Russian Fort Elizabeth State Historical Park

Waimea Canyon & the Westside

A Russian fort in Hawaii? Yes, really. Constructed in 1817 above the southern bank of the mouth of Waimea River on the site of an ancient heiau (temple), the octagonal Fort Elizabeth was named after the Empress of Russia. Only its impressive outer walls, some 20ft high, are still standing. It once harbored a Russian Orthodox chapel and a cannon.

Follow the trail 100 yards beyond the fort to reach a pretty riverfront beach. While not suitable for swimming, it makes for a pleasant afternoon stroll.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Waimea Canyon & the Westside attractions

1. Captain Cook Landing Site

0.13 MILES

The precise spot where Captain Cook first set foot on Hawaiian soil being unknown, a large boulder near the mouth of Waimea River was arbitrarily chosen…

2. Lucy Wright Park

0.13 MILES

It’s a telling reflection of how locals feel about Captain Cook that the beach where he first landed is named not for Cook but for Waimea’s first Native…

3. Waimea Town Center

0.27 MILES

Waimea’s plantation-era core offers some interesting architecture. Take a short stroll to admire the neoclassical First Hawaiian Bank (1929), the art deco…

4. Captain Cook Monument

0.28 MILES

A statue of Captain James Cook stands on Waimea’s central green space. When his ships Resolution and Discovery sailed into Waimea Bay in January 1778,…

5. Hofgaard Park

0.29 MILES

This small grassy park at Waimea’s main intersection holds a statue of Captain Cook. Display panels explain local history.

6. Waimea Hawaiian Church

0.35 MILES

Sunday’s Hawaiian-language mass at this simple low-slung church makes an interesting way to connect with local culture. Waimea’s first Christian…

7. Waimea State Recreational Pier

0.44 MILES

Flecked with microscopic green crystals called olivine, this wide, dark-tinged beach stretches between two scenic rock outcroppings and is bisected by the…

8. Waimea United Church of Christ

0.58 MILES

What’s now the Waimea United Church of Christ was originally erected in 1847 by Reverend George Rowell. Protestant missionaries had lived in Waimea for…