Riding a horse on a sun-drenched Kauai beach sounds like something straight out of the movies. During an excursion with CJM Country Stables, clients can turn that fantasy into a reality as they ride through a magnificent part of the island that many visitors never see.
While the island features other horseback tour companies, CJM — which stands for Come Join Me — stands out with its south shore location, one of the sunniest, warmest areas of Kauai. Better yet, according to Jimmy Miranda, owner of CJM, its tours introduce clients to an impressive variety of Kauai landscapes — from ocean, valley and mountain views to agricultural and ranch lands.
“In addition, our guests have a chance to ride some of the best quarter horse bloodlines in the U.S.,” Miranda told me. “These aren’t your typical nose-to-tail trail horses. They are performance horses that we use in every aspect of ranching, cattle work and rodeo events.”
Hearing all of that made me a little wary of joining CJM’s Mahaulepu Beach ride, since I’m not much of an equestrian. As it turned out, I had nothing to worry about. The horses are incredibly well-behaved. Miranda and his team expertly match steed to rider, creating trips that all ages and experiences can enjoy.
With jokes and an easygoing approach, the CJM wranglers kept our group at ease as they helped each guest saddle up. Since the horses never moved faster than a walk throughout the experience, it was a snap to take pictures along the way. That turned out to be a big plus, since the scenery was one of the ride’s major selling points.
The two-hour tour led us through 6 miles of Kauai’s Mahaulepu wilderness, an area not accessible by car. We explored the vast upcountry, riding across beautiful pastures presided over by the Haupu Mountains. Beyond, we could see fields of diversified agriculture such as corn, rice and taro. Occasionally, we passed cows, whose sleepy blinks told us they were used to visitors.
As we entered a forest rich in ironwood and haole koa trees, the songs of birds created a melodic backdrop. But the real highlight for me was the ride along breathtaking Mahaulepu Beach, where we watched for turtles and monk seals. Sand dunes and chiseled mountains flanked us on one side, with lava tubes, tide pools and the deep blue sea to the other. It’s no surprise that Hollywood producers have chosen this area as a set for films such as “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” and “Islands in the Stream.”
Throughout the tour, our guides spun stories of the region’s fascinating history and culture. We passed near Makauwahi Cave Reserve, the richest fossil site in Hawaii. The area also lays claim to Hawaii’s biggest sinkhole and one of the largest collection of petroglyphs on Kauai. The wranglers were well-versed in all aspects of the destination, pointing out highlights every step of the way.
Even after three decades of offering horseback adventures, Miranda genuinely loves sharing the beauty of his home with visitors from around the world. He told me about a guest who booked a private tour 12 years ago in order to propose to his girlfriend while on horseback. The couple recently returned for another ride, this time with their two children.
“This is one of the most beautiful spots in the world,” Miranda said. “Our goal is to leave our guests completely satisfied with a memory that will last a lifetime.”