Cover: Swimming with horses at Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull
Driving over on our way for a horse ride and swim at Rancho Washikemba in Bonaire, we had no idea what a cool morning we would experience.
We expected a horseback ride along a trail, followed by a brief swim, then a ride back to the stables. Boy, were we surprised!
Rancho Washikemba in Bonaire offers a chance to ride a horse while the horse swims in a lagoon and it is truly an amazing experience.
Located on the rugged, eastern side of Bonaire in the Bara di Karta nature park, Rancho Washikemba is a horse ranch offering ride/swim tours, riding lessons, and children’s parties.
We arrived a little early to get a chance to meet the horses and the owners, Bregje and Marc. Originally from the Netherlands, they moved to Bonaire 12 years ago, built the ranch in 2010, and now operate the only official, fully licensed and certified horseback riding ranch on Bonaire.
Upon our arrival at the ranch, some of the horses were finishing their breakfast, amidst wandering chickens and the ranch dog, Vlek, while others were playing in the horse pen.
The 10 horses at Rancho Washikemba live in cheerful bright yellow stables that were exceptionally clean and the horses are very well cared for by Bregje and Marc.
We’d never ridden a horse before and the only horses we’d been around were racehorses at the track so this would be a first experience.
Bregje and Marc had selected horses for us that fit our riding experience level, which obviously was none, and provided riding instructions, such as the distance to keep, how to tell them to turn, etc.
We then mounted up and headed out into the gorgeous Bonaire countryside.
The Rancho Washikemba Lagoon Tour
We did the Lagoon Tour, which winds through the Bonaire backcountry to the eastern coastline and Lagoon Bay, then back to the ranch. Bregje led the way on Allreckdup, also known as Tango, an American Thoroughbred born in Maryland and now living in Caribbean paradise.
Along the way, Bregje would point out things along the trail and shared information about Bonaire and the Washikemba area.
I rode Blondy Studebaker, who was born on Curacao and is a crossbred Paso Fino mare. Greg rode Poco Blonde Princess, an American Quarter Horse mare who was born in Florida.
We both took photos throughout the ride and both horses were very easy to ride and gentle, making a first time horseback riding adventure a breeze.
Along the way, we saw iguanas and a few goats, who generally kept a safe distance, but for the most part, it was a quiet ride through the peaceful, natural environment.
As we reached the top of a small hill, Lagoon Bay suddenly appeared – a very quiet, beautiful body of turquoise water rimmed with mangroves and rocky ledges.
We rode to a large rock formation next to the lagoon and dismounted.
Greg was staying on shore to capture shots of me riding in the water, so Bregje and I stripped down to our swimsuits. Marc, who had met us at the lagoon unsaddled Greg’s horse, Poco, who they told us loves the water and would be the horse I would ride into the lagoon.
Bregje led us into the water and told me to hold onto the mane. When we got into the water, she told me I’d feel Poco push off when she started swimming.
It was truly spectacular! Poco loves it so much that when Bregje would try to lead her back out, she’d pull back and wanted to stay swimming.
After our swim, they saddled Poco back up, we got dressed, and continued our ride.
In the distance, the Spelonk, Lighthouse, which was built in 1910, stands regally above the rough waters and barren landscape.
After heading down the coastline, we turned inland, past the oldest tree on Bonaire, then by the rumored-to-be haunted, Plantation Washikemba, then continued on the trail back to the ranch.
Know before you go to Rancho Washikemba
Location: Rancho Washikemba is about 8 km /5 miles from Kralendijk on the eastern side of the island.
Booking a tour: Reservations are required and can be made by calling +599 788 8668 or +599 786 7321, via email at email@example.com or by visiting the Rancho Washikemba website.
Attire: Wear a swimsuit under your clothes. The ride is more comfortable with long pants and closed-toe shoes, preferably with heavier soles to keep your feet from getting sore from the stirrups.
Sunscreen and a hat: The ride is fully exposed with no shade and the Bonaire sun is very hot, so sunscreen is a must and taking a hat and water are probably also a good idea.
Watch the video: Swimming with horses at Rancho Washikemba
Rancho Washikemba captured my ride/swim on video – see for yourself what a cool adventure swimming with horses is!
Disclosure & disclaimer: Special thanks to Rancho Washikemba for hosting us as their guests. The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.