We study the water oxidation mechanism of the cobalt aqua complex [Co(H2O)6]2+ in a photocatalytic setup by means of density functional theory. Assuming a water-nucleophilic-attack or radical coupling mechanism, we investigate how the oxidation state and spin configuration change during the catalytic cycle. In addition, different ligand environments are employed by substituting a water ligand with a halide, pyridine, or derivative thereof. This allows exploration of the effect of such ligands on the frontier orbitals and the thermodynamics of the water oxidation process. Moreover, the thermodynamically most promising water oxidation catalyst can be identified by comparing the computed free energy profiles to the one of an “ideal catalyst”. Examination of such simple (hypothetical) water oxidation catalysts provides a basis for the derivation of design guidelines, which are highly sought for the development of efficient homogeneous water oxidation catalysts.