When the Númenóreans settled in their new land early in the Second Age, the Valar issued them an edict: that they were not to sail so far west from their island that they could no longer see its coasts. The purpose this ban was to prevent a longing for the immortality of those in the Undying Lands. So, though the easternmost part of Tol Eressëa was at times visible to those in Númenor, they were banned from visiting there, or any other part of Aman.
In the early history of Númenor, its people were satisfied to live under the Ban of the Valar. No limits were set north, south or east, and the Dúnedain explored the world to its farthest boundaries in those directions. They became the greatest mariners of all time, and eventually the ban that prevented them from sailing west began to cause dissent.
In the later history of Númenor, Men began to question the Ban, and ultimately King Ar-Pharazön spoke openly against it. The Men of Númenor began to believe that they could achieve immortality by visiting the Undying Lands, and so the fears of the Valar, that had caused the Ban to be created, proved all too true. At last, having been corrupted by Sauron, Ar-Pharazön dared to actually break the Ban1, and took an immense fleet into the West to invade the land of the Valar. This act of defiance proved ruinous: it brought about the Downfall of Númenor and the destruction of almost all its people.
Strictly, the first Númenórean to break the Ban was Elendil's father Amandil, who secretly sailed into the West to beg aid and forgiveness from the Valar, but he was never heard from again.
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