Horse riding Magnetic Island is one of the best things to do on the island. Not only is horse riding fun, but it will also give you the opportunity to explore parts of Magnetic Island you would not see on foot.
And when was the last time you got to ride a horse bareback in a turquoise sea?
As a total novice, I had never imagined doing that in my life, so it was an amazing surprise. Read about our experience and tips to prepare for your trip!
Who can join the Magnetic Island horse riding tour?
Horse riding Magnetic Island is for anyone over six years old!
But they do have an overweight limit for the horse safety. So if you are in doubt, contact the ranch before finalising your booking – they will ask you for your weight by email afterwards anyway.
We had zero to little horse riding experience before joining the Magnetic Island horse riding tour. They found two very docile horses for us, the sibling Cookie and Freckles. The horses were gentle and well-behaved, so we quickly felt at ease. There were two guides with us so we could choose our pace: take it easy and let the horse walk or learn how to trot! It is great that they can cater for different levels and make it fun for everyone. The ranch has installed platforms at the start and at the beach so it was never too hard to go up on the horse.
The two guides were patient and willing to share as many explanations and tricks to help us improve our horse riding experience. With their instructions and encouragements, we took the challenge to trot. It was not natural for me, but I managed to nail it after one hilarious try. I found it was all about finding the right rhythm in harmony with the horse. When the horses felt we understood how it worked, they speeded up a bit. It feels incredible to have a connexion with the animal and feel you can trust them.
Cookie always wanted to stop to eat. When I did horse riding in Noosa, my horse behaved the same way. I wonder if they feel that I can understand how it feels to always want to eat?!
Highlights of our Magnetic Island horse riding tour
As we don’t do it often, horse riding by itself was already a highlight. But doing it in a place as beautiful as Magnetic Island was incredible.
From the ranch, we had to go across the bush to reach the beach. It was a fantastic way to explore the forest. We saw a few beautiful wallabies and two koalas.
The arrival on the beach is stunning. Horseshoe Bay is a very reputed spot on Magnetic Island. Being high on the horse gave a different point of view too and it brings you closer to nature.
And horse-riding bareback in the magnificent waters of Horseshoe Bay is just unreal. I had no idea it was even possible for a total beginner. It was not the most comfortable ride, but it was certainly the most memorable! I was 100% sure I was going to fall – but it was ok as falling in the water would not hurt, and the guide was around to help. In the end, although I almost lost my balance a few times, I didn’t even fall. We spent a decent time in the water and to be honest I was happy to go out. Contracting my quads against the horse to try to find balance while fighting the water to keep my foot at the front was super tiring. The best leg work ever!
What equipment do you need for horse riding Magnetic Island?
Even if you are horse riding Magnetic Island on a hot day, you will need to wear long pants and enclosed shoes. If you go during the rainy season, the creeks may be higher than usual, so your shoes may get wet.
Wear your swimmers underneath your clothes so you can easily change when you arrive at the beach.
You cannot bring your backpack, but the ranch provided us with a small purse (a bum bag) where we could put our camera. If your camera cannot go in the water, you will be able to leave it with your dry clothes before going horse riding in the ocean.
The purse was too small to contain our water bottle though, so make sure you drink plenty of water before you start the ride.
How long is a horse riding tour on Magnetic Island?
The horse riding tour itself lasted for two hours. However, we were at the ranch for about three hours as you need to allow time to sign a few papers and to equip. The ranch organises two horse riding tours per day: the morning one is at 8.30 am and the afternoon one at 2.30 pm.
When is the best time to go horse riding on Magnetic Island?
You may have the best experience if you aim for the colder months (from May to October). You will avoid the heat and the stingers. But you can go horse riding on Magnetic Island all year round.
Magnetic Island is reputed for being in the Dry Tropics of the Queensland Coast. Although there is a higher risk of cyclones at the start of the year, you will probably still get good weather. We went horse riding on Magnetic Island during the cyclone season and had a lovely weather. We picked the morning to avoid the heat, but it was already quite hot by the time we came back to the ranch. They provided stinger suit for going into the water so the stingers weren’t an issue. The suit just makes less beautiful photos, but as it is a perfect protection against the sun, I didn’t mind wearing it.
How much does the horse riding tour on Magnetic Island cost?
The price ($120 per person) may put off budget travelers. Although horse riding is an expensive activity, I found this tour relatively affordable considering how unique it was and compared to other horse riding tours I had researched around Brisbane. I had seen horse riding on the beach before, but it was the first time I ever heard of riding a horse bareback in the sea for beginners.
To compare, horse riding on the beach in the Sunshine Coast region near Brisbane is at least $150. And only experienced riders can go on the horses bareback into the ocean in Rainbow Beach at $300 per person.
Would you put this Magnetic Island horse riding tour on your Australia bucket list? Leave a comment below!
Where is horse riding on Magnetic Island?
There is only one ranch on Magnetic Island: Horseshoe Bay Ranch. You will ride from the ranch across the forest to reach the beautiful Horseshoe Bay in the south of Magnetic Island. I found it was better to hire a car to explore Magnetic Island, but if you opt for public transport, the bus will stop not too far from the ranch.
Magnetic Island is a 20-minute ferry ride from Townsville, in the north of Queensland on Australia’s East Coast.
Where to stay on Magnetic Island
If you want to explore everything Magnetic Island has to offer, you will need to stay for at least one night. We didn’t have the chance to make it happen, but I still researched accommodations when I was planning our trip. I loved the location and reasonable prices of the Base Backpacker (click here for more info)* and the YHA in Horseshoe Bay (click here for more info)*. Accommodation is very developed on Magnetic Island, although it is recommended to book in advance as it was full when we travelled there. There are many other options available for all ranges of prices and comfort.
If you’re visiting Magnetic Island just for a day trip and you are travelling on a budget, I recommend staying at the Civic Guesthouse (click here for more info*) in Townsville. The accommodation is simple but it was clean and quiet, just what we needed.
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