Columbus was an Italian master navigator who completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that opened the way for European exploration, exploitation, and colonization of the Americas. His expeditions, sponsored by the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, were the first European contact with the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.
On the evening of 3 August 1492, Columbus departed from Palos de la Frontera with three ships. The largest was a carrack, the Santa María. The other two were smaller caravels. The name of one is known today only by the nickname Pinta, which in Castilian of the time meant "painted one". The Santa Clara was nicknamed affectionately the Niña ("the little one"), a pun on the name of her owner, Juan Niño of Moguer.
At about 2:00 in the morning of 12 October, Columbus and his crew arrived at the island that is now The Bahamas. He also explored the northeast coast of Cuba, where he landed on 28 October, and continued to the northern coast of Hispaniola, where he arrived on 5 December. On 13 January 1493, Columbus made his last stop of this voyage in the New World, in the Bay of Rincón at the eastern end of the Samaná Peninsula in northeast Hispaniola.