Most of the horseback-riding tours on Kauai are primarily walking tours with very little trotting and no cantering or galloping, so no experience is required. Zip. Zilch. Nada. If you're interested, most of the stables offer private lessons. The most popular tours are the ones including a picnic lunch by the water. Your only dilemma may be deciding what kind of water you want—waterfalls or ocean. You may want to make your decision based on where you're staying. The "waterfall picnic" tours are on the wetter North Shore, and the "beach picnic" tours take place on the South Side.
CJM Country Stables. Just past the Hyatt in Poipu, CJM Stables offers a three-hour picnic ride with noshing on the beach, as well as their more popular two-hour trail ride. The landscape here is rugged and beautiful, featuring sand dunes and limestone bluffs. CJM can get you as close as anyone to the secluded Mahaulepu bay. They sponsor seasonal rodeo events that are free and open to the public. Prices range from $110 to $145. Poipu Rd. 1½ mi from Grand Hyatt Kauai, Koloa, HI, 96756. PHONE: 808/742-6096. www.cjmstables.com.
Esprit de Corps. If you ride, this is the company for you. Esprit de Corps has three-, five-, and eight-hour rides for experienced riders who know how to trot and canter. They also have a two-hour beginner ride that requires no experience. What's also nice is the maximum group size: four. Weddings on horseback can be arranged (in fact, Dale, the owner, is a wedding officiant, specializing in Jewish and interfaith marriages), and custom rides for less experienced and younger riders are available, as well as private lessons (starting at age six). Make sure to call ahead because they are by appointment only. Rates range from $130 to $390. 1491 Kualapa Pl., Kapaa, HI, 96746. PHONE: 808/822-4688. www.kauaihorses.com.
Princeville Ranch Stables. A longtime kamaaina (resident) family operates Princeville Ranch. They originated the waterfall picnic tours, which run three or four hours and include a short but steep hike down to Kalihiwai Falls, a dramatic three-tier waterfall, for swimming and picnicking. Princeville also has shorter, straight riding tours and private rides. Prices range from $135 for group rides and $245 for private tours. Kuhio Hwy., between mile markers 27 and 28, Princeville, HI, 96722. PHONE: 808/826-7669. www.princevilleranch.com.