Scenic Horseback Riding – Maui Style

Maui horseback riding
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Scenic Horseback Riding – Maui Style

Let’s slow down and see Hawaii in a unique way. Today, we’re learning about the best horseback riding Maui offers. From the western slopes of Wailuku to the cowboy region of upcountry, there are many great options for galloping across the valley aisle. 

Ok, most of these places won’t take you galloping – plan for relaxed rides through scenic hillsides and sprawling ranchlands. Still, it’s a great experience. And if you haven’t been horseback riding in Hawaii, you’ve got to give it a try. 

We’re going to recommend our favorite horseback riding tours on Maui. But first, let’s talk about why it’s so great to explore the island this way… it’s all got to do with the Hawaiian paniolo. 

A Paniolo Experience

Have you ever heard of the Hawaiian word paniolo? A paniolo is a Hawaiian cowboy. If you’ve never visited the islands before, it may be hard to picture this. After all, you’re likely envisioning beaches and pristine green landscaping, nothing like the rugged landscape you associate with cowboys. 

But paniolo is a significant part of Hawaiian culture. The islands are full of ranchlands and cattle, hardworking residents and a laid-back country lifestyle. 

Paniolo originated in Hawaii in the early- to mid-1800s, after Mexican-Spanish cowboys came to the island to teach ranching and horsemanship. Now, you’ll see paniolo influences across Hawaii, including through its music, architecture, apparel, and art. 

We recommend experiencing Paniolo culture in Maui in two ways: horseback riding and exploring Makawao Town. 

Makawao is a town in upcountry Maui, where the paniolo lifestyle reigns supreme. Spend some time walking around, shopping, and sightseeing to understand how important this way of life is. 

Then, head to one of the great places that offer horseback riding on Maui. Not only will you be able to see Maui at a rustic, western-inspired pace, but you’ll likely get to meet real-life Paniolo, who ensure this treasured way of life endures throughout generations. 

We’re here to help, check out our All-Inclusive Hawaii Packages or get help with airfare, picking hotels or activities. If it’s in Hawaii we can make it happen.

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Where to go Horseback Riding on Maui

Ready to ride off into the sunset? Or at least into the afternoon? Let’s learn about some of the great places that offer trail rides, cultural insight, and lots of scenic wonders. 

Maui Mountain Activities

Maui Mountain Activities offers morning and afternoon rides through its scenic Wailuku mountainside setting. This is an excellent option for anyone who wants to experience the beauty of the West Maui Mountains without tackling the treacherous drive around the coast or ascending by foot on Waiheʻe Ridge Trail. 

Tours last more than two hours and even include the chance to run your horses if conditions allow. You’ll reach an elevation of 2500 feet, see waterfalls in the distance, and trek down to the coastline. 

You must be at least 7 years old and under 215 pounds to ride horses at Maui Mountain Activities. 

Circle M Ranch Horseback Riding Maui

Circle M Ranch is another scenic property located along Wailuku’s Kahekili Highway. Its horseback riding tours offer an incredible chance to ride alongside the West Maui Mountains as you take in coastal views and learn about the land and culture of the Valley Isle. 

Circle M Ranch (formerly Mendes Ranch) promises a Hawaii paniolo experience, with a cowboy guide taking you through rugged pastures and peaceful coastlines. They’re careful to share the history and heart of their unique lifestyle. Plus, you’ll get to see the ranch’s animals during your 1.5-hour ride. 

Riders must be at least 7 years old and under 230 pounds at Circle M Ranch. 

Triple L Ranch

Triple L Ranch is located on the slopes of Haleakala, in the area known as Upcountry Maui. 

At Triple L Ranch, you can get the true paniolo experience by riding through cattle pastures as you look out over the panoramic views of Maui and the Pacific Ocean. Enjoy the clear upcountry air and a slower pace. This is a great way to spend a couple of hours on Maui. 

Upcountry Maui views
Upcountry Maui views

Choose a semi-private two-hour tour or a 3.5-hour tour that includes lunch. Triple L Ranch also offers Equine therapy bookings and runs a nonprofit that provides free therapy to local kids and wildfire survivors. 

Triple L Ranch is located in Kula. They typically only take kids 8 or over, but you can call to see about an exception if your child has existing riding skills. The weight limit is 210 pounds, with no exceptions. 

Thompson Ranch Riding Stables

Thompson Ranch Riding Stables is a hidden gem in Maui. It lacks the fancy online booking system other ranches offer – here, you have to call to reserve your ride. But it’s well worth it. Their morning 2-hour horseback rides in Kula are personalized and scenic. 

You’ll enjoy a leisurely tour of their upcountry property as your guides share stories and advice as Maui ranchers. See goats and cattle, along with amazing views of Maui below. 

You must be at least 10 years old and under 200 pounds to ride at Thompson Ranch. 

Ironwood Ranch

Ironwood Ranch has a unique location in West Maui. It’s in the Napili area of Lahaina, just west of Kaanapali. This means it’s the most convenient place to go horseback riding on Maui if you’re staying in Kaanapali, Napili, or Kapalua. But it’s also worth the drive if you’re coming from a different area of the island. 

Tours will take you through lush valleys, pineapple fields, and dreamy forests. Plus, all tours are private, so it will be just your group during your excursion. 

Opt for a 1- or 1.5-hour ride – they’re available for up to 4 people (though there’s an extra charge for a single-rider tour). 

You must be at least 9 years old and 4 feet tall to ride at Ironwood Ranch. You also must be less than 190 pounds. 

The ranch also offers pony rides for kids ages four and older, along with private lessons for any rider wanting a more custom experience on the horse. 

Tips for Horseback Riding on Maui

A horse in Upcountry Maui

Ready to see Maui on horseback? You’ll love riding through the beautiful mountainsides and dreamy ranchlands, all while enjoying the island’s fantastic scenery and weather. Want to make sure your horseback riding Maui experience is the best one possible? Here are a few tips to help you enjoy the ride:

  • Use sun protection. Just because you’re not on the beach or at the pool doesn’t mean you can’t get sunburnt. Wear long sleeves, sunscreen, and a hat. 
  • Wear long jeans. Some horseback riding tours may require long pants, but if not, we still recommend them. Riding horseback is way more comfortable in long jeans. 
  • Plan around meal times. If your horseback riding tour doesn’t include lunch, be sure to plan around your meal time. After all, these ranches are in remote areas with few food choices. You don’t want to be hungry during your tour or have to drive straight back to your hotel for food after your ride. 
  • Don’t lie about your weight. Horseback riding tours are very strict about their weight limits. Unfortunately, this does mean many visitors can’t enjoy this activity, but it’s a policy to protect the horses’ wellbeing. Most places will weigh you before letting you on a horse, and they won’t offer a refund if you’re over the limit. 
  • Enjoy your surroundings. Don’t just drive to your tour and then go straight back to your hotel. Enjoy the sights and culture near the ranches. Wailuku ranches are close to amazing small shops and restaurants, along with Iao Valley and the Maui Tropical Plantation. Upcountry ranches will be near Makawao town and other attractions on the slopes of Haleakala. Plan to spend several hours while you’re out for your horseback riding tour!

Need help planning a Maui vacation that includes the best sights and activities? Work with Hawaii Aloha Travel for your vacation planning.