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Hitting the Trails on Horseback – A Guide to Riding in Hawaii

Ready to Experience Hawaii the Way the Paniolos do?

Hawaii may be a tropical paradise explored by millions each year, but did you know one of the best ways to experience the islands is by horse? The Paniolo, or Hawaiian Cowboys, have been grazing the open range by horse for years and know that the horse is the best way to get around and see some amazing sights. Now you can do the same on every island and experience the fun horseback riding Hawaii has to offer.

What is Horseback Riding Hawaii?

Horseback riding, or just horse riding, is the sport of…well, riding horses! It was recently discovered that people have been domesticating horses could have started as far back as 5,500 years ago. Since then, the horse has been providing an amazing service whether they are to ride or for pulling equipment, transporting goods, and even being the unsung heroes of war. The paniolo has relied on the horse to help drive livestock on the island. The bond between horse and man is incredible and is something we still fully embrace.

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Why Horseback Riding in Hawaii?

Riding horses has not been restricted to just the cattle ranch. See the best every island has to offer by horse. There are a variety of tours on each island. Ever have that dream of a horseback ride on the beach? Now you can experience this on every one of Hawaii’s famous islands.

On Oahu?

You can take a trail ride on the beach to see all this island has to offer. Oahu’s North Shore in Waialua provides an excellent trail for both the beginner horse rider and those who have experience. Kualoa Ranch is a working cattle ranch that has 4,000 acres of nature reserve that you can explore by horse. You will quickly discover why this ranch is a popular filming spot on the island. In fact, Jurassic Park was even filmed here. Steven Spielberg chose to film Jurassic Park at this ranch in Oahu for its extraordinary scenery that was perfect for a dinosaur reserve! You can take a ride around the “real” Jurassic Park by horse without the danger of a dinosaur though! Oahu has some glorious countryside and beautiful forests that you would not usually think of when you think of Hawaii, but this is the heart of the island.

On the Big Island?

Take the same trail as a paniolo does. Take a calm ride on your horse to see all the Big Island has to offer. Visit the Kohala Na’alapa Stables at either the Kahua Ranch or Waipaio Valley. Travel to Dahana Ranch, where you can experience a ride on the open range where sheep and cattle roam, and see the best of the Waipaio Valley and Mauna Kea.

Visiting the island of Kauai?

A visit to Princeville Ranch for a horseback ride is a must if you want to check out the Napali coast. At Princeville Ranch, you can choose from three rides, including the paniolo, waterfall picnic, and ride and glide tours. You can see how the paniolo lived and worked the land as a Hawaiian cowboy on the Garden Isle. Overall, a horseback ride on Kauai is the best way to experience the island.

Traveling to the popular island of Maui?

You can take a sunset ride from Ironwood Ranch to witness one of the best tropical sunsets you will ever experience, or head up the road to Hana. There is a West Maui journey that is perfect for all horse riding levels. You can take a short one-hour ride as well if you prefer something short and sweet. Or perhaps try Thompson Ranch on the hills of Haleakala that overlook Maui’s central valley or Lahaina Stables where you can ride into the Launiupoko Valley and stop for lunch by an invigorating pond.

visiting the amazing island of Lanai?

You have options for a great horseback ride there too. The stables of Koele have some of the most knowledgeable Hawaiian cowboys.

So why should you go horseback riding in Hawaii?

Because it is guaranteed you will get to see more of what Hawaii is all about thanks to the horses and the tours offered. Hawaii is more than just beautiful resorts and sandy beaches. It is about deep green forests, open landscapes, valleys, and lush hills where you can see for miles and miles, and you can get there the same way as the paniolos…by horse!

What if I have never been on a Horseback Ride before?

Don’t let inexperience stop you! These horses are used to a trail ride and probably know what to expect more than the first-time rider! The horses are tame, trained, and will be fully tacked by the experts, so you won’t have to worry about saddles, bits, and other equipment. There will be expert guides on the tours who will be your Hawaiian Cowboy, guiding you every step of the way from the stables, off the ranch, and on the trail with your horse to guarantee a safe experience.

Alternatively, if you are a skilled horse rider and feel more confident on a horseback ride, there are tours designed specifically for you too.

What can I expect during my Horseback Ride?

Every horseback ride on every island will show you something different. You may start from the stables on a ranch and travel through a picturesque Hawaiian valley or along the miles and miles of beaches. Some will provide tours of waterfalls even, and some offer a spot of lunch at a beautiful location. In general, though, you can expect to be greeted by an expert tour guide who will introduce you to the horses and provide an overview of the tour and ride ahead, whether it be a few hours or just one hour. Your horse will be saddled, and you will be given instruction on how to ride, but don’t worry – these horses are gentle and know what to do!

When is the best time of day?

Tours can take place at various times throughout the day, and you may see something different at each hour. Some will start in the early hour, while others could be later for a sunset ride. A sunset ride by horse can be incredibly romantic if you want to impress a loved one. Short, day trips are perfect for families, and you can usually find one that suits your schedule if you have other sightseeing to do. Consider what it is you want to see, as some tours may suggest certain times of day that are best to see things like specific wildlife, or when the lighting is best.


You may think you see the best of Hawaii by a car or bus tour, but they can’t get to where a horse can. These trails have been used by paniolos and their horses for years to get through the valleys. There are tours for everyone, of all skill levels, so take advantage of all the horseback riding Hawaii has to offer. Whether you are a more seasoned rider such as horse owners or if you are looking for something more than your laid-back horseback ride, you will be able to find a horseback adventure that suites your needs. Sightseeing has never been better than it is on the back of a horse!

Verified Customer Reviews
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Michael Motley
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So my wife decided to schedule a visit to try horseback riding. I thought, yeah I’ll go along but not my thing. I have to say – it was wonderful. I had no idea we’d be able to see such beauty on the island – so green and lush everywhere. I also didn’t expect to see some of the locations where they shot scenes from some of my favorite movies – incredible. Highly recommend if you want something different to do on your Hawaii vacation.

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Sue Neissl
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The greatest happiness on earth is sitting in the saddle of a horse

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Yolanda A.
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Not a big fan of horses, just haven’t been riding very often but this was definitely worth it. It was an easy ride along some of the most beautiful scenery. The weather was slightly cloudy, which was perfect since we decided on an afternoon ride.


Our guarantee to you:

Instant booking

Best Price

Verified Reviews

Advanced Booking Satisfaction
Call Us: (808) 797-3675


  • Brian K

    Brian K has been a writer and publisher for 10+ years and has worked for LiveYourAloha as a freelance author and content manager for several of them. There's not much about Hawaii he can't tell you about!

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