Kauai Beach Horseback Riding Overview
Recently we just got back from an amazing Honeymoon in Kauai Hawaii! Hawaii is apparently the place to visit right now with a lot of US travelers not flying outside the United States due to COVID-19. Instead travelers are making Hawaii their go to destination this year. Due to the rise in visitors a lot of the tours and activities on the islands are booked up, so if you plan to go book your activities early!
This is how our Kauai horseback riding on the beach story begins, CJM Country Stables was booked up and didn't have room for two more guests.
When we landed on the Island of Kauai, the weather report for our Honeymoon was pretty poor, it looked like it would rain all week. This was a bit ironic since we live in San Diego and literally can't remember the last time we have seen a proper rain storm. The rain ended up being a blessing in disguise for us because someone canceled due to the forecast of heavy rain all day. Luckily we were prepared, both packing our Arcteryx raincoats that we normally bring on backpacking trips.
We were 5 minutes into a drive to the north shore for the day when we got the call from CJM Country Stables, and we were at the top of a 50+ person wait list! We quickly re-routed our GPS and drove straight to the horse stables, not knowing what to expect for our last minute rainy adventure!
Horseback Riding Kauai Trail Map
The maps above can be viewed and downloaded on Caltopo here. The entire route is just under 4 miles long with under 350 ft of elevation change.
Arriving at CJM Country Stables
We were staying at the Sheraton Kauai Resort on the South Side of Kauai. I had no idea how close we were to CJM Stables until after we got the call off the waitlist. The Sheraton was only a 10 minute drive to CJM Country Stables down Poipu Road.
When you turn off Poipu Road the final .33 mile drive is down a dirt road. The road does not need a lifted 4 wheel drive jeep or anything but its good to be aware of when driving a rental car. The road was pretty dry for us despite the rain, so that's relieving, but we did end up renting a Jeep Wrangler so we should have been good either way.
ℹ️ Gear Recommendations
If you would like expert gear recommendations for your next adventure check out the Ten Digit Grid Gear Locker. I detail why each item has a spot in my backpack!
CJM Country Stables Check In
Once you are all parked, there is a small Red building with a porch in front of the stables where you will meet your tour guides for the day. When you arrive I recommend you take time to use their bathrooms before you get riding, we did not take any bathroom breaks during the ride.
Once you check in, the guides will play a short informational video that goes over the basics of riding a horse, and some key tips on how to get your horse back on track if they go looking for a snack... this actually happened kind of frequently but more on that later.
After the video we had another chance to use the restroom before they broke everyone up into three small groups that each had their own guide. Once broken down into smaller groups they gave out helmets for those who requested them and they even had boots for those who did not arrive in closed toed shoes. At this point it was raining pretty heavily for us and they even gave some of the guests jackets to borrow.
Lastly was horse assignment... I felt like this was a little like being on the playground in elementary school and getting assigned to a team. Previously the guides asked us what our experience was with riding. I used to ride a bunch as a small child but it had been years since I last rode. CJM Country Stables ranks you based on the number of rides in your life, so I was an intermediate rider despite not having ridden in a bit.
When they assigned horses, we went into an office one by one as the guide looked out the window at all the horses outside and thought long and hard then gave you a name. @MightyGirl was assigned a horse named "Dude" and I got good old "Gus".
When I walked into the office to get my assignment, Jim, our guide, thought long and hard as he looked at the window before assigning me Gus as he confirmed I was an intermediate rider. After assigning me Gus, he asked if I could get on the horse properly. Apparently Gus didn't like the stairs that everyone uses to get on their horse easily, so I would have to mount straight from the ground. I honestly thought it was more fun.
Horseback Riding Kauai Tour
We were the third and final group to receive our horses which kind of worked out for us. Right as the group in front of us got on their horses it started to pour! We were luckily still on the porch under an overhang and stayed relatively dry. The rain pretty much stopped right as we got on our horses and then we were off in a single file line following our awesome guide Jim!
We started off riding with our rain coats on just waiting for the skies to open up and soak us. We didn't care though we were on our honeymoon and we were out exploring the island of kauai! In less than a third of a mile from where we started we were already seeing great views of the ocean. The low fast moving clouds added another layer of beauty to the gorgeous landscape of Kauai.
The first half mile or so everyone is getting accustomed to steering their horses and making them move. Everyone on the tour picked it up pretty quickly and we didn't have many horse issues in the beginning of the tour. I think the biggest "issue" was when "Dude" the horse @MightyGirl was riding and realized he didn't use the restroom before we started. He stopped in the middle of a tight trail and held up everyone while he took a short pit stop.
We didn't have to wait long before we were plunging our horses off into the water! The trail just suddenly kind of ends and steeply dips you and your horse into the Waiopili Stream that empties straight into the ocean. As Gus smartly stepped down into the water, I was very happy with his sure footing.
Since I was at the front right behind our guide Jim, we stopped here and waited for everyone to come down the steep drop in the water before we continued on. As we stood in the middle of the Waiopili Stream the waves were coming in and washing under our horses legs combining with the water of the stream. It was a bit surreal sitting on a horse and watching the two bodies of water come in and mix underneath us.
From here we took a sharp turn up and out of the stream and were quickly off the beach. The rest of the beach horseback riding would be saved for the finale at the end of our tour.
At this point you may at first be disappointed to get such a short taste of the beach only to then turn and ride inland, but I love the tour of the beautiful Kauai countryside we were going towards. It seemed every few minutes we were in a completely different location because the views and the vegetation kept changing. It was stunning the entire ride.
At this point Jim found a massive turtle which he pointed out to all of us and then continued on describing some of the local vegetation we were riding by.
As we continued towards what looked like the mountains and the trail narrowed a bit with tall grass vegetation, you had to keep control of your horse as it started to get hungry. There were certain plants that the horses would love to grab as a snack. Some horses liked to stop and just start munchin, mine in the beginning did a few drive by snack grabs but kept moving. Make sure you pay attention to that video I mentioned when you check in, they give some good tips on how to keep your horse on track.
At this point in the ride it started to rain on us a little bit but I was just laughing. I was riding a horse in the rain, and the last time I rode a 4 legged animal was a donkey in Jordan through the ruins of Petra... It brought back some great memories but that's a story for another day.
Eventually the trail opened up wide into open farm land as we continued slowly climbing up away from the ocean. We saw some grazing cattle who were quickly spooked by the horses and ran away. The clouds began to break and the short rain we experienced broke out into a beautiful sunny day again.
Despite being a little ways from the beach at this point, the entire ride has sweeping views of the ocean and beach which we would eventually take back to CJM Country Stables.
The next section of vegetation kind of came up unexpectedly. We were riding through the wide open farmland and then all of a sudden we were riding our horses into a small forest right on the coast and we suddenly couldn't see the ocean anymore.
Once you are in the forest get your cameras ready. A short meandering ride through the beautiful but unexpected forest brings you out to an awesome photo spot. The forest breaks and suddenly you are speechless looking out over Haula Beach Kauai.
Jim, our tour guide, was fantastic and took everyones picture at this fantastic spot!
Remember earlier when I said the terrain and the vegetation kept changing every few minutes? After this beautiful overlook you were back into the forest but it was a completely different type of tree that was much thinner.
Just as quickly as we were back in a small forest we very quickly arrived next to the beach again. We emerged from this tunnel of trees back to the ocean overlooking Kawailoa Bay. At this point make sure you have your camera ready again, it's another fantastic spot right by the water to take some pictures.
From this point it was back partially inland before the grand finale ride along the sandy beach. At this point in the ride the horses were all getting hungry and they were on the hunt for their favorite plants to munch on. In the beginning it was only a couple horses who really wanted to stop and have a snack, but at this point almost all the horses were eyeing their favorite snacks on the side of the trail.
We were almost done with our Kauai horseback riding trip, but the best part was approaching. The part everyone was waiting for, riding through the sands of Kauai with the waves lightly breaking at the horses feet was absolutely magical! What a fantastic first day on Kauai!
🗺️ Check out More Kauai Guides
Find more adventures based on activity or mileage on our Adventure Map.