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50 Breath-Taking Ocean Tattoos Ideas and Designs and their Meanings

By Jason Hamilton / October 9, 2020
ocean turtle
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The ocean covers 71% of the Earth’s surface. It is also home to a lot of sea creatures as it contains nearly 100% of the earth’s water. On top of that, it also makes a nice tattoo.

Yes, you read it right. The ocean is also one of the popular choices for tattoos. This is because of its significance, as well as its versatility when paired with some symbols.


Ocean Tattoo Meanings

When it comes to its significance, the ocean has a lot to talk about.


For starters, many people see the ocean as a symbol of power, strength, and chaos. This is probably because of how much area it eats up on the surface of the earth and how it can devastate lives when natural disasters like tsunamis, storm surges, tropical storms, etc. occur.

It is also a symbol of life. Some people are afraid of the ocean because of its power to take lives and the mystery that it holds. But did you know that people also consider it a symbol of life because it is the origin of all life forms on earth as per scientists? And, of course, it also became a symbol of life because it is where some of our food comes from that we, needless to say, consume in order to live.


For Christians, the ocean also has meaning. Some of them believe that it’s the tears of sorrow of God. Meanwhile, in psychology, it is a symbol for the mother. In dreams, however, it represents a bridge between the unconscious and conscious mind – a calm ocean may mean resistance toward the connection between minds.

In addition to that, the ocean is seen as a symbol of stability. This is because of its unchanging existence even after centuries.


But these aren’t just the only things that refer to the ocean. When used as a tattoo, it can also represent more than just these meanings, especially when they are combined with other symbols.

More Meanings and Ocean Tattoos Ideas and Designs

In the world of body art, a symbol can become even more significant if it is paired with other symbol/s. And ocean tattoos ideas and designs are no different. Take a look at these ocean tattoos ideas and designs’ meanings when paired with other tattoos.


Polynesian Ocean Tattoo

The ocean has different meanings and styles for Polynesians. Its significance varies depending on their location and the way it impacts their lives.

For people who live where the ocean is accessible and filled with resources, people consider it as a second home. It is also seen as a giver of life. And because of this, ocean tattoos are drawn lighter and more symmetrical.


Meanwhile, in places where the islands are steeper and have no protection from the ocean’s waves, ocean tattoos are often drawn darker, asymmetrical, as well as richer with war-related elements. This is because such locations make it harder and more dangerous for people to fish for food. This, during ancient times, made clans vying for the best fishing grounds.

A Samoan sleeve tattoo on the left arm

tribal tattoo polynesian 2


A Polynesian half sleeve tattoo with huge wave-like details

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Polynesian leg tattoo with huge wave details


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A Polynesian turtle tattoo filled with other tribal details including ocean symbols

Minimalist Ocean Tattoo

This kind of ocean tattoo design signifies a person’s minimalist side. Often, minimalist ocean tattoos are just outlines of waves. People also go for wave line patterns.

A minimalist side boob wave tattoo

Wave tattoo on the ribcage


Waves etched on the side of the torso

Wave Tattoo For Women 1

A simple wave tattoo etched on the right ankle

Wave tattoos paired with heartbeat


A huge minimalist wave tattooed on the back

Japanese Ocean Tattoo

In Japanese culture, the image of water is referred to as strength and life. It also represents the belief that, like water, life also ebbs and flows. In Japanese culture, the water is often seen as something that can be swift and strong when necessary, but it can also be gentle and calm. For this tattoo design, people often go for close up images of the waves in the ocean. Sometimes, they pair it with oni mask tattoo designs, koi, as well as dragon tattoo designs.

A combination of ocean waves, mountain, sun, and cloud tattoos on the chest


This ocean wave tattoo is etched on the thigh

Japanese ocean wave tattoo covering the whole leg


A Japanese ocean wave tattoo paired with an inverted triangle


A Japanese ocean wave sleeve tattoo paired with goldfish and cherry blossoms

Mermaid Tattoo

Mermaids are believed to nestle in the ocean deep. Hence, many people also pair ocean and mermaid tattoo designs together. But aside from this, mermaids can also symbolize nature, birth, rebirth, intuition, and creation, making it a nice tattoo option too.

A watercolor mermaid tattoo swimming under the ocean


A mermaid enjoying the view of the ocean

Little Mermaid’s Arial doing her classic pose

A Sailor Jerry-inspired mermaid tattoo in the ocean


A realistic tattoo of a mermaid swimming in the ocean

Ocean and Sunset Tattoo

Sunsets are mesmerizing. And if you were to etch it on your skin, like the real sunset, it will surely take everyone’s breath away. But aside from the majestic sights that it has to offer, sunset tattoos are a nice design for you to consider too because of its representation. For starters, it can serve as a reminder of the eternal and seemingly endless cycle of life. And with that cycle comes life and death. This is definitely a nice combination of life, death, beauty, peace, hope, inspiration, and love.

A nice sunset tattoo on the left thigh


A small sunset tattoo of an ocean wave and an island

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A minimalist sunset and ocean tattoo

Another minimalist sunset and ocean tattoo but etched on the forearm

Ocean and Moon Tattoo

Of course, the moon tattoo is a nice pair for ocean tattoos too if you’re looking for good aesthetics. Aside from that, each moon has its own meaning too. But generally, they all symbolize creativity, attainment, manifestation, and growth.

A minimalist ocean and crescent moon tattoo with stars inked on the forearm

A watercolor yin-yang-style tattoo on the arm

A watercolor tattoo of a full moon and ocean

A dotted blackwork tattoo combination of clouds, stars, sun, moon, and ocean

Ocean and Mountain Tattoo

The mountain is also sometimes paired with the ocean. Like the ocean, mountains also signify power. In addition to that, it symbolizes your connection with nature, you overcoming obstacles, as well as your detachment from worldly affairs.

Image result for mountin and ocean tattoo

A minimalist tattoo combination of ocean waves, sun, and mountains

Ocean with sunset and mountain tattoo on the ankle

Mountains, ocean waves, and pine trees tattooed on the left arm

A geometric tattoo combination of ocean waves, mountain, and pine tree tattoos

Fishes and Corals

Fishes and corals, of course, belong underwater. Hence, they make a nice pair with ocean tattoos. But aside from that, they also have different meanings depending on their color and type, just like flower tattoo designs. But in general, these symbols are known as bringers of prosperity and good luck.

Coral chest tattoo paired with a skull

Corals, fishes, and dolphins combined in a sleeve tattoo

Corals with powder blue tang and pacific blue tang

Fishes and corals tattooed on the legs

Shark Tattoo

Sharks, in the world of body art, symbolizes aggressiveness or fearlessness in pursuing anything in life. It’s a representation of the go hard or go home attitude.

Hammerhead sharks underwater

A back tattoo of shark and marlin underwater

A sleeve tattoo combination of shark, corals, ocean, sun, and lighthouse

Fishes and shark underwater tattooed on the whole back area

Octopus Tattoo

The octopus is a symbol of diversity, complexity, vision, and mystery. It is also associated with intelligence. This is because of the octopus’ varied qualities.

A tattoo combination of octopus, fish, coral, and diver

A sleeve tattoo of an octopus underwater

A unique underwater scene tattoo shaped like an octopus

Another colorful octopus sleeve tattoo

Jellyfish Tattoo

Jellyfishes, needless to say, also belong in the ocean. Because of that, it is definitely a nice pair with ocean tattoos. But apart from that, it is also symbolic as it represents tranquility, a calming presence, and peacefulness.

A traditional style tattoo of jellyfish, and turtle underwater

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Another combination of jellyfish and turtle in the ocean

Corals and jellyfish underwater sleeve tattoo

Jellyfish and octopus half-sleeve tattoo

Turtle Tattoo

Speaking of calmness, another thing that you can use if you want something to represent the calm aside from the jellyfish is the turtle. It is also a symbol of patience, wisdom, and a long life. And they are both popular for Polynesian tattoos.

A tattoo of a woman swimming with turtles

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A realistic tattoo of a turtle swimming in the ocean

A colorful tattoo of a turtle underwater

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A 3D tattoo of a turtle underwater inside a heart


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About the author

Jason Hamilton

Jason has been an avid fan of tattoos for over 13 years now. He is currently 35 years old, and he got his first tattoo at the age of 22. Since then, he has added over 20 tattoos to his collection. He is also into writing, which is why he decided to celebrate both of his passion and hobby through tats ‘n’ rings. Jason dreams of having his very own tattoo parlor soon. Jason would be very happy to answer any questions about tattoos that you may have! Leave a comment below and he’ll answer it for you right away!

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