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“Nice family island experience”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of Carolina Corral

Carolina Corral
Ranked #8 of 17 things to do in Coral Bay
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: I am primarily a rescue with some horses donated by their owners due to lack of space or time. I have a simple, yet safe facility for all concerned. We're surrounded by beautiful scenery always with a cool tropical breeze. We welcome riders from 6 years old on up and match riders to the appropriate mount providing instruction as needed. Soon come, daily fun with the donkeys!
Amherst MA
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Nice family island experience”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 1, 2013

Carolina Corral is a beloved "must" for my daughters every time we are on the island, and some of their best memories are from there.

If your riding experience has been in an expensive suburban stable surrounded by lush paddocks, this will be a change for you. This part of the island is dry and the stable facilities are very simple, with no electricity or running water and all food having to be trucked in. But that is part of the charm and the sense that you are experiencing something very different. After all, why would you come all the way to St. John to do what you can do at home any day?

What shines through at the stable is how very much Dana does with so little, and her great affection for the animals there. The horses are a combination of rescued pets (the islands are not an easy place to have your own horse) and former race horses, all of which would have had a much sadder end if not for Dana. She is very well known and respected locally for all the work she puts in to running the Coral on her own.

In addition to the horses, you will also find the donkeys and the occasional goat or sheep rescued after they have been injured in a road accident. Each animal has its own story which Dana will tell you. Describe a wild donkey you saw in Coral Bay and she will likely know that individual donkey and tell you about it.

This is a hilly area, and as you might expect from that, parts of the trails are steep and the views are beautiful. Wear sun protection and bring water, just as you would for any other outdoor activity in St. John.

A few earlier reviews have had negative comments about Dana's instructions or comments to riders. These criticisms are totally unrecognizable to our family after multiple rides. When we heard of them, I saw my daughters screw up their faces and say "What?" incredulously, as that is so very far from their experiences. What we see always see instead is someone very knowledgeable about her horses, friendly and courteous to the riders, and not not shying from giving appropriate instructions on how to ride safe and control the horses.

If only part of your group are going on the ride, and you need a place to rendezvous with the beachgoers after the ride, Skinny Legs restaurant is within a half mile walk of the Coral, and a convenient meeting place.

Two thumbs up here! Our only regret has been wishing we had brought a carrot or other appropriate treat for our horses at the end of a nice ride.

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
5 Thank rhett k
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DonkeyDana, Owner at Carolina Corral, responded to this review, March 24, 2014
As stated above my maingoal is to take in horses who need homes putting them to work earning their own living. I like working for myself and having come froma rural background, both grandfathers had been farmers, this seemed a perfect fit. Also horseback riding was something not previously offered on the island in a structured manner. The last person who had horses allowed them to roam, creating a major hindrance to locals and visitors alike. When a trail ride was scheduled the owner would first load his saddles in his customer's car then set off to find the horses. It would often take over an hour set off. Because of the high cost of living here with feed being my biggest expense I can afford only to rent the space we're on. Also, due to it's recreational nature by VI government zoning laws the corral has to be on waterfront property. Again not possible with the expenses incurred in owning the animals. Personally, what matters the most should be the condition of the animals and the variety and/or condition of the actual ride. I've had to move 5 times with the horses, not from anything I did, but from the landlord having other plans for the property. This is the best location I've ever had with no mud and a good breeze. Were also able to expand the operation by adding a riding arena in which to train and do lessons, a plus for locals that want to offer their kids more to do.
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74 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Carolina Coral Horse Back Trail Riding is a great local experience”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 18, 2013 via mobile

As a refular visator to STJ, this was my first experia ce with Carolina Coral. I had a wonderful time. I know the island well and got what I expected. This is a local island, not a controlled sterile environment dreamed up by a Fantasy Resort Island magazine. Because of my long term relationship with the island and Coral Bay in paticular, I know that Dana is well respected by the Animal Care Center, she always volunteers, and provides kiddie rides for EVERY local fundraiser. Additionally at her own personal time and expense, she cares for all sick and injured feral goats, donkeys, and chickens, and whatever other creature is in need. Life is hard there, all water and food must be hand collected or hauled. Dana is an exceptional person and dedicated to all animals in her care. Coral Bay and the Johnny Horn Trail is a valued part of the island, you'll have a once in a life time experience.

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank Tretail
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DonkeyDana, Owner at Carolina Corral, responded to this review, October 19, 2013
Heh there rider, I appreciate the all encompassing review of what I'm trying to do. All the animals I have were either born here or imported from like my mustang who's former owner spent nearly $15, 000 on her before losing interest within a year. I try my best to provide them with the best care and help them earn a living taking folks up the trails. I am also the one folks can call if they see a hurt lamb or wild donkey, one of which I've been told has a serious cut right now! I've yet to find it because they wander quite a bit, but am keeping my eyes open for it! I just came back from a two week break in the states and the first days off I've had in over a year. With the extreme fluctation in the economy I couldn't afford a full time helper this past season. Hopefully this year will be better for everyone here in Coral Bay!
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North New Portland, Maine, United States
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Not what I expected”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 17, 2013

I have been riding since I was a teenager, and although it has been 3 years or so since the last time this was far from what I was used to. The trail up the hill was very steep and rocky, and twisted and turned through trees. The way down was also very steep and rocky and the beach we rode on could barely be considered a beach. I do have to say that although the stables were visually unappealing, the horses did seem to be well feed and cleaned. If you're looking for some fancy riding stable this is not for you, and I wouldn't suggest it for a person who is afraid of heights or horses.But if you're looking for something that is what I described you would probably like it.

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank Mickella L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DonkeyDana, Owner at Carolina Corral, responded to this review, October 19, 2013
I offer two different rides now that I've read my rides were "too boring" for experienced riders. My easier ride is still up a wide dirt road to a great view of St. John's east end and back down the same route. It is a bit rocky, but I've been using riding this hill for over 20 years without a single horse giving out. Rocks are common place here with at most a foot of top soil throughout the island. My more exciting ride weaves through fruit trees called genip, over several dry water channels known as ghuts then up a hill steep enough I had to build the trail with switchbacks. It is definitely a more challenging ride I find more interesting. Initially I took adult riders up without first asking if they'd like to take this route because I felt they could do it and would get more out of the experience. Obviously I hadn't given this rider an option as I tell everyone who says ok to this route not to complain later that it was "too steep":) If a person can walk it you can be sure a horse can do it so all ya got to do is hold on! As far as my facility is concerned, all I can afford to do is rent my space and with a horse related recreational operation required to be on waterfront there are limited places for us to locate on this little island. The surface, though, is a great combination of sand and soil perfect for drainage, but not able to support the footings for building. I had a barn just across the road, but after just 3 1/2 years and over $10, 000 spent on a barn I had to move to make way fior a "builder" who promised the native family I rented from more money for more land. Unfortunately the economic bottom dropped out in '09 and they never did anything with the space. It was rough making this last move, the fifth one since I began in '94, but it's been a blessing in disguise. The new space has additional sandy/soil space on which I am in the process of building an arena in which to train and give lessons. Trying to find yet another way to support myself and all the animals.
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Wooster, Ohio
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“A real old time island adventure.”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 17, 2013

The last review proves you can't believe everything you read. Dana's instruction to the riders must have seemed like "yelling" to the inexperienced rider. Safety seemed to be her main concern and I of I know from having my own animals you sometimes have to be firm to maintain control of them. She never raised her voice with us and provided clear instructions as to how to control the horse prior to leaving for the ride. Everybody was matched with a horse according to their riding ability and not asked to "choose" a horse as the last rider implied except to choose between two slower or two faster horses. We had a great time with parts of the trail more challenging than others, but the horses were well able to carry us up to an amzing view. I would definitly do this again, but next time I'd bring carrots for my hard working steed! By the way we met several people on island who think highly of Dana and her effort in caring for these unwanted and rescued animals.

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank Gloria B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DonkeyDana, Owner at Carolina Corral, responded to this review, October 19, 2013
I had a great ride with these folks and I hope they make us a part of their next vacation! Eventually I'd like to reopen my oldest ride which got washed out in heavy rains in '10 along with many of the island's roads. Some houses have compromised footings, too now with one lady being advised "not to be in her house when it rains" by the past head of public works. As it could go down the hill! My someday, hopeful ride will take in an almost 360 degree view from Jost Van Dyke to the eastern hills of St. Croix. The challenge in restoring this trail is finding a material that won't wash out so easily. The old-time method of drains across the trail might do the trick. Lots of hard labor too, with maybe a donkey assisting in the task like in St. John's back times.
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Virginia
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Absolutely Terrible”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 13, 2013

I will not even begin to comment on the conditions the animals are kept in as I know nothing about appropriate living conditions for farm animals, however I will say from the standpoint of a person who knows nothing of horses they looked beyond despicable. What I will comment on is the absolute lack of professionalism, courtesy, personality, and entertainment value of the business. When we first arrived had it just been my wife and I we would have left immediately however we had a group of friends and did not want to ruin anyone else's time and aside from that riding a horse in the Caribbean to see amazing views seemed appealing. Boy was I wrong. When the lady "introduced" herself she told us to pick the horses out. We all explained that we had absolutely no experience around horses to include how to ride one so we didn't know how to go about picking one. She then assigned horses how she saw fit (supposedly). The ride started out with her yelling at all of us to not allow the horses to eat, run into the bushes, or get next to each other, never once explaining how to go about doing any of this (again none of us had ever ridden a horse). You cannot exactly speak commands to a horse and expect them to listen like a dog (trust me I tried). When we were all unsuccessful she became irritated and yelled more. On the way up the "trail" the lady (who was on foot, not a horse) all the sudden stopped and allowed my wife on her horse to walk past her and the next thing we knew her horse took off running up the hill. Ultimately the horse did stop after 100 yards or so and a borderline heart attack for my wife. The lady's response, "I knew he was going to run thats why I moved so he wouldn't run me over, but don't worry I grabbed his tail". She then began yelling at my wife again about why she didn't stop the horse (again, she had never once taught us how to control the horse only yelled when we didn't do it correctly). Eventually we made it back down and asked to be taken back ASAP, we had no interest in continuing. Other incidents occurred such as the horses biting each other, another horse began bucking with another person in our party onboard, one member of our group was given a stick and told to smack the horse with the stick because the horse didn't like to move, a farm worker showed us where one of the horses we were riding had just bitten him, one horse had a "boot" on its foot for an injury and literally limped the entire ride. All that occurred was our fault according to the lady (presumably the owner although she never did introduce herself) because we didn't control the horses properly. While this may have been the case we asked time and time again for instruction on how to control the horses to which she became defensive and yelled back at the group. My wife and I are very well travelled, and frequently visit attractions of all sorts all over the Caribbean and the world. This is the first time that we have not tipped the service provider even at times that service or the attraction was mediocre. This attraction was beyond terrible. We have made sure to pass our experience on the tourism board, and local resorts on St Thomas and St John. Please do not waste your time or money at this place, or more importantly risk your safety with this corral.

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
5 Thank KLVinVA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DonkeyDana, Owner at Carolina Corral, responded to this review, November 21, 2013
Here is an example of it would have been best to ask which ride they would have preferred. Because they were young and able I thought they would like my more challenging ride. I even walked the ride as I had only the 6 horses available at the time. I know my animals and when one needs to move a little faster its to get up the hill easier. These folks made a judgement about me and my place upon entering the gates and stood off by themselves not taking the time to introduce themselves to me or my other two riders. As far as instruction is concerned everybody is shown how to control and stop their horse with the encouragement not to let them eat. No guide or stable owner would let folks just get on and go if they hope to stay in business. They booked the ride through a consieur who said my name right off when she booked the ride with them standing in front of her. But because they didn't book it directly with me they didn't have a good "feel" about my place that I'm not fancy in any way. And for the helper getting nipped, many horses are "girthy" which means they don't like the girth tightening process and will act out. I cautioned Sam about this with her, but along with her fiestyness she got him. Sam is a much better at feeding and cleaning, the best I've ever had.
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