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Public-images-osm logo.svg natural = reef
Vanatinai, Louisiade Archipelago.jpg
A feature (rock, sandbar, coral, etc) lying beneath the surface of the water. Edit this description in the wiki page. Edit this description in the data item.
Group: Marine
Used on these elements
may be used on nodesmay be used on waysmay be used on areasshould not be used on relations
Useful combination
Status: de facto


A  reef is a rock, sandbar, or other feature (such as coral, stromatolites...) that lies 80 meters or less beneath the surface of the water at low tide.

How to map


To map a reef you can just draw a line closing on itself, marking the area area of the reef and tag it natural=reef. To map larger or ring shaped reefs, use a multipolygon relation.

If you do not know exact area of the reef you can map it as a way way.

Common combinations

  • name=* for the name of the reef
  • reef=* to specify the type of reef, for example reef=coral

Mapping caveats

This tag should not be used for:

  • features that rise above the water - use natural=shoal, place=island or place=islet + natural=coastline for that. Note that small parts of reefs may be exposed at low tide, but generally not the entire feature. Reefs are not exposed at high tide.
  • for the lower part of beaches lying below the water level - these should be part of a natural=beach.
  • tidal flats, i.e. flat areas exposed at low tide but water covered at high tide - use natural=wetland + wetland=tidalflat instead.


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See Also

Possible Tagging Mistakes

If you know places with this tag, verify if it could be tagged with another tag.
Automated edits are strongly discouraged unless you really know what you are doing!