Guest post by LeeAnne Jones
Horseback riding on the island of Kauai
Few places in the world are as naturally beautiful as the island of Kauai. The idea of a Hawaiian vacation typically invokes images of tanning on the beach, snorkeling the reefs, or surfing the waves. And while I did do some of those on my visit this past January, it was meandering through the lush, tropical terrain of the island’s interior on horseback that proved most relaxing.
Silver Falls Ranch horseback riding in Makaleha mountain range
Silver Falls Ranch sits on a majestic 300 acres in the valley of the 2,800-foot Makaleha mountain range on north side of the island. As my family arrived at the stables on a misty morning for the three-hour Tropical Trails Adventure ride, peacocks strut about and a cat snoozed on the still-warm hood of a car. The friendly staff offered refreshments as we signed waivers, selected helmets, met our group mates (a mother-daughter duo joined the six of us), and headed for the stables, where several healthy, well-trained horses waited.
Horseback riding by Pohakuhonu stream
I was paired with a large grey-beige horse named Keiki. (Thankfully, step-ladders were provided to help us mount the horses!) After a brief tutorial on how to handle the reins and how to prevent our horses from constantly chowing down on the lush green foliage, we were off! We followed our guide, Dave, single-file on a trail through some of the ranch’s 80 acres of botanical gardens and an ancient volcanic caldera, over the Pohakuhonu stream, to the foothills. Dave had a cool, laid-back vibe but was incredibly knowledgeable about the terrain, pointing out specific types of orchids, palms, and hibiscus, and sharing stories about the island and the ranch. It was an easy, mellow ride, perfect for beginnings or groups with young children.
Picnic and swimming at Silver Falls
Halfway through, we stopped to eat and relax. In a rustic outdoor gazebo, we enjoyed a delicious hot lunch of shredded teriyaki chicken, rice with salty seaweed seasoning, pineapple and macadamia nut-studded salsa, and guava juice. Then, we headed down a path nearby to a deep, natural swimming hole at the base of small-but-picturesque Silver Falls. We weren’t quite prepared for the temperature—the water was easily 60 degrees—and waded in slowly, trying to not lose our footing on the slippery rocks, while Dave showed off by climbing a tree and jumping in. Once acclimated, we sat amid the falls, letting the water spill over our shoulders as we took in the surroundings.
All too soon, it was time to head back. I dried off, pulled on clothes over my wet swimsuit, and fed Keiki a special horse treat from Dave before mounting. The trail is a loop, so the scenery wasn’t exactly the same on the return trip, which was nice, and I soaked up the last minutes of the vivid green terrain. Back at the stables, we lead our horses to a water trough for refreshment and then posed for some group photos before hopping off and bidding our new friends farewell.
If You Go:
Silver Falls Ranch (808) 828-6718
Group trail rides range from $95/person for 90 minutes to $135/person for three hours. Private tours are available for more experienced riders.
About the writer: LeeAnne Jones is the managing editor for Diablo magazine.