Six Caribbean destinations where you can ride horses on the beach
It’s one of those images that come easily when you daydream: galloping along a palm- fringed tropical beach astride a spirited horse, and perhaps plunging into the surf to wash away any hint of the worldly cares you left behind. A number of locations throughout the Caribbean can turn this dream into reality. You’ll find a range of adventures suitable for riders of all skill levels, from first-timer to equine expert. We have selected six rides that provide not only the best scenery and most magnificent beaches, but also the best overall vacation experience.
No crowds and more beach time. That’s the promise at Trikk Pony Stables on Grand Bahama Island. This family-owned business is located on the island’s south-central coast, where unspoiled and unsettled beaches stretch for miles. Tours follow a short trail that leads through pine forest and scrub right onto a powder-sand beach. The next hour is spent along the shoreline either dry, splashing or soaking wet, according to the rider’s preference, as the horses are up for anything. As an option, a beachfront picnic can be added at the end of the ride, and the company also offers sunset excursions that are limited to four riders or less. The stables provide pickup service from a number of hotels in the Freeport area. Two of our favorites are the Pelican Bay at Lucaya and the Grand Lucayan.
For a break from taxi and moped, head to Spicelands Equestrian Centre in Bermuda’s Warwick Parish. Rides begin along the Railway Trail, which follows the right of way of the short-lived rail line that once ran from Somerset to St. George’s. The route then moves to the south shore and across a series of scenic beaches, dunes and coves en route to serendipitously named Horseshoe Bay. Bermuda law allows horses to splash and swim on the beaches at any time during the months from November to March, but only before 8:30 a.m. the other months of the year, so those wanting a summertime swim will need to book the earliest ride of the day. Spicelands is a full-service equestrian center, offering lessons and additional trail riding options. The most convenient hotel to the stables is The Fairmont Southampton, which is less than two miles away.
Puerto Rico is horse county and home to the genteel-gated Paso Fino breed. Numerous trail rides are offered in the forests and fields across the island. The one that best brings surf and sand into the equation takes place on the beaches near the town of Isabela, on the island’s northwest coast. Tropical Trail Rides provides a two-hour circuit that begins with a visit to Shacks Beach, allows a bit of time to dismount and swim or explore by foot while horses and backsides take a break. The route then moves inland, climbing the bluffs and passing through an almond tree forest on the way home. Both morning and afternoon rides are offered, and the latter often takes in a sunset view. There are a handful of modest beachfront hotels near Isabela, but most vacationers staying in this part of the coast will look towards nearby Rincon, and more charming properties such as the Dos Angeles del Mar Guesthouse.
Location is everything, and this certainly holds true for Ocean Echo Stables, which is located in the small town of Newcastle, on Barbados’ wilder eastern coast. Far removed from the resort zones to the west, riders have miles of wooded trails, fields and surf- washed beaches to explore, with trade winds sweeping in from the east to provide refreshment. A range of rides for all levels is offered, starting with an hour-long excursion to Bath Beach that is suitable for novices. Experienced riders can also opt for two- and three-hour trail rides that venture farther up the coast along trails, beaches and cart roads, with vistas that include the looming backdrop of a thousand-foot-tall sea cliff. For those looking to stay nearby, The Atlantis Hotel offers a unique alternative to the island’s typical west coast beachfront lodging.
Horses and seawater mix at several locations along Jamaica’s northern shore, and a number of rides begin within an easy drive from resorts in the Ocho Rios, Falmouth, Montego Bay and Negril areas. One of the island’s favorite and original ride-and-swims takes place about 20 miles east of Montego Bay. The adventure starts on backcountry trails that lead through the farming village of Pumpkin Bottom and the remains of an 18th century sugar plantation, then emerge on to Sandy Bay, where riders who are up for getting wet can swim their mounts out into the clear waters. This swimming tradition actually began when trainers at the nearby Chukka Blue Polo Club would take the ponies for a cool down in the water following a workout session. The club also provided the inspiration for the outfitter, Chukka Caribbean Adventures, which hosts the rides. If you want to stay fairly close to the ponies, but away from the crowds, an excellent option is the Round Hill Hotel and Villas.
Nevis is an ideal island for escaping the crowds and discovering the simpler, friendlier side of the Caribbean. And so it’s fitting that the island’s premier stables is equally accommodating, providing horseback adventures for everyone. Children as young as six are welcome to join the beachfront rides organized by Nevis Equestrian Center, with routes that can be tailored to the capabilities and interests of the group. The most popular tour takes riders past historic sites that include forts, churches, sugar mills and once- grand estates, then to a quiet beach, followed by a climb to the highlands to admire the view. Sunset beach rides and more extensive cross-island rides are also offered. The stables are located on the west coast, quite near to Nevis’ premier resort property, the Four Seasons Nevis.