THE ISLAND OF PUERTO RICO is known for its pristine beaches and tropical climate. While you could experience this beautiful island on foot, a more adventurous way is to see it by horseback. A great way to do this is under the guidance of Tropical Trail Rides, a riding facility owned by former Californians Craig and Michelle Barker, who fell in love with Puerto Rico after a visit and made it their home. Located
in the city of Isabela, about 80
miles from San Juan, Tropical
Trail Rides is situated on the
northwest coast of the island in
an area that has managed to avoid
Two-hour rides are o;ered in
the morning and afternoon through
terrain reminiscent of old Puerto
Rico. The scenic route takes riders
along pristine Caribbean beaches
with crystal-blue water and through
“Our ride is like none other,” says
Craig. “There are so many terrain
changes and so many things to see
in the two hours, it leaves our guests
completely fulfilled. This includes
birds, iguanas, land crabs, whales and
The ride takes you down three
miles of white, sandy beach along
the water’s edge, through an
almond grove, then out to Survival
Beach, which has many cli; caves.
“Guests can explore the caves on
Puerto Rican Paso Finos
the 15-minute break we take to rest
the horses,” says Craig.
“During the break, some
people jump in the water,
while others relax on
the beach. Some go for a
great hike to a 180-degree
On the way home,
riders travel through
and pine forest before
heading back to the
ranch. If you sign up for
the afternoon ride, you’ll
have a chance to watch
the sun go down.
Riders of all
experience levels can
participate in Tropical Trail rides.
“There’s definitely enough variety
in the landscape and terrain to
challenge more advanced riders, but
we also take pride in giving beginner
and intermediate riders the same
chance to enjoy this spectacular
trail,” says Craig.
A total of 30 horses make up the
Tropical Trail herd. “Our horses
are well cared for—very gentle, but
spirited,” says Craig. “We take pride
in the health and happiness of our
The horses used by Tropical
Trails are gaited Paso Finos.
“They’re super smooth so you don’t
bounce in the saddle,” says Craig.
“They’re a sturdy breed and average
between 14 and 15 hands. Our horses
come in twice a day to eat in the barn
and are out all day and night as a
group, eating hay and being horses.”
For more information, visit
Tropical Trail Rides at www.
AUDREY PAVIA is a freelance writer
and the author of Horses for Dummies.
RIDING DESTINATION » BY AUDREY PAVIA
Ride a Paso Fino on the Island of Charm.
Tropical Trail Rides takes riders
along crystal-blue waters in
Puerto Rico. (Helmets are
available for those who wish
to wear them.)