JAZZIE-type scooter?  I will be in port Wed-Fri. Sept. 26-28 and would like to spend time swimming. I would also like to know where the Gombey Dancers and Steel Drum Bands are performing on these date. Thanks for any info you can supply. Also, do taxis and ferries transport passengers with JAZZIE-type scooters? 
 
Joan McArdle (July 7, 2012) 
 
 
Hi Joan, 
 
The best beaches to access easily are Tobacco Bay Beach in St. George's, Clear Water Beach at St. David's, and Shelly Bay Beach at Hamilton Parish. You can also try Horseshoe Bay Beach in Southampton which might be a little harder (a downhill stretch to the beach). For horseshoe beach, take the taxi right to the bottom of the hill. Horseshoe Bay Beach rents beach wheel-chairs (but limited in number). You may find it difficult to move the scooters on the sand in Bermuda which is quite soft.  
 
On Wed Sep 26 you can see the Gombeys in Hamilton at the street festival (known as Harbor Nights on Front Street) which is from 6.30-10.00pm and some Thursdays at the Royal Naval Dockyard (where the cruise ships dock). I haven't noticed any steel pans this summer. Taxis will take the scooter provided it can be lifted (some are lighter than others) and the ferry also will take them. 
 
Regards, 
 
Raj (July 17, 2012) 
www.bermuda-attractions.com 
 
 
Hi Raj, 
 
Thank you so much for the information. Your website is a wonderful resource.  I will be telling other "Bermudaphiles" about it. We fell in love with Bermuda 42yrs ago. Can't come back as often as we would like.  Looking forward to returning this Sept. Warmest regards, 
 
Joan McArdle (July 18, 2012) 
 
 
Easy accessible beaches in Bermuda 
 
Hi & thank you for such a wonderful website! We leave Sunday for our 4th cruise to Bermuda, but one of the people in our party is having mobility issues due to joint pain. 
 
Of the beaches on the island that we've visited, none of them seem exactly handicap accessible... they all require long treks down steep hills or stairs. Do you know of any that are not like that? I've been to horseshoe bay, but that hill would be a killer for my aunt. I know she couldn't do it. 
 
I've been to Black beach on Ireland Island for seaglass, which I know she would love, but she couldn't do those stairs. It's been many years since visiting elbow bay beach, so I don't honestly recall what is was like getting to the beach. 
 
My aunt is not wheelchair bound (although we are bringing one just in case). Any advice? Will a taxi bring us down that hill to horseshoe bay? Normally we use public transportation, but I'm thinking this year we may be using taxis to get around. Thanks for reading & any advice! 
 
Rosemarie Weed (October 2012) 
 
 
Hi, Let me first answer the access to the beaches that you mentioned, and then come to the ones which I think are easiest to access. 
 
I agree that walking back up the steep hill (about 400 yards) from the Horseshoe Bay Beach to the bus stop can be killing for some. Yes, you can take a taxi down to the point where the sand is only a short few steps away. But then what about while returning? You can hire a taxi by the hour (minimum for three hours) and ask him to wait. 
 
The second option is to ask the taxi driver to come back and pick you up at a particular time. He may or may not agree. A third option is to take the 15-seater shuttle (which is usually available from 11am onwards) that brings you up the hill and drops you at the bus stop on South Road for a nominal charge. 
 
For Elbow Beach, it requires a downhill walk of about 500 yards from the bus stop of South Road. Walking back up can be quite cumbersome for some. Here an option is to take a taxi and reach right up to the beach club of Elbow Beach Hotel. There is a short ramp from there to the beach. For return, either keep the taxi waiting (expensive proposition as you will then need to hire the taxi by hour and minimum for 3 hours), or take the shuttle operated by Elbow Beach Hotel to transport their guests back to the hotel lobby. They usually don't check any IDs. From the lobby, you will get ample taxis. 
 
Note that there are now minibus services available between the dockyard and various south shore beaches. They operate at an affordable per person rate. The minibus will drop you to a beach and pick you up later (they keep running at short intervals). For Elbow beach and some other beaches like the Church Bay or Warwick Long Bay beach, they drop you right at the beach and you won't need to walk. 
 
Now coming to the most easily accessible beaches in Bermuda
 
The first beach that comes to my mind is Snorkel Park Beach which is located within the Royal Naval Dockyard area and easily accessible for the cruise ship passengers. It's only a 5-7 minutes walk from the cruise berth (like Kings Wharf). But there is an entry fee. 
 
You can also get to Warwick Long Bay Beach quite easily. It's a south shore beaches located in Warwick parish and accessible from South Road. A paved way at the western end of the beach leads to a car park below. So you can take a taxi up to this point. From here the beach is quite close. Alternatively you can take a sandy trail down from the bus stop. 
 
One of the most easily accessible beaches is John Smith's bay beach which is located in Smith's Parish. The beach is at a short distance from the bus stop. There is a short pathway right from the curb that leads to the beach. Note that for reaching the beach, you will need to come to Hamilton City or St. George and take a bus (#1 or 3). 
 
Shelly Bay beach is also easily accessible from North Shore road and suitable for persons on wheelchair. The beach is located in Hamilton parish and in between Hamilton City and St. George's. 
 
Another easily accessible beach is Tobacco Bay Beach in St. George at the eastern end. But once you reach St. George by ferry or bus, take a taxi or minibus service for the beach. The beach is right next to the driveway where the taxi will drop you. Although from St George square the beach is about 15 minutes walk, it's an uphill walk and can be quite tiring for elderly people. And under a hot sun, I won't recommend this. 
 
A third easily accessible beach is Clearwater Beach, but only by taxi. This beach is located in St. Davids at the eastern end and usually quite secluded. Right adjacent to it is the Turtle Bay Beach which too is beautiful and secluded. Note that while bus #6 from St George has services to Clearwater Beach, all services do not go up to the beach. So ask the driver or take a taxi from St. George. The taxi service company BTA (Dispatching) Ltd has an office near the Clearwater Beach, so you should not have problems getting a taxi on your return. 
 
Raj (October, 2012) 
bermuda-attractions.com 
 
 
Hi Raj, 
 
I've been emailing Keith Simmons from Access Bermuda trying to set up a tour for our trip there in April. He hasn't responded to any of my emails. Do you know if he is still in business? Thanks very much 
 
Terry Smith (March 2013) 
 
 
Terry, 
 
I understand that Keith was having some problems with his PC, it is fixed now. He is very much in business. If you still do not get a response, please call him up on this number: (441) 295-9106 
 
Raj (March 2013) 
bermuda-attractions.com 
 
 
Hi Raj, 
 
I am traveling with a person in a manual wheelchair. In New York I fold it and stick it in the trunk of a taxi and place her in the back of the taxi easily. Would most taxis be agreeable to do this? Should I wait until all the other walking visitor have gotten the taxis so they will be more desperate to take us at Kings Wharf? I take it that this is the only way to get to St. George. If I want to hang there for half a day would there be taxis to go back? 
 
Jon (May 2013) 
 
 
Hi, The Dockyard and Hamilton ferry terminals are wheel chair accessible. So instead of taking a taxi from the dockyard (Kings Wharf area), you can take a ferry and come to Hamilton and then take a taxi for St George. That way it'll be much cheaper. You can return in a similar way. Most taxis would take folding type wheel chair in the trunk if that fits in. There will be ample taxis in St George to get back. Good luck! 
 
Raj (May 2013) 
bermuda-attractions.com 
 
 
Hi, My husband and I are coming into Bermuda on the Breakaway next week and are wondering if the ferries will take our jazzie type scooters. Can you let me know? Thank you. 
 
Lorraine (May 2013) 
 
Hi, Ferries will take Jazzie type scooters. 
 
Raj (May 2013) 
bermuda-attractions.com 
 
 
My husband has a motorized scooter that weights 100 pounds and he weighs 185 pounds, making the total weight 285 pounds. We will be on the Norwegian Breakaway the week of June 15 and would love to get back to Hamilton and St. George's. I understand that he can take the ferry from the Dockyard to Hamilton on his scooter. Is the ferry to St. George's capable of taking him? If not, do you have a bus that goes from the Dockyard to St. George's with a lift that could accommodate him on his scooter? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. 
 
Rose Snidow (May 2013) 
 
 
Hi, while ferries take wheelchairs and handicap scooters, the ferry dock at St George is not wheelchair accessible. There is no direct bus from Dockyard to St Gorge (requires a transfer at Hamilton and the total time is about 2 hours). But public buses won't take wheelchairs or scooters. You can go for a specially designed van with a ramp and side access. The company Access Bermuda has such a van. You will get the contact details in the section above. 
 
Raj (May 2013) 
bermuda-attractions.com 
 
 
Could my husband, on his motorized scooter, ride the ferry from the Dockyard to St. George's and back without getting off in St. George? Is the ferry capable of handling him? We would love to take the ferry just for the ride/view, even though the dock in St. George's cannot handle a scooter. 
 
Rose Snidow (May 2013) 
 
 
Hi, Yes it is possible. However please carry a pass (so that it allows unlimited access to ferry/bus) or tickets for both ways or fare in exact change etc. Note that the Orange route ferry (between Dockyard & St George) does not have any scheduled trip on Saturdays & Sundays. On a weekend, you can do a similar round trip on a the Blue Route ferry to Hamilton & back. 
 
Raj (May 2013) 
bermuda-attractions.com 
 
 
Four or five years ago when I snorkeled at nine beaches, when the hotel was open, there was actually a person there that did snorkeling with people with disabilities. Have you ever heard of anyone in Bermuda doing that, at least recently?? 
 
While I'm picking your brain with questions, I also have a question about tours. I've taken two tours on my previous visits from a gentleman known as "Foxy". He no longer does tours, do you know of anyone with an accessible van that does private tours? Thanks again for your time, 
 
Tom Wade (July 2013) 
 
Hi Tom, 
 
To my knowledge there is nobody doing snorkeling with people having disabilities these days. However, Keith Simmons (of Access Bermuda) conducts private tours for the physically challenged in his custom built van (with side entrance, attachable ramp etc). His contact details: Phone: (441)295-9106; Email: keithsimmons@logic.bm 
 
Regards, 
 
Raj (July 2013) 
bermuda-attractions.com 
 
 
Hello Raj, 
 
I spoke with you earlier by e-mail regarding a wheelchair accessible tour and snorkeling. We were in Bermuda during early August, and Keith Simmons set us up with a driver and wheelchair accessible minivan. Keith seems like a very good guy! 
 
As far as snorkeling goes, we had some pretty poor weather and despite making contact with a woman "Kate" from Fantasea, who was very helpful, we ended up at snorkel Park. In the end I was going to rent a pontoon boat with a captain and just get lifted off the boat into the water and back on. Kate was very willing to arrange the rental of boat, and hiring of a captain. As I said, due to some inclement weather, we didn't go for the boat. 
 
There were no individuals that I heard of that were willing to meet me at the beach to assist with snorkeling, despite me willing to pay.  Snorkel Park was close to the ship, and we were out shopping (there were 10 of us!)  when the sun came out.  I rolled over to the park as quickly as possible and with my family and a couple of employees helping, I was lifted into the water and my niece assisted with some fun swimming and snorkeling. 
 
The employees at snorkel Park could not have been nicer and helpful. Unfortunately, snorkel Park is pretty beat up from lots of tourists stepping on coral, but on short notice it worked. Thanks for your input, I hope to return on some sunnier days, 
 
Tom Wade (August 2013) 
 
 
Beach Wheelchairs in Bermuda 
 
Do any of the hotels have access to accessible beach chairs. Or, are they available for rent on the island. These chairs are usually made of pvc piping and extra large tires, without any grip. Thanks for your assistance. 
 
Liz (March 2014) 
 
Hi Liz, 
 
The kiosk at the Horseshoe bay beach rents Beach wheelchairs with large wheels that can easily move on sand. They also have a type which can go into the water as well. But getting down to the beach from the road is not easy. So ask the taxi driver to take you down below where there is a ramp/boardwalk leading to the beach and also pick you up on your return. There is also a shuttle available to come up to the main road bus stop and avoid the uphill walk on return. 
 
Raj (March 2014) 
bermuda-attractions.com 
 
 
Mobility Scooters in Bermuda 
 
We are staying at Grotto Bay and my cousin has difficulty walking around. Is there anyone on the Island who rents handicap scooters? I was thinking it would be easier for her to get around on the grounds if such were available. Thank you for your help. 
 
John Fisher (April 2014) 
 
 
Unfortunately it's difficult to get a handicap/mobility scooter on rent in Bermuda. You can try with Medical House located in Pembroke parish. You need to call them up or let them know your requirement well in advance and they might be able to help. 
 
Contact Info for Medical House: 
 
Office: (441) 292-3622, (441) 236-2525  
Mobile (Bermuda): (441) 705-1997 
Email: medicalhouse@logic.bm 
 
Raj (April 2014) 
bermuda-attractions.com 
 
 
Hi Raj, 
 
First, I want to thank you for all information that I have found in this site. You are very nice to do this. I will go to Bermuda by cruise on September 23, 2014. I use a manual wheelchair and I want to go to Horseshoe Beach Bay. I have found how to go on the beach. But my question is about this information: "A third option is to take the 15-seater shuttle (which is usually available from 11am onwards) that brings you up the hill and drops you at the bus stop on South Road for a nominal charge." 
 
1- Does this shuttle takes a manual wheelchair? My wheelchair could bend and my spouse could help me to go up in the shuttle. 
 
2- Else, from the beach, is there a place where I can call a taxi? Because, we don't want to ask to the taxi to wait. We want to past many hours on the beach. 
 
And you talk about this kind of Beach wheelchairs with large wheels with a type which can go into the water. Do you know how much for rent this kind of wheelchair? 
 
Denise (September 2014) 
 
 
Hi, the shuttle is unlikely to accommodate the wheelchair but you can request the driver and explain that it won't take much space. But this shuttle will only bring you up to the main road and public buses won't take wheelchairs of any kind. Taxis are usually available at Horseshoe Bay Beach. But only few would take wheelchairs. With a wheelchair, I would recommend that you properly pre-arrange your transport to and from the beach rather than planning on regular public transport. Beach wheelchairs rent for about $15. 
 
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com, April 2014) 
 
 
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