Kahua Ranch Na'alapa Stables in Beautiful Kohala Hawaii
What better place to really ride a horse and get a taste of the Big Island's Paniolo, or cowboy lifestyle, than Kahua Ranch with Na'alapa Stables? Kahua Ranch, located in the Kohala Mountains, was established in 1850 and is one of the oldest and most diversified ranches in Hawaii. Na'alapa Stables provide an exclusive horseback riding adventure with quality horses and open range riding. With hands on instruction and guidance we not only walk-trot, but also often cantor over green rolling hills. Today Kahua encompasses about 12,000 acres of some of the most beautiful country you'll find anywhere. There panoramic views of the coastline, snowcapped mountains and lush pasture land are dotted with sheep and cattle.
The top of the ranch is a wet native rainforest. Green, verdant pastures slope down to rocky dry lands dotted with ancient ruins of agricultural sites. In fact these lower elevation lands were once densely populated farmlands up until the 1850's. The introduction of cattle and upheaval in traditional land use patterns put an end to this era.
The very first cattle brought to Hawaii were given to Kamehameha the first and landed at Kawaihae Harbor directly below the ranch. The King's Kapu protected them in order to allow them to multiply and reproduce. As they spread up into the mountains, they made farming increasingly difficult for the Hawaiians. By the time the Kapu was lifted in 1830, farming was in decline. Kamehameha the third, realizing the potential of cattle production, brought Mexican cattle wranglers to the island to teach Hawaiians to ride horses and work cattle.
It was a time of great change in Hawaii and some Hawaiian men took to the cowboy lifestyle whole heartedly. They were called "Paniolos", the Hawaiian pronunciation of "Espanio" or Spanish speaking person. These early Paniolos, like cowboys everywhere, were a taught and daring breed. They admired the "Vaqueros", Mexican cattle wranglers, and imitated their flamboyant style and manner of dress and added a distinctly Hawaiian flourish all their own. They learned their saddle making skill from them, creating a unique Hawaiian saddle known as the "Hawaiian Tree". It is still handmade and used by the Paniolo today. They braided rawhide into ropes and flowers into hat bands. By the mid 1800s ranches like Parker and Kahua began to be established. Kahua's paniolos are from old Hawaiian families that have lived on the ranch for many generations. The paniolo of today had adapted his traditional skill to the 21st century, managing herds of Angus and Hereford cattle, and flocks of sheep in neat rotational grazing patterns across the lush slopes of extinct volcanic cinder cones.
Our wranglers are very knowledgeable in the daily workings of the ranch as well as the rich culture of the area. They are very experienced in helping riders feel comfortable and secure in riding to the best of their ability. This is definitely a ride the experienced rider will enjoy with a responsive horse under them and ideal riding conditions. It is a thrilling experience to cantor thru the beautiful countryside. All of our rides are catered to the riding ability of our guests to ensure all have a good time. Kohala Na'alapa offers daily morning and afternoon rides, as well as exclusive private and custom rides. We work with Kahua ranch to provide any number of other ranch experiences along with horseback riding. Our guests tell us regularly that we have some of the best horses they've experienced in this type of operation and we are exceptionally proud of them. So come and see us for the Hawaiian ranch adventure of a lifetime.