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With its paniolo (cowboy) heritage and the ranches it spawned, the Big Island is a great place for equestrians. Riders can gallop through green pastures, or saunter through Waipio Valley for a taste of old Hawaii.
Going with a Guide
King's Trail Rides. Take a four-hour excursion down an old Hawaiian trail to a small, uncrowded stretch of sand near Kealakekua Bay for snorkeling and lunch. A mask and snorkel is provided. The price is $135 per person. Hwy. 11, mile marker 111, Kealakekua, HI, 96750. PHONE: 808/323-2388. www.konacowboy.com.
Naalapa Stables. This company is a good bet, especially for novice riders. The horses are well trained, and the stable is well run. You'll explore Waipio Valley, cross freshwater streams, and see waterfalls. Naalapa also offers open-range rides on the historic Kahua Ranch in North Kohala. Off Hwy. 240, Kukuihaele, HI, 96727. PHONE: 808/775-0419. www.naalapastables.com.
Waipio Ridge Stables. Two different rides around the rim of Waipio Valley are offered—a 2½-hour trek for $85 and a 5-hour hidden-waterfall adventure (with swimming) for $165. Lunch is included. Riders meet at Waipio Valley Artworks. 48-5416 Kukuihaele Rd, off Hwy. 240, Honokaa, HI, 96727. PHONE: 808/775-1007 or 877/757-1414. www.waipioridgestables.com.
Waipio on Horseback. Take a relaxing trek through this famous valley, where you'll visit a taro farm and enjoy the lush surroundings. Tours depart twice daily Monday through Saturday. The price is $78 per person. Last Chance Store, Off Hwy. 240, Kukuihaele, HI, 96727. PHONE: 808/775-7291 or 877/775-7291. www.waipioonhorseback.com.
Cowboys of Hawaii. Take a horseback ride at historic Parker Ranch, one of the largest privately held cattle ranches in the country and the spot where paniolo (Hawaiian cowboys) rode for the first time. Along the way, you might see some of the more than 5,000 head of Hereford cattle as they are driven down from the slopes of Mauna Kea. Morning and afternoon rides start at $79 per person. Parker Ranch, 67-133 Pukalani Rd., Waimea, HI, 96743. PHONE: 808/885-5006. www.cowboysofhawaii.com.