Over the last two decades, a large body of academic scholarship has been generated on wave and tidal energy related topics. It is therefore important to assess and analyse the research direction and development through horizon scanning processes. To synthesise such large-scale literature, this review adopts a bibliometric method and scrutinises over 8000 wave/tidal energy related documents published during 2003–2021. Overall, 98 countries contributed to the literature, with the top ten mainly developed countries plus China produced nearly two-thirds of the research. A thorough analysis on documents marked the emergence of four broad research themes (dominated by wave energy subjects): (A) resource assessment, site selection, and environmental impacts/benefits; (B) wave energy converters, hybrid systems, and hydrodynamic performance; (C) vibration energy harvesting and piezoelectric nanogenerators; and (D) flow dynamics, tidal turbines, and turbine design. Further, nineteen research sub-clusters, corresponding to broader themes, were identified, highlighting the trending research topics. An interesting observation was a recent shift in research focus from solely evaluating energy resources and ideal sites to integrating wave/tidal energy schemes into wider coastal/estuarine management plans by developing multicriteria decision-making frameworks and promoting novel designs and cost-sharing practices. The method and results presented may provide insights into the evolution of wave/tidal energy science and its multiple research topics, thus helping to inform future management decisions.