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Horseback riding near Waimea, worth it?

Montreal
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Horseback riding near Waimea, worth it?

Hi:

We'll (2 adults, 12 year old son) be staying at Mauna Lani this summer.. Both Dahana Ranch and Naapali Stables have rides that are on ranches, that aren't nose to tail. They both get good reviews. Does anyone know if something like this is fun, or boring?

I was thinking of doing that and then driving north and hiking down to Pololu valley.

Thanks,

Kay

Big Island, Hawaii
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1. Re: Horseback riding near Waimea, worth it?

I've done both the Dahana Ranch one and Naalapa Kahua ranch ride and they were fun. While it's not exactly nose to tail though it isn't really free ranging. We were just kind of spread out. When it came time for the "gallop" it was a very controlled one at a time, line up sort of thing. It's spectacular scenery and a pleasant ride, but I actually prefer the Waipio Valley horseback ride even though it is fairly nose to tail.

Kona
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2. Re: Horseback riding near Waimea, worth it?

I would especially like to support Dahana Ranch's efforts, as it is owned and operated by a super-nice Hawaiian family still actively cattle ranching, but I've done both ranch rides and while they were fun, I wasn't really sure what the point was. You don't really go anywhere - just sort of cruise around the ranchlands. If you're jonesin' for riding a horse, it might give you the fix you need, but for me the experience didn't really justify the cost.

I've never done the Waipio Valley ride, so I can't really comment on that one!

New Orleans...
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3. Re: Horseback riding near Waimea, worth it?

I just did the Naalapa Stables in Waipio Valley today and enjoyed it thoroughly. Yes, we were in a big group (about 10-12) following each other around the property, but it's someone's private property, really. We got to see lots of taro farming, the valley, and many fruit trees and flowering plants. Our guides were super-knowledgeable and friendly and kept everything supersafe for everyone to enjoy (I think we had some beginners). The stables are owned and run by a Hawaiian family and the local guide guy was a joy to be around. It's a very peaceful and relaxing ride, through streams and water and really, just very pretty and pleasant!

If you're looking for a place to run with the horses, this isn't it, but if you want a place to enjoy the beauty of the Waipio Valley and see a glimpse of old Hawaiian life (taro farming), then this is great!

Big Island, Hawaii
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4. Re: Horseback riding near Waimea, worth it?

Thanks for the report! I agree, it's one of the best things to do on the island.

Montreal
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5. Re: Horseback riding near Waimea, worth it?

Thanks for your replies, it definitely answers my question. I was looking into the Waipo Valley horseback ride. We'll be spending 2 nights in Volcano before going to Mauna Lani, and I wanted to drive up the East side of the Island towards ML to go on the 4 mile scenic drive and visit the botanic gardens (past Hilo) and just in case we still wanted to do something at VNP the morning we leave there, I didn't want to rush to get to the 12:30 check in at Naalapa Stables.

Also, the ride into and out of the valley sounds a bit hairy on the reviews.

However, the ride does sound great and also sounds like it would be more interesting than the Waimea Ranch rides.

Any suggestions on how to best work the Waipo Valley ride into our itinerary. We'll be arriving in Hilo in the morning, then 2 nights Volcano and 5 nights ML.

I also want to visit the Place of Refuge and snorkel there if it's calm (which I presume would be best early morning. We'll be traveling late July, early Aug.

Thanks,

K

Montreal
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6. Re: Horseback riding near Waimea, worth it?

Hi again, I forgot to mention that I also want to visit Akaka Falls when we're in the 4 mile drive and botanical garden area.

K

Big Island, Hawaii
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7. Re: Horseback riding near Waimea, worth it?

I would save the ride for another day, and use your transit day to do as you suggest and visit Akaka Falls, Lauaphoehoe, the botanical gardens, etc before arriving at the Mauna Lani. It would be nice to schedule the ride on a Saturday so from the Mauna Lani you could spend the morning at the lovely farmers markets in Waimea before heading on to the ride, but you can easily do it on any one of your Mauna Lani days.

I definitely do recommend a day trip to South Kona to visit Puuhonua O Honaunau and snorkel in Honaunau Bay (ocean conditions permitting), but bear in mind that time of year usually the best snorkeling is right out your door at the Mauna Lani, from Makaiwa Bay over to Honokaope Bay and in between. It's easily worth two days. Waialea Bay and Puako are also good snorkeling in summer. Plus you have all of the area beaches worth a couple of days of exploration, the hike into Pololu Valley and drive down Kohala Mountain Road, and the area heiaus and historical parks. So you'll have to make some tough choices! :-))

Redding, California
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8. Re: Horseback riding near Waimea, worth it?

The ride down into Waipio Valley is half the fun! I love horses, so I am biased, but I honestly can say we saw some of the prettiest scenery we have ever seen on this ride. Our guide treated us like friends, and gave us lots of history, as well as picking fruits off of trees for us to try, and taking many pictures of us as we went along. We loved it!

Montreal
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9. Re: Horseback riding near Waimea, worth it?

I'm sold, Waipo Valley ride it will be!! Definitely some tough choices!! Thanks for the heads up on the great snorkeling closer to our temporary home.

K

New Orleans...
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10. Re: Horseback riding near Waimea, worth it?

Big thanks to SheaG....one of her recommendations that stuck in my head was to make a trip to Waipio Valley....and I'm glad I did. The "scary" ride is only scary if you are afraid of heights. The whole Naalapa ride down the valley to the stables in a 4WD van and then the horse ride through the valley was lovely and definitely something special. It's a different side of Hawaii than the one seen on the tv show, very charming and sweet.