Maui offers spectacular horse rides through rugged ranchlands and into tropical forests. I recommend riding with Mendes Ranch Trail Rides ★★, 3530 Kahekili Hwy., 6 1/4 miles past Wailuku (www.mendesranch.com; 808/871-5222). The 3,000-acre Mendes Ranch is a real-life working cowboy ranch with all the essential elements of an earthly paradise: rainbows, waterfalls, palm trees, coral-sand beaches, lagoons, tide pools, a rainforest, and its own volcanic peak (more than a mile high). Your guides, bona fide wranglers, will take you from the edge of the rainforest out to the sea and even teach you to lasso. They’ll field questions and point out native flora, but generally just let you soak up Maui’s natural splendor in golden silence. Experienced riders can run their horses. A 1 1/2-hour morning or afternoon ride costs $110; add a barbecue lunch at the corral for an additional $30.
Another one of my favorites is Piiholo Ranch Adventures ★★ in Makawao (www.piiholo.com; 808/740-0727). This working cattle ranch owned by the kama‘aina (long-time resident) Baldwin family offers a variety of horseback adventures to suit your ability. Among them, the 2- to 3-hour private rides meander through the misty slopes of Haleakala with stops for picnic lunches (starting at $229). You can play “Cowboy for a Day” and learn how to round up cattle ($349). For a truly special occasion, book the Heli Ranch Experience ($3,335 for two people): A limo delivers you to the Kahului heliport, where you board an A-Star helicopter and fly to a private ranch cabin for breakfast and a 2-hour horseback ride. The ranch also has a zipline; check “Ziplining,” below, for more details.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.