Most travelers enjoying Maui's great outdoors are content lying on the beach and frolicking in the water. No argument there. But consider a trek on horseback, particularly to parts of the island you might not otherwise discover.
Makena Stables, in the southeastern, leeward section of the island, takes riders through Ulupalakua Ranch, 20,000 acres of privately owned land that grants the company access for its rides. The rustic terrain includes lava rock fields bearing witness to Maui's volcanic past as well as the breathtaking coastline of La Perouse Bay. Horses also take riders to Kalua O Lapa, the site of Maui's last volcanic eruption.
The 21/2-hour morning ride with our guide, the friendly yet no-nonsense Christine Rose, included a 30-minute break "off-horse" for snacks and to enjoy an ocean view that, when the weather is clear, lets you see several islands, including Molokai and Lanai, in the distance.
As a novice who goes riding once a year, I found this trek went up and down rocky terrain and around switchbacks as often as it traversed level ground — easily my most challenging ride to date. And, I should add, not made any easier with Keola. (The good-natured gelding exhibited a penchant for snacking and no particular inclination to move when I asked him to.) You don't have to be experienced, but you should be in good shape.
Keola and the other horses from Makena Stables are incredibly well cared for. Riders can expect personal attention from the trainers to the Western riding style. The six-rider limit is a plus, too, though admittedly, if you're at the end of the line as I was, you may still not hear everything the guide is sharing. That was OK by me; the scenery was captivating enough.
One more bonus: Your trip to the stable will take you to the end of the "authorized-for-rental-cars" road in south Maui and may well introduce you to some sensational beaches.
Our morning ride was $145 plus tax and tip. Go to makenastables.com for information on this and other rides. They will want to do the actual transaction by phone: 808-879-0244.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun