20 Ocean-Inspired Tattoos If The Water Brings You Peace

Deciding what to get as your next, or first, tattoo is rarely an easy decision. There are just so many different options out there, and the whole process can quickly start to feel pretty overwhelming. That's why narrowing it down to something that's important to you is a solid way to go before you get that ink on your skin, and ocean-inspired tattoos have been oh so popular for a while now. For good reason, too, because water can be interpreted in just so many different ways.

"A tattoo can be a physical marker of a personal evolution or traumatic experience. I think it's validating to have something intangible made visible, permanently," tattoo artist Samantha Mancino explained to Beautiful Bizarre. "But you have to reduce these huge concepts, experiences, memories, feelings to an image; in art and tattooing, everything for me is a symbol." Well, the ocean is full of symbols that could represent a love of the water and the calmness it brings to so many, so we here at Women.com are breaking down some of our very favorites to make that tattoo hunt journey just that little bit easier.

Ride the crest of the wave

This simple yet effect wave tattoo is absolutely gorgeous. So gorgeous we can't look away! The amount of detail that went into this design is obvious, while the mix of blues blend perfectly. Of course, getting a wave tattoo could be as simple as just wanting a wave tattoo because you like the look of them, but if this kind of design is something you're thinking about, it can have a deeper (pun intended) meaning, too.

The ocean, or waves more specifically, can often represent things related to natural phenomena, like the subconsciousness, and the soul. That's why so many people feel a sense of ease and clarity when they stand by the sea. But it's also been though to represent a few concepts you might not immediately relate to it as well, such as independence, love, and having a bit of a rebel streak. Of course, the ocean and its waves don't play by any rules, and it can be just as calm as it is unruly at time, which may make it the perfect metaphor for some people's lives. This design itself isn't showing the most tranquil situation, but we think it could make a perfect symbol for overcoming a rocky time in your life when it felt like you had no control and feeling calm again in the aftermath.

Keep it minimalist

If you're more of a fan of minimalist ink but still want to put your love of the ocean on your body, this one could be for you. This simplistic design uses some intricate line work inside a rectangle to show the sun above the calm ocean waves, offering a great alternative to something more intricate, colorful, and just generally over the top. We love the twist the tattoo artist put into this piece to create the ripple effect in the water, which stretches as far as the eye can see. Here, the tattoo artist opted for a filled in circle to represent the sun, but you could put your own twist on that aspect if you wanted to. If you feel more connected to the moon, why not swap it out for a moon design? Or if you have a particular scene in your mind of when you felt truly calm and comfortable by the ocean, you could add clouds or birds into the concept to create a design that's more personalized to you.

Bring out your inner mermaid

This tattoo idea is sure to bring out your inner mermaid. The super mystical ink shows off the long, glamorous tail of the sea creature surrounded by stars. It cleverly misses out the human part, which could represent a dedication to the mystical while also making it appear as though the mermaid dove down into the skin. That's why this design is ideal for those looking to get totally lost in the mysterious and magical side of their life or if you've always felt you related more to fairy-tales than the harsh reality we're living in. You may also notice they added a moon shape into the art, which has been known to symbolize things like power, wisdom, and knowledge.

If you wanted to (and you're feeling extra brave!) you could take this concept one step further and fill in the tail with different colors. We appreciate the way this one has been purposefully kept a little simpler though, saving the color for the stars and adding some shading to the scales on the tail to add a little depth

Shell out for a shell tattoo

We have one word for this jaw dropping shell tattoo. Mesmerizing. It's well worth shelling out (pun intended) for ink like this, as the mix of colors and shading on the conch shell is absolutely stunning. This is a great way to put your love of the ocean on your body without going too literal too with an ocean or beach scene too. 

Having a shell tattoo on your body can represent a number of different things. Typically, in addition to a feeling of closeness and association with the water, shells can also represent the notion of protection and health, making it a great option for those who may have experienced struggles in their lives — particularly related to their physical or mental health. If that doesn't resonate with you though, shells have also typically been connected to communication and healthy relationships, making it a great option for a matching tattoo for two people with a special connection to water. Not only that, but shells can also have connotations of nature and the tranquility, as well as being out in natural spaces.

Find the pearl in your oyster

What could be a better representation of self-worth and the ocean than an open oyster with a pearl inside? This gorgeous ink shows off just that, using very intricate tiny dots not only to creating the outline of the open shell inside an off center dotted frame, but also to create the sense of shading inside the clam. A little extra mystique is added through the various stars on the outside, too. In addition to the concept of you being the pearl inside your own oyster, this kind of tattoo could also serve as a representation of new beginnings in a person's life, which could relate to something like giving birth or making a big change in your life. There are a few other things the pearl has been known to represent across different cultures, from secrecy, peace and tranquility, to transformation.

Starfish tattoos could have hidden meaning

What says you're a beach and water lover without going too literal better than a starfish tattoo? We particularly love the placement of this one, as it's pretty much always likely to be on show just above the ankle on your trips to the coast. It's a super fun idea for those lucky enough to live close to the ocean and spend a lot of time lounging by the ocean, as this kind of ink gives us total summer sun vibes. As for the tattoo itself, it clearly took some skilled work to complete. The tattoo artist made use of the pointillist technique, using several dots to create the textured shading effect on the sea creature's body.

If you like your tattoos to have a little extra meaning, you'll be happy to know that the starfish actually holds some symbolism too. In some cultures, marine life is thought to represent infinite love and are also believed to offer guidance. Not to mention that starfish tend to buck convention when it comes to their habits and appearance, which makes them an animal many free spirits may be able to relate to.

Bring some color to the ocean

If you like your tattoos, and your life, full of color, you'll probably be attracted to this rectangular ocean tattoo in the same way we are. The vibrant color scheme is absolutely mesmerizing, and what makes this design extra special is that the person who got it did so to pay tribute to their heritage. Over on Instagram, tattoo artist @angelinaphoenixartistry explained in the caption that their client chose it as a tribute to island life. The design incorporates plumeria flowers on the water, which are native to countries including Brazil, Mexico and the Caribbean islands. It's also the national flower of Laos, which makes this design the ideal choice for anyone with a strong connection to those locations.

This look also has a hidden extra detail, as one of the flowers has been caught on the end of a fishing hook. This could be interpreted in a few different ways. Our favorite take is that it could symbolize always having a connection to home, or nature, and always keeping an association with a place you may have grown up or just have very happy memories of.

Splash out on a striking water tattoo

This tattoo really demonstrates the ocean's ability to swap almost instantaneously from calm to rough, which some may see similarities in when compared to their own life. On the left-hand side of the ink, we can see the stunning bright blue ocean splashing up the side of the client's arm, though a stingray is still swimming majestically underneath the water. The ink stretches all the way around the arm, with the sea getting more tranquil as it moves away from the large splash. This piece has been done incredible intricately, right down to the water bubbles, and we're totally wowed by the way the different shades of blue blend and compliment one another. If you have a penchant for a certain type of sea creature, like an octopus or a fish, you could always make this striking design your own by swapping out the stingray for your favorite aquatic animal instead.

Anchor yourself

This tattoo design incorporates a large anchor and the ocean in a unique way. The large, block black anchor serves as the backdrop for a large wave inside a circle, which we think is a great way of signifying the way a person has the ability to stay grounded and steady even in the rockiest of seas. Here, the anchor is much larger than the rocky waves, which are kept in by the protective circle, to suggest that calm, steadfastness will always trump the rocky seas. Another sweet touch we can't get enough of is the heart at the top of the anchor, which adds a softer touch to the tattoo. Of course, you may want to get something like this design if you have any kind of connection to water, but even if you don't, anchors have a lot of significant meanings. As well as a symbol of being grounded and resolute, the anchor can also represent hope or an unwavering connection.

Keep your ocean simple

If you want a simpler tattoo without too much intricate design work or time in the chair, then you may want to opt for something like this. This simplistic line work tattoo really breaks down the idea of an ocean tattoo to its simplest form, using a collection of just six lines to do all the work. The best part, though? It's still totally obvious what the design is representing without being too ornate or on the nose.

In the caption of an Instagram upload, tattoo studio @knivsiv explained the story behind the ink and the important meaning it had for the client. They shared that the person initially left town in order to get closer to nature and the sea, but revealed that they still felt a calling and eventually returned. As for the four lines representing the ocean? They wrote that those represented the client's four children, while the birds could signify the client and their partner. Adorable!

Dive in with a cutesy dolphin

If it's cutesy you're after with your ocean tattoo, you can't get much more cutesy than this. This adorable ink makes use of bright colors, cartoon symbols, and even a dolphin... so what's not to love? This one won't be for everyone, but it's a solid choice if you want to take your love of the water a little less seriously. The stars, sun, and rainbow surrounding the dolphin inject a whole lot of fun into this design, while the dolphin itself also holds a lot of symbolism. While you may just like to get a dolphin tattoo for the simple fact you love dolphins (which would be absolutely fair enough, by the way!), they can also symbolize intelligence, fun, and freedom. In many cultures, dolphins have also been subject to a lot of folklore over the years, which may also make them the ideal tattoo subject for those interested in the ocean and the mystical.

Simplify with a stingray tattoo

Stingrays are one of the best animals to represent the calmness of the ocean. The sea creature, which belongs to the family of fish called Elasmobranchs, is notoriously effortless and calm in the way it glides through the water, mainly because their bodies don't actually contain bones. That allows them to twist and turn naturally in the water however they need to — which may be how those with busy lives and a lot of responsibilities feel too. But while stingrays appear to be calmer animals as they make their way through the water, we know they can have a nasty sting when threatened. They're not afraid to defend themselves when need be, which may also be a strong a character trait some people can relate to in life as they too do all they can to adapt to their everyday surroundings. In this example too, the stingray is swimming away, which you could view as symbolism for swimming away from life situations, or people, you no longer want in your life.

Matching tattoos can remind you of your ocean love and love for one another

If you're feeling confident enough (and you've already checked out our guide to getting a matching tattoo with someone) going for an ink session with your bestie or partner could be a fab way to encapsulate your love for the ocean and each other. In this case, these ttwo people opted for a tranquil beach scene with a whole lot going on, from the palm trees either side, to the rainbow above it, to the heart encapsulating it all. This paints the picture of a fun day in the sunshine by the water, and we particularly love the way the sun is shining even on the outside of the heart shape which makes it look like a fabulous fun day.

Something like this could be a viable option for two or more people who have special memories by the ocean. For example, you may have gotten married or engaged on the beach, or you could have taken a life-changing vacation to the coast with a friend. Not only will this memorialize your trip, but it will help you to feel that calmness, feeling of fulfillment, and love every time you look at it.

Take your wave tattoo to the next level

This tattoo is an ideal choice if you're looking to link your ink to your life in a more literal way. This design not only features strong waves, but it also comes with a positive reminder in text about how to make it through tough situations. It reads, "Everything comes in waves," which can be applied to no end of life situations. If you love this art but have a phrase you live by that would be just as appropriate, you could always swap it out here to make it your own. You could also make this simplistic design as big or small as you like, and it could arguably also go anywhere on your body to really put your own spin on the concept. Not only that, but if you're a water sign, it could hold even more significance.

When posting the image to Instagram, the tattoo artist, @darina.iskra.tt revealed in the caption that the design had deeper origins. They shared that it was actually based on Balinese sketches, giving it a special, personal connection to Bali for the owner.

Sail away

We can't get over how stunning this gorgeous, yet simple, pastel colored boat tattoo is. The blue, purple, and yellow tones give it an air of magic and mystery, as if we're seeing the boat in a hazy dream. The tranquil design encapsulates the idea of feeling peace on the water, while boats themselves can also carry a lot of deeper meaning. Though many people may get boats because of a personal more literal connection, like owning one or working on one, they can also make great tattoos for those who don't have such a physical connection to the water. A boat could be associated with the idea of sailing away for a new start and leaving an old life behind, as well as the notion of finding a new direction in life like quitting a job. They could also make great ink for someone looking to leave a toxic relationship behind, as a ship could also link to the idea of breaking free from a negative situation.

Connect to the ocean's calm blue

If it's a calm ocean scene you're after, then look no further. This eye-catching ocean scene is a beautiful representation of the coastline at its quietest, while the crescent moon in the sky with a large star by its side only add to the mystery the sea offers. This design incorporates several different vibrant shades of blue, which in itself is all about tranquility, as well as patience and understanding. That's one of the reasons why so many people feel such a sense of calmness when they stand by a big body of water like the ocean, and a design could bring that feeling back to life every time you look at it. This peaceful ink is one you could place almost anywhere on your body, though you'll need to keep it a similar size or bigger in order to make sure all the intricate detailing is still incorporated.

Tattoo your ocean memories

Tattoos are a great way to immortalize a time, place, or person that's important to you. In this case, tattoo artist @betdi.island shared on Instagram that this client wanted to remember a specific trip to the water on their body. The tattoo artist used a vivacious blue for the water and created the illusion of the ocean's light ripple by using a white ink. Rather than using a yellow to signify a sandy beach, they opted for gray to suggest the water may have been lapping against a rocky surface. While it's likely the design was based on a real place, it could also represent the idea that no matter how hard things are, tranquility is never too far away. That's all encapsulated inside a borderless love heart, which, naturally, is a sign of love and passion and also makes a unique way to frame a tattoo without any harsh lines.

Encompass the power of the jellyfish

You could make your body the water of the ocean with a tattoo like this one. This person got a striking jellyfish tattoo on the back of their upper arm, which looks as though it's literally swimming through her skin. The sea creature is made up of mystical purple shades and is surrounded by stars, which only adds to the jellyfish's natural mystique. The jellyfish can actually have a number of symbolic meanings thanks to the way it effortlessly swims through the water — but there's no doubting, just like a stingray, that it will still give a nasty sting when necessary. That calm yet defensive idea is something you might even be able to relate to. Not only are jellyfish extremely intriguing to look at and are pretty unique in terms of their body and structure, but they've also been used to signify things like strength and protection.

Turn the ocean's surface into a tattoo band

Another creative way to incorporate your love for the ocean into a tattoo is to create a band from the sea's surface and then fill in the water with your very favorite sea creatures. In this example, the tattoo artist created a water line made with different shades of blue to show the top of the ocean, while they added an adorable turtle just peaking his head over the line. There's also a starfish and other underwater beings accompanying it, which add more color to this eye-catching art. This one's a solid choice if the ocean brings you a sense of calm because the waves are somewhat tranquil compared to some other tattoos we've seen. While this no doubt looks best on the arm because of the shape of the band, you could place it anywhere you like, from the bicep to the forearm or even on your leg.

A turtle-y amazing tattoo

As tattoo artist @uworida wrote in the caption of the Instagram upload showing off this majestic sea turtle ink, "The turtle moves slowly but surely forward," just as so many of us do in our everyday lives. This captivating design shows just that, with the animal created using mystical blue and purple ink, two things the turtle perfectly encapsulates thanks to the millions of years the species has been on this planet. This particularly creative version of a turtle is left minimalistic and was created using a line work method, which allows the pools of color behind it to really pop. Extra meaning to a design like this one can also be given through the fact that, for people all over the world, turtles represent the idea of immortality and protection, as well as grace and patience. That makes it an ideal symbol to represent the calmness and tranquility the ocean brings.