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Public-images-osm logo.svg natural = bay
Lowlandman's Bay, Jura - geograph.org.uk - 25388.jpg
Named area of water mostly surrounded by land but with level connection to the ocean or a lake. Show/edit corresponding data item.
Rendering in OSM Carto
Group: natural
Used on these elements
may be used on nodesmay be used on waysmay be used on areas (and multipolygon relations)should not be used on relations (except multipolygon relations)
Useful combination
Status: de facto

This tag is for marking named bays. Note that this tag is not for tagging presence of water, this is done using natural=water, or natural=coastline. Parts of area with natural=bay area may be land - for example islands may be considered as being a part of bay and mapped this way.

A bay is an inlet of a sea or lake which is mostly surrounded by land, but with a level connection to the ocean or lake.

Bays often have calmer waters than the surrounding sea, due to the surrounding land blocking some waves and often reducing winds. Bays can also exist within a lake or pond.

A bay may also be called a sound (or sund), bight, or a bay=fjord (if created by glacial erosion). A cove is a circular or oval coastal inlet with a narrow entrance; some coves may be referred to as bays. For gulfs and very large bays, see place=sea.

How to map

Bays are frequently mapped as nodes, and rarely as areas. Fjords are also mapped as linear ways. When mapping a bay as a node, the node should be placed approximately at the middle of the bay. When mapping bays as an area consider the following:

  • Since the edge of a bay towards open water is often not well defined mapping bays with a large opening can be problematic with regards to Verifiability.
  • The edge of a bay towards land should coincide with the coastline. You should never close the coastline at the outer side of a bay as it is part of the ocean (or the lake) it is connected to.
  • Large bays can be mapped as areas but the resulting multipolygon relations will often be extremely large and complex so mapping with nodes is preferable, like for place=ocean and place=sea. Some mappers also prefer to use approximate or simplified polygons instead of the coastline although such mapping is geometrically not verifiable and can be difficult to maintain because of the additional geometries.
  • Islands and Islets should be mapped as inner ways in the bay.
  • Fjords (bay=fjord), which are long, narrow bays, may be mapped as a linear way.


OSM Carto renders named bays with a label.

Since bays are generally part of a larger waterbody and may include also land (for example islands), either a lake or the ocean, they should not be rendered in solid color indicating water themselves.

See also