- Must be 18+ years old with valid driver’s license.
- Must weigh less than 275 lbs.
Explore Hawaii’s Rich Cultural Landscape on a WOH Ranch Tour
The tour begins at Waipi’o on Horseback Ranch, a working livestock ranch and farm operation sharing exclusive views of enchanting Hamakua. This scenic opportunity allows travel through a traditional land division (Ahupua’a) that stretches from the mountain to the ocean and is home to native flora and fauna.
Surrounding gardens radiate fertility as you drive alongside fishponds full of Hamakua sunfish on your tour. Dwarf coconuts, breadfruit trees, kukui nut, sugar cane, taro, sweet potato and multiple varieties of heirloom bananas are just some of the plants you will see before riding alongside the historic Hamakua ditch. This engineering masterpiece built in 1906 was the lifeline to sugarcane’s century of success and today benefits farmers and wildlife.
Pass by our spring-fed reservoir where cattle roam and horses take leisurely swims before driving mauka (toward the mountain) to sweeping grasslands and panoramic views. Intact old-growth forests stand deep in gulches where precious ‘io and pueo, the Hawaiian hawk and Hawaiian owl, make their nest in these towering giants.
Razorback wild boar frequent fresh diggings, turkeys flock and Hawai’i’s beloved nene goose graze here. From an elevation of 2,350 feet, our journey turns makai (toward the ocean) and we descend to the lower grasslands, home to our adopted rescue herd of Kona Nightingales.
These small donkeys are descendants of a bygone era when coffee plantations depended on their muscle and sturdiness, if left alone at night they would bray to companions in the distance inspiring the name “Nightingale” from the nocturnal songbird.
Our Waipi’o on Horseback Ranch tour is ocean-bound; taste salt on the wind and hear waves pound against the sheer cliffs while we cruise under a canopy of ironwood trees near remnants of old Hawaiian settlements. The dry-stacked rock walls and cattle enclosures, tunnels and trails are sure to conjure visions of old-time Hawai’i commerce and travel.
At the ocean, we kick back and relax for a short break to appreciate the stunning Hamakua coastline. On a clear day, view north face cliffs of Waipi’o, Pololu and even Maui on the horizon. This site was used in the past as a delivery point for Hawaiian sugar. Large sacks of raw sugar were careened down cables to the moored ships waiting offshore. Today fishermen still gather sustenance from these cliffs catching delicious ulua, mahi-mahi, and barracuda.
Fascinating marine life abound. Humpback whales frequent these waters during their seasonal migrations; you can spot the spouts of mama and baby whales as they bond in warm waters. Spinner dolphins leap in acrobatic displays of play with their families.
Search the shoreline below to find turtles riding surges of foam, bobbing their heads for breath before gliding back below the deep blue Pacific. These sights are treasures of Hawai’i, a must-see.
Departure is always bittersweet. We cozy into the UTVs for the long haul up the range, back to where the journey began. Our hope is that you part with stories to share and memories to keep from your Waipi’o on Horseback tour.