Fine Art Images of Hawaii by Thomas Upton

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Holy Cow! Stranded at Keokea Bay

Updated: Jul 6

If you’ve looked at many of the galleries on this site, you’ll have probably noticed that Keokea Beach Park is prominently featured. We stop there almost every time we are in North Hawaii just to see what’s happening there. Whether it’s death-defying surfers, a local gathering, wild waves, or just a peaceful picnic stop, we like it.

During a visit in Spring of 2021, we encountered huge waves. It was great fun to photograph them. But while looking across the bay at the crashing surf we noticed something surprising. Look closely at the image below:


Stranded cow on a cliffside ledge at Keokea Beach Park on the Big Island. Photo by Thomas Upton
Stranded cow on a cliffside ledge at Keokea Beach Park

Yes, that’s a cow, standing on a ledge above the raging surf. It was about ¼ mile across the bay from our position in the park. That area of the coast is privately owned. We could not see how the cow got there, as there appeared to be no path in or out of this spot. The cow seemed frightened and was soaking wet. We could see it hunker down as each drenching wave approached:


Poor cow is hunkered down for an approaching wave at Keokea Beach Park on Hawaii. Photo by Thomas Upton
Poor cow is hunkered down for an approaching wave

The cow would try to turn around from time to time, but had very little space to move. We were just baffled as to how it came to be there and how to get it out. Helicopter?


Cow trying to turn and hide from waves at Keokea Beach Park, but there's no room!
Cow trying to turn and hide, but there's no room!

Our surprise and amazement quickly turned to concern and we wondered how we could help rescue this beast. First, we called local police. The dispatcher told us that the cow had already been reported by others and the property owners had been notified. That was somewhat comforting, but it did not seem like anyone was doing anything. So next we went to an Island newspaper site and submitted a “story” about the cow (really just tried to alert the paper to the problem in hopes they would follow up).


As it happened, we were in the area again the next day and with some trepidation, went back to the park. We were very disappointed to see the cow still in the same place, still getting dashed by huge waves. We knew it could not last long without food. It must have been an exhausting ordeal! Frustrated, we again filed a “story” with the newspaper. We also called an animal rescue agency and left a message describing the problem. Here’s the cow the next day, in pretty much the same situation:


Stranded cow at Keokea Beach Park near Kapa'au after a day of being bashed by waves. Still standing! Photo by Thomas Upton
Stranded cow after a day of being bashed by waves. Still standing!

We did not have the heart to go back again, but did regularly check the local news for weeks following this experience and saw no mention of our sad cow. Unfortunately, we have no idea of what became of it. If you know, please leave a comment here about it! We would love to know!

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