Authentic Paniolo Horseback Riding Vacation at Piiholo Ranch
As I drove along Makawao Avenue in my Japanese compact rental car, I noticed that I was heading “up country” and entering paniolo territory. Convertible Mustangs gave way to pick up trucks and horse trailers. The Hawaiian cowboy was alive and well in Maui, Hawaii and could be found at Piiholo Ranch. The Baldwins, a multi-generation ranching family offered horseback riding vacations to the general public, as well as supplying local rodeos with Corriente Mexican roping cattle.
Beginning riders would enjoy the two hour morning Country Ride ($120), while advanced riders looking to trot and lope should book the three hour lunch ride or a private trail ride. If you are looking to hone your horsemanship skills, private lessons are available to take your equestrian skills to the next level.
Morning trail ride on Piiholo Ranch
This particular horseback riding vacation I was surrounded by New Yorkers new to horseback riding. Our guide, Marlene, had grown up with horses and knew the trails and the horses well. “Hold your reins like an ice cream cone,” instructed Marlene. “Remember to release the pressure on your reins to reward your horse when you have asked him to stop,” she said with a smile.
Piiholo Ranch provided scenic Hawaiian horseback riding vacation
Paniolos matched horses with riders, and then we were on to the open range on the historic, 800 acre, working cattle ranch. The well behaved horses meandered through Eucalyptus groves, Koa, and Ohi`a trees, and green Kikuyu and Pangola pastures. Our trail ride offered 360 degree views from high up on Haleakala Crater to the Pacific Ocean 2,000 feet below. We rode amongst native plants and indigenous trees of Hawaii, tasting fruit along the way, and we caught glimpses of wild pigs and baby calves, too.
Small group rides at Piiholo Ranch
While our horseback ride was limited to walking only, the horses were not nose to tail the entire ride and the spacious ranch offered plenty of room to spread out. Our group of six equestrians included our guide, who was happy to stop and take pictures for us to remember our horseback riding vacation. She also pointed out the local flora and fauna, including the place where the ranch was protecting the habitat of the endangered Nene Hawaiian goose.
Experience island-style horseback riding vacation
As the New York couples had flown a long way to experience activities on Hawaii, I was pleased to over hear one young gentleman say to his girlfriend, “Babe. I’m loving this horseback riding. This day is the best!” Have you been on a horseback riding vacation in Hawaii? What are your favorite things to do in Maui?
If You Go:
Piiholo Ranch (808) 357-1755