having worked very briefly in that area, what i have learnt from my instructors is there is 2 ways to approach it, the first is trick is the camera, keeping it focused within the boundaries of the entire scene, so no matter how far you zoom out or in, the lens will be focused to a specific scale encomposing the entire scene making it as if its actually quite large.
the other is image planes, making clouds look far away is simple even if your scene is on a smaller scale, the clouds can be infinite. the same prinicple can be applied to an ocean but i wouldn't know how to get the same effect in the background as in the foreground, or if its just ocean you could render an single frame of the waves and make that image plane, so in the distance its still an image but because the foreground element is ocean disturbance you could try to get it both to sync together.
like i said, i've worked very briefy in this area so i'm not entirely sure, just theorising
3D Modeler and Texture Painter (Learning)
"We have limits.... our imagination does not"
Final Year: University of Bradford (Worst place to live and study in the UK!!)