Dreaming of the Ocean: Discover the Spiritual Meaning and Interpretation

Written by Sammi Caramela
Updated: November 15, 2023
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Many of us feel a special tie to the ocean. Whether it’s fond memories spent at our favorite beaches or simply awe of its undeniable mystery, our connection to the sea might show up in a variety of ways. A common occurrence, for instance, is dreaming of the ocean. Since it holds many spiritual meanings and cultural symbolism, the ocean often makes an appearance in our sleep state.

The ocean makes up 71% of Earth’s surface. An estimated 97% of Earth’s water is found in the ocean, yet over 80% of the ocean hasn’t yet been explored. This massive body of saltwater is home to 37 out of 50 critical minerals and influences Earth’s climate. That being said, it’s no surprise many people adore the ocean and its vast wonders.

If you’ve been dreaming of the ocean recently, you can take away various messages and symbolism that might shed light on your current circumstances. This article will cover the various spiritual meanings and interpretations of dreaming of the ocean, including its symbolism across various cultures and religions. 

Ocean Symbolism

Below are some of the most common interpretations and symbolism of the ocean — as well as any associated myths and stories.

Sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico

Various cultures and religions highly adore the ocean.

©CurtisC Photoography/iStock via Getty Images

Native American Culture

Water, as a whole, carries deep symbolism in Native American cultures. Many believe water holds cleansing properties and is an emblem of healing, dreaming, change, and love. Additionally, some considered it to be a symbol of fertility and a source of life.


The Bible references the ocean multiple times. Many Christians believe the ocean symbolizes “peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues” (Revelation 17:15). Others say it represents evil or even death. This might more closely point to rebirth rather than eternal demise.

Hindu Scripture

In Hindu scripture, literature, and mythology, the ocean is believed to represent themes like life, deities, consciousness, emotions, and more. Varuna was the Hindu god of the ocean, sky, and water.

Greek Mythology 

In Greek mythology, the ocean represented vitality and eternal life. Poseidon was the god of water and the sea, storms, earthquakes, and horses. It was said that Poseidon was the protector of all waters and safely guided sailors along their routes.

African Culture

In many African societies, the ocean was viewed as a powerful and spiritual source of healing. Many believed the ocean held the sacred energy to protect and heal others, and some would even find ways to honor and offer sacrifices to the wondrous body of water.

Spiritual Meaning

Spiritually speaking, the ocean represents endless wisdom and enlightenment. It also symbolizes the subconscious mind and our emotions. Many spiritual individuals use the oceans as part of their rituals or meditative practices, viewing them as a source of energy and healing.

Common Ocean Dreams

There are various types of ocean dreams you might experience, ranging from peaceful and uplifting to frightening and discouraging. Here are ten common dreams that involve the ocean — and their associated meanings and interpretations.

Silhouette of a man looking at the Moon and stars over sea ocean horizon.

Dreaming of the ocean might symbolize themes associated with your subconscious mind or programming.

©m-gucci/iStock via Getty Images

1. Dreaming of a Calm Ocean

If the ocean is calm in your dream, you might be experiencing a period of tranquility and peace. Maybe you finally feel at ease in your relationship, found the groove in your daily routine, or have reached your ideal milestone in your career. Whatever the case, enjoy this calmness, as you have most certainly earned it.

If you have been dreaming of a calm ocean but don’t feel calm yourself, you can take this as a sign that you will reach stability and security soon. Find ways to practice self-discipline while still prioritizing both rest and play. Don’t give up just yet — even if you feel nothing is going your way right now, trust everything will begin to come together as you desire. You simply need to release your attachment to the outcome and believe you can — and will — manifest smooth seas (pun intended).

2. Dreaming of Large Ocean Waves

When we experience deep emotions, they often come “in waves” — some larger than others. Dreaming of large waves often symbolizes the intensity of your current emotions. This can be both positive and negative emotions, depending on how you felt during your dream. For instance, if you were afraid of the massive wave heading toward you, you might be experiencing fear or grief in your waking life — so much so that it seems impossible to cope with it.

On the other hand, if you felt a sense of excitement or passion during the dream (maybe you even rode the large wave to shore), you probably are experiencing more positive (yet still intense) emotions in your waking state. Maybe you’re falling in love, embarking on a new journey, or following a passion you’ve neglected in the past. 

Whatever the case, trust that you have it within you to “ride out” and survive any wave — even the most intimidating.

3. Dreaming of Being Caught in a Riptide

In your dream (or even waking life), you might get caught up in a strong current or riptide that seemingly guides you offshore and out to sea. This can be a frightening dream to have, as it often reminds us of our lack of control over situations. 

Where have you been resisting change in your life? In what ways are you fighting the “current” of life rather than trusting and going with the flow? This dream could indicate that you need to release a bit of control and be more flexible — especially if you’re attempting to go against the riptide in your dream.

If you’re simply letting the current take you in your dream, this can symbolize your strength and ability to overcome any obstacle that comes your way with grace. However, the riptide might also embody your intense emotions, indicating your need to express your feelings rather than bottling them up and letting others misguide you.

4. Dreaming of Swimming in the Ocean

Dreaming of swimming in the ocean is often a sign that you’re feeling more free and optimistic about your life. Rather than fighting the current, running from the waves, or drowning, you’re simply enjoying the ocean and its many offerings. This is usually proof that you’re viewing life as your playground and not putting as much pressure on yourself.

Because much of the ocean is unexplored, this dream can also symbolize your desire to travel somewhere new or adventure more often. Perhaps it’s a reminder to reconnect with your emotions and submerge yourself in nature, letting your spirit be your guide. If you’ve been feeling trapped or underwhelmed by life, find ways to get out and explore new opportunities and fresh perspectives. 

5. Dreaming of Diving in the Ocean

Because the ocean often represents our emotional state, diving into the sea symbolizes diving deep into our internal world. Sometimes, we must explore the depths of our emotions in order to understand where they stem from, process them, and release them so that we may move forward. If you’re dreaming of diving into the ocean, you likely feel ready to begin healing and embracing your emotions.

This dream might also be a warning sign that you need to be more reflective and willing to look inward when things are going wrong. Perhaps a period of solitude will help you reconnect with your soul and work through any overwhelm.

The ocean is also a symbol of change, meaning this dream might signify your ability and desire to change or transform in some way. Maybe you want to shed old patterns or take (healthy) risks outside of your comfort zone. Whatever the case, you have the strength and power within you to start anew. It’s never too late to change for the better.

6. Dreaming of Drowning in the Ocean

A common yet alarming dream involves drowning in the ocean. Perhaps you’re held underwater and can’t breathe until you finally wake up gasping for air, or maybe you actually “die” in your dream and experience parts of the afterlife. This is usually a sign you need to let go of some responsibilities or leave any toxic environment that’s holding you down. 

Because you’re drowning in your dream, you might be metaphorically “drowning” in your waking life, either in your emotions, obligations, or obsessive thoughts. This dream is a call to action for you to make the necessary changes that will cleanse your soul and remove some weight off your shoulders. 

During this time, practice meditation, journaling, and other self-care practices that can help you get to the bottom of your overwhelm. Once you can process your feelings, you can properly work through them and understand how to free yourself of life’s many woes.

7. Dreaming of Being Caught Underwater

Similar to the above dream of drowning in the ocean, dreaming of being caught underwater or in the waves might symbolize your need to explore your subconscious mind. Often, we bury our emotions in an attempt to feel safe or less burdened by them. However, this doesn’t help us heal and can actually lead to negative subconscious programming. For instance, if we don’t process the pain associated with betrayal or abandonment, we might find ourselves lashing out at loved ones or making assumptions that people will always hurt and neglect us.

Being stuck underwater can always indicate intense feelings of shame. Shame often stems from trauma or a situation that taught us we aren’t good enough. If you constantly criticize yourself (or are surrounded by others who criticize you) and blame yourself in most situations, consider turning inward and practicing more self-compassion. 

8. Dreaming of Peacefully Floating in the Ocean

Dreaming of floating in the ocean, especially if you’re feeling at peace, often symbolizes your ability to let go and trust the universe, God, or a higher power. When we’re floating in the ocean, we usually feel calm and free. In your waking life, perhaps you have finally reached a point where you can relax and enjoy the little things.

Another interpretation of this dream is that you need to face a specific fear in order to reach that heightened spiritual state. Happiness and fulfillment are on the other side of the risk you’ve been avoiding.

This dream might also mean that you’ve brought all your pent-up emotions to the surface and have found clarity and strength in releasing them. Once we accept and embrace our emotions (even the “negative” ones), we can self-regulate and find a more stable state. Otherwise, if you hold your emotions captive, you will only ever end up falling victim to them.

9. Dreaming of a Stormy Ocean

Stormy weather, especially in the presence of the ocean, can symbolize your own emotional state. If you’ve been dreaming of a stormy ocean, your personal life might feel turbulent right now. In this case, find ways to calm the storm and understand how you can cultivate a more peaceful environment for yourself. This might mean removing any unsupportive people from your life or cutting ties with dead-end opportunities that are causing too much stress.

Additionally, this dream often indicates that you are unsure of which direction to go. This is especially true if you are facing a major life decision, such as a career choice, romantic proposal, or even a major move. It’s best to ground yourself and practice meditation so you can connect with your intuition and make a more informed decision. 

10. Dreaming of an Ocean Filled With Fish

An ocean filled with wildlife and fish typically represents creative opportunities and inspiration. Especially if you’re a creative or artistic individual, this dream might be encouraging you to take the next steps toward your dreams. For example, start writing that book you’ve been plotting, invest in that new camera for your photography business, or perform at that local open mic you’ve been considering. All of these opportunities can lead you to a new and exciting place in your creative life.

Additionally, this dream reminds you of the endless options you have — even when you feel you’re running out of them. There’s a reason people say, “There’s plenty of fish in the sea!” We will never run out of chances to find love, create sustainable living, foster fulfilling friendships, or cultivate meaningful experiences in our lives. You have many opportunities to achieve abundance, but you must first believe you are worthy of it. 

Suddenly Dreaming of the Ocean

If you recently started dreaming of the ocean, especially consistently, you might wonder what it means. Perhaps you’re going through a transitionary period in your life, or maybe you feel overcome by your emotions or various choices. Pay close attention to how you feel in your dreams and their contexts. For instance, if you’re feeling scared and as though you can’t breathe while underwater, this dream might indicate a strong overwhelm in your waking life.

While dreaming of the ocean holds various meanings, some seemingly more positive than others, it can help you better understand your subconscious mind. Dreams often show us what needs healing or confirm that we are on the right path.

Bottom Line

The ocean symbolizes various meanings, both positive and negative, depending on how you interpret it. To understand what your ocean dreams are articulating to you, try to remember how you felt during the dream. Additionally, consider the context, such as who was with you, whether you were alone, the weather, etc. Often, ocean dreams serve as reminders of our strength, spiritual awareness, and ability to transform.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © RomoloTavani/iStock via Getty Images

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About the Author

Sammi is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering cats, nature, symbolism, and spirituality. Sammi is a published author and has been writing professionally for six+ years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Writing Arts and double minors in Journalism and Psychology. A proud New Jersey resident, Sammi loves reading, traveling, and doing yoga with her little black cat, Poe.

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