John White's Explorations: An Interactive Map Guide

Discover the Explorations of John White in our detailed blog. Dive into the adventures and learn about the man behind them.

John White, a prominent figure in the Age of Exploration, played a significant role in the early attempts of English colonization in the Americas. As an artist and cartographer, White was tasked with documenting the lands he encountered, providing valuable insights into the geography, flora, fauna, and indigenous peoples. His voyages, sponsored by Sir Walter Raleigh, left an enduring legacy and contributed to the early foundation of English presence in the New World. This article delves into the exciting explorations and challenges faced by John White and sheds light on the fascinating history of Roanoke Island, the lost colony, and its mysterious disappearance.

Explorations of John White

powered by Proxi

Early Explorations and the Roanoke Colony

In the late 16th century, English seafarers and merchants began to take an interest in the Americas, following the success of Spanish and Portuguese expeditions. In 1584, Walter Raleigh, in collaboration with John White, sent two ships to North America to explore potential locations for a colony. The explorers reported promising lands along the coast and brought back Native Americans, Manteo, and Wanchese, creating intrigue and generating financial support for a colonial venture.

In 1585, Raleigh launched his first expedition to Virginia, with Richard Grenville leading the venture. White, accompanied by fellow scholar Thomas Harriot, joined the expedition as an artist and recorder of details about the region. However, due to delays and loss of supplies, the colonists faced numerous challenges, strained relations with Native Americans, and eventually abandoned the settlement.

Undeterred by the setbacks, Raleigh organized a second colonial expedition in 1587. This time, John White served as the deputy governor, and the group, consisting of families and settlers, aimed to establish a permanent presence in Virginia. However, they faced a scarcity of supplies and White had to return to England to procure more provisions, leaving his family and fellow colonists behind.

Roanoke Island

John White, an English explorer, is famously associated with the English settlement on Roanoke Island, now located in North Carolina, USA. In addition to serving as the governor of this colony, John White embarked on this voyage to establish a permanent settlement in the New World, bringing with him a diverse group of settlers. Unfortunately, the colony, which would later be known as the "Lost Colony," vanished without a trace under perplexing and still unresolved circumstances, leaving behind an enduring historical enigma that continues to captivate minds to this day.

Chesapeake Bay

In 1587, John White, an English artist and explorer, led a courageous group of settlers to establish a colony in the enchanting Chesapeake Bay area. Full of hope and ambition, they embarked on a journey with dreams of a prosperous future. However, fate had a different plan for them. As they arrived at Roanoke Island, their anticipated destination, they faced an unexpected setback. Their ship's captain, tasked with transporting them further north, regretfully departed, leaving the colonists stranded and uncertain of what lay ahead.

Cape Hatteras

The renowned explorer John White, in his voyages between England and the New World, had the fortune of passing by Cape Hatteras. This captivating destination is situated on the stunning Outer Banks of North Carolina. Cape Hatteras holds historical significance as it was intimately connected to the explorations of John White, who played a pivotal role in the Roanoke colony.


While not an exploration destination, it's worth noting that White made several voyages back to England from Roanoke Island to secure assistance and resources for the struggling colony.


Before his voyages to the New World, White had been part of efforts to suppress a rebellion in Ireland, where he likely gained experience that would aid him in his future explorations.


These Portuguese islands in the mid-Atlantic, known for being a common stopover for ships sailing between Europe and the Americas, played a significant role in the explorations of John White from the Roanoke colony. With their strategic location, these islands offered a vital resting point for White and his crew as they ventured through the vast oceans, paving the way for future discoveries and establishing a legacy of maritime exploration.

Canary Islands

Located off the northwest coast of Africa, these Spanish islands, known as the Canary Islands, were another frequent stopping point for transatlantic voyages during the time of exploration.

The Bermuda Triangle

Considering the typical sea routes from England to North Carolina during the explorations of John White from the Roanoke colony, it is highly probable that his voyages took him through the area now famously referred to as the Bermuda Triangle. This intriguing destination, known for mysterious occurrences and disappearing ships, adds an additional layer of intrigue and fascination to White's explorations, leaving us with more unanswered questions about the enigmatic nature of this historical figure and the uncharted territories he traversed.

The Outer Banks

This chain of barrier islands, known as the Outer Banks, stretches along the coast of North Carolina. Its breathtaking views and serene beaches would have been a familiar sight to White as he embarked on his voyages to and from Roanoke Island, creating a sense of nostalgia and wonder.

The Mystery of the Lost Colony

War with Spain prevented John White from returning to Roanoke Island until 1590. When he arrived, he found the colony abandoned, with only the word "CROATOAN" carved on a tree as a clue to their whereabouts. The fate of the colonists remains a mystery to this day, with various theories proposing assimilation into Native American tribes or tragic events befalling the settlers.

Legacy and Impact

John White's voyages and explorations made significant contributions to the understanding of the New World. His detailed maps and illustrations provided valuable information about the geography, flora, and fauna of the regions he visited. His accounts, published in Richard Hakluyt's Voyages, helped to promote English colonization of North America and fueled further expeditions.

The story of the lost colony of Roanoke Island continues to captivate historians and researchers, offering a glimpse into the challenges and uncertainties faced by early English colonists. It serves as a reminder of the bravery and determination of those who embarked on dangerous journeys in search of new opportunities and the complexities of early colonial ventures.


John White's voyages and explorations were instrumental in shaping early English presence in the Americas. As an artist and recorder of details, his contributions provided crucial insights into the lands he encountered. The story of the lost colony of Roanoke Island, with its enduring mysteries, adds an intriguing chapter to the history of exploration and colonization. John White's legacy lives on, reminding us of the hardships and triumphs of those who paved the way for future generations in the New World.

No items found.

Adventure Awaits!

How would you like to plot your course!?