A Western Oasis in the Pacific

Channeling the legacy of his forefathers, working cowboy Marcus grips the saddle and forcefully hoists himself onto the horse. With his feet locked into the stirrups, he tightens his grip around the reins and braces for the forthcoming chase.

With an explosion of untamed energy, the hearts of the cowboy and the horse pound rapidly in sync as the deafening roars of the established crowd fill their ears. Marcus’s vision narrows in on the calf as he swings the rope above his head with a clear mission. The clock is ticking, and every moment matters.

As Marcus and the animals move within the arena’s beaten grounds, it is not the familiar dance of dust and dirt that fills the air. Instead, the earth beneath them spews torrents of viscous mud. These are not the arid plains of Texas, but the saturated tropics of Hawaii, home to the paniolo—the Hawaiian cowboy—and their centuries-old heritage which Marcus proudly represents at CJM Country Stables, a ranch owned and operated by veteran cowboy, Jimmy Miranda. It is here, at CJM Country Stables, where visitors can cheer on rodeo athletes such as Marcus and ride in the hoofprints carved by the paniolo.

Contrary to conventional expectations, rodeo culture has thrived on these islands since the early 1800s. On the island of Kauai, paniolo rodeo culture continues to flourish thanks to a community dedicated to preserving this rich and unique heritage.

Mirroring Jimmy’s dedication to rodeo at his Western paradise, Karin Carswell Guest runs Princeville Ranch, a monument to Hawaii’s deeply rooted ranching traditions that maintains an uninterrupted link to the era of the original paniolo. Princeville Ranch is one of Hawaii’s oldest cattle ranches, keeping the traditions of ranching alive and deeply intertwined with Hawaiian culture. The tenacious histories of Princeville Ranch and CJM Stables are testaments to the grit and resilience of the Hawaiian cowboy.

There is open space. It's nature. There’s not a day that goes by where I don't look at the mountains and go, ‘Wow, I feel so blessed to live here. – Karin Carswell Guest

Princeville Ranch

Established in 1831, Princeville Ranch maintains an unbroken connection to the formative years of the paniolo. Karin is committed to preserving that heritage.

My great-great-great uncle used to run cattle here back in 1893, and we've carried on that tradition, she proudly explains.

Karin sustains the long running history of the Hawaiian cowboy, and cattle ranching is an inseparable part of her family’s story.

People that come from the mainland often don't realize how many horses and head of cattle are here, Karin says. In particular, rodeo is really popular on the islands, and we used to have one of the biggest rodeos in the state out here.

The sport is the same, but out in the tropics, the paniolo bring a uniquely Hawaiian flair. As they ride through the arena with Hawaiian shirts and leis around their cowboy hats, known as a lei po’o or haku lei, the paniolo shine a light on their living heritage. And with downpours frequently washing over the islands, seeing cowboys trudge through the mud is a familiar sight.

Running statewide rodeos in the 1970s and 1980s, today Princeville Ranch is solely dedicated to cattle ranching and perpetuating the paniolo lifestyle by conducting horsemanship lessons throughout the community.

We use the natural horsemanship philosophy, and that’s the way we teach now—from the ground up; how to take care of the horse from start to finish. That, along with the 150 head of cattle on their ranch, is their main focus.

Princeville Ranch shares a deep connection with Hawaiian culture and embraces a rich heritage of ranching traditions. Set in a lush, tropical landscape, their way of life is intertwined with the Western lifestyle, forming a unique and harmonious blend that transcends geographical boundaries.

CJM Country Stables

Rodeo will always have a home in Hawaii, and particularly at CJM Country Stables. Home of the Kauai Rodeo, this is where paniolo culture lives and breathes.

It is all due to the dedication of Jimmy Miranda, a true paniolo legend who established this unexpected oasis of Western heritage against unbelievable odds. The land was untamed when he arrived, but he saw its incredible potential to quench Hawaiians’ thirst for horseback riding and rodeo.

People thought I was crazy 38 years ago when I got here, Jimmy recalls. They said, ‘You don't have water, you don't have a phone, you don't have electricity.’ I said, ‘It's no problem, I can work with that.’

Jimmy transformed a plot of wild land into a paniolo paradise where riders and rodeo athletes can put their skills—and their heritage—to the test.

You wouldn’t expect it, but we’ve got some good cowboys and cowgirls here—some who’ve made the national finals, Jimmy explains. It’s a blessing to know them.

According to Jimmy, the paniolo at CJM Country Stables and throughout the islands uphold their culture and values in everything they do.

When I see a real paniolo cowboy, I can tell they’re devoted to the land and the lifestyle, Jimmy explains. We all just grew up with these traditions, and I can see it every day working with them.

Jimmy is a titan of the Hawaiian rodeo scene, revered for his expertise and cherished for his eagerness to pass those lessons on to others. At rodeo clinics across the state from elementary to high school, he is shoring up the next generation of Hawaiian cowboys and rodeo athletes. Beyond the basics of roping, riding, and wrangling, Jimmy teaches the importance of good values and pride in their traditions.

It's always been in me to share my knowledge—it's not a secret, Jimmy says. When I hear the kids teaching others the same things I taught them, I think, ‘Oh good. Perfect. This is just what I want.’ Share the knowledge, share your experience, and life will be easy.

In a cowboy life, you don't need all this glamour and glitter, you just can live a nice, simple life. – Jimmy Miranda

In a cowboy life, you don't need all this glamour and glitter, you just can live a nice, simple life. – Jimmy Miranda

A Simpler, Tropical Life

Just as the waves crash upon the shores of Kauai, the legacy of the paniolo thrives. With an unshakeable commitment to the land, the lifestyle, and the spirit of the Hawaiian cowboy, Princeville Ranch and CJM Country Stables keep this vibrant tradition flowing, supporting an enduring rodeo and cattle ranch community by harboring a Western oasis in these unlikely tropical islands.

Karin and Jimmy assert that there is no better way of life.