Is there any image that better captures a fantasy of a Florida getaway? Riding a horse along a pristine beach, waves lapping at its feet, wind blowing through your hair, beautiful views in every direction?
It’s a scene from the movies – or your dreams.
It’s not easy to find spots where you can arrange for horseback riding on the beach in Florida; it requires beaches with minimal crowds and development. But there are a few spots where you can ride horses on the beach, and some go beyond just riding.
The good news for riders is that beach horseback riding requires such well-trained horses that it is generally open to beginner riders and, in some places, children.
A few general words of advice on horseback riding on the beach:
- Read the websites carefully for what is allowed and what isn’t. For safety reasons, for example, many of these stables allow you to walk or trot but not run the horses. If your vision of horseback riding on the beach in Florida involves racing through the waves, make sure that is specifically allowed; it often is not.
- Most stables have restrictions on age of children and weight of riders.
- All of these outfitters require reservations and some are quite sensitive to late arrivals, so know where you’re going and allow plenty of time so you’re not late.
- If having photos taken on your camera is important to you, make sure it is allowed, because some places do not permit it.
- Planning to propose, celebrate an anniversary or even get married on horseback? Inquire: These stables have probably done it before. All of them stress on their websites that they can customize beach horseback riding experiences.
- Do I have to wear a helmet? Children younger than 16 are required to wear a helmet designed for horseback riding that is properly fitted and fastened securely when riding a horse on public land.
- Always confirm prices, hours and locations both here and on an outfitter’s website.
Fortunately, the half-dozen spots that specialize in beach horseback riding in Florida are located on beaches on both coasts as well as in northern and southern Florida.
Hutchinson Island in southeast Florida
You’ll have a hard time finding a more unspoiled and natural beach than the one you can explore on horseback on Hutchinson Island. This is the southern-most beach horseback riding spot, closest to the South Florida population center.
Every weekend, and sometimes during the week by prior arrangement, Beach Tours on Horseback offers one-hour tours on horseback starting at St. Lucie County’s Frederick Douglas Memorial Park, about four miles south of Fort Pierce Inlet.
The cost is $50 per person (cash or credit in advance) for a one-hour three-mile ride along the surf line. Sunset rides are also available. Reservations must be made in advance by calling 772-468-0101.
- Reviews range from “better than we could have ever imagined” to some that criticized the operator’s communication. Tripadvisor reviews
Flagler Beach in northeast Florida
The beautiful cinnamon colored sands of Flagler Beach are beautiful to experience on horseback. Equestrian Adventures of Florida offers one-hour beach rides for groups of two to five people, leaving from Malacompra Beach. (Price in 2023: $135 per person for an hour ride.)
We watched the riders along the beach, happy to see how careful the guides were to completely clean up after the horses. On a sunny December Sunday, the beach was deserted except for us, a fellow walking his dogs and the riders. In low-rise Flagler Beach, there is nothing to mar the beauty of sand, surf and dunes.
If you have your own horse, it appears you can ride here. There is ample free parking for horse trailers.
- Reviews are full of raves such as “hands down, one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had” to “the experience of a lifetime.” Trip Advisor reviews
Amelia Island in northeast Florida
This barrier island is one of the two locations on the Atlantic coast that offers horseback riding on the beach. There used to be two options in Amelia Island, but Kelly Seahorses has closed.
Amelia Island Horseback Riding, however, has been operating since 1993. When you book a tour, you’ll meet the owner at Peters Point Beach Front Park on South Fletcher Avenue, near the location of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Amelia Island.
The beach here is broad and hard-packed, and the owner will customize a ride to your interests, including trotting and cantering for those with extensive riding experience. They also will accommodate first-time riders and children starting at age 6. Price: $125 during the day; $175 for sunrise or sunset in 2023.
- Reviews talk about how the horses are well-trained and that the guides took great photos of them. Tripadvisor reviews
Bradenton Beach and St. Petersburg Beach on the Gulf Coast
If you want more than a ride, if you’re seeking “an aquatic adventure,” then C Ponies Beach Horses may be the spot.
C Ponies uses a breed of horse called a Drum Horse (related to the Gypsy horse) because it was originally bred to carry kettle drums during processions. Horses that can do that are clearly not easily spooked.
This “bucket list” experience involves riding the horse straight out into the Gulf on a sandbar nearly a mile with the Skyway bridge in the background. Of course, it has a bucket list price tag too: $165-$175 per person plus tax and tip in 2023. Details.
Here’s a TV report on C Ponies:
- Reviews talk about the horses being gentle and how the guides shared the background stories of the horses, several of which are rescues. Tripadvisor reviews
Cape San Blas and Port St. Joe in the Panhandle
Cape San Blas has a long, broad pristine beach – the sort of place you picture as a perfect setting for riding a horse, particularly as the sun sets over the Gulf.
There are two choices for riding on the Cap San Blas beach:
Broke-a-Toe Horseback Riding on the Beach gets high marks for gentle horses and providing safe riding experiences for younger children. Price starts at $90 per hour. There is an additional fee for children under four sharing a horse with an adult.
- Tripadvisor reviews. Many people rave about the experience. A few criticized communication about cancellations and refunds.
Past riders rave about Rockin M Ranch because of the friendly guides, horses with personality and fun experience, especially for children. Rates start at $80 for a one-hour beach ride; $90 for sunset. Beach rides are based on eastern time and leave from Salinas Park.
- Past customers comment on the beauty of the sunset rides. TripAdvisor reviews
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The author, Bonnie Gross, travels with her husband David Blasco, discovering off-the-beaten path places to hike, kayak, bike, swim and explore. Florida Rambler was founded in 2010 by Bonnie and fellow journalist Bob Rountree, two long-time Florida residents who have spent decades exploring the Florida outdoors. Their articles have been published in the Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel, The Guardian and Visit Florida.