Learning to navigate toward a goal is an essential skill. Place learning is thought to rely on the ability of animals to associate the location of a goal with surrounding environmental cues. Using the Morris water maze, a task popularly used to examine place learning, we demonstrate that distal cues provide animals with distance and directional information. We show how animals use the cues in a visually dependent guidance manner to find the goal. Further, we demonstrate how hippocampal lesions disrupt this learning mechanism. Our results can be explained through the vector model of navigation built on associative learning principles rather than evoking a cognitive map.