comscore Lush vistas viewed from horseback | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii's Backyard | Travel

Lush vistas viewed from horseback

    Kalihiwai Ridge provides a dramatic backdrop as riders cross a bridge at Silver Falls Ranch. Guides lead riders through an 80-acre botanical garden and along streams fringed with ferns and hibiscus. The ranch is dotted with more than 150 species of palms from around the world.
    Riders dismount for a picnic lunch and a swim at the pool fed by Silver Falls.

Before moving to Kauai, Alohi lived in Iowa, where she was a beloved member of an Amish family. Hitched to a wagon, she took the children to school on weekdays and the entire family to church on Sundays.

Big, muscular Keiki isn’t one to miss a meal or snack. Part hefty Percheron, he can easily carry riders weighing 300 pounds.

Standing only about 14 hands and weighing less than 900 pounds, sweet, gentle Miwok is a favorite of kids and ladies.

Patty is the leader of the herd. A beautiful chestnut-and-white pinto with an alpha personality, she likes to keep an eye on everyone and everything.

These are just four of the 50 horses that live and work at Silver Falls Ranch, a 300-acre estate in the lush heart of Kauai, which welcomes visitors for daily trail rides.

"Our horses have different personalities and come from different backgrounds," said Robin Kurtz, the ranch’s manager. "They are our pride and joy, and we put a lot of care and effort into making their lives as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. We believe a happy horse makes a pleasant trail companion.

"We have horses to suit everyone — from petite to tall, from nervous first-timers to experienced riders who own their own horses."

Uli Rachner and his wife, Helena, bought the picturesque parcel in the early 1990s. Silver Falls Ranch was born as a way to combine their desire to preserve the natural beauty of the land and to foster Uli Rachner’s love for horses and plants, especially palm trees. He designed the ranch’s 80-acre botanical garden, and tends it with his gardeners nearly every day.

"We have more than 150 different species of palms from around the world — more than a thousand in all," Kurtz said. "They include giant raffia palms from Madagascar, oil palms from West Africa and foxtail palms from Australia. All sorts of fruit trees are also growing in the garden, including lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, pomelo, tangerine, mountain apple, mango, lychee and malabar chestnut."

Horseback tours amble through the garden and along streams fringed with ferns and hibiscus. Bring your camera so you can snap spectacular images of the Makaleha mountain range (on the rides, you’ll get as close to it as you can without hiking boots and a machete).

Silver Falls, the ranch’s namesake, cascades 12 feet over ebony lava boulders. "Its real attraction is not so much the plunge of the water as the quality of the natural pool it flows into," Kurtz said. "The pool’s mineral-rich water leaves your hair feeling silky and your skin soft and smooth. It’s a wonderful natural lotion and conditioner!"

The peaceful ambience, gorgeous scenery and opportunity to "horse around" make this a great family option. "The horses are the glue that binds our Silver Falls family together," Kurtz said. "Our slogan — ‘Happy Horses, Tropical Trails’ — says it all."

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.



» Address: 2888 Kamookoa Road, Kilauea, Kauai, in the Kalihiwai Ridge subdivision, about three miles east of Princeville on Kuhio Highway 56

» Phone: 828-6718

» E-mail:

» Website:

» Notes: Riders weighing up to 300 pounds can be accommodated as long as they are in good physical condition and can mount a horse unassisted. Long pants recommended; closed-toe shoes required. For Silver Falls or Tropical Trail Adventure rides, bring swimwear and towels. The ranch accommodates weddings, birthday parties, reunions and corporate events.


» The basics: Tours offered daily. Check in 30 minutes prior to scheduled departure. Kamaaina receive 10 percent discount. Groups limited to eight people per guide.

» Children: Regular rates apply for ages 7 and up. For children ages 5 and 6, $50 is added to cover a personal guide. Youngsters under 5 aren’t allowed on regular tours, but they can take a 30-minute "lead around" ride in the arena and stable yard for $35.

» Private rides: Trot and canter (at guide’s discretion), and enjoy a private visit to Silver Falls.

» Note: For the Silver Falls Ride and the Tropical Trail Adventure, children under 5 or anyone else who does not want to ride can be taken to join the group at Silver Falls for a swim and picnic. Cost is $35 for ages 5 and up. Children must be accompanied by an adult guardian.


Follow winding waterways into a tranquil valley; enjoy views of Makaleha range:

» June through August: 9:15 and 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m.

» September through May: 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

» Length: 90 minutes

» Price: $95 ($135 for private ride), including juice


Ride through botanical preserve and into Kauai’s interior; dismount for picnic and swim at Silver Falls:

» June through August: 9 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m.

» September through May: 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

» Length: Two hours (hourlong ride and an hour at the falls)

» Price: $115 ($170 for private ride), includes lunch


Ride into the ranch’s wilderness areas, nearly to the base of the Makaleha range; enjoy a dip in Silver Falls:

» June through August: 9:30 and 11:15 a.m., 1:30 p.m.

» September-May rides: 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

» Length: Three hours (two hours on horseback and an hourlong break)

» Price: $135 ($200 for private ride), including lunch


Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature
Comments have been disabled for this story...

Scroll Up