Are you inspired by the ocean? Gazing out to sea, sailing, or just spending a lazy day on the beach can be such a magical experience. Here are my 40 favorite ocean quotes to inspire you to spend some time out on the water.

These ocean quotes about the sea range from short to long, inspirational to funny (and everything in between!), so I’m sure you’ll find a quote that you love. I’ve illustrated each of these ocean quotes with a beautiful photo of the sea, perfect to save to your ocean Pinterest board.

I hope you enjoy these quotes as much as I do. Use your favorites for scrapbooking, journaling, and Instagram captions, or just for inspiration to keep looking to the horizon.

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Please feel free to save any of my ocean quotes images to use on your own website or social media. Just be sure to credit Should Be Cruising and link back to this page. Thanks!

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1. “Smell the sea and feel the sky. Let your soul and spirit fly.” — Van Morrison

Sir George Ivan Morrison (1945-) is a Grammy Award-winning Northern Irish singer-songwriter, instrumentalist, and producer. This ocean quote is from the lyrics to Into the Mystic, from his 1970 album Moondance.

2. “Dance with the waves, move with the sea. Let the rhythm of the water set your soul free.” — Christy Ann Martine

One of my favorite ocean quotes, these lines from Christy Ann Martine Zutautas (1972-) are from a Canadian poet and writer. This quote about the ocean is from her short poem, Dance With The Waves, written in 2017.

3. “The sea is an underwater museum still awaiting its visitors.” — Philippe Diolé

Philippe Victor Diolé (1908-1977) was a French author and undersea explorer, best known for co-authoring 7 of the 8-volume series The Undersea Discoveries of Jacques-Yves Cousteau.

4. “The sea always filled her with longing, though for what she was never sure.” — Cornelia Funke

Cornelia Maria Funke (1958-) is a German author and illustrator of children’s fiction. This ocean quote is from her 2003 young adult fantasy novel Inkheart, the first in a trilogy of the same name.

5. “My soul is full of longing for the secret of the sea, and the heart of the great ocean sends a thrilling pulse through me.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882) was an American poet and educator. One of the “fireside poets” from New England, Longfellow was the most popular American poet of his day. This quote about the sea is from his poem The Secret of the Sea, included in his 1850 book of poetry The Seaside and the Fireside.

6. “Take me to the ocean. Let me sail the open sea. To breathe the warm and salty air and dream of things to be.” — Erica Billups

Erica Billups is an Atlanta-based poet, artist, and blogger. She’s the owner and lead artist at Liberty & Lilac Paper Co, and the author of this favorite ocean quote.

7. “You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” — Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was a Bengali writer, playwright, composer, philosopher, social reformer, painter, and one of India’s greatest poets. He was the first Asian writer to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1913. This inspirational ocean quote is from his 1910 mystic play The King Of The Dark Chamber.

8. if the ocean can calm itself, so can you. we are both salt water mixed with air.” — Nayyirah Waheed

Reclusive poet and writer Nayyirah Waheed has been called “perhaps the most famous poet on Instagram” by Jet. She’s published two books of her minimalist poetry—this ocean quote is from her 2013 debut volume entitled salt.

9. “The sea appears all golden, Beneath the sun-lit sky.” — Heinrich Heine

Christian Johann Heinrich Heine (1797–1856)was a German poet, writer, and literary critic.Heine is perhaps best known for his early lyric poems, many of which were set to music by composers including Schubert and Schumann. His quote about the sea comes from his romantic poem Seraphina, published in his 1827 Book of Songs.

10. “The sea does not like to be restrained.” — Rick Riordan

Richard Russell Riordan Jr. (1964-) is an American author best known for writing the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, about a teenager who discovers he’s the son of the Greek god Poseidon. This sea quote is from his 2005 novel The Lightning Thief, the first book in the series.

11. “To me the sea is a continual miracle; The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—the ships with men in them; What stranger miracles are there?” — Walt Whitman

Walter Whitman (1819–1892) was an American humanist poet, essayist, and journalist. Whitman is one of the most influential American poets and is often called the father of free verse. His ocean quote is from the poem Miracles, first published in his 1856 volume Leaves of Grass.

12. “That the sea is one of the most beautiful and magnificent sights in Nature, all admit.” — John Joly

John Joly (1857–1933) was an Irish physicist, professor of geology, and inventor, most famous for his development of radiotherapy in the treatment of cancer. Joly also developed the Joly color screen, the first successful process for producing color photographs from a single plate.

13. “The sea is a desert of waves, A wilderness of water.” — Langston Hughes

James Mercer Langston Hughes (1901–1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. A leader of the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes was also an early innovator of jazz poetry. This ocean quote is from his poem Long Trip.

14. “To me, the sea is like a person — like a child that I’ve known a long time. It sounds crazy, I know, but when I swim in the sea I talk to it. I never feel alone when I’m out there.” — Gertrude Ederle

Gertrude Caroline Ederle (1905–2003) was an American competition swimmer known as the “Queen of the Waves”. Ederle was an Olympic champion, former world record-holder in five events, and in 1926 became the first woman to swim across the English Channel.

15. “And the sea will grant each man new hope, as sleep brings dreams of home.” — Larry Ferguson

Larry Ferguson is an American screenwriter and film director whose film credits include HighlanderBeverly Hills Cop II, and Alien 3. Although this sea quote is commonly misattributed to Christopher Columbus, Ferguson actually penned the words, delivered by Sean Connery at the end of the film The Hunt for Red October.

16. “With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you’re connected to the sea. No matter where on Earth you live.” — Sylvia Earle

Dr. Sylvia Alice Earle (1935-) is an American marine biologist, oceanographer, explorer, author, and lecturer. Earle was the first female chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Since 1988, she’s been a National Geographic explorer-in-residence, and is also part of Ocean Elders, a group dedicated to protecting the ocean and its wildlife.

17. “Wouldst thou … learn the secret of the sea? Only those who brave its dangers, comprehend its mystery!” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882) was an American poet and educator. This quote about the ocean is from his poem The Secret of the Sea. It’s often misquoted as “Would you learn the secret of the sea?”, but the original line was “Wouldst thou, —so the helmsman answered; Learn the secret of the sea?”.

18. “For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), it’s always ourselves we find in the sea” — E. E. Cummings

Edward Estlin Cummings (1894–1962) was an American modernist poet, painter, essayist, author, and playwright. This ocean quote comes from his 1956 poem maggie and milly and molly and may.

19. “The sea possesses a power over one’s moods that has the effect of a will. The sea can hypnotize. Nature in general can do so.” — Henrik Ibsen

Henrik Johan Ibsen (1828–1906) was a Norwegian modernist playwright and theatre director, often referred to as the “father of realism”. After Shakespeare, Ibsen is the most frequently performed dramatist in the world.This sea quote is from his 1888 play The Lady from the Sea.

20. “There’s nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the ocean itself, except that when you finally see what goes on underwater, you realize that you’ve been missing the whole point of the ocean. Staying on the surface all the time is like going to the circus and staring at the outside of the tent.” — Dave Barry

David McAlister Barry (1947-) is an American author and columnist. From 1983 until 2005, Barry wrote a nationally syndicated humor column for the Miami Herald. He’s also written many books of humor and parody and several comic novels.

21. “How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is clearly Ocean.” — Arthur C. Clarke

Sir Arthur Charles Clarke (1917–2008) was an English science-fiction writer, science writer, inventor, undersea explorer, and television host.Clarke co-wrote the screenplay for the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, one of the most influential films of all time. During the 1980s he hosted several television shows, including Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World.

22. “We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came…” — John F. Kennedy

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917–1963) was an American politician and the 35th president of the United States. As a young man, JFK and his family spent summers at their Cape Cod home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, where he enjoyed sailing and swimming in the ocean. This ocean quote is from Kennedy’s speech given at the dinner for the America’s Cup crews on September 14, 1962.

23. “Limitless and immortal, the waters are the beginning and end of all things on earth.” — Heinrich Zimmer

Heinrich Robert Zimmer (1890–1943) was a German Indologist, linguist, and historian of South Asian art, Zimmer is best known for his works Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization and Philosophies of India. He was one of the most important German scholars in Indian philology.

24. “The ocean makes me feel really small and it makes me put my whole life into perspective.” — Beyoncé Knowles

Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter (1981-) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress. She’s one of the world’s best-selling recording artists, and was the first artist to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 with their first six solo studio albums. In 2020,Beyoncé was included on Time‘s list of 100 women who defined the last century.

25. “The ocean has always been a salve to my soul…the best thing for a cut or abrasion was to go swimming in salt water. Later down the road of life, I made the discovery that salt water was also good for the mental abrasions one inevitably acquires on land.” — Jimmy Buffett

James William Buffett (1946-) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, author, actor, and businessman. Best known for his island-escapist music, Buffett is also a bestselling author as well as the owner of the Margaritaville restaurant chain. This ocean quote is from his 1988 autobiography A Pirate Looks at Fifty.

26. “In one drop of water are found all the secrets of all the oceans.” — Kahlil Gibran

Gibran Khalil Gibran (1883–1931) was a Lebanese-American writer, poet and visual artist. Gibran is best known for his 1923 inspirational fiction work The Prophet, one of the best-selling books of all time. This quote about the ocean is translated from his 1921 Arabic-language play Iram, City of Lofty Pillars.

27. “The calming movement of the sea along with the restless ocean breeze gently caresses me creating a soothing trance which lulls me to a place of peace.” — M. L. Borges

M. L. Borges is a visual artist, poet, and author who writes in various genres, including mystery and romance. This quote about the ocean is from By The Sea, a 2013 collection of paintings and quotes.

28. “We must free ourselves of the hope that the sea will ever rest. We must learn to sail in high winds.” — Aristotle Onassis

Aristotle Socrates Onassis (1906–1975) was a Greek shipping magnate. He owned the world’s largest privately-owned shipping fleet at the time and was one of the world’s richest men. Onassis was well known for marrying former US first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, leading to her nickname of “Jackie O”.

29. The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient … One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.” — Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Anne Spencer Morrow Lindbergh (1906–2001) was an American author and aviator. She was the wife of aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh, and they made many exploratory flights together. This sea quote is from her 1955 book Gift from the Sea, an inspirational volume for women that foreshadowed the green movement.

30. “They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea.” — Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban (1561–1626) was an English philosopher and statesman who served as Attorney General, as temporary Regent of England (for a month in 1617) and later as Lord Chancellor of England. Bacon was an influential figure during the scientific revolution, and his works helped develop the scientific method.

31. “The sea lives in every one of us.” — Robert Wyland

Robert Wyland (1956-), known simply as Wyland, is an American artist and conservationist best known for his Whaling Walls, a series of over 100 large outdoor murals featuring life-size images of whales and other sea creatures.

Fun fact for cruise fans: Wyland designed and painted a massive mural on the hull of Norwegian Cruise Line‘s Norwegian Bliss, launched in 2018, featuring images of his trademark life-sized whales.

32. “But where, after all, would be the poetry of the sea were there no wild waves?” — Joshua Slocum

Joshua Slocum (1844–1909) was a Canadian-American writer, sailor, and adventurer. The first person to sail single-handedly around the world, he wrote a book in 1900, Sailing Alone Around the World, about his journey aboard his sloop the Spray. The book—where this ocean quote is taken from—was an international best-seller. Slocum disappeared in November 1909 while aboard his boat, and was presumed lost at sea.

33. “Great sea captains are made in rough waters and deep seas.” — Kathryn Kuhlman

Kathryn Kuhlman (1907–1976) was an American evangelist known for hosting healing services. She traveled the US extensively and around the world between the 1940s and 1970s, holding “healing crusades”. In the 60s and 70s, Kuhlman hosted I Believe In Miracles, a weekly television program that was aired nationally in the United States.

34. “The human heart is like a ship on a stormy sea driven about by winds blowing from all four corners of heaven.” — Martin Luther

Martin Luther, (1483–1546) was a German professor of theology, priest, author, composer, Augustinian monk, and an important figure in the Protestant Reformation. This ocean quote comes from the preface to his 1545 Commentary on the Psalms. This quote is often misattributed to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., leader of the American civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s.

35. “What world lies beyond that stormy sea I do not know, but every ocean has a distant shore, and I shall reach it.” — Cesare Pavese

Cesare Pavese (1908–1950) was an Italian novelist, poet, essayist, short story writer, translator, and literary critic. Although he destroyed many of his personal papers before his death, his diaries (which include this quote) remain and were published as This Business of Living: Diaries 1935-1950.

36. “The sea is as near as we come to another world.” — Anne Stevenson

Anne Stevenson (1933–2020) was an American-British poet and writer. Stevenson was the author of over a dozen volumes of poetry, books of essays and literary criticism. In 2007, she was awarded the Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award for Poetry, and the Poetry Foundation’s Neglected Masters Award. This ocean quote is from her 1977 poem North Sea off Carnoustie.

37. “As the sea is beautiful not only in calm but also in storm, so is happiness found not only in peace but also in strife.” — Ivan Panin

Ivan Nikolayevich Panin (1855–1942) was a Russian writer and lecturer. After his exile from Russia, Panin emigrated first to Germany and then to the US. Today Panin is best known for claiming to discover numerical patterns in the text of the Hebrew and Greek Bibles. This sea quote is included in his 1899 book, Thoughts.

38. “The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.” — Kate Chopin

Katherine O’Flaherty Chopin (1850–1904) was an American short story writer and novelist. Chopin is one of the most frequently read and recognized writers of Louisiana Creole heritage. This ocean quote is from The Awakening, her second novel.

39. “The heart of man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides and in its depths, it has its pearls too.” — Vincent van Gogh

Vincent Willem van Gogh (1853–1890) was a Dutch post-impressionist painter who became one of the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. This inspirational ocean quote is from The Letters of Vincent van Gogh, a collection of over 900 of his personal letters and related manuscripts.

40. “The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul.” — Robert Wyland

Robert Wyland (1956-), known simply as Wyland, is an American artist and conservationist best known for his Whaling Walls, a series of over 100 large outdoor murals featuring life-size images of whales and other sea creatures.

For more inspiring quotes and captions about the sea and sailing, be sure to check out

What are your favorite ocean quotes? Is there one I listed that speaks to you, or do you have another quote about the sea that inspires you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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40 Ocean Quotes for Everyone Who Loves The Sea

About the Author

Carrie Ann is the founder of Should Be Cruising and a lifelong travel fanatic. A former flight attendant, she now prefers cruise ships over airplanes and spends several months each year cruising and exploring cruise ports. Facebook | Instagram

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28 Comments

  1. I love quote no. 2 – “Dance with the waves, move with the sea. Let the rhythm of the water set your soul free.” It’s a celebration of freedom; selecting your choices in life. It makes me feel good to decide for myself and be responsible for the outcome.

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