Horseback Riding on Maui
The island of Maui offers some of Hawaii’s most memorable horseback riding adventures. First-time riders and skilled equestrians alike can choose from a number of trail rides that include visits to the island’s most famous locations.
Horseback Riding Vacation
Trail rides are available throughout Maui—from Kapalua in West Maui and Makena in South Maui all the way to Hana—and offer a diverse array of experiences: through a tropical rainforest, along cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, into Haleakala Crater, up into Hana’s scenic highlands, onto the Upcountry ranchlands and beyond. A few horseback rides even include stops for swimming and picnicking.
Some of the best horseback riding experiences are found in Upcountry Maui, home to thriving paniolo (cowboy) areas like Makawao, Kula, Haiku and Ulupalakua. One stable offers rides on Ulupalakua Ranch, a 20,000-acre open range that overlooks the Ahihi-Kinau Reserve and La Perouse Bay. During the winter months, humpback whales can be seen frolicking in the bay.
Adventures on horseback are also available on Maui’s neighboring islands of Molokai and Lanai. Riders on Lanai have a selection of trail rides to choose from, with excursions along a winding trail that includes sweeping views of Maui and Molokai.
Trail rides generally range from a couple of hours to a full day. Private and customized tours are also available. It’s recommended that you book your horseback adventure well in advance, as many of the popular rides are filled quickly. Age restrictions may apply. Be sure to wear long pants and comfortable closed-toe shoes.
Horses were introduced to the Islands in the early 1800s. The roots of Hawaii paniolo can be traced to 1793, when British Captain George Vancouver gave King Kamehameha five head of black longhorn cattle. Free to roam the plains of the Big Island, the cattle multiplied in number until they became a nuisance to residents. In 1830, Mexican cowboys, or vaqueros, were brought to Hawaii to help the natives acquire the roping and riding skills they needed to herd the cattle. The vaqueros dubbed their protege’s “paniolo.”