Difference Between Wharf and Pier

Wharf vs Pier

Pier, wharf, dock, quay, harbor, jetty, mole, etc. are words that are associated with a coastal city that has facilities for ships to arrive and stay put to load and unload passengers and cargo. Despite wharf and pier being structures linked with water bodies such as rivers or seas, there are differences between wharf and pier that will be highlighted in this article.


Wharf is a raised structure on the shore of a sea or the bank of a river. This structure is used by ships to come and dock and load and unload passengers and cargo. The platform called wharf can be made of concrete or stone, and it may lie alongside the shore or projecting into the sea. It is mostly used for loading and unloading of ships and boats. These boats and ships are tied with the wharf so as to make it easy for the cargo to be loaded or unloaded. In most cases, a wharf is a manmade structure that provides the ships an area that is safe to dock. A wharf may have single birth or multiple births. Often there are many buildings in a wharf to service the ships.


A pier is a wooden structure that protrudes into a sea from the shores. This walkway is manmade and stretches out into the sea above the water level. In a way, a pier is a bridge over the sea or the river that does not go anywhere and has a dead end. Piers are fun and often very useful as people go up on them to reach deeper water levels for fishing. These piers allow people to reach deep places in the sea where they normally cannot go. Often, big boats and ships that cannot come to the shore find it easier to come close to these piers to allow people to get on to them. Ships are able to disembark passengers easily with the help of these piers.

What is the difference between Wharf and Pier?

• Wharf is a structure along the shore whereas pier is a structure that protrudes into the sea or stretches out into sea perpendicular to it.

• A wharf may have a pier inside it.

• Wharf is made of concrete, stone, or wood whereas pier is mostly wooden.

• Pier allows ships to disembark passengers easily if they cannot come to the shore.

• Pier is a raised platform above water level, whereas wharf is a structure alongside the shore.

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