Home » 10 Meaningful Turtle Tattoo Ideas for Every Style

10 Meaningful Turtle Tattoo Ideas for Every Style

When we sit down to decide what to get tattooed on ourselves, the decision can indeed be quite tricky. While some choose to get the names of their loved ones on their bodies, others pick the lyrics to a song that means something to them.

Yet another common element that is often seen in tattoos is that of animals. Certain people choose their own pets for this purpose, and some go for animals that hold meaning to them in one form or another.

Among the many creatures that often make appearances in tattoos, turtles belong to the category of animals that has been popular as a tattoo for a very long time now.

Did you know that turtles mean different things in different cultures? Oh yes, it’s true. Right from the African and Hawaiian culture to that of Christianity, there is a vital meaning associated with these ancient animals.

Therefore, it makes perfect sense if you want to get a turtle tattooed on yourself. Choosing a design, however, is a whole different process.

If you have been struggling to pin down a single design, we are here to present you with a plethora of turtle tattoo ideas to pick from. Let’s get the exciting journey started, shall we?

Worthy Turtle Tattoo Ideas

Here are some of the most meaningful and interesting turtle tattoo ideas to choose from for your next tattoo:

1. Tribal Turtle Tattoo

Tribal Turtle Tattoo
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Tribal turtle tattoos hold a lot of importance in Polynesian culture. They connect it to unity and family, and if these elements matter to you as well, then you can surely get this particular design.

Vitality, virility, strength, and endurance are some of the attributes bestowed upon tribal turtle tattoos in Polynesian culture.

2. 3D Turtle Tattoo

3D Turtle Tattoo
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Won’t it be fantastic if you could make it look like the turtle in your tattoo is actually floating about somewhere around you? Well, thanks to the realistic touches that can be added to tattoos in the current era, these 3D turtle tattoos are absolutely possible.

Whether the turtle is just resting, swimming around, or chasing some bubbles, you can request your tattoo artist to make it look as realistic as possible!

3. Neo-traditional Turtle Tattoo

Neo-traditional Turtle Tattoo
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Neo-traditional turtle tattoos refer to those tattoos that stick to the traditional concepts of shape and color, blending them with designs that are richer in color. These bring in a technical approach that is more contemporary than the one usually followed for tattoos.

The shade techniques and linework applied by tattoo artists for such designs on greyscale and black tattoos are done in a way such that the results are brighter tattoos that give a vibrant effect. Needless to say, such a tattoo will make many heads turn your way.

Make sure to discuss your vision with your tattoo artist before you go in for such a tattoo. Chances are they will combine your concept with their brilliant manipulation of shape, color, and placement to transform it into something even better than what you’d pictured.

4. Cartoonish Turtle Tattoo

Cartoonish Turtle Tattoo
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A tattoo doesn’t at all have to be serious or stick to any particular rules because there are literally zero restrictions when it comes to tattoos, and this is also true as far as turtle tattoos are concerned.

If you want your tattoo to be more laidback and all you wish for is a fun and colorful design, then the best option is to get a cartoonish tattoo. After all, turtles have been a part of pop culture in many ways, and who wouldn’t want to pay tribute to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, right?

Just imagine how cute it will be to have a little cartoonish turtle tattooed on yourself!

5. Celtic-Inspired Turtle Tattoo

Celtic-Inspired Turtle Tattoo
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If you ever see someone with a turtle tattoo that has rounded outlines and a unique design with green hues, chances are it’s a Celtic-style turtle tattoo that they are spotting.

As per the Celtic culture, turtles are scared animals. Inspired by the design of Celtic knots, tattoo artists often modify them into forming the turtles in the tattoo in question. These knots or loops represent good health and a long life.

Additionally, the Celtic culture considers turtles to be the symbol of protection, innocence, and wisdom. Therefore, anyone who is a part of that culture wears these tattoos with a lot of pride and honor.

6. Geometric Turtle Tattoo

Geometric Turtle Tattoo
Image Source: pinterest.com/pin/41799102780201841/

Some people like to go for a more modern approach as far as their tattoos are concerned instead of taking the traditional route. If that’s the category you belong to, then a geometric turtle tattoo will be perfect for you to give it an edgier look.

The good thing about these geometric designs is that they can be done in any manner as per your liking, and you can go as big or small as you’d prefer. You can also make it half-traditional and half-geometric to enhance the unique aspect of the design.

7. Turtle Swimming in the Ocean

Turtle Swimming in the Ocean
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A turtle swimming in the ocean is not just an adorable sight, but also incredibly meaningful. It shows the adaptability factor associated with these creatures, as they can survive on land as well as water.

If you’re someone who easily adapts to different situations, you can definitely get this tattoo. Also, if you want a bigger design for your tattoo, then you can ask your tattoo artist to make the aquatic appearance as colorful as possible so that your tattoo looks super attractive.

8. Matching Turtle Tattoos

Matching Turtle Tattoos
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Are you thinking of getting matching tattoos with your friend, parent, or spouse? Well, if you are, then we promise that matching turtle tattoos will look extremely adorable!

You can get identical designs by imprinting it in such a way that half the turtle is designed on yourself, and the other half is designed on the person getting the matching tattoo with you.

You can also include some words over the tattoo design which is in connection to your bond with the other person.

9. Turtle Tattoo with a Quote

Turtle Tattoo with a Quote
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Perhaps you don’t just want the design of a turtle in your tattoo and would like to add more meaningful things as well. In that case, you can always add a quote around the turtle.

This quote can belong to a mantra you follow religiously in your life, or it can simply be a quote from a song, book or movie that is very special to you. Some people add motivational quotes to their turtle tattoos to keep themselves inspired.

 10. Minimalistic Turtle Tattoo

Turtle Tattoo with a Quote
Image Source: pinterest.com/pin/240731542574214400/

Not everyone prefers to get a huge tattoo or have their back covered by a single tattoo design. If you too are one of those people, stop worrying, for we have a minimalistic turtle tattoo idea that you can turn to.

You can get a small turtle tattoo on your finger, your wrist, on the nape of your neck, or even behind your ear. It can be just a silhouette or even a colorful one.

While earlier it was thought that only girls get minimalistic tattoos, the time has come to break away from these stereotypes and let anyone of any gender get as small a tattoo as they’d like, right?

What is the Significance of Turtle Tattoos?

What is the Significance of Turtle Tattoos?

Before we get into the many turtle tattoo ideas we have in store for you, let’s discuss the significance of such tattoos, as we’re sure that your will to get one of these tattoos will increase even further after knowing the meanings behind them:

1. Wisdom and Patience

We all have heard the story of the turtle and the rabbit and how the turtle wins the race as it took its time to reach the finish line. “Slow and steady wins the race” is a slogan that comes from turtles and the patience level they possess.

If you choose to get a turtle tattoo, it means that you have a lot of patience or you value patience as a quality, which is indeed rare in this world.

Many people choose to take shortcuts in their life, but you’re different, because you trust the process and wait patiently instead of expecting overnight success.

A turtle tattoo also stands for wisdom and is often spotted on people who are wise beings. This is because it’s said that since turtles are such ancient animals, they have managed to gather the wisdom of the eras that have passed by.

Such tattoos mean that you have enough wisdom to guide yourself and others in the path of life. People probably come to you for advice as you always have wise words to say to them.

2. Longevity

If a long life is what you envision for yourself, then getting a turtle tattoo makes a lot of sense because turtles are some of the oldest creatures that have been living on this planet.

They have been around for more than 250 million years, and you too can become a part of their legacy by getting a turtle tattoo. For those who consider turtles to be their spirit animal, this is a wonderful reason to get this tattoo.

3. Persistence

If you give plenty of importance to persistence as an attribute, then you should surely get a turtle tattoo. Turtles are famous for having persistence and determination in plenty. For the ones who never let the hardships and obstacles get in the way, the significance of a turtle tattoo multiplies even further.

This kind of tattoo proves that you believe in enduring the tough days for now so that you can reap the benefits later on. You don’t let the noise and chaos of the world get to you and instead believe in maintaining your own pace and speed.

4. Peace

Are you someone who sticks to their own business instead of poking your nose into the matters of others? If yes, then a turtle tattoo will be very well suited to your personality. The reason behind this is that turtles are supremely peaceful beings.

They stay in their own lane and never annoy the other animals around them. They aren’t known to be vicious or vengeful, and they don’t prey on other creatures either.

It’s the combination of these qualities that makes a turtle tattoo so meaningful, because much like turtles, perhaps you too are someone who follows the ‘live and let live’ slogan and believes in maintaining their own peace and tranquility.

5. Fertility

Giving birth or having kids and a family of their own matters to so many around the world.

If it’s a topic of importance to you as well, then you’re sure to cherish a turtle tattoo. This is because turtles are extremely fertile animals and are known to travel great distances just to lay their eggs and provide shelter to their babies.

This fertility doesn’t just hold true in terms of expanding your family, but also your career. Therefore, if you have been praying for your professional life to flourish, a turtle tattoo will serve as an inspiration and a sign of good luck to you.

6. Transformation

Turtles are creatures that can live both on land and water. This is a very crucial aspect of their lives and personalities as it shows their ability to transform and adapt.

It’s vital to keep this bit in mind when you’re getting a turtle tattoo, as it symbolizes that you, too, possess the power to transform yourself whenever needed and adapt yourself to various situations.

7. Protection and Healing

Not only do turtles harm other animals, but they also have the strength to keep themselves protected from harsh weather and predators. They can do this due to their exterior, which is the hardened shell that protects them and allows them to stay concealed.

Without causing any menace, they go the extra mile to protect themselves. Does this sound a bit like your own personality? Perhaps you too are someone who is kind to others and yet values their own happiness?

If that’s the case, then you should get a turtle tattoo designed on yourself. If you believe that your endurance enables you to stay unharmed from the vices of the world, then this tattoo will be very symbolic in your life.

8. Cultural Significance

While many may not be aware of it, turtles actually have a deep-rooted significance in numerous cultures around the world. As per Native American mythology, turtles are a sign of longevity.

In several Asian cultures, on the other hand, turtles are seen as symbols of good luck that help keep evil spirits away. People in China consider turtles to symbolize tenacity, wealth, wisdom, divine power, and vitality.

Therefore, getting a turtle tattoo also means harnessing the goodness of everything they symbolize in various cultures.


1. What is the symbolism of a turtle tattoo?

The symbolism of a turtle tattoo is linked to various things, such as patience, transformation, healing, and fertility.

2. Can I get a minimalistic turtle tattoo?

Yes, you can definitely get a minimalistic turtle tattoo if you’re not a big fan of huge tattoos.

3. Is it possible to get a colorful turtle tattoo?

Yes, it is surely possible to get a colorful turtle tattoo. You can choose as many colors for your tattoo as you’d like.

4. Will it hurt to get a turtle tattoo?

It can’t be predetermined if the process of getting a tattoo will hurt a person or not, as it depends on the pain threshold of the person, where they are getting it done, and how big the tattoo is.

5. How long will it take to get a turtle tattoo designed on myself?

The time it takes to get a turtle tattoo designed on oneself is based on how elaborate the tattoo’s design is.


Turtles are often seen as pets in various households. These patient creatures seem to be in their own world and don’t ever appear to bother others around them. Perhaps it’s the calmness they exude that makes many people want to get a turtle tattoo.

The fact that a turtle tattoo has such deep meanings is just another bonus point as to why you might want to get such a tattoo for yourself. Go through the many options listed in this article and see which one catches your eye the most.

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!