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Jetty vs. Pier: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 2, 2023
A jetty is a structure projecting into water to influence currents and protect shores; a pier is a structure extending from land over water, typically used for docking boats.

Key Differences

Jetty is a structure that projects into the water primarily to influence water currents and protect shores from erosion. Pier, on the other hand, is built extending from the land into the water, mainly for purposes like docking boats or providing a walkway.
Jetty often serves to protect harbors and coasts by altering tidal flows and reducing erosion. Conversely, a pier’s central function is usually to provide access to boats, serve as a fishing spot, or offer a place to enjoy the seascape.
Constructed from various materials like wood, steel, or concrete, a jetty is typically narrower and longer. In contrast, a pier may be wide and can even support buildings and amusement rides, demonstrating its diverse uses in comparison to a jetty.
In terms of placement, a jetty is usually found at the mouth of rivers or harbors. A pier, however, is typically found in resort towns and coastal cities, underscoring their differing roles in water-based infrastructures.

Comparison Chart


Influence currents, protect shores
Docking boats, providing walkway


Narrower, longer
Can be wide, may support buildings


Mouths of rivers or harbors
Resort towns, coastal cities


Primarily protective
Recreational, access to boats


Wood, steel, or concrete
Typically wood or concrete

Jetty and Pier Definitions


A landing stage or small pier used primarily for mooring boats.
We tied our boat to the jetty before exploring the island.


A walkway over the water for pedestrian use.
The newly constructed pier offers stunning views of the sunset.


A structure designed to protect a coastline from erosion.
The new jetty effectively reduced the erosion of the shoreline.


A place of amusement and recreation.
The amusement park on the pier was bustling with excited visitors.


A structure extending into a sea or river to influence the current.
The small boat maneuvered alongside the jetty.


A structure built over the water as a mooring place for boats.
Fishermen unloaded their catch at the pier after a long day at sea.


A construction used to deflect water currents.
The jetty was built to protect the harbor from strong currents.


A platform supported by pillars or girders, leading out from the shore.
Tourists strolled along the pier, enjoying the ocean breeze.


A structure, such as a pier, that projects into a body of water to influence the current or tide or to protect a harbor or shoreline from storms or erosion.


A platform extending from a shore over water and supported by piles or pillars, used to secure, protect, and provide access to ships or boats.


A wharf.


Such a structure used predominantly for entertainment.


Resembling jet, as in texture.


A supporting structure at the junction of connecting spans of a bridge.


Of the color jet; black
Jetty tresses.


A pillar, generally rectangular in cross section, supporting an arch or roof.


A structure of wood or stone extended into the sea to influence the current or tide, or to protect a harbor or beach.


The portion of a wall between windows, doors, or other openings.


A wharf or dock extending from the shore.


A reinforcing structure that projects from a wall; a buttress.


(architecture) A part of a building that jets or projects beyond the rest, and overhangs the wall below.


A raised platform built from the shore out over water, supported on piles; used to secure, or provide access to shipping; a jetty.
Your boat is docked at the pier.


To jut out; to project.


A similar structure, especially at a seaside resort, used to provide entertainment.
There is a gaming arcade on the pier.


(archaic) Made of jet, or like jet in color.


A structure supporting the junction between two spans of a bridge.


Made of jet, or like jet in color.
The people . . . are of a jetty.


(architecture) A rectangular pillar, or similar structure, that supports an arch, wall or roof, or the hinges of a gate.


A part of a building that jets or projects beyond the rest, and overhangs the wall below.


Any detached mass of masonry, whether insulated or supporting one side of an arch or lintel, as of a bridge; the piece of wall between two openings.


A wharf or pier extending from the shore.


A projecting wharf or landing place.


A structure of wood or stone extended into the sea to influence the current or tide, or to protect a harbor; a mole; as, the Eads system of jetties at the mouth of the Mississippi River.


A platform built out from the shore into the water and supported by piles; provides access to ships and boats


To jut out; to project.


(architecture) a vertical supporting structure (as a portion of wall between two doors or windows)


A protective structure of stone or concrete; extends from shore into the water to prevent a beach from washing away


A support for two adjacent bridge spans


A narrow structure built out from the shore.
Fishermen lined the jetty, casting their lines into the water.


A structure projecting into the water from the land to provide a landing place for ships.
The cruise ship docked at the pier early in the morning.


What is a jetty?

A jetty is a structure projecting into water to influence currents and protect shores.

How does a pier differ from a jetty?

A pier is a structure extending from land over water, typically used for docking boats, while a jetty influences water currents and protects shores.

Are jetties used for docking boats?

Jetties can be used for mooring boats, but their primary purpose is to influence currents and protect shores.

Can a jetty serve as a walkway?

While primarily functional, some jetties can be traversed.

Do piers alter water currents?

Piers are not designed to alter water currents; their main purpose is to serve as a docking place or walkway.

Are buildings constructed on piers?

Yes, some piers can support buildings and are used for recreational or commercial purposes.

What are jetties made of?

Jetties are typically made of wood, steel, or concrete.

Can piers be used for fishing?

Yes, piers are commonly used as fishing spots.

Is a jetty wider than a pier?

Typically, jetties are narrower and longer compared to piers.

Are piers primarily protective structures?

Piers are not primarily protective; they are mainly for docking boats and providing walkways.

Are jetties permanent structures?

Jetties can be permanent or temporary, depending on their construction and purpose.

Where are jetties commonly found?

Jetties are usually located at the mouths of rivers and harbors.

Can people walk on a pier?

Yes, piers are often designed to allow pedestrian access.

Can a jetty protect harbors?

Yes, jetties are constructed to protect harbors by influencing tidal flows.

Do jetties offer recreational opportunities?

Jetties are more functional but can offer opportunities for fishing and sightseeing.

Can piers have amusement rides?

Yes, some piers host amusement rides and attractions.

Can jetties be made from concrete?

Yes, concrete is a common material used to construct jetties.

Can piers be located in rivers?

Yes, piers can be built on riverbanks or extend from them into rivers.

Are piers functional or recreational?

Piers can be both functional, serving as docking places, and recreational, offering spaces to stroll or fish.

Do all piers extend over the ocean?

No, piers can extend over rivers, lakes, or any body of water and are not exclusive to oceanic locations.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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