Horseback Riding in Puerto Rico
Horseback riding is one of the most memorable ways to experience Puerto Rico’s remote beaches, scenic rainforests and coastal plains.
Galloping along a wide, white sand beach is a bucket-list item for both accomplished equestrians and novice trail riders. First brought over by Ponce de León in 1509, Puerto Rico’s paso fino horses are a source of national pride. The breed is famous for its smooth, graceful gait. They always have three hooves touching the ground—and their “brio” or zeal.
The most popular destinations for horseback riding in Puerto Rico are the West Coast near Isabela and Rincón and the island jewel of Vieques. Outfitters tend to cater their rides to all levels, including young children. The riders’ experience sets the pace for the ride, so private tours are often the best bet if you seek a more thrilling beach ride.
Horseback riding is a memorable way to explore Vieques’ rugged interior and undeveloped coastline. The island’s famed “wild” horses—free range is a more apt term—have become a symbol of the island and part of its appeal. Most of the 2,000 or so horses are descendants of the paso fino breed brought over by the Spanish centuries ago. They are privately owned, often branded and allowed to roam free in search of pasture. To catch a glimpse of the horses galloping beside the ocean or through the wild interior is a mesmerizing experience.
Riders can fulfill the equestrian dream of riding along pristine beaches with Esperanza Riding Company. Two-hour rides (at 8am and 4pm, $80 for groups, $125 private) on beautiful paso fino horses traverse the island’s meadows, rivers and woodlands. They also lead to two beaches that can only be reached on foot or horseback. Most rides are at a slow plod. However, more confident riders can get a feel for the paso corto (the breed’s unique smooth gait).
Jurutungo Farm Tours’ niche is a private sunset beach tour (four people max) geared to all experience levels. The two-hour ride ($125 per person) is ideal for couples and families. Riders and the guide can set the appropriate pace and choose their preferred route. Trails roam the island’s northern coastline, fringed with vegetation and scattered landmarks, including a 400-year-old Ceiba tree and the mile-long Mosquito pier. They provide a short lesson for those with no experience.
Hacienda Campo Rico is one of the most convenient horseback riding options for travelers staying in San Juan. Located in Carolina, it’s less than a 30-minute drive from Condado. It allows swift access to Puerto Rico’s tropical landscapes on gentle horses that know the script. The private 2,000-acre ranch is the setting for one- and two-hour trail rides ($45/$75). The trails traverse picturesque lagoons and offer views of mountains and coastal plains that you can only get on foot or horseback. Professional guides pepper the tours with interesting historical anecdotes and sights along the route include a traditional plantation home. For the finishing touch, enjoy lunch and hand-crafted cocktails at the ranch’s al fresco Mojito Bar. You can arrange a private ride ($125) and transportation from hotels in San Juan is an optional add-on.
El Yunque National Forest
Around an hour east of San Juan, in Luquillo, Carabalí Rainforest Park Adventures leads horseback tours in the foothills of El Yunque and along the North Coast. The signature 2.5-hour ride ($115/minimum age is 12) combines an exhilarating beach gallop along Luquillo Beach with a scenic, slow-paced meander through the foothills of El Yunque. The one-hour tour ($49, minimum age is three) traces the course of the scenic Mameyes River through lush rainforest. It’s ideal for novice riders and young families. Extending the ride to two hours ($84) provides time for a refreshing dip in a natural swimming pool along the river. Guides match each rider to a suitable horse before a brief induction for beginners. The outfitter has an excellent reputation for its knowledgeable, friendly guides.
Owned and operated by Craig and Michelle Barker, Tropical Trail Rides has been a labor of love for more than a decade. The family-oriented company offers tours daily—in the morning (9am) and timed for sunset (3:30pm). Both tours take in the North Coast’s glittering coastline. They also offer two-hour private tours ($99). One is for confident riders who prefer a more tailored (and/or faster) excursion. Another tour is for beginners requiring hands-on instruction. It’s a highly personalized experience with the Barkers taking care to match each horse to the rider’s personality and skills. All trail rides allow for a flexible experience on and off the horse – a short hike to see a cave, a refreshing dip in a swimming hole or a quick photo stop.
Located in the popular surfing town of Rincón, the family-run Pintos “R” Us has run horseback tours for over 20 years. Two-hour, guided tours depart from the marina and traverse the iconic PR-413, or the “Road to Happiness.” The route takes in the Tres Palmas Marine Reserve, several world-class surfing beaches and lush tropical trails that lace the hillside. Happy, well cared for horses roam on a picturesque 60-acre farm. The farm also forms part of a horse rescue sanctuary. Hands-on owner Julie Sanders ensures that each mount matches the rider’s ability. They also offer pony rides for very young children. Morning tours operate year round at 9am and afternoon tours are available from mid-December through April. Group tours cost $80 per person, private tours $100 per person, pony rides $25 per child.
Playuelas is a small equestrian outfitter focused on family-friendly rides with an eco-tourism bent. They offer lessons, as well as custom trail rides on healthy horses of all dispositions. Whether you want to gallop on the beach or roam Playuela valley’s lush meadows, they can accommodate you. Just discuss your preferences and experience when you sign up.