Guarding the eastern entrance to Waimea town and near our Kauai vacation rentals are the remains of Russian Fort Elizabeth. It is one of many things to do on Kauai and dates back to the early 1800’s. How it came to be involves a trio of leaders that include a Kauai King, the Czar of Russia and a German doctor.
Now all that remains are stacked-stone walls that are a mixture of Hawaiian construction and Russian design. From here you look out to Waimea Bay and the site where Captain Cook first landed before he introduced Hawaii to the world.
History of Russian Fort Elizabeth – Kauai State Parks
Shaped like a six-pointed star stretching 300 feet around, this national historic landmark and Kauai state park makes for a nice stop on your way to Waimea Canyon or Polihale Beach. It is also close to our Kekaha vacation rentals on the west side of the island and not far from Poipu Beach.
King Kaumualii had hoped that Czar Nicholas would help him break free of King Kamehameha’s rule. A German doctor, George Anton Scheffer, convinced the King of this and received permission to build the fort. It was named Fort Elizabeth after the potentate’s daughter. Czar Nicholas never warmed to Scheffer’s enterprises and withdrew official support. Scheffer was forced to leave in 1817. King Kaumualii continued to fly the Russian flag, perhaps in a subtle attempt to play one foreign power against the other.
The stout walls once 30 feet thick are now mere rubble, humbled by time-encircling nondescript underbrush. Kauai pioneer Valdemar Knudsen removed armaments from the fort in 1864. During its heyday, the fort housed a small Russian Orthodox chapel, armory, barracks officer’s quarters and sandalwood trading house.
Kauai Activities by Parrish – Things to Do on Kauai
Park at the information sign and do not drive on the dirt road beyond. From here you can walk around the remains of the fort and inside its rock walls. Before you walk, take a picture of the sign with your phone and use it as a guide to the site. Allow 15-30 minutes.
Amenities: Pay Phone, Restrooms, Water Fountain and Showers.