Experts say that relaxing near water helps rest the brain, induce meditation, inspire compassion and connection, and reduce stress. Combine those perks with the health and mental benefits of riding a horse, and horseback riding along the beach wins as a great physical and mental exercise. Here are the top ten horseback riding locations in the USA.
1. Pine Point Beach, Maine
Travel this four-mile beach and enjoy views of the Atlantic Ocean and Saco Bay. Seven miles of sand and eleven-foot tides give enchanting views.
According to the Certified Horsemanship Association, horseback riding helps your psychological health through developing self-esteem and self-image.
This leisurely ride will allow you to soak in the environment, whether you watch the surfers or take in the ebb and flow of the waves.
A horseback ride at Pine Point Beach requires a permit, which you can purchase at either of the two town offices.
Plan your trip around the tides, and aim for mid-day for the longest ride time available. Carousel Horse Farm guides rides that are between thirty minutes and an hour long, depending on the time of day and the size of the group, if you need to borrow a horse.
2. Myrtle Beach Shores, South Carolina
The entire city of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina lies along the coast. It offers sixty miles of shoreline plus wooded trails throughout the city.
Equestrian trails require Myrtle Beach State Park access and a fee per horse. Regular admission per person also applies, and horses cannot stay the night in the park.
Local law also states that your horse must have current Negative Coggins papers.
Bring a picnic and use the picnic shelters, pick up a bird watching guide, go geocaching, or check out the forest, one of the last on the northern coast of South Carolina.
However, horses may only visit select beaches in the city, so check the beach laws ahead of time to determine where you can ride and when.
3. Freeman Park, North Carolina
Seasonal and other limitations apply, but as long as you clean up after your horse, Freeman Park in the town of Carolina Beach welcomes equestrian activities.
Pets and local wildlife frequent this open beach area, where vehicles can drive right up onto the sand and visitors can camp on the beach. However, horses cannot walk on the sidewalks, streets, or boardwalk.
Swimming, camping, fishing, boating, and crabbing are all pastimes at Freeman Park, but local authorities ask that you pack in and pack out, so make sure to clean up after your horse and yourself.
Along with birds, you may also encounter foxes, turtles, and other animals, mainly when few people are visiting. This is another reason it’s important to keep the beach and surrounding areas clean and free of human litter.
And if you happen to be heading down to South Carolina, there are plenty of amazing options to keep your horseback riding adventure loping along.
4. Surfside Beach, Texas
The city of Surfside Beach stretches along the Gulf of Mexico, with miles of dunes and scrub grass.
It’s a small city with a big focus on tourism and recreation, including crabbing and boat rides. Beach rules specify that horses can explore the beach during select seasons, but everyone must stay off the dunes all year round.
You can also hire a horse riding service at one of many horseback riding beach locations in Surfside Beach, then go swimming, surfing, or watch for dolphins.
Family-oriented activities like kids’ play areas and the Bluewater Highway Trail for walkers, golf carts, and bicycle riding.
5. Bob Straub State Park, Oregon
Bob Straub State Park boasts huge Chinook salmon from its Nestucca River, a giant sandpit, and scenic ocean beach trails.
The park itself is 484 acres and features marine mammal and other wildlife watching. This location is unique because the Nestucca River borders the park along the east, and the Pacific Ocean cradles the left.
Tremendous photo opportunities let you capture the juxtaposition of the river across from the open ocean.
Pristine dunes and plenty of anchoring sea-grasses separate the trail areas, and the height of the dunes and trails give outstanding views of the sea.
This park does not charge access fees, making it an accessible location for all types of outdoor activities.
6. Bullards Beach State Park, Oregon
An on-site horse camp means you and your equine friends can stay over and enjoy the beach and dunes at Bullards Beach State Park.
When you stay at the campground, it’s a little over a mile to travel to the beach on horseback. The path crosses grassy fields, forest, and sand dunes.
Visit the Coquille River Lighthouse, an inoperable historic location, travel along 4.5 miles of sandy shore, watch wildlife, or fish from the sand.
You can also bring dogs along during your stay. Plan to use shower and restroom facilities in the park before setting off on your next adventure.
7. Turtle Bay at Oahu, Hawaii
Horseback riding is a opportunities are plentiful in Hawaii, so if you make a trip there, add equestrian activities to your vacation itinerary.
At Turtle Bay Resort Oahu, there are twelve miles of oceanfront horse trails and paths that you can explore. If Hawaii isn’t picturesque enough, consider viewing the surf from atop a horse under a grove of lush palm trees.
Kids can get hands-on with ponies at the resort, anyone can take a horsemanship course, and trail, sunset, and evening rides allow you to experience every part of Oahu’s amazing waterfront. Resort packages combine favorite Hawaii activities like snorkeling, boating, and fishing, so you see and do it all.
Still, Oahu isn’t the only island with horseback riding facilities or resort attractions, so consider exploring the other areas of Hawaii for even more breathtaking ocean views.
8. Half Moon Bay, California
California’s beaches run from craggy cliffs with pebble-sized gravel to sprawling beaches with fine white sand.
Opportunities for beach horseback riding abound in the Golden State. One beach with gorgeous views is Half Moon Bay State Beach, which has four miles of sandy beaches that cater to sunbathing, fishing, and picnics.
Three beaches, Francis, Venice, and Dunes, make up Half Moon’s offerings.
Horses can travel on the Coastside Trail from Roosevelt Beach to Francis Beach, but they cannot go on the beach itself.
Similarly, dogs cannot go on these beaches either. With its chilly breezes year-round, you may not miss splashing in the surf in Half Moon Bay.
9. Fort Bragg, California
Surf, streams, and redwoods make the perfect setting for horseback riding along the beach in California’s Fort Bragg.
The combination of forest and open sea will refresh and re-energize riders, with crystal clear views of the coast once the fog lifts.
You might not expect lush forests alongside salty ocean breezes, but those are two trademarks of this seaside city.
Local horseback riding services introduce newcomers to the coast, while seasoned riders can take on a longer trek.
Beach rides for all ability levels, daily trail rides, and extensive six-day vacation packages with daily rides are a few exceptional offerings from local Ricochet Ridge Range on the Mendocino Coast.
10. Amelia Island, Florida
200 acres of wilderness are part of Amelia Island State Park in Florida.
And between beaches, marshes, and forests, you can experience everything the East coast has to offer.
This is a unique location because you can ride horseback both on the beach and through riding tours along the shore.
Fishing is also popular at the George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier.
Amelia Island State Park is also one of many parks along the island, and local horse ranches offer daily tours.
Six other parks comprise Talbot Island State Parks with miles of white sandy beaches and salt marshes for exploration and recreation, so they’re worth a visit, too.
Note that rules regarding horses on the beach vary from park to park.
Where will your horseback beach adventure take you?
Whether you’re traveling with your own horse or looking to vacation at a coastal destination with horse ranches for hire, there are endless options with the US’ horseback riding beach locations.
These ten best locations offer pristine beaches, animal-friendly facilities, and outstanding views of every ocean.
From the health benefits of leisure and sport horseback riding to its substantial impact on riders’ mental wellbeing, there are many positive reasons to tackle horseback riding as your next vacation pursuit.
For both relaxation and physical fitness, riding a bicycle can’t compete with riding a live horse.
However, horseback riding in view of the tranquility of the sea while listening to its crashing waves takes the experience to new heights.
Embrace your love of the sea and your love of horses and travel to one of these ten best horseback riding locations next time you feel the waves calling.
Fred is the editor of Equine Ridge. He grew up raising horses and has been riding, training, and competing for almost four decades. Fred started out performing on the AQHA and PHBA circuits. Fred trained other competitors in English and Western riding disciplines and today offers free riding lessons to youth who would otherwise not be able to afford lessons. When not working with horses he can be found backpacking or trying to brew the perfect cup of coffee. Email Fred at firstname.lastname@example.org