Vasco Nunez de Balboa was a famous Spanish explorer known for being the first European explorer to reach the Pacific Ocean from the New World. On this page we list
facts about this Spanish explorer including when and from where he first discovered the Pacific Ocean. This information is written for both kids and adults.
Vasco Nunez de Balboa Early Life and Journey to the New World
Balboa was born in Jerez de los Caballeros, Spain in 1475 AD.
His father was a nobleman by the name of Nuno Arias de Balboa and his mother was the Lady de Badajoz.
Not much is known about his childhood except that he had three brothers.
In 1500 AD, after hearing about the voyage of Christopher Columbus to the New World, he took part in a voyage that explored the coast of what is today Colombia,
In 1500 AD he settled on the island of Hispaniola located in the Caribbean.
On Hispaniola Balboa became a farmer at which he was unsuccessful; by 1509 he found himself deeply in debt.
In 1509, in order to escape creditors in Hispaniola, Balboa stowed away on a boat which was part of an expedition headed for San Sebastian in Columbia. The
expedition was headed by Spanish explorer Diego de Nicuesa with the famous Spanish navigator and geographer Martin Fernandez de Enciso second in command.
While stowing away on a ship headed for Columbia Balboa was discovered by the crew. The ship's captain was going to maroon him on an island, however upon seeing
familiar with the region in which the expedition was heading spared Balboa and let him continue on with the voyage.
When the ship Balboa had stowed away on reached its destination, a settlement in San Sebastian, they discovered the settlement had been attacked and destroyed by
Acting on a suggestion from Balboa, the Spaniards traveled south looking to re-establish the settlement. After a battle with several hundred natives led by Chief
expedition founded the town of Santa Maria la Antigua del Darien, the first permanent European settlement on the mainland of the Americas in what is present-day
Vasco Nunez de Balboa as Major and Governor
In Santa Maria la Antigua del Darien the settlers became angry with the mayor Fernandez de Enciso. Balboa, having gained the respect of the settlers ousted Enciso
and formed a
more open government with himself as major.
Balboa would eventually become governor of Veragua, which was basically the modern day country of Panama.
As governor of Veragua Balboa conquered various native tribes, explored various regions around modern day Panama, searched for gold, enslaved natives, and expanded
controlled by Spain.
Sometime in 1512 or 1513 Balboa heard rumors of what was called the "other sea" or the "south sea"; this sea would turn out to be the Pacific Ocean. Balboa was
informed that there were incredible amounts of gold to be found there.
On September 1st of 1513 Balboa, along with nearly 200 soldiers and several guides, began his journey across the Isthmus of Panama in search of the rumored "other
On September 25th of 1513 Balboa climbed a summit from which he saw the Pacific Ocean; and event that would make him one of the most famous explorers in
After spotting the Pacific Ocean from the summit he had climbed he descended the summit and made his way to the ocean. He walked knee-deep into the water and
claimed the ocean
and all the adjoining lands in the name of Spain.
Vasco Nunez de Balboa Downfall and Death
In July of 1514 Balboa was removed as governor of Veragua (basically Panama) by the King of Spain and replaced by Pedro Arias de Avila as governor.
Balboa accepted the new governor and did not challenge his authority.
The new governor, Pedro Arias de Avila, feared Balboa due to his incredible achievements and his ambition. The governor accused Balboa of treason and had him beheaded in 1519.