Olwë was the younger brother of Elwë Thingol and conjoint Lord of the Teleri on the Great Journey. In Beleriand, Elwë was lost; when the time came for the Eldar to depart and Elwë still had not returned, the Vanyar and Noldor sailed West, leaving the Teleri behind. Olwë then became their king, and they dwelt by the sea-coasts. But after another summons came from Valinor, most of the host of Olwë embarked and left Elwë and his people behind.
It is said that Olwë did not immediately go to Aman, but instead tarried in Tol Eressëa for another Age; here they learned and developed the craft of ship-building (being instructed by the Sea-Maia Ossë). After this they completed the Journey and finally set foot in Eldamar. They made their new home – the city and port of Alqualondë, the Haven of the Swans – on the northern shore of its Bay. They were called the Falmari, the Sea-elves, by the other Calaquendi.
Olwë’s daughter, Eärwen, wedded Finarfin, the youngest of the three sons of Finwë: and so in this way the Teleri and Noldor were allied with one another. Yet it did not prevent Olwë’s people from being attacked by the Noldor in the Kinslaying at Alqualondë, which took place at the time of the theft of the Silmarils and the rebellion of the Noldor. The Sea-elves had denied the Noldor the use of their ships, and Olwë himself would not join Fëanor’s revolt. Many of the Teleri were slain and their ships taken from them, being burned after Fëanor had made use of them. Though the Teleri were able, in time, to restore their city and ships, it took much longer to restore their numbers. Olwë never again returned to Middle-earth.