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.
- 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.
- 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 $45 per person (cash or credit in advance) for a three-mile ride along the surf line. Sunset rides are also available. Reservations must be made in advance by calling 772-468-0101.
Horseback riding on Florida beaches: Riders along the empty beach in Flagler Beach. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
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 2021: $125 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.
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 are two options in Amelia Island.
Kelly Seahorse Ranch provides a guided equestrian tour that begins along a wooded trail that leads to a famously beautiful beach at Amelia Island State Park . This is a sedate ride with no cantering, galloping or running, and all riders must stay with the group. Note: you can’t take photos when on the horses, so all photos must be purchased from those taken by the ranch. Price: $85 per hour.
When you make a reservation with Amelia Island Horseback Riding, 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. Price: $100 per hour ($150 for sunrise and sunset.)
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: $130-$150 per person plus tax and tip. Details.
Here’s a TV report on C Ponies:
Bradenton on the Gulf Coast
Another spot specializing in immersing in the water with your horse, Beachhorses.com has trademarked the term horsesurfing to describe what they do, which includes riding horses while they swim off the beach in the gentle Gulf waters and, for the most adventurous, swimming behind it holding its tail or standing up on the horse in the water. The price is $140 per person for what is described as a 45 to 60 minute experience. Rides take place at Palma Sola Bay Park, 8400 Manatee Ave W, Bradenton. Note that this is a small park with a modest beach next to a causeway, not a wild and pristine setting.
Our favorite question from their FAQ is this:
“Is there horse poop in the water?
“Yes. Horses poop in the water and sometimes the stuff is floating right next to you. Some people find this disgusting. Horse people are not offended by horse poop because they understand that horses are vegans.”
- Reviews on TripAdvisor.
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. This area was devastated by Hurricane Michael in 2018 and in the 2018-2019 season, business are still recovering.
There are three choices for riding on the Cap San Blas beach:
Those who have ridden horses at Two-Bit Stable often remark on how well-loved and well-cared for the horses are. A plus: The guides will take pictures of you on the horse with your camera. Price: Start at $60 per hour.
A VISITFLORIDA video captures the experience:
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 $60 per hour. There is a $15 fee for children under 4 sharing a horse with an adult.
Past riders rave about Rockin M Ranch because of the friendly guides, horses with personality and fun experience, especially for children. Rates: September to February : $50 for a one-hour ride and $70 for a 90-minute ride. From March to August : $60 for a one-hour ride and $70 for sunset ride.