Coastlines change with urbanization, and methods to extract coastlines have been previously reported. However, comparisons of these methods are rare. Based on remote sensing image, methods of coastline extraction, namely, the visual interpretation method, the threshold segmentation method, improved normalized water indexes and edge detection algorithms and were studied in Xiamen City, China. The best method to extract coastlines was then determined. The results show that the visual interpretation method for coastline extraction was inefficient. The threshold segmentation method was suitable for small-scale, but not large-scale, coastline extraction, based on coastline area. Improved normalized water indexes were insensitive to sediment shadows. The Sobel method (edge detection algorithms) was suitable for large-scale coastline extraction but could yield false edges. Finally, the block classification method, which combines the advantages of different extraction methods, specifically the threshold segmentation method and improved normalized water indexes, was studied. The results of this study show that coastline extraction by the block classification method is easier and produces better results than coastline extraction by other methods. Therefore, block classification is recommended for the study of coastlines and coastal ecology in large areas.