In 1778, the British sailor Captain James Cook sailed into Waimea Harbor and forever changed the history of Hawaii. The Captain Cook Monument, is located in downtown Waimea and is set facing the ocean. In the early 1800's, the Russian empire joined forces with the king of Kauai to build a fort in Waimea Bay in an effort to claim the islands for Russia. Before Fort Elisabeth was finished, the Russians pulled out and the fort was eventually dismantled. New England missionaries arrived in 1820 and set up Kauai's first Christian mission and churches, many of which still stand today. Later, Chinese, Europeans, Japanese and Norwegians came to Waimea and established businesses still in operation.
From Waimea you can head north along Highway 550 to Waimea Canyon and Koke'e State Park, or continue west towards Polihale Beach park. Waimea is located around Mile Marker #23 on Highway 50.