Princeville Ranch Stables offers several different horseback rides: a Waterfall Swim Picnic Ride, an Ocean Bluff Ride, a Paniolo Cattle Drive Ride as well as Private Rides tailored to the ability of the rider(s).
Horseback Riding at Princeville Ranch
Check in and registration for all rides is at the Princeville Ranch Stables facility at the intersection of Kapaka Road and Highway 56, just east of the Princeville entrance and about a mile west of the Princeville Airport just past Mile Marker 27 when traveling west.
All of the Princeville Ranch Stables rides are safe for the first-time rider and enjoyable for the experienced horse person. All rides are scenic walking rides. (The Private Ride guide may allow some trotting and cantering, based on guest ability and safety factors.)
Riders must be age eight or above and all children under age 14 must be accompanied by an adult. Children under 18 must have written consent from a parent.
I have been lucky to have taken two of the rides offered by Princeville Ranch Stables - the Waterfall Swim Picnic Ride and the Ocean Bluff Ride. Both rides were enjoyable but if you’re interested in a pure horseback ride, I'd recommend the Ocean Bluff Ride.
Waterfall Swim Picnic RideThe three hour Waterfall Swim Picnic Ride involves about a 30 to 45-minute ride across ranch pastures with beautiful views of the mountains to a location where the horses are tied-up. From there you hike up a moderately steep hill through a tropical rainforest to a swimming hole and waterfall where you can have a swim and eat a lunch provided by the stables. After lunch you hike back down to the horses and after mounting proceed back to the stables. A four hour Waterfall Swim Picnic Ride offers an extended ride and slightly different itinerary.
Ocean Bluff Ride
The Ocean Bluff Ride is a pure 1 1/2 hour horseback ride. After check-in at the main facility you drive a short distance across the highway to a secondary facility where the Ocean Bluff Ride begins. After mounting your horse, you ride across the working cattle ranch lands towards the bluffs overlooking the ocean. From the bluff you get amazing views of Kauai's North Shore including Anini Beach Park, Princeville Polo Fields as well as Kilauea Point in the distance to the east and Mount Makana commonly known as Bali Hai to the west. Your return ride points you towards the majestic Hanalei Mountains in the distance.
Other RidesIn addition to the two rides that I have been on, Princeville Ranch Stables also offers a 1 1/2-hour Paniolo Cattle Drive Ride. This ride is only offered every 5-10 days when the ranch moves their herd to new pastures. When this occurs visitors can join in the cattle drive and try their hand at being a paniolo, or Hawaiian cowboy.
They also offer a two or three hour Private Trail Ride where you work with your guide to arrange the sights and experiences you want to have. This ride allows for the possibility of some trotting or cantering, if the guest is determined to be capable of doing so with complete safety. You can come on your own, or bring friends or family members to share this experience with you.
About Princeville Ranch
Princeville Ranch is one of the oldest working cattle ranches in Hawaii. It runs from the base of Mt. Namolokama to the Hanalei River to the bluffs overlooking Anini Reef and on to the Kalihiwai Valley.
Princeville Ranch is leased and operated by the Carswell family, who have owned a successful trail riding business there since 1978 and a cattle operation since 1994. The ranch's historical roots pre-date those of the American Old West, beginning in 1831 when Richard Charlton, British Consul and Advisor to King Kamehameha II, leased land mauka of Kalihiwai and Hanalei and brought in 100 longhorns from California. In 1895, Princeville Plantation was acquired by A. S. Wilcox, son of missionary Abner Wilcox and great great uncle of Gale Carswell.
The 2500-acre Princeville Ranch is a "cow-calf" operation. Their herd of bulls and cows produces calves each year for both natural and grass-fed beef production. The herd includes 220 Brangus cows, a cross of 5/8 Angus and 3/8 Brahma. This mixture handles the heat and humidity of the tropics better than full Angus cattle.
Each year’s crop of calves is separated into three major categories. Most of the males and a small number of females are selected to be sent to the Pacific Northwest for further growth and slaughter. The second group, comprising about a third of the calves, are kept at Princeville Ranch to go into their Hanalei pastures to become grass-fed natural beef, sold locally under the brand Princeville Pride. The third group are the replacement heifers, the young females who will someday become moms in the herd.
If You Go
Advance reservations are required and are secured with a credit card (Visa or Mastercard). They also accept cash and traveler’s checks. You can contact Princeville Ranch Stables at 808-826-6777 or Princeville Ranch Adventures at 808-826-7669. You can also make reservations online.
Kauai’s North shore is famous for its intermittent showers. Rides go out rain or shine. Rain ponchos are provided. However, in the event of inclement weather at the time of departure, rides may be rescheduled at Princeville Ranch Stables management discretion.
They recommend long pants and require completely covered shoes, like tennis shoes or hiking boots. Waterfall Ride guests are encouraged to wear a bathing suit under their clothes so that they can enjoy a swim in our waterfall pool.
Check in and registration for all rides is 30 minutes prior to scheduled departure. All rides check in at the main Princeville Ranch Stables facility.
Monday through Saturday: 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sunday: Reservations and information only, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
You can visit their Web Site at princevilleranch.com.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with a complimentary tour for the purpose of reviewing Princeville Ranch Horseback Adventures. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.