As an important tool for marine exploration, the autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) must home in and dock at a docking station (DS) to be recharged, repaired, or to exchange information at set intervals. However, the complex and hostile underwater environment makes this process challenging. This study proposes a real-time method based on polarized optical guidance for determining the position and attitude of the AUV relative to its DS. Four polarized artificial underwater landmarks are positioned at the DS, which are recognized by the AUV vision system. Compared with light intensity, the polarization of a light beam is known to be better maintained at greater propagation distances, especially in underwater environments. The proposed method, which is inspired by the ability of marine animals to communicate, calculates the pose parameters in less than 10 ms without any other navigational information. The simulation results reveal that the angle errors are small and the position errors are no more than 0.116 m within 100 m in the coastal ocean. The results of underwater experiments further demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed method, which extends the operating distance of the AUV beyond what is currently possible while maintaining the precision of traditional optical guidance.