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The Big Island has a long, rich equestrian history and is home to the paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) tradition. In 1793, Capt. George Vancouver gifted King Kamehameha I several head of long-horned cattle; the King placed them under a kapu (taboo) so they could multiply. The first horse arrived in 1803 as a gift to the King, and he was so impressed after a riding demonstration that he had more horses brought to the island. By 1830, the cattle had become so abundant that they were decimating the island’s flora and disrupting villages, so the King brought in Mexican vaqueros (cowboys) to bring the cattle under control. From them, Native Hawaiians learned the art of herding, roping, and ranching, and a Hawaiian tradition was born on lands that soon became Parker Ranch. An added bonus of the vaqueros is that they introduced the ‘ukulele, which was immediately adopted by the Hawaiian people. During vacation, what better way to see the island’s awe-inspiring sights than the way paniolo do – on horseback? Though there are no riding stables on the Kona Coast proper, you will find several excellent Kona horseback riding tours within easy reach.
Cowboys of Hawai‘i
Ride back in time where Hawaiian paniolo history began – Parker Ranch. This excellent Kona horseback riding tour takes you through all the historical sites, landmarks, and pastures of the largest working cattle ranch in the country. There is also plenty to do for those who choose not to ride; wagon rides, historical homes tours, the Parker Ranch Museum and the Parker Ranch Shopping Center are all on the Parker Ranch property.
Choose from five different horseback tours across a private 11,000-acre working cattle ranch in the North Kohala Mountains. Ride across lush rolling pastures where ancient Hawaiian ruins dot the landscape. Breath-taking panoramic views of the ocean, coastline, the Big Island’s volcanoes, and Maui await you. Be sure that your camera batteries are charged! Paniolo Adventures also offers private rides with your own personal wrangler.
Want to experience a real cattle drive? Then head to Dahana Ranch in Kamuela. Located at 3,000 feet in elevation, Dahana Ranch’s lands seem to span endlessly and encompass some of the most spectacular scenery you will ever see. Offering several different rides including those that are kid-friendly, Dahana’s paniolo will take you on a real cattle drive where you can help herd 100 head of Brahmin crossbreds. The cattle drive is not daily and requires a four-person minimum, so it must be reserved well in advance.
Get Back in the Saddle
Whether you are a true country person or a city slicker, there is a horseback ride near the Kona Coast that will be just perfect for you. So pull on your boots and hat and get ready for the ride of a lifetime! All horseback riding in Kona, Hawaii requires advance booking, so contact Kona Concierge or our Kona Coast vacation experts today at Kona Coast Vacations.