Saddling Up in Hawaii

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Kauai, Hawaii is very popular for its beaches, surfing, waterfalls, coconut trees, tropical flower leis and of course hula girls. Thats what makes Hawaii paradise. But Hawaii also has a side that very few know about. Hawaiis rich cowboy Culture. Cowboys, Trucks and gooseneck trailers, Ranches, and cattle are probably the last thing people expect to see here in Hawaii. Many seem a little surprised when they hear about the cowboy (paniolo) lifestyle here on the islands.Hawaii is a very western state and the cowboy way is a way of life for many who live here on the islands. The western lifestyle is passed down by generation to generation to keep the Paniolo way and lifestyle here in Hawaii alive.

Cattle ranching, Brandings, Rodeo, Jackpot ropings, Bull riding Jackpots ,All girls rodeo, Keiki (children) Rodeo and bull riding and our new Hawaii Pro Rodeo Association events all take place in Hawaii. What? I know right!

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So Just How did cattle come to be in the beautiful islands of Hawaii?

In the 1790’s the English Navigator George Vancouver gifted 5 cattle to King Kamahameha I. The king then placed a Kapu (Law) on the killing of cattle. Within a few decades Hawaii’s land was filled with roaming wild cattle. In 1812 King Kamehameha granted John Parker a license to hunt the cattle and he eventually domesticated them and helped establish ranching as a major industry in Hawaii. They also trained the Hawaiians to become Cowboys.People were shocked when Hawaiian Cowboys from Parker Ranch, ( The Largest Ranch in Hawaii) Waimea Hawaii won a world rodeo championship in 1908.

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Many of the younger cowboys and cowgirls from Hawaii move away to Pursue to The All American dream of making it big In the Rodeo world.

My husband Sheldon Souza is one of many who has many accomplishments taking on the sport of Bull riding and team roping.He has won numerous buckles on Kauai and through the state of Hawaii. He recently attended Cody Custer’s Bull Riding school in New River Az. And had spent the last three years traveling the Bull riding Rodeo Circuit. His dream is to become the next Hawaiian Paniolo Bull riding Champion and keep the sport and the western tradition alive by passing down his knowledge to the younger generation here in Hawaii. When not riding bulls you can find him team roping on his Family’s Ranch, taking care of the bulls and roping stock and doing the everyday duty of a rancher and probably teaching this fashionista how to fix a fence.

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It’s almost summer! Let’s talk working Ranches in Hawaii to visit. If your a cowboy looking to travel and have the dream Hawaii vacation of riding horses on the beach then Kauai, Hawaii is your go to destination. Pack your bathing suit and surf shorts, Kauai is a place where you can enjoy horseback on the beach in a bikini and shorts at CJM Country Stables located in the Heart of poipu, Kauai .That’s right! You’ll ride on a white sandy beach up cliffs, through the Mauka (Mountain) side where you’ll see some cattle and explore both the tropical beach side and the luscious country side of the island with Kauai’s own Hawaiian Paniolos (Cowboys) as your tour guide.

Bigisland, Hawaii

Parker Ranch! The largest Cattle Ranch in Hawaii is also popular for its Big game hunting One way to put food on the table or in Imu( underground oven. Hunting wild boars, goats, pheasants and turkey on Parker Ranch is still an exciting sport that offers year-round opportunities in a wide range of scenic areas.

The Ponoholo Ranch on Kohala Mountain is one of the most beautiful ranches on the Big Island. This 11,000 acre cattle ranch covering 3 climate zones stretches from the rain forest at 4,800 feet to the ocean. It has the second largest herd of cattle on the island, 6,000 to 8,000, after the Parker Ranch.

Ponoholo Ranch offers awe inspiring views of the Pacific Ocean, the Kohala and Kona coastline and the Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa and Hualalai volcanoes on the Big Island and the Haleakala Volcano on Maui.



Kualoa Ranch

Draw dropping beauty!

Journey through the beauty and tranquility of this special place while on Horse back or Atv through many of the sites made famous by the many Hollywood movies and television shows filmed on this breathtaking property.



Piiholo Ranch is located in Up Country Maui.

Maui’s premiere Maui Horseback Riding experience at historic Piiholo Ranch located on the edge of the rainforest 2,000 feet above the beautiful blue Pacific Ocean. Owned and operated by Peter Baldwin and his family, Piiholo Ranch shares the family’s skill in cattle ranching and caring for the land and Hawaiian history for more than one hundred years.

Experience the true Paniolo tradition and ride though another one of Hawaii’s working cattle ranch.

It’s no secret that the western way of life and Hawaiian Cowboy traditions still thrive here in the Hawaiian islands today.

-Joelle Souza, The Aloha Cowgirl


Photo: Joelle Souza @thealohacowgirl 

Top: Mahina kapaa 

Jeans: Francesca by Kimes Ranch

Haku: Son Flowers Kauai 

Photography By: Rob Churney Kauai, Hawaii