On these Caribbean beaches, you can ride a horse along the sand and right into the water for a swim.
There’s nothing like a refreshing dip in the ocean at the end of a good ride. And it’s not just humans who enjoy the cooling waters. Horses are natural swimmers, and when the conditions are right, they will gladly wade right in and splash about in the shallows, or even take a rider for a swim. Here are some of the best places in the Caribbean to make this happen.
This green and scenic island offers two different chances to swim with the ponies. In the heart of the Roseau Valley, the Hoof Print Horse Riding Ranch schedules a variety of tours suitable for both novices and seasoned riders. The signature route leads through forests and banana plantations on the way to the remote sands of Roseau Bay, where horses and riders can wade in for a refreshing dip, then stay for a beach barbecue. To the north, the town of Gros Islet is the home of the International Pony Club. The club’s signature rides lead to the Atlantic coast beach of Cas en Bas. Sign up for the two-hour tour and you’ll have time to change into swimwear and ride into the surf. Go for the four-hour option and the club will organize lunch on the beach as well. www.hoofprintranch.com, www.internationalponyclub.com
The best place on the island of Antigua to find rolling hills and elevated ocean views is along the island’s southwestern coast, near English Harbor. And that’s where the Antigua Equestrian Center is located. When you arrive, you may find some locals working their mounts through dressage and jumping routines, but the stables also provide daily trail rides through the hills with scenic views. These rides, which are limited to groups of four or less, can include a stop at Falmouth Bay for a canter in the shallows or a full soaking. The stables also offer longer riders to the pristine beach at remote Rendezvous Bay. www.antiguaequestrian.com
The largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands is another destination offering two unique horseback rides that include beach swims. On the island’s north shore, where rainforest-clad hillsides overlook Caribbean beaches, riders begin a journey through the historic sugar plantation of Rust Op Twist and the village of Lavalle. The ride continues onto the beach and arrives at Cane Bay, and after a ride along the surf line, humans and animals end the adventure with a refreshing plunge and a photo op. Similar adventures await on the island’s west cost near the port of Frederiksted, where family– owned Cruzan Cowgirls leads tours through forests to historic landmarks, and along sandy beaches, where riders have the option of taking the horses into the water. A specialty of the stables is sunset rides, and the operation supports a horse rescue and community education program. www.horsebackridingstcroix.com, www.cruzancowgirls.com
When horseback rides through the countryside of Bonaire lead to the sand- bottom lagoon at Lac Bay, riders have a chance to do more than wade with their mounts. While humans change into swim trunks, the guides remove saddles for a true bareback swim. As depths increase gradually, and the adventure transitions from a wade to a swim, riders are instructed to maintain a body position that will allow the horse to use all four legs and keep its head above water. These swimming exercises are supervised to ensure the safety of horse and rider, creating a unique and memorable adventure. www.horseranchbonaire.com
Dominica is one of the greenest and most pristine destinations in the Caribbean, with much of the island covered in rainforests and wooded mountain slopes. One of the most memorable ways to experience the island’s natural beauty is by horseback, on an excursion organized by Rainforest Riding. Rides of various durations follow the Waitukubuli Trail, a 115-mile wilderness path that winds its way across the island. A favorite route leads to Purple Turtle Beach, where riders can experience a bareback swim with their horse. Another popular choice is a ride on a section of the Waitukubuli Trail that leads through wetland and swamps that are prime habitat for native and migratory birds. This ride leads to the black sand beaches of Douglas Bay. www.rainforestriding.com
Turks and Caicos
The island of Providenciales is known for its long and spectacular beaches, which open onto the turquoise tinged shallows of the Caicos Banks. At Long Bay Beach, the shallow water continues far offshore, giving horseback riders a perfect chance to lead their mounts into the water for some splashing fun. Rides begin at the stables of Provo Ponies, and lead to the beach. Unlike some tours, which include a short swim as part of a longer trail ride, these tours spend most of their time at the beach and in the water. More experienced riders are allowed to canter in the shallows when the tides are out, and the horses don’t play follow the leader on any ride. Instead, everyone is encouraged to spread out and enjoy their time on the sand or in the shallows. There are plenty of chances for photo ops with the wading ponies. www.provoponies.com