Everyone loves the ocean, waves, mesmerizing blue color, captivating horizon, and incredible creatures that live in it. So it comes as no wonder ocean theme is a popular tattoo design. Not only does it look great, but the ocean also bears important meaning.

In this post, you’re going to learn more about the symbolism behind ocean tattoos and see some awesome ideas that are bound to serve as an inspiration for your next tattoo appointment.

What Does An Ocean Tattoo Mean?

Nothing can survive without water; not humans, plants, or animals. As the largest body of water on our planet, the ocean is admirable, but also captivating and mysterious. For many cultures, the ocean is life. The beauty of an ocean is depicted in many works of art. Body art is not an exception. Ocean tattoos are popular among men and women alike.

But what does an ocean tattoo symbolize? Ocean tattoo represents a lot of things, and that’s exactly why this body art is so popular. You see, an ocean tattoo can symbolize a lot of things. In many cases, this kind of tattoo represents something mighty and it’s all due to the magnitude of the ocean as the body of water, to begin with.

Oceans are vast and mysterious so a tattoo can represent the same things as well. Despite cutting-edge technology used today, scientists are able to explore only a small percentage of oceans. So, an ocean tattoo could depict something mysterious or show there’s more to the wearer than it may seem. In other words, you can use such a tattoo to show the true depth of your character or personality.

Additionally, ocean tattoo often depicts dynamic and change, both of which are inevitable in our lives. Many people represent these ideas by opting for tattoos that show waves in stormy weather.

For some people ocean represents a journey and the road to self-discovery, new opportunities, or starting a brand new chapter in life. Moreover, an ocean tattoo can stand for infinite love or undying love for someone in your life.

It’s also useful to mention some people go for an ocean tattoo to raise awareness of saving the ocean. Others do it because oceans are beautiful and it’s great to rock this kind of body art.

Ocean tattoo represents a lot to many people so the actual symbolism may vary. Your tattoo can get a whole new dimension (and meaning) when you combine the ocean with other imagery.

60+ Ocean Tattoo Design Ideas

Now that we’ve learned the meanings behind ocean tattoos, it’s time to check out some pretty awesome designs. Scroll down to see them all.

1. Ocean Wave Tattoo

Ocean Wave Tattoo 1
Credit: @theblackpoppy.cork
Ocean Wave Tattoo 2
Credit: @inkiestatts
Ocean Wave Tattoo 3
Credit: @inkedlifemiami
Ocean Wave Tattoo 4
Credit: @d.on_tat
Ocean Wave Tattoo 5
Credit: @shannan.tattoos

Wave tattoos are a popular choice for men and women alike. They can be as simple as one fine, wavy line, or more elaborate.

In terms of symbolism, waves represent tons of ideas and they’re usually tied to someone’s soul and their character. For instance, a wave tattoo often symbolizes emotion, subconsciousness, nature, fantasy, dreams, and more.

Waves also represent change and flow in life. Oceans aren’t always peaceful, storms happen, and waves are a natural occurrence. The same thing happens in life. So, this kind of tattoo shows life is unpredictable. Sometimes it’s calm and peaceful, but waves come across and shake the boat. It makes us who we are; strong and courageous.

2. Lighthouse And Ocean Tattoo

Lighthouse And Ocean Tattoo 1
Credit: @littlenightmare_tattoo
Lighthouse And Ocean Tattoo 2
Credit: @simikosart
Lighthouse And Ocean Tattoo 3
Credit: @nicole_tattoo_art
Lighthouse And Ocean Tattoo 4
Credit: @inkxs
Lighthouse And Ocean Tattoo 5
Credit: @richwarburtontattooist

Lighthouse is often depicted on its own in a tattoo, or in combination with other images such as the ocean hitting the shore. The symbolism behind a lighthouse tattoo is closely tied to the true purpose of these structures. You see, this kind of tattoo symbolizes a forward path or guiding light for a person.

More precisely, a lighthouse tattoo can represent safety, guidance, and protection. Some people opt for a lighthouse tattoo to depict their love for the ocean. Others choose this type of body art design as a reminder to always follow the light in their lives.

Sometimes, the lighthouse theme is combined with “mom” or specific names. In these cases, a lighthouse tattoo is a way to pay tribute to a person who’s made a positive impact on a wearer’s life.

The best thing about this tattoo is that you have the freedom to opt for any style you want. Whether you want a minimalist tattoo or an elaborate American traditional tattoo of lighthouse and ocean, it will look great either way.

3. Minimalist Ocean Tattoo

Minimalist Ocean Tattoo 1
Credit: @oldtowntattooctg
Minimalist Ocean Tattoo 2
Credit: @sharp_pokes
Minimalist Ocean Tattoo 3
Credit: @deepblue_ink
Minimalist Ocean Tattoo 4
Credit: @oggypokey
Minimalist Ocean Tattoo 5
Credit: @qbin_tattoo


Oceans are big and powerful and a tattoo can create a huge impact. But the tattoo itself doesn’t have to be huge as well. Minimalist ocean tattoos are equally powerful. Their fine lines match the prowess of the ocean perfectly.

The most common minimalist ocean tattoos are those of waves. But you can choose a different oceanic theme if you want. Your ocean tattoo doesn’t have to depict the body of water itself, it can be something else. A seashell, for example.

Minimalist tattoos are ideal for persons who can easily cover them up with clothing. So, if your workplace frowns upon tattoos, a minimalistic design is the ideal solution.

4. Japanese Ocean Tattoo

Japanese Ocean Tattoo 1
Credit: @liuruochen0723
Japanese Ocean Tattoo 2
Credit: @matteofor_tattooer
Japanese Ocean Tattoo 3
Credit: @dominicholmes_art
Japanese Ocean Tattoo 4
Credit: @canaantattoo.w
Japanese Ocean Tattoo 5
Credit: @matteo_most

Japanese tattoos, also known as irezumi, are popular works of art thanks to the elaborate imagery. The ocean is not the main motif here, but it appears in many tattoos usually accompanied by dragons or in combination with other animals, even flowers.

In these tattoos, the ocean gets a deeper meaning depending on the image with which it is combined. Even though Japanese tattoos are usually large, you can still opt for a smaller alternative if you’re not into huge ink.

The meaning of a Japanese ocean tattoo is pretty similar to the general symbolism of this type of body art. Water tattoos are tied to the belief that life, just like water, ebbs, and flows. It is gentle and calm but can be strong and swift.

5. Ocean Sleeve Tattoo

Ocean Sleeve Tattoo 1
Credit: @canaantattoo.w
Ocean Sleeve Tattoo 2
Credit: @unique_ink_ak
Ocean Sleeve Tattoo 3
Credit: @faetattoos
Ocean Sleeve Tattoo 4
Credit: @isaacaguila

Sleeve tattoos are ideal for adventurous men and women who love to stand out. These designs are edgy, elaborate, and tell a specific story. Both colorful and black sleeves are popular. You don’t have to opt for blue color to depict the ocean if you’re not a fan of color in your tattoos. Black will suffice perfectly.

A talented tattoo artist can depict the beauty and power of an ocean even with one color. In other words, the choice of a tattoo artist is crucial.

The best thing about sleeve tattoos is that you can interpret the oceanic theme in your way. For instance, you can opt for animals that live in the ocean, or even include a lighthouse, a boat, or the shore and space. The point here is to let your creativity shine. Imagine a story you’d like to tell with the oceanic theme, describe it to your tattoo artist, and they’ll take it from there.

6. Sun And Ocean Tattoo

Sun And Ocean Tattoo 1
Credit: @rohatattoo
Sun And Ocean Tattoo 2
Credit: @mrs.sarahbisbee_77
Sun And Ocean Tattoo 3
Credit: @chelsartistry
Sun And Ocean Tattoo 4
Credit: @exotic_ink_tattoos
Sun And Ocean Tattoo 5
Credit: @amandaguratattoo

Ocean and sun go together like a watermelon and a hot summer day. There’s something special about an ocean on a sunny day when the surface glistens and sparkles like jewels. For that reason, tattoos that show a picture of an ocean and sun are very common.

The combination of the two has a deeper meaning; it’s not just a pretty picture. Sun is a source of power and light whereas the ocean represents the highs and lows of life. Sun and ocean combination symbolizes nature’s balance or going with the flow.

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You can get one such tattoo in different styles including colorful, fine lines, big, or small. It’s not uncommon for people to add palm trees into the mix. Some tattoos depict the sun at its brightest during the day whereas others show sunset. There are no rules here, the choice is yours.

Also Read: 72 Best Sun Tattoo Design Ideas and Meaning (2023 Updated)

7. Whale And Ocean Tattoo

Whale And Ocean Tattoo 1
Credit: @tattooist_j.l
Whale And Ocean Tattoo 2
Credit: @seohatattoo
Whale And Ocean Tattoo 3
Credit: @tattooist__cheeu
Whale And Ocean Tattoo 4
Credit: @joopac_tattoo
Whale And Ocean Tattoo 5
Credit: @readytattoo_studio

Whales are a common image in oceanic theme tattoos. These magnificent animals have the ability to submerge to significant depths of the ocean and they emerge from the deep gloriously. For many people who get this tattoo, the whale symbolizes rebirth.

In other words, your whale tattoo can represent strength to overcome dark moments in life. We all have them. Bad times don’t last forever, but it takes a lot of strength and courage to overcome them. Whale depicts your “rebirth”.

Since whales are excellent navigators, a tattoo that represents this amazing animal can stand for finding one’s path or true calling in life. The whale tattoo also symbolizes tranquility and peace. This isn’t such a surprise. When you look at whales swimming or emerging out of the ocean, you realize how calm and peaceful they look.

Other meanings associated with whale tattoos include intelligence, power, wisdom, loyalty, devotion, freedom, and good luck.

Whale tattoos are versatile and look great regardless of the size and color options. The black whale tattoo looks equally impressive as the one with blue shades that represent the ocean.

8. Mermaid Ocean Tattoo

Mermaid Ocean Tattoo 1
Credit: @nathankingtattoo
Mermaid Ocean Tattoo 2
Mermaid Ocean Tattoo 3
Credit: @annsavagelife
Mermaid Ocean Tattoo 4
Credit: @nicolevtattoos
Mermaid Ocean Tattoo 5
Credit: @fannymagine

Everyone loves mermaids, which is why they are a popular tattoo choice for men and women alike. Mermaid is considered a strong female figure, a woman who is free, self-directed, and independent. Due to their link to the ocean, mermaids represent intuition, nature, creation, and birth or rebirth.

Many tales and legends suggest mermaids would lure sailors. For that reason, a mermaid tattoo may symbolize seduction, danger, and sexuality even. That’s why mermaids in some tattoos are depicted with naked breasts whereas in other designs they’re covered.

A tattoo of a mermaid stands for mystery and going with the flow, as well. In other words, mermaid tattoos represent a lot of things ranging from seduction and persuasion to emotion, wildness, and self-love.

The actual design gives your tattoo a more specific meaning e.g. a mermaid can hold something that adds a new dimension to your tattoo.

The style of a mermaid tattoo can be cute and girly or edgy and wild.

9. Shark Ocean Tattoo

Shark Ocean Tattoo 1
Shark Ocean Tattoo 2
Credit: @robi_wan_hernobi
Shark Ocean Tattoo 3
Credit: @necropalta
Shark Ocean Tattoo 4
Credit: @lisaammertattoo
Shark Ocean Tattoo 5
Credit: @oldbonestattoo

A shark tattoo has multiple meanings primarily due to different attitudes toward these creatures from one culture to another. Sharks are terrifying predators that demand respect. For that reason, a tattoo of a shark can depict peril or warning. In some cases, a shark tattoo could indicate the wearer doesn’t really like it when someone invades their space.

Sharks are not deadly creatures only. They also represent grace, pride in being meticulous, and the courage to face fears. For some persons, a shark tattoo symbolizes curiosity. After all, sharks are curious animals.

Other meanings behind shark tattoos include fearlessness, intelligence, power, being passionate in your pursuits, and living your life to the fullest.

10. Seahorse And Ocean Tattoo

Seahorse And Ocean Tattoo 1
Credit: @yase_farbextase
Seahorse And Ocean Tattoo 2
Credit: @constantinospow
Seahorse And Ocean Tattoo 3
Credit: @kchevy23
Seahorse And Ocean Tattoo 4
Credit: @x.atlas1.x
Seahorse And Ocean Tattoo 5

If you’re looking for a cute oceanic tattoo with interesting meanings, a seahorse tattoo is an excellent choice. A seahorse tattoo represents tenderness, tranquility, parenthood, regality, and gender fluidity. Tattoos of these cute ocean creatures also symbolize friendliness, protection, and generosity.

A seahorse tattoo may indicate the wearer is patient, content, persistent, and perceptive. These animals haven’t evolved like other creatures and species. They have remained pretty much the same since their inception. For that reason, a seahorse represents contentment i.e. being satisfied with your life (and yourself) as it is, without having the need or desire to change.

Also Read: 60+ Best Cute Tattoo Design Choices for This Summer: Meaning and Symbolism

11. Boat/Ship And Ocean Tattoo

Boat/ship And Ocean Tattoo 1
Credit: @_juliedesign_
Boat/ship And Ocean Tattoo 2
Credit: @mattalexandertattoo
Boat/ship And Ocean Tattoo 3
Credit: @fontinktatu
Boat/ship And Ocean Tattoo 4
Boat/ship And Ocean Tattoo 5
Credit: @aliiimoosaviiii

The actual meaning of a boat or ship tattoo depends on your current life situation. In most cases, people opt for a boat or ship tattoo to represent the love for adventure, exploration, and new beginnings. Additionally, some people choose these tattoos because they love the ocean and sailing.

A boat or ship tattoo also depicts resilience. Sometimes the ocean is calm, but the storm arrives and the boat still survives intact. That’s why a tattoo of the boat shows your strength to face any obstacle and come out a winner. In other words, a boat or ship tattoo means the wearer is brave.

Some people get boat or ship tattoos to honor or pay tribute to someone or to describe their troubled past.

12. Artistic Ocean Tattoo

Artistic Ocean Tattoo 1
Artistic Ocean Tattoo 2
Credit: @connectattoo
Artistic Ocean Tattoo 3
Credit: @kittats
Artistic Ocean Tattoo 4
Credit: @start.your.line
Artistic Ocean Tattoo 5
Credit: @modn_tt

If you have an artsy side and want to show it off, you can always opt for unusual ocean tattoo designs. The only rule here is that there are no rules. Anything you can imagine can be converted into a lovely tattoo. It’s all about finding a great tattoo artist who can turn your ideas into a work of art.

13. Armband Ocean Tattoo

Armband Ocean Tattoo 1
Credit: @tattoo_russ
Armband Ocean Tattoo 2
Credit: @brunalacerdatattoo
Armband Ocean Tattoo 3
Credit: @edith__art
Armband Ocean Tattoo 4
Credit: @bihigiensis_tattoo_studio
Armband Ocean Tattoo 5
Credit: @benny.tattooer

If you want an armband ocean tattoo, but with a unique twist, you can easily make it happen. For instance, your armband tattoo can feature an ocean surface with ocean animals underneath. These can include turtle, dolphin, jellyfish, seashell, starfish, and other “creatures”. Or maybe you can go for waves only or other oceanic theme motifs.

Armband tattoos are not always associated with death, they can be a sign of strength. Plus, when you add an oceanic theme to them, your armband tattoo can have a deeper meaning with positive vibes.

Ocean Tattoo FAQs

How Much Do Ocean Tattoos Cost?

Like with other tattoo designs, the price of an ocean tattoo depends on a lot of factors. These include the size, tattoo studio, and its location, style, technique, among others. You’ll learn all about the estimated costs of your tattoo during the consultation with your tattoo artist.

I’m Not A Fan Of Multicolor Tattoos, Can I Get A Black Ocean Tattoo?

Of course, you can. The best thing about ocean tattoos is that they can be equally mesmerizing and magnificent in black, not just multicolor designs.

What Are The Most Popular Oceanic Theme Tattoos?

Ocean tattoos are classic, always popular. Some of the most common designs include waves, sun and ocean combinations, sharks, whales, ships, landscapes, lighthouses, and others. Tattoos are all about expressing your individuality. So, always opt for a design that speaks to you the most.

Will My Ocean Tattoo Fade Quickly?

It’s difficult to provide a simple answer to this question. The reason is simple; multiple factors influence fading of a tattoo regardless of the design. Your ocean tattoo may fade faster on some parts of the body than others. Tattoos age the best on areas such as the inner forearm, upper and outer chest, back of the neck, and lower back. Black tattoos fade at a slower rate than multicolor designs, especially light shades.

How Long After An Ocean Tattoo Can I Go Into The Ocean?

You get an ocean tattoo and want to rock it on the beach? To do so, you’ll have to wait two weeks after you get your tattoo. That’s the amount of time necessary for skin and tattoo to heal properly.

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