There are many fun things to do on Maui, but most involve the ocean. Whether you go on a whale watch, a snorkel tour or just hang out the beach, you’re bound to be having a fun time. But if you’re looking for a little more adventure, have you thought about horseback riding?
Believe it or not, Maui has a long history of ranching. We even have a Hawaiian word for cowboy: paniolo. In 1793, Captain Vancouver gifted King Kamehameha a few head of cattle. By the 1820’s, cattle were roaming Maui, destroying everything in their path. Soon, cowboys were brought in from the mainland to corral them. Eventually, the natives were taught cowboy techniques, and the rest, as they say, is history.
If you’re interested in going horseback riding on Maui, you’re in luck. There are many options. Here are our five favorite places to ride horse, listed alphabetically.
Lahaina Stables (Lahaina)
Conveniently located in Lahaina, Lahaina Stables is the easy choice if you’re staying on the west side and either don’t have a car (it’s an easy Lyft/Uber trip) or don’t feel like driving very far. Lahaina Stables offers three different rides, AM, Lunch, and Sunset that take you along the West Maui Mountain ridge giving you fantastic views of the ocean. The sunset ride, while quite a bit more expensive than the AM ride ($189 vs. $135) offers smaller groups and champagne and chocolate-dipped fruit, making for a uniquely romantic evening. (Lahaina Stables)
Makena Stables (Kihei)
Offering morning, sunset and private tours, Makena Stables also offers something the others on this list don’t… the chance to ride through lava fields that will make you feel like you’re on Mars. Riding along the shoreline south of the Wailea, you’ll have outstanding views of the ocean, Molokini and may even see the Big Island. But, oh, those lava fields. You will feel transported to different time and place once you hit the trail. Makena Stables is easily the most convenient horseback tour if you’re staying in Kihei and Wailea. (Makena Stables)
Mendes Ranch (Wailuku)
Starting from the beautiful Mendes Ranch, ride down from the valley to the coastline for 1.5 hours of gorgeous trail riding. If you visit during the winter and early spring, you are likely to see whales. When is the last time you saw whales from the back of a horse? Mendes Ranch offers two rides, AM and early afternoon. On the afternoon ride, there’s an option for a pre-ride barbecue lunch. (Mendes Ranch)
Piiholo Ranch (Makawao)
Ever see the movie “City Slickers,” where Billy Crystal played a New York City businessman who decides to vacation on an active ranch and cattle drive? Well, Piiholo offers the unique opportunity to spend three hours as an actual cowboy, rounding up cattle! Of course Piiholo Ranch also offers a more traditional two and three-hour rides (both are private, with a minimum of two riders), as well as lessons for children. (Piiholo Ranch)
Thompson Ranch (Kula)
A working cattle ranch, Thompson Ranch is known for its small groups (no more than six riders at a time) and the gorgeous vistas provided while riding along on Haleakala mountainside. Outside of the incredible views, you’re also likely to see cattle, chickens, turkeys and other creatures great and small. Morning, picnic and sunset rides, along with private rides are offered. This is a smaller operation with a decidedly less “tourist” feel. (Thompson Ranch)
Have you been horseback riding on Maui? Where did you and do you recommend it? Let us know in the comments below…