Get your hooves wet with these scenic tours along the beaches of Mexico's Pacific Coast
Sun, surf, sand and a cantering horse. It’s a compelling image, and a familiar entry on many traveler’s bucket list. The trick is finding a ride-worthy stretch of sand that’s not overrun with beach chairs and bathers, but still within easy reach of the resort. Equally important is choosing the right outfitter—one that provides healthy, well-trained mounts that respond with an enthusiasm and temperament matched to the rider.
Oceanfront rides are offered at a number of Mexico’s Pacific Coast vacation destinations by outfitters from itinerant and often unaccredited entrepreneurs to large tour companies that stage large group rides. For the best experience, you’ll want something in between: an established and reputable stable that specializes in smaller parties, stables with well-trained animals and has access to the most scenic trails and beaches. Here are some of our favorite outfitters and routes.
Cabo San Lucas
A number of tour operators in the Cabo San Lucas area can get you on horseback. But if you want the best, make your way north of town to Cuadra San Francisco (www.loscaboshorses.com). This premier equestrian center and riding academy trains in disciplines such as dressage, driving and polo, and also produces exceptional trail horses. Private or small group rides lead into the nearby hills of Cabo Real, along undeveloped beaches, or take in both. Horses are matched to each rider’s ability, providing novices with accommodating animals while inspiring experienced riders with a mount that shares their enthusiasm for the trail.
Before you saddle up for Mazatlan’s favorite beach ride, you’ll first take a short boat ride across the harbor entrance channel to the area known as Stone Island. The close-by stretch of beach overlooking Isla Cardones is a favorite with day-trippers disembarking from the cruise ships, but your horse provides an easy escape from the crowds, and there are miles of undeveloped beach to the south to discover. In addition to following the surf line, routes may also take you through coconut groves, coastal mangrove forests and small local villages. The stable that earns consistent high reviews is Randi’s Happy Horses. (www.randishappyhorses.com)
If your idea of the ideal beach ride includes crashing surf, you’ll likely be in luck when you schedule a ride along Acapulco’s Playa Revolcadero. This less-developed section of coastlines lies southeast of both Acapulco Bay and Puerto Marques, and is a favorite with surfers. The same cresting breakers provide a memorable backdrop for beach rides. Those willing to travel a bit farther afield can continue along the coast to Barra Vieja, where a ride can be one element of a day spent sunning, fishing and soaking in the laid-back vibe of this coastal village. The leading outfitter, Playa Revolcadero Horseback Rides, does not currently have a web site, but trips can be arranged through a number of tour companies or hotel concierges.
As beaches all along the northern end of Banderas Bay see a new wave of beachfront development, there are no longer areas where horses and bathers mix. Which is not a problem, because the more dramatic backdrop for a seaside canter is still found to the north of the bay, on surf-washed beaches near the coastal towns of Sayulita and San Francisco. One of the area’s favorite stables is the Painted Pony Equestrian Center (http://paintedponiesequestriancenter.com), where riding adventures can range from a one-hour ride along Litibu Beach to half-day excursions that also take in coastal jungles and waterfalls.