Coastal regions in China are undergoing rapid land use change, but little attention is paid to the implications of this change to local community. Assessment of vulnerability of coastal community to land use change is an important step for enhancing the understanding and decision-making to reduce such vulnerability. This article presents an analytical framework and associated indicator system to assess and compare vulnerability of communities to land use change in coastal areas, and present a case study in China applying this framework. The study includes quantification of Exposure Index (EI), Sensitivity Index (SI) and Adaptive Capacity Index (AI). EI is to measure intensity of land use. SI and AI are based on some socio-economic attributes of the native residents, as well as their view on environmental change and management. Based on the quantification of SI and AI, Vulnerability Index (VI) can be assessed and compared among different communities. This framework was applied in a case study in Maluan Bay, Xiamen, China. The area consists of four administrative, as rural communities in the 1980s, evolving into four distinctive communities with different policies and development modes. Comparison of EI and VI reveals large disparity among communities. Analysis demonstrated that vulnerability was not evenly distributed across communities, which might be linked to the different stage of transformation the community was undergoing. For the case areas, vulnerability tends to increase with the increase of exposure to land use change, but can peak off once the community start to benefit socio-economically from development. The most vulnerable community is the one where native residents lost their livelihood, but benefited a little from economic development. This may suggest the need for tailor-made policy responses to help them to benefit from development and aid their smooth integration into the city, only in this way can enhance adaptive capacity of coastal communities to use change of land and sea.