Have you always dreamed of riding a horse in the sand, crashing waves thundering in your ears, and the smell of salt water and freedom in the air? Here’s an at-a-glance guide to beach-ride destinations on the West Coast, East Coast, and Gulf Coast. All offer beach-savvy horses as mounts; some allow you to bring your own horse. Plus, we’ll tell you about a charity ride in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and a tropical Costa Rica ride.
Green Acres Beach & Trail Rides
Pacific City, Oregon
Description: This ride starts on the beachfront in Pacific City. The one-hour ride passes through Bob Straub State Park, right along the coast, then doubles back through the sand dunes and provides some beautiful scenery. The two-hour ride caters to more experienced riders who prefer a more challenging ride. This ride departs from the beachfront, follows the Nestucca River, then goes through the dunes, providing cantering opportunities. The ride ends up back at the water’s edge, or riders can stay and play among the dunes. Horses provided include Quarter Horses, Paint Horses, and draft crosses.
Contact: Green Acres Beach & Trail Rides, (541) 603-1768; www.beach-rides.com.
Ocean Acres Horse Hotel Bed &Breakfast, Grayland, Washington
Description: At this Northwest bed & breakfast, there are miles of pristine beaches adjoining the property, perfect for trotting and cantering. Ocean Acres offers accommodations for both you and your horse. The bed & breakfast provides seven rooms, each with a full bath, a queen-sized bed, microwave, refrigerator, and wi-fi access. Your horse may stay in a stone-built stable with paddocks. Horse-camping sites are also available; there are seven recreational vehicle sites and acres of dry land. If you camp
with your horse, you must use a highline or portable corral.
Contact: Ocean Acres Horse Hotel Bed & Breakfast; (360) 267-5521; (928) 851-1191 (winter); www.horsebeachcamp.com.
Pacific Dunes Ranch & RV Resort
Description: Located on the scenic Pacific Coast near Pismo Beach, this trail riding destination offers guided rides on the famous Oceano Dunes and along the beach. Rides are 1½ hours long. All rides along the beach are escorted. You can camp with your own horse. Overnight boarding is available, along with campsites with full hookups, an arena, and a round pen. Amenities include a large barbeque area, picnic tables, and a clubhouse.
Contact: Pacific Dunes Ranch & RV Resort; (805) 489-8100; http://pacificdunesranch.com.
Ricochet Ridge Ranch
Fort Bragg, California
Description: At Ricochet Ridge Ranch, located on the Redwood Coast in California’s Mendocino County, champion endurance rider and horsemanship instructor Lari Shea takes you riding along 10 Mile Beach on her well-trained English and Western mounts. Experienced riders enjoy beach canters on private rides. Go for a day ride by appointment, or sign up for a week-long riding-vacation, and stay at an area bed & breakfast.
Contact: Ricochet Ridge Ranch, (888) 873-5777; www.horse-vacation.com.
Willamette Coast Ride
Description: The Willamette Coast Ride is a six-day “progressive” riding adventure that begins at Foothills Farm in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. You’ll travel through wine country and forested coastal range mountains, spending the nights at local accommodations as you make your way to the Pacific Coast, then return to Oregon’s wine country. The experience has been described as “a little bit of Ireland on the West Coast of America.” All horses are ridden in English saddles and require an intermediate to advanced riding level.
Contact: Willamette Coast Ride, (971) 241-2684; http://willamettecoastride.com.
Carousel Horse Farm
Description: Between October and March, Carousel Horse Farms takes riders out to explore Popham or Pine Point beaches. Pine Point Beach is a flat sandy beach on Maine’s longest continuous beach. Popham Beach is part of a state park, and is bordered on each end by Hermit Island and Fort Popham. For a flat fee, up to four people in a group can experience a ride along the rugged Maine beaches. Rides are scheduled to accommodate each group’s requested day, with actual ride times depending on low tide that day. Because Maine Beaches are closed for horseback riding from April 1 through October 15, Carousel Horse Farms offers several rides at other times of the year.
Contact: Carousel Horse Farm, (207) 627-4471; https://chfmaine.com/horsebackbeach-rides.
Hatteras, North Carolina
Description: Equine Adventures offers a two hour beach ride that explores trails through the only maritime forest on the Outer Banks, including the Buxton Woods, the North Carolina Coastal Reserve, and the National Park Service. The trail exits the woods and through the sand dunes onto the beach, where you’ll ride on miles of pristine beaches. Rides are held during the coolest part of the day to accommodate horses and guests. If you’d like to bring your own horse, Driftwood Ranch nearby offers short-term boarding.
Contact: Equine Adventures, (252) 995-4897; www.equineadventures.com. Driftwood
Happy Trails Walking Horses
Fernandina Beach, Florida
Description: Ride miles of sun-soaked, white-sand beaches at the 13-mile-long historic Amelia Island, Florida, aboard a smooth-gaited, purebred Tennessee Walking Horse. Not only does Happy Trails Walking Horses breed for the original running walk, conformation, and a calm disposition, but more than half of its horses are direct descendants of the same line as Roy Rogers’ famous Trigger. One-hour beach rides hug the coast of Amelia Island. Each ride begins with a brief but insightful lesson to ensure safety, and more advanced riders who can handle their horses can go at faster gaits.
Contact: Happy Trails Walking Horses, (904) 557-3126; www.happytrailswalkers.com.
Horse Back Riding of Myrtle
Beach, LLC, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Description: Horse Back Riding of Myrtle Beach offers a relaxing and memorable beach ride. While the group stays together, you’ll be able to ride at your own pace. Tour guides are extremely friendly and will add a little southern hospitality to your journey. If you have prior riding experience, you may trot rather than walk. The horses are calm and obedient, and can be led into the shoreline to splash around if you would like. Rides are offered year-round, but the locations change slightly depending on the season. From March 1 through October 31, you’ll ride the equestrian country trails in Conway (about 30 minutes from the beach). From November 1 through February 28, you’ll ride along the coastlines of Garden City Beach and Myrtle Beach.
Contact: Horse Back Riding of Myrtle Beach, LLC, (843) 997-1876; http://myrtlebeachhorserides.com.
Sea Island, Sea Island, Georgia
Description: Sea Island offers guests an extensive array of activities to partake in during their stay at the southern oasis. Coastal horseback riding with an expert guide is a not-to-be-missed Sea Island experience. Riders can trot along Sea Island’s five miles of pristine private beach, exploring the ocean/beach habitat of the Georgia coast. Experience a profound sense of freedom and adventure. Sea Island offers a tailored experience for any riding level. Rides along the south end of Sea Island Beach are available for experienced riders.
Contact: Sea Island, (855) 572-4975; www.seaisland.com/outdoor-nature/horseback-riding.
South Padre Island Adventure Park, South Padre Island, Texas
Description: South Padre Island Adventure Park offers a variety of rides exploring the beaches and dunes, the Gulf and the Bay, astride one of their trail horses. You can go on a 1½-hour morning ride, taking in the peacefulness of the beach before the crowds arrive. Sunset rides allow you to experience the best of the island, as you ride for two hours from the Gulf through the pristine sand dunes, to the Bay to watch the sunset. The best rides of all might be the moonlit rides, held the four days leading up to the full moon and the night of the full moon. You’ll ride along a moonlit beach and sand dunes while watching the moon glisten off of the ocean waves.
Contact: South Padre Island Adventure Park, (956) 415-0851; http://southpadreislandadventures.com/horseback-riding.
Port St. Joe, Florida
Description: For more than 12 years, Twobit Stable has been offering horseback riding on the Cape San Blas Beach. All the horses at Two-bit Stable are patiently trained exclusively for doing beach rides, and are selected for their temperament, dependability, and enjoyment of doing their job. Because county regulations prohibit anything faster than a walk, you’ll enjoy a leisurely ride along the Gulf shore. The laid-back pace will help you notice seashells, sea birds, a colorful sunset, or even dolphins playing in the surf. From September through February, ride times are flexible and can go out for an hour or 1½ hours.
Contact: Two-bit Stable, (850) 227-4744; www.twobitstable.com.
Cate Lamm, The Trail Rider’s editorial assistant, owns two rescue horses, Banjo and Sensei. Read her rescue-horse blog on TrailRiderMag.com. Kara L. Stewart is a lifelong student of the horse and an award-winning author who enjoys writing for a variety of equine publications. She and her retired Arabian gelding, Final Edition PR (Eddie), live on California’s Central Coast. She’s the author of the book, Advanced Western Riding.