A common inference in research studies of observed and projected changes in global ocean wave height and storm surge, is that such changes are potentially important for long-term coastal management. Despite numerous studies of the impacts of anthropogenic climate change on trends in global wind and waves, a clear link to impacts on sandy coastlines, at global scale, is yet to be demonstrated. This study presents a first-pass assessment of the potential link between historical trends in global wave and storm surge values and recession/progradation rates of sandy coastlines since the 1980s. Global datasets of waves, surge and shoreline change rate are used for this purpose. Over the past 30 + years, we show that there have been clear changes in waves and storm surge at global scale. The data, however, does not show an unequivocal linkage between trends in wave and storm surge climate and sandy shoreline recession/progradation. We conclude that these long-term changes in oceanographic parameters may still be too small to have a measurable impact on shoreline recession/progradation and that primary drivers such as ambient imbalances in the coastal sediment budget may be masking any such linkages.