Home » 15 Nautical Tattoo Ideas to Define Your Journey

15 Nautical Tattoo Ideas to Define Your Journey

Do you remember hearing stories about sailors, ships, and the deep and dark seas? While some of these stories were based on reality, many often originated from fiction.

The fictitious ones would involve mermaids, lighthouses, scary octopuses, and the wrath of Poseidon. Readers will particularly remember The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a famous poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge that talks of a voyage gone wrong and all its implications.

There is something magical, mysterious, and almost daunting about the sea and all sorts of nautical-based elements. It’s one of the many reasons why nautical tattoos are so famous.

Through these tattoos, you can express your interest in nautical elements. Anyone who was once a part of something related to ships or the sea would be very interested in spotting such a tattoo.

It can help you stay connected to your glorious past in the sea and serve as a source of inspiration the next time you head out on a great adventure in the ocean.

Whether you’re a sailor, a skipper, or just someone who finds the sea fascinating, we have the most perfect nautical tattoo ideas you can look into.

Alluring Nautical Tattoo Ideas to Explore

Listed below are some unique and eye-catching nautical tattoo ideas that are sure to make you want to get a tattoo as soon as possible:

1. Rustic Anchor Tattoo

Rustic Anchor Tattoo
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Increase the aesthetic beauty of your tattoo by having a rustic anchor along with a rope. The black, gray, and earthy brown tones add more dimension and definition to this design, making it stand out.

If you’re someone with a slightly lighter skin tone, then the hues of this tattoo will look even more fabulous on your body. The anchor also stands as a lovely symbol since it denotes grounding and stability, showing that you have a sense of security regarding your path and life.

Such a tattoo also means you’re a strong and resilient individual who isn’t afraid to endure hardships. It signifies that you’re a loyal and committed person filled with hope.

This design is for anyone who feels safe when they reach the comfort of their home, which is what the anchor symbol in the tattoo is for.

2. Twin Anchors on the Chest

Twin Anchors on the Chest
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How about having not one but two anchors as a part of your tattoo? If extra stability is the message you’re going for with your tattoo design, this is the perfect one.

In addition to the thin outline, you can request your tattoo artist to put in the dark gray hues as contour to present it with a more realistic look.

3. Sheep Wheel Tattoo

Sheep Wheel Tattoo
Image Source: pinterest.com/pin/293296994478245122/

If you’re looking for a nautical tattoo that is both simple and conveys a strong message, you can go for the sheep wheel or helm tattoo. A helm is the part of a ship that helps it stay on course and steers it while also controlling its journey.

With this tattoo, you can constantly feel as if you’re headed in the right direction because of the sheep wheel symbol which can be your guiding mentor. For anyone hoping to navigate life in the best way possible, this is a lovely metaphor to have by your side.

This symbol shows that you’re a born leader who always likes to take charge and be responsible for the people around you. Not only do you have a deep sense of responsibility, but you also like to take charge of your own destiny.

By getting this tattoo, you can portray your will to step into new adventures while also striking the right balance in your daily life.

4. 3D Anchor Tattoo

3D Anchor Tattoo
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Imagine having a nautical tattoo design that almost feels like it’s about to come alive. Sounds pretty cool, don’t you think? We agree, as well.

If that’s the kind of vibe you wish for, choose a 3D anchor tattoo for yourself that you can keep close to your heart, quite literally, by getting it designed on your chest.

5. Lighthouse Design

Lighthouse Design
Image Source: tattoostime.com/nautical-lighthouse-tattoo-half-sleeve/

As far as maritime history is concerned, lighthouses have held a high degree of importance and continue to be vital even now. It’s the permanent significance of this symbol that makes it such a classic nautical tattoo to have.

Getting this tattoo could mean that you’re looking for some solid guidance and direction in your life, in which case this design can be truly helpful and inspiring.

Lighthouses are meant to be guiding symbols for ships, warning them when they need to be careful of the dangers that lie ahead. With this thought in mind, a lighthouse tattoo could give you hope and positivity, letting you know that things will always turn out well in the end.

This tattoo can act as a mental protective layer, allowing you to build your resilience and inner strength. It can also help you reach a healing path of self-discovery and personal growth.

6. Colorful Design with Different Elements

Colorful Design with Different Elements
Image Source: tattoosbag.com/50-coolest-anchor-tattoos-for-chest/

Did you think that tattoos could strictly be black or grey? Oh no, they can be filled with as many colors as you’d like, much like this one.

The unique bit about this design is the sort of dark humor embedded into it through the element of a skull, which almost looks like it’s grinning. If you have a different type of humor, this design will seem even more appealing to you.

7. Tattoo on the Head

Tattoo on the Head
Image Source: nextluxury.com/tattoos/nautical-tattoos-for-men/

There are certain body parts that are common as far as getting tattoos is concerned. What if you take the unconventional route and get a nautical tattoo somewhere that will shock those around you? One option for such a tattoo is on your head!

We’re sure it will make many heads turn your way (pun definitely intended). You can even add colors to it to amp up its vibrancy. A colorful ship and a symbol of two captains shaking hands with one another make for a brilliant tattoo design.

8. Tattoo With Three Nautical Symbols

Tattoo with Three Nautical Symbols
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How about you go for a tattoo that has not just one but three different nautical symbols? The ones in this design include a sailing ship, an anchor, and a steering wheel. The fun bit is that there is also a fourth element that is subtly present, and that is the rope.

The tattoo is a symbol of an adventure that awaits a talented sailor. Such a design makes you feel like a sailor who is aware of the power of the current around him, and he is waiting to discover the possibility of everything that lies ahead.

9. Nautical Triad

Nautical Triad
Image Source: pinterest.com/pin/305611524715844814/

While some people prefer minimalistic tattoos, others opt for massive designs that cover a huge part of their bodies. If you belong to the latter category, then this is a design you will wholeheartedly approve of.

This design presents the nautical triad of a compass, a nautical star, and a sailing ship. Request your tattoo artist to combine the black and gray shades so that the definition is super solid.

The design feels as if the metal of the compass is truly shining from within, providing a realistic look to the compass.

10. Monster and the Sea

Monster and the Sea
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The sea is a deep, never-ending space humans have yet to completely explore. On the one hand, it is magical and beautiful, while on the other hand, it is dangerous and mysterious.

The danger comes from the fact that we don’t yet know about the creatures that lie beneath the sea, and this is exactly what your tattoo can portray.

You can also draw a lighthouse above the monster and the waves to remind yourself that you will always find a way out of the dark times.

11. Nautical Star Tattoo

Nautical Star Tattoo
Image Source: pinterest.com/pin/320740804713899413/

The nautical star has been a part of the family of nautical tattoos for ages now. It represents the North Star and is meant as a symbol that guides sailors, helps them stay on course, and enables them to find their way back home.

It could also signify that an individual has crossed the North Sea. These tattoos have been particularly popular in the United States since the 1990s. If you feel like you have lost your path in life and are hoping to find it again, this is a beautiful reminder of that sentiment.

Since the nautical star is also meant to say ‘safe travels’ to sailors, it also serves as a good luck charm every time you leave for a trip or begin something exciting in your life. This tattoo also points to the importance of finding harmony and balance in one’s life.

12. Sailor’s Knot Tattoo

Sailor’s Knot Tattoo
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While the sailor’s knot may have started out as a maritime tradition, this vital Celtic symbol has evolved to represent so much more, especially concerning nautical tattoos.

Eternal love is the main meaning behind this symbol, signifying the unbreakable bond shared by two people.

If you are a skipper or someone who must be in the sea for long periods, you can surely get this tattoo. Doing so will constantly remind you of the person you love, which can provide you with all the comfort and assurance you will ever need.

A sailor’s knot is immensely resourceful and can be blended in different ways, making it versatile and adaptable. If these qualities hold true for your personality, this is an ideal nautical tattoo for you.

Getting such a tattoo can also mean that you value safety, among other things, or are someone people trust a lot to keep them safe and protected.

13. Mermaid Tattoo

Mermaid Tattoo
Image Source: pinterest.com/pin/124341639704176137/

Mermaids have been enchanting and mesmerizing mythical creatures in numerous forms of art and entertainment for decades. Because of their fictional connection with the sea, they are also considered a part of nautical tattoos

Mermaids make a great design for those who wish to celebrate their femininity and sensuality through a tattoo. With the mythical and tempting image they have had for eons, these mermaid tattoos add a magical quality to your appearance.

Since mermaids can travel across oceans, they are seen as symbols of independence and freedom. Do those sound like qualities you possess, too? If yes, get a mermaid-based nautical tattoo that celebrates your will to pursue your dreams without following the rules of society.

A mermaid tattoo can also represent adaptability and the talent to transform yourself according to the situation, which is always a lovely meaning for a tattoo to have.

14. Swallow Tattoo

Swallow Tattoo
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Swallows are birds that have often appeared in the history and folklore associated with the sea. Sailors often saw swallows as birds who brought them good luck and helped drive their ships to their desired destinations.

If you want your tattoo to provide a sense of peace and safety every time you leave for an adventure, this is an appropriate symbol to get tattooed.

Such a tattoo can also signify that you are a loving, committed human being deeply attached to your partner. This is because swallows are known to be extremely devoted to their partners. This commitment is why friends can get matching swallows tattoos, too.

In the past, swallows were tattooed by sailors to represent an achievement. If you’re at a stage in your life where you believe you have successfully accomplished important milestones, be sure to get this tattoo.

15. Shark Design

Shark Design
Image Source: pinterest.com/pin/624030092141062500/

When we think of the sea, it’s impossible not to think of all the underwater creatures that reside within that world. Of all the animals that exist under the ocean, one of the most terrifying yet inexplicably beautiful creatures has to be a shark.

These underwater animals are seen as symbols of both fear and beauty. Well, how about including them as a part of your nautical tattoo? We have a great idea by which you can make them seem more friendly by turning your shark into a cartoonish design!

Fill it in with cute colors to look like the shark is playing around in the vast ocean. Sharks are also symbols of fearlessness, bravery, and courage, which is yet another reason to get such a nautical tattoo.

Being the enigmatic creatures they are, they will further add to the alluring nature of your tattoo design.


1. What does an anchor in a nautical tattoo mean?

An anchor in a nautical tattoo means stability, strength, and commitment.

2. What does a compass signify in a nautical tattoo?

A compass in a nautical tattoo can signify guidance, balance, and protection.

3. Can I get Poseidon as a part of my nautical tattoo?

Yes, you can definitely get Poseidon as a part of your nautical tattoo since it’s quite a popular choice for such designs.

4. What do mermaids signify in a nautical tattoo?

Mermaids in a nautical tattoo could signify enchantment, sensuality, and independence.

5. Can I get a Kraken designed for my nautical tattoo?

Yes, you can surely get a Kraken designed for your nautical tattoo.


Nautical elements have always been associated with freedom, resilience, and adventure. If you can relate to those elements in one way or another, then nautical tattoos are a great way to honor your spirit of adventure and your desire to embark on meaningful journeys.

If you have been racking your brain looking for nautical tattoo ideas, go through the ideas listed above to find a design that best suits your thoughts and personality.

About Author

Jonathan Corby "Jonny" is a guy who is passionate about Tattooing and successfully running a Tattoo Studio in NY. Through my journey as a Tattoo Artist I have made unforgettable memories. This irrational poetry and sense of freedom of art on skin has given a blissfull experience to my life. Each Tattoo has a story behind it; Lets share one!