POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Aug 22, 2010
Donald Pascual, owner of Paani Ranch on the Big Island, describes it as a "one-stop shop" for fun and adventure.
"Five generations of my family help operate the ranch, and to us there's nothing more rewarding than spending time with each other in nature. That's an experience we want to share with visitors."
Paani means "to play; recreation." It's a fitting name for the 220-acre working cattle ranch and visitor attraction, which offers zip-lining, horseback rides, ATV tours and a Li'l Wrangler Keiki Program designed for active kids. In 1995 Pascual purchased 149 acres in Mountain View that Puna Sugar Co. used to cultivate cane (the plantation closed in 1984). He began raising horses and Black Angus and longhorn cattle there, and over the ensuing 15 years acquired an adjoining 71 acres.
"Every time our friends and extended family visited, they were amazed at our ranch's peace and beauty," Pascual said. "They'd come to hike, ride horses and picnic. We feel so blessed to be the caretakers of this beautiful land, and we wanted to share our ranch experience with others. We wanted people of all ages, kamaaina and visitors alike, to come and enjoy our activities. Paani Ranch is a place to relax and have a great time!"
PAANI RANCH AND ATV ADVENTURESAddress: 17-7850 N. Kulani Road, Mountain View, Big Island, 13 miles south of Hilo
Open: 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. The first tour departs at 9 a.m., and the last tour departs at 3 p.m. Check in 30 minutes prior to the start of your activity. Special booking times can be arranged upon request.
Notes: Bring sunscreen, sunglasses and a light jacket. The ranch has facilities for private parties, group retreats and team-building activities such as volleyball, cow-milking contests, horseshoe tournaments and pig and turtle races. Free transportation can be provided within a 30-mile radius of the ranch for groups of between six and 14 people.
Scenery ranks among Paani Ranch's biggest draws. Tours reveal breathtaking views of the Puna coastline, Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, Kilauea Volcano's smoldering Puu Oo vent and more. Brightening the landscape are kukui trees; hapuu ferns; hibiscus; wild orchids; fragrant ginger; and ohia trees flaunting red, yellow, pink and salmon-colored blossoms.
"Guests love being outdoors, and they fit right into our ohana," Pascual said. "Paani Ranch is the Big Island's newest playground. E hele mai a paani me makou! Come play with us!"
Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi is a Honolulu-based freelance writer whose travel features for the Star-Advertiser have won multiple Society of American Travel Writers awards.
ALOHA ZIP-LINE EXPRESSCost: $80 for everyone through the end of year (standard rate is $125 and kamaaina rate is $100)
Duration: Two hours
Attire: Closed-toe shoes are required
Description: Zip up to 40 miles per hour on seven lines ranging from 300 to 980 feet long. They include the Grand Finale tandem line that zips two people at the same time over a natural lily pond. Guests who aren't zipping can take pictures at scenic points along the course.
Restrictions: Participants must be at least 8 years old and weigh between 70 and 250 pounds. They also must be in good physical condition and be able to climb stairs and walk unassisted on a variety of terrains and uneven surfaces.
PANIOLO HORSEBACK RIDECost: $69 ($60 for kamaaina)
Duration: One hour
Attire: Closed-toe shoes are required; long pants are recommended.
Description: There's a maximum of seven riders for this tour. Participants are matched to horses based on their level of skill and experience (everyone from greenhorns to advanced equestrians can be accommodated). Guides lead them across expansive pasture, and stops are made at several interesting sites, including a lava tube.
Restrictions: Riders must be at least 8 years old, stand at least 4 feet 6 inches tall, weigh no more than 250 pounds and be in good physical condition.
ATV EXPERIENCE TOURCost: $69 ($60 for kamaaina)
Duration: One hour
Attire: Closed-toe shoes and long pants are required.
Description: Cruise up and down hills, over rolling meadows, through puddles and along old cane haul roads. The ATVs are automatic and easy to operate; no previous experience is required.
Restrictions: ATV drivers must be at least 16 years old, weigh no more than 350 pounds and be in good physical condition.
COMBO PACKAGECost: $180
Duration: Six hours
Description: This all-day option includes zip-lining, the horseback trail ride and the ATV tour. Bring your own lunch, or the staff can place takeout orders for you from nearby restaurants and snack shops (you pay the applicable charge). All information about attire and restrictions for each activity applies.
LI'L WRANGLER KEIKI PROGRAMCost: $69 ($60 for kamaaina), no charge for accompanying adults. On the first Saturday morning of every month, the Li'l Wrangler Keiki Special provides an additional 40 percent off the kamaaina rate for all kids, bringing the price down to $36.
Duration: One hour
Attire: Closed-toe shoes are recommended.
Description: This program is designed for children between 2 and 8 years old. It includes coloring books; pole fishing for catfish and tilapia; wagon, barrel train and hand-led pony rides; and a visit with Sweetheart the miniature horse, Shoji the llama, Bella the potbellied pig and other lovable inhabitants of the ranch's petting zoo. It's recommended that children under 5 be accompanied by an adult.
Restrictions: There is usually a limit of 10 children per session, but larger groups can be accommodated if arrangements are made in advance. All options include refreshments (beverages, chips, macadamia nuts, cookies and papaya filled with rainbow sherbet). Zip-lining, horseback rides and ATV tours are not available to pregnant women and are not recommended for people with neck or back injuries. Those with other medical conditions should check with their doctor before participating.