#9 on the list of Romantic Things to Do on the Big Island of Hawaii
Sunset Ride for Two
First, press ‘Play’ …
Hawaiian War Chant
… then picture this.
You arrive at Ponoholo Ranch in the late afternoon. Located on gorgeous Kohala Mountain, Ponoholo Ranch is an 11,000 acre working cattle ranch, with the second largest herd of cattle after the world-famous Parker Ranch. The Ranch streches all the way from the top of the mountain to the coast. The area at the top of the mountain sometimes has a gentle mist, reminding you you’re actually in a tropical rain forest for the moment.
The Big Island has a rich “cowboy heritage” in this lush upcountry area going back more than a century ago to 1788. Just ten years after Captain James Cook first landed in Hawaii, British Captain George Vancouver presented five cows to King Kamehameha I (prone. Ka-MAY-a-may-a). The King loved his cows so much he immediately declared them to be kapu (pron. ka-poo), the Hawaiian word for taboo. He set them free to roam the Big Island where they were extremely fruitful and multiplied into thousands. By 1809, when 19 year old John Palmer Parker arrived from Massachusetts, the feral cattle were wandering everywhere wreaking havoc on farms and family gardens.
Initially Parker befriended the King and helped tend his fishponds. Then, after leaving to serve in the War of 1812, John returned to the island he loved with a brand new American musket. Kamehameha gave John exclusive permission to shoot the maverick cattle and supply meat and hides for the island and other nations. In 1832 John contracted with Mexican vaqueros, expert horsemen and cattle herders, to help him wrangle the cows. Called “paniolo” (pron. PAN-i-o-lo ) by the Hawaiians, these cowboys brought with them their boots, saddles, guitars and ukuleles. You and your love will begin your ride by dressing in style. You feel like a real paniolo when you outfit yourself with boots, hats, chaps and Australian dusters.
Then it’s off to the stables to meet your horse. Her name is Guava and she’s very sweet.
Your love is riding Mango, and you’ll get the scoop on what they like and don’t like. Then you’ll head out across the beautiful mountainside.
You are rewarded with awe-inspiring views of the Kona and Kohala coastline. To the south you see Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Hualalai (pron. who-WALL-a-lie) Volcanoes. Gazing out across the ocean you can also see beautiful Haleakala (pron. Hi-lee-AH-ka-law) Volcano on Maui.
You may even get to meet some of the cows. They are very nice as well.
As the day transitions to night, a magical moment occurs. From 3,000 feet on the Ponoholo Ranch you enjoy unobstructed views of the beautiful array of colors in a Hawaiian sunset. The glowing land and tranquil ocean combine to create a moment in time for you and your love with all else just fading away.
As the sun sinks lower, it bathes the sky in a soft peach hue.
There are 5 different rides to take, but the Sunset Ride is a 90 minute interlude that you’re sure to love. You can make it exclusive (just a guide and your significant other) for an additional $150 if you want. You don’t need to be a great rider (or to have ridden at all) to do it either, as beginners are welcome here. The horses, valued partners in this business, are kept in good condition and matched to rider’s skill levels. Everything is low key so it’s easy to enjoy yourself and each other.
The guides are friendly, interesting and up on the history and local lore. You’ll have a marvelous time. If you’re looking for a romantic experience for you and your love, it doesn’t get much more memorable than seeing an awesome sunset on horseback. There are a few places to do this, but I’d recommend Paniolo Adventures – at the Ponoholo Ranch on Kohala Mountain.
Want more? Enjoy the other Top 10 romantic activities on the Big Island of Hawaii.
More Interesting, Unique Things to Do on the Big Island
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