Over the years, human ingenuity has brought about numerous innovations in the way we move about: We have trains, planes and automobiles, as well as boats, helicopters, kayaks, ATVs and even Segways. But no matter what new modes of transportation modern technology spits out, there’s still nothing quite as exhilarating as saddling up and hitting a trail on horseback.
Oahu’s North Shore, which is about as far away from Waikiki as you can get on the island, is prime territory for horseback riding. Perched on a hilltop overlooking Waimea Valley, one stable offers escorted horseback rides through cool forests, thriving ranchlands, and tropical orchards. Ocean and mountain views are also part of the scenery.
One North Shore resort offers several rides, including a 40-minute trot, canter and walk through its Kawela Bay trails (for experienced riders only) and a leisurely 90-minute evening trek that takes guests through an ironwood forest and up to a sandy coastline.
Adventures on horseback are also available on the Windward side of Oahu. One company presents a full menu of trail rides, including a two-hour excursion that takes visitors from one of the island’s oldest and largest ranches through deep forests, past World War II bunkers and into historic Kaaawa Valley, which is flanked three of the most imposing peaks on Oahu: Puu Ohulehule at the valley’s head, Puu Kanehoalani on the southeast wall and Puu Manamana on the northwest wall.
Another ride is geared just for children, as knowledgeable guides provide them a safe and friendly introduction to the world of horses. The session’s highlight comes when the Keiki (children) are led around on their own horse for about 10 minutes. There is even a therapeutic riding program offered to the disabled.
What to Expect
Horseback riding tours are usually an hour or longer, with some stables even offering daylong adventures. Riders are matched with a horse suitable to their experience level. A brief orientation session precedes each ride. Wear long pants and comfortable shoes; a light jacket is advisable for trail rides in cooler elevation areas. Some companies will provide transportation to and from your hotel.