Several companies on Maui offer horseback riding far more appealing than the typical hour-long trudge over a dull trail with 50 other horses.
Going with a Guide
Mendes Ranch. Family-owned and run, Mendes operates out of the beautiful ranch land of Kahakuloa on the windward slopes of the West Maui Mountains. Morning and afternoon trail rides lasting 1½ hours ($110) are available. Cowboys take you cantering up rolling pastures into the lush rain forest, and then you'll descend all the way down to the ocean for a photo op with a dramatic backdrop. Don't expect a Hawaiian cultural experience here—it's all about the horses and the ride. 3530 Kahekili Hwy., Wailuku, Hawaii, 96793. 808/244–7320; 800/871–5222; www.mendesranch.com.
Piiholo Ranch. The local wranglers here lead you on a rousing ride through family ranchlands—up hillside pastures, beneath a eucalyptus canopy, and past many native trees. Two-hour private rides ($229; minimum two guests) are offered three times daily. Three-hour private rides ($349) are offered twice daily, and include lunch at a private cabin. Their well-groomed horses navigate the challenging terrain easily—but hold on when axis deer pass by. End of Waiahiwi Rd., Makawao, Hawaii, 96768. 808/270–8750; www.piiholo.com.