The coast is home to unique ecosystems, where complex ecological processes take place through the interaction of terrestrial, aquatic, atmospheric, and human landscapes. However, there are considerable knowledge and data gaps in achieving effective and future change-proof sustainable management of coastal zones around the world due to both technical and social barriers, as well as governance challenges. Currently, the role of Earth observation (EO) in addressing many of the recognised information gaps is small and under-utilised. While EO can provide much of the spatiotemporal information required for historical analysis and current status mapping, and offers the advantage of global coverage; its uptake can be limited by technical and methodological challenges associated mostly with lack of capacity and infrastructure, product accuracy and accessibility, costs, and institutional acceptance. While new initiatives and recent technological progress in the EO and information technology arena aim to tackle some of these issues so that EO products can be more easily used by non-EO experts, uptake is still limited. This paper discusses how EO can potentially inform transformative practices of planning in the coastal water zone, by using examples to demonstrate the EO potential in providing information relevant to decision-making framed by international agreements, such as the United Nations Agenda 2030, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Sendai Framework for Risk Reduction. By presenting evidence for how EO can contribute to innovative opportunities and data synergies at scale, the paper discusses opportunities and challenges for a more solution-led approach to sustainable coastal management.