The coastal zone is an area where the interaction between land and sea is intense. It constitutes a highly dynamic and complex system that plays an important role in human survival and development. The vulnerability of coastal cities has increased due to global changes such as hazards, sea level rise, spatial use changes, etc. This study took Xiamen, a coastal city in Fujian Province, as an example to estimate exposure in relation to spatial use changes. The exposure value was defined as the land use intensity (LUI), comprised of five land-use/land-cover (LULC) types, and the shoreline use intensity (SUI), comprising 10 shoreline use types. The dynamic changes of these variables are discussed in detail from 1987 to 2007. The result show that the exposure value rose swiftly from 2.530 in 1987 to 2.707 in 1992, increased slightly to 2.747 in 1997 and 2.761 in 2002, and finally decreased slowly to 2.743 in 2007. The main reasons for such changes and future research directions are discussed.