I’m always looking for something new and exciting to do on island. Believe it or not, sometimes the beach gets “old.” Don’t get me wrong, I love, love, love having my toes in the sand (and a cold drink in my hand!). But there are definitely times when I’d rather do something different. That desire recently led me over to Coral Bay, to the Carolina Corral.
The Carolina Corral opened back in 1993 with just two donkeys. Since then it’s expanded to include more than two dozen animals including, goats, chickens, ducks and dogs. All of the animals have either been rescued or were no longer wanted by their owners, according to corral owner Dana Bartlett. In addition to caring for the animals, Dana also offers horseback riding on trails in Coral Bay. I recently went out with her and had the opportunity to take a nice little ride.
(Disclaimer: I am not a horseback riding girl at all. I used to ride a bit here and there as a child, and after riding a horse that was more interested in climbing up a rocky mountain than meandering along a nice flat little trail, I vowed I’d never do it again. Fortunately Dana was able to coax me back on.)
Our day started over at the corral where Dana works tirelessly to care for more than a dozen animals. Between the feedings, the cleanings and the overall maintenance, it’s hard to believe Dana ever gets a break. So I felt extremely fortunate when she agreed to take some time out of her day to introduce me to the animals. And as I mentioned, she was even able to get me to hop on one of the horses. We took a nice little stroll down the road and were able to see beautiful views of Coral Bay from a perspective I had not seen before. The horses were very docile and I truly enjoyed my ride.
As were were trotting along, I asked Dana what it was like to run the corral.
“People got to wonder how I do it,” Dana said. “The day becomes night with the time not being sorted out on hours and minutes, but what needs to be done that day with the energy I have left. I pretty much spend 12 hours here and 12 at home. I’m still working toward making it a more viable place overall.”
“I had a couple tell me they’re glad I’m here and it’s always good too see my repeat customers,” Dana continued. “I like to think of myself as an relatively unchanging fixture here doing the best I know how.”
And in my opinion, Dana is doing a tremendous job, especially given how costly it is to care for the animals.
Dana offers rides Monday through Saturday. She offers a one-hour ride at 10 a.m. and a one-and-a-half hour ride at 3 p.m. Hour rides cost $75 while the longer ride costs $85. Children ages six through 12 receive $10 off. Children under the age of six are not permitted to ride. Private rides for up to five people are also available.
For those not interested in riding, the corral also accepts visitors as well as donations to help care for the animals.
The Carolina Corral is located on Centerline Road just past Skinny Legs. Take a right at the Carolina Corral sign just past Skinny Legs and the corral will be down the road a bit on your right.