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As the oldest working ranch on Kauai, Princeville Ranch has deep roots on the island’s north shore. At the same time, however, the visitor-oriented side of its operations — Princeville Ranch Adventures — keeps breaking new ground. A case in point is its latest venture, a combination horseback riding and ziplining tour, the only one of its kind in Hawaii.
Called Ride ‘N’ Glide, the new three-hour excursion starts with a leisurely 30-minute horseback ride across secluded valleys. Along the way, the guide chats about ranch and cowboy history and points out the flora and fauna of the area. Then, after tying up their steeds, the group flies over the treetops on three ziplines measuring 410-, 560- and 700-feet long. The adventure wraps up with a return horseback ride back to the ranch.
Patrick Nowak, general manager of Princeville Ranch Adventures, said that the new tour was created in response to customer feedback, exemplifying the company’s points of distinction.
“Our entire crew is focused on providing true hospitality, and our tours are distinguished by high-touch personalized service,” said Nowak. “We make sure that our employees are knowledgeable about the island, its history and other items of interest to visitors. Our guides are well-versed in the history, geography and flora of the ranch as well as the island itself. They take the time to connect with our guests to convey this information in an intelligent, personable way that each client appreciates.”
The setting of the 2,500-acre ranch itself is another big selling point for its tours, which take place on private, picturesque lands that are inaccessible to everyone else.
“Our trips are designed to show our guests the variation of sights and vegetation that abound at our location,” said Nowak. “On each tour, clients experience dense jungle-type trails as well as expansive mountain and ocean views.”
Most tours include a lunch at one of the several inviting waterfalls and swimming holes located on-site.
Since its establishment in the early 19th century, Princeville Ranch has had a number of different owners and operators over its long history. The Carswell family began leasing the land in 1978. That same year, Donn and Gale Carswell launched a successful horseback riding business called Princeville Ranch Stables. In 1999, their son David and his wife, Denise, started taking visitors on guided hikes to a waterfall, and later added kayak and zipline tours into the lush heart of the ranch. All of these efforts eventually evolved into Princeville Ranch Adventures, a true family-run operation. The company now has a staff of more than 70 people and, in the busy summer season, it welcomes up to 215 guests daily.
Along with the new Ride ‘N’ Glide, Princeville Ranch Adventures offers the Zip ‘N’ Dip, combining a nine-line zipline challenge with time to cool off in a hidden swimming hole and enjoy a picnic lunch. On the Jungle Valley Adventure, clients kayak through a rainforest, then hike up to a ridge for ziplining, swimming and picnicking. For visitors who just want to zipline, the Zip Express tour takes them on the full course of nine ziplines and a suspension bridge spanning a waterfall.
Another option, the Kalihiwai Falls Hike, rewards clients with breathtaking views, a refreshing swim in a waterfall-fed pool and a picnic lunch. Horse lovers can book the Waterfall Picnic Ride, which includes swimming and lunch. Customized private adventures are available for advanced riders.
As Princeville Ranch Adventures continues to grow, it’s keeping its focus on customer service, said Nowak.
“It is our goal to connect with each guest and make sure that they are calm and confident before they head out on their adventure, whether it’s ziplining, horseback riding, kayaking or hiking,” said Nowak. “This is handled by our highly trained guides during their orientation and safety briefings as well as their personal time on the tour. A lot of people are afraid of horses, water or heights, and we make sure to ease those fears so that our guests have a great time.”
Nowak hopes his guests will leave Princeville Ranch not only with a new understanding of the island environment, but with a sense of personal accomplishment.
“We hope that our clients have enjoyed a world-class experience, creating lifelong memories and a few good photos for the mantle,” he said.