Adventure International

The Sea

What is it about looking at the turquoise Caribbean sea-tossed like a blanket over a mattress and framed by a mountainous headstand—that lures me into sleep? My eyes are wide open to see this view yet my mind feels in a coma. I cannot look away from its exquisite beauty.

I traveled to the Dominican Republic for the third time in a decade wanting only this peace … a hideaway to watch the sea for a week. Las Terrenas was magical.

Sea’s Changing Face

I have seen the ocean in all the ways it disguises itself as different—whether the surf of Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, the crags of Dubrovnik, Croatia, the isolation of Isla Holbox, Mexico, or the wild horse terrain of Chincoteague, Virginia—yet it always feels the same.

Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
Isla Holbox beach
Isla Holbox, Mexico
Chincoteague, Virginia

Water. Blue. Infinity.

In the poem “The Sea,” written by Pablo Neruda, the poet talks about his hunger to learn from it.

“I need the sea because it teaches me.”

Pablo Neruda

He went on to describe the sea as an instructor. “The fact is that until I fall asleep, in some magnetic way I move in the university of the waves.”

Hypnotic Sea

Staring at the sea resembles the act of sleeping. Both involve seeming inactivity yet our brains are active. I meditate while I gaze, dream while I sleep.

Highest point on Brac Island

There is a bond between humans and this elemental force of nature, much like we feel when we stare down into the cavern of the Grand Canyon or contemplate the craggy mountaintops of Great Smoky National Park. Nature astounds.

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”

John Muir

Unlike traveling deep into the woods, I cannot penetrate the sea. My passivity only permits me to stare unrelentingly at its surface, marvel at its constantly shifting color graduations, and ponder its tranquility.

Greek Etymology

Sea is a homophone for the word to “see.” In Greek etymology, ‘homophone” derives from two Greek words—same (homo) and sound (phone). They sound the same so you cannot know the meaning without the context. Sea is a noun while see is a verb. Yet I see a link in how the sea helps me to see.

La Terranes, Dominican Republic

Taking this analogy one step further, I experience the sea through synesthesia. My eyes see water but I taste briny water in my mouth. I hear the waves pound down on the sandy beach but feel the tug of the current. WebMD describes synesthesia as “a fancy name for when you experience of your senses through another.”


The artist Georgia O’Keeffe saw colors when she heard a symphony. In the picture “Music: Pink & Blue, No. 1”, she paints what she hears. The hues’ music blares from the canvas–a symphony written in chroma, a scale mounting in a palette of rainbow tints, cobalt violet to blend with ultramarine, harmonize with chrome red.

The Chilean poet clearly was a synesthete when it came to how he experienced the sea.

“I don’t know if I learn music or awareness …”

Pablo Neruda
Dubrovnik seaport

Does he hear when he sees? What triggers the sensation of being driven down into the depths by the sea? Neruda questions “if it’s a single wave or its vast existence … or only its harsh voice or its shining suggestion of fishes and ships?”

For me, the vastness of the sea never ceases to delight me. This may be why I can sit for hours on an uncomfortable recliner on a beach staring at its surface.

Nature’s Kaleidoscope

The roiling colors that swim from turquoise to seafoam then back to indigo turn my vision into a kaleidoscope. But I don’t have to turn a knob or shake a toy. Nature is in charge of my tubal vision—the sea’s reflections produce changing patterns.

Swirling colors of the sea at sunrise in Costa Rica

Returning to the seashore will always be a journey home for me. Sea. Salt. Sand. I hold these memories close since my first glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean as a child at Cape Hatteras.

“What it taught me before, I keep. It’s air ceaseless wind, water and sand.”

Pablo Neruda

You Might Also Like

  • Megs
    March 12, 2022 at 7:20 am

    Ahhh, yes. There is something so calming about the sea. Thanks for sharing 💙

    • Terri
      March 13, 2022 at 7:49 am

      I can relive the calm just by looking at my photos of the sea.

  • Bejal
    March 12, 2022 at 8:07 am

    What a lovely moving and thought provoking post about the beautiful sea! Really lovely to read a post that’s a little different too and Sri Ning photos Terri!

    • Terri
      March 13, 2022 at 7:48 am

      I hoped that this reflection piece would make people reflect just like Neruda’s poem. I know this is a different type of post for a travel blog but it is also the reason we travel-to experience life in a different way.

  • Emma
    March 12, 2022 at 10:00 am

    I loved reading this, it really made me think. I love watching the sea too, the rolling waves, finding all the blues, it’s peaceful and not all at the same time. I can’t imagine not living by the ocean now that I have for so many years

    • Terri
      March 13, 2022 at 7:47 am

      The constantly changing colors of the sea mesmerize me just like a klaidescope! In Dominican Republic, the sea was a brilliant jade green while in St. John, it looks turquoise. You are so lucky to live near the ocean.

  • Hannah
    March 12, 2022 at 10:20 am

    Beautiful post! You’ve done a great job of capturing just how mesmerising and mysterious the sea is. I love your ‘sea’ and ‘see’ analogy – it really got me thinking! Thanks for the fascinating read!

    • Terri
      March 13, 2022 at 7:45 am

      Hannah I really appreciate your words. I think sonetimes we forget to appreciate the elemental force of the sea and the forest and how it comforts us. Neruda’s poem was the inspiration (plus my recent visit to Playa Coson).

  • Tish
    March 12, 2022 at 1:46 pm

    Terri thank you for the beautiful pictures, descriptions and Poetry !! You targeted my thoughts exactly from childhood through my adult years. I can never get enough of that magical feeling I feel while looking out into the vastness of the Ocean. I too can gaze for hours.

    • Terri
      March 13, 2022 at 7:43 am

      It truly is hypnotic. No matter what my troubles, I always feel comforted when I watch the sea. Thank you for sharing!

  • KarlaTypes
    March 12, 2022 at 3:35 pm

    I can totally relate to your thoughts! Also, love the pictures, there’s nothing nicer than a sunset on the sea!

    • Terri
      March 13, 2022 at 7:42 am

      I agree! As an amateur photographer, I can’t resist capturing the golden hour too!

  • Carly
    March 12, 2022 at 3:53 pm

    Loved seeing the sea in all your beautiful seaside photos! I am like you – I totally feel at home by the water!

    • Terri
      March 13, 2022 at 7:41 am

      I will be adding more photos to the blog as soon as I locate them on my iPhone. I am obsessive about photographing the sea esp at sunrise & sunset.

  • Linda Jane
    March 12, 2022 at 4:39 pm

    Such a beautiful post Terri! I live near the water & I love the sea with all its moods and colours. As a musician & teacher, I relate especially to Pablo Neruda’s words “I don’t know if I learn music or awareness…” because learning music is learning awareness on many levels…

    • Terri
      March 13, 2022 at 7:40 am

      Linda you are so lucky to live near the sea. It must be wonderful to watch it change during the seasons. I am glad you felt the connection with Neruda’s poem. I think I will always hear it in my mind now when I see the sea!

  • Bea
    March 13, 2022 at 3:30 am

    Beautiful poem by the great Pablo Neruda. I love your observations especially the connection between “sea” and “see”.

    • Terri
      March 13, 2022 at 7:38 am

      Thank you Bea! I was inspired by the poet’s words.

  • Joanna
    March 13, 2022 at 4:19 am

    I love the sea. I find it relaxing, calming and mesmerising. Even a turbulent sea puts me in a good space. Thank you for sharing.

    • Terri
      March 13, 2022 at 7:37 am

      Thank you Joanna. I love to watch a turbulent sea or go down to sit at the beach at night and watch a black sea.

  • Teja
    March 13, 2022 at 4:26 am

    The sea is the only thing that can calm the constant thoughts in my mind. When I look upon it, I feel at peace. I like its flatness, and how all are equal upon it. I like the way it makes people who depend upon it more open to others, more open to connection and collaboration, and the less land they have, the more it is true; in a way that land cultures are usually not.

    • Terri
      March 13, 2022 at 7:35 am

      Beautifully written! The sea is calming. I wish I lived near it. I would walk every morning at the sea.

  • Maggie
    March 13, 2022 at 8:23 am

    This is a beautiful post! It is amazing how different the sea is in so many different parts of the world and yet can evoke the same sensations no matter where you are.

  • Alma
    March 13, 2022 at 9:53 am

    Lovely post! I have similar sentiments about the sea. I feel at home when I am next to it. Watching the sea roll in, whether calmly or with more force, it is mesmerizing. Although we have seen it in many different parts of the world and in many different ways, it does not cease to amaze.