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“Poor Hosts Who Don't Understand the Tour Business”

Waipi'o On Horseback
Ranked #1 of 19 things to do in Honokaa
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Waipio On Horseback offers special guided excursions on horseback in secluded Waipi'o Valley. Our small groups savor the charm of this 2 1/2 hour adventure in old Hawaii. This trek takes a leisurely pace. Our guides narrate throughout the ride, explaining the history, legends and facts of life in the valley. The path meanders through lush jungle trails along the hillside; through streams and rivers; and on to ancient Hawaiian villages. Riders see dramatic 1,200-foot waterfalls, taro patches, lotus ponds, wild horses, exotic flowers, plants, native trees and birds. See one of Hawaii's oldest forms of farming that produces taro, a Hawaiian staple that helps feed our local community. We meet at the WOH Barn located 7-1/2 miles toward Waipio from Honokaa. Riders travel via four-wheel drive vehicle into Waipi'o Valley-ancient Hawaii's "Valley of the Kings." We depart from the WOH Barn at 9:30 am and 1:30 pm daily. The trail ride begins on the valley floor. Then a four-wheel drive vehicle takes the riders out of the valley and drops them off back at the WOH Barn. A minimum of two and a maximum of fourteen riders are allowed on each excursion. Refunds are given on cancellations received in our office 24 hours or more in advance of the reserved ride time. Because of our remote location, reservations are required at least 24 hours in advance. Weather plays a vital role in this tour's operation and can change rapidly. In case of hard rain or flood conditions, this tour is subject to cancellation. We will give as much advance warning as soon as possible in these situations. This is a unique and active tour. We recommend guests be agile and in good health. We suggest pants and covered shoes. Children under twelve years of age will be accepted if they are with a responsible adult or are experienced riders.
Bend, Oregon
Level Contributor
58 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
“Poor Hosts Who Don't Understand the Tour Business”
Reviewed April 12, 2013

Waipio Valley is very beautiful and definitely worth seeing, but the road down into the valley is steep, narrow and 4WD only (not AWD). We read the reviews and decided to take the Waipio on Horseback tour. The crude sign at the entrance to the staging area pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the tour. The restroom facilities are porta-potties. At the office, a waiver was thrust into our hands while being told that no backpacks or fanny packs were allowed. The manager did not smile at us or welcome us. While waiting for the tour to start, which was late, none of the staff talked to us, looked at us, mingled with us, or tried to engage us. The staff wore plain clothes, so we couldn't tell the staff from the guests. We really felt like unwelcome outsiders.

We loaded into the van which had dirty windows and broken hardware which did not exude confidence. At the start of the decent, the driver and his sidekick cracked jokes about mechanical failure and exiting the van in an emergency. To me, that was unprofessional. I didn't come here to listen to wisecracks, I came for history and interpretation which I got little of. We passed several great photo opps, but the van never stopped and our only choice was to try to snap pics through dirty windows while bouncing over a rough road- that didn't work. At one point, there was a great view up the valley, but it was only visible by those in the front seat. We were told to hand our cameras forward and they would take a pic for us- that didn't work either.

Once in the bottom of the valley, the van forded several streams. This was probably a unique experience to many of their guests, but again the van did not stop for photo opps. At the stable, they gave a good orientation on the horses and riding. Wear grubby clothes for this tour, it is wet and muddy in the bottom and the horses splash water and mud going through the streams.

The scenery in the bottom is spectacular, but just as in the van, the horse tour did not stop for photo opps. The tour follows an old road to the end and the return trip is on the same route. It's a nose to tail riding experience that anyone can do and it was very pleasant. We passed several waterfalls but taking pics on a bouncing horse is not easy. There was a lack of interpretation on the history, vegetation, and significance of the valley. Many people chose to walk down into the valley and they probably learned as much as we did plus had better photo opportunities.

It rained on the way back and we got soaked. We had ponchos in the backpack that we weren't allowed to take. What really bothered me is that the native tour leader picked a broad leaf to use as an umbrella. The lady in front of me followed that example and picked one too. I couldn't believe what a poor example was set by the guide! If everyone did that, there would be little vegetation left. Most places that we have visited in our travels strictly prohibit the removal of any vegetation. This was unprofessional.

On the way back, they pose each group for a pic on their horses with the valley in the background. These turned out good. Once back in the van, the driver and his partner talked and joked to themselves. Wait a minute, we are the paying customers here, talk to us and engage us. We know we're outsiders, but we don't need to be made to feel that way.

We like horseback riding and overall the tour was an interesting experience, but the hosts and staff need to learn what the tour business is all about- making sure that your customers are smiling, having fun, and getting what they wanted out of the experience. WOH does not do that.

Visited April 2013
6 Thank OHVguy1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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286 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Japanese first
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English first
Level Contributor
82 reviews
27 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“Fun way to see the valley”
Reviewed February 25, 2013

This is a little tail to nose at some times but overall a really good time. They stop at a great overview spot on the ride down (in a van) for you to take a quick picture, and the guys running the horseback rides take lots of pictures of you at stops in the valley if you want. It's nicely run by nice people and a great way to see the valley close up.

Visited March 2012
1 Thank mnhiwa-snapper
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sundance Wyoming
Level Contributor
79 reviews
50 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“It was good”
Reviewed February 12, 2013

We ride horses at home so going on a horse seemed sort of a waste of time. We really paid for the guides. One was raised in the valley and the other guide was raised on the rim. They were friendly and answered questions I am certain they have heard a hundred time. The ride to the bottom was great in the van. I thought we would get to go to the back of the valley but after the ride I see no one gets to do that. So we actually went back into the valley more than we could have if we walked to the bottom. If you are a big horse back rider...this is just sitting on a horse in a line but remember you get into the valley more than you do any other way unless you marry someone down there.

Visited February 2013
1 Thank Michael C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
63 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“Great experience! Much fun!”
Reviewed February 1, 2013

Actually it seems a little bit expensive, to spend over 100$ for a cozy horse-ride down in the valley on normal ways.
But you won't regret this experience! The employees are very friendly and they know what they do. So it's a safe and serious horse-ride. You will see a bit of the beautiful waipio valley and ride through small river beds, also getting a fruity surprise at the end of the ride.
But the best part of this trip isn't the horse-ride itself, but the ride down into the valley with one driver of the company and it's car.... Can't say more, but you'll definitely have fun at this exciting and funny drive ;-)

Visited January 2013
Thank ForAHonestReview
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
North Salem, IN
Level Contributor
52 reviews
21 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Great fun---both the ride into the valley and the ride after”
Reviewed January 31, 2013

This is something you must do in Waipi'o. Only good way to see the valley. This is really a 3 part adventure. At check in you get fresh fruit, nuts, etc. Then you hop into a van for the ride to the valley---and let me tell you, you won't forget it. 25-33% grade for almost a mile on a one lane road with nice drop off to side, praying you don't run into someone (literally) coming back up. 1200 foot drop in short order. THEN you get to be on nice ride for about 90 minutes. If you are looking for a galloping, rocking trip this is NOT it. Very calm horses, very sedate and beautiful ride up the valley, crossing streams. The guide was wonderful and kept all at ease, including those with little experience on the back of a horse. Kudos to Stacey. This trip you can do if you can get on a horse--very easy ride.

Visited January 2013
1 Thank DBPTNT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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