Although mariculture contributes significantly to regional/local economic development, it also promotes environmental degradation. Therefore, it is essential to understand mariculture dynamics before taking adaptive measures to deal with it. In the present study, a framework that integrates the Google Earth Engine (GEE) based methods and GeoDetector software was developed to identify patterns and drivers of mariculture dynamics. This framework was then applied to Zhao’an Bay, which is an intensive aquaculture bay in Coastal China, based on Landsat 8 OLI (2013–2022) and Sentinel-2 (December 2015–May 2022) data. The results show that the GEE-based method produces acceptable classification accuracy. The overall accuracy values for the interpretation are >85%, where the kappa coefficients are >0.9 for all years, excluding 2015 (0.83). Mariculture increased in the study area from 2013 to 2022, and this is characterised by distinct spatiotemporal variations. Cage mariculture is primarily concentrated around islands, whereas raft mariculture is dominant in bay areas, and pond and mudflat mariculture types are mostly in nearshore areas. The growth of mariculture in Zhao’an Bay is attributed to a combination of geographic and human factors. The initial area associated with mariculture in a grid significantly impacted the expansion of the raft, cage, and mudflat mariculture. The distance to an island, spatial proximity to similar types of mariculture and types of mariculture are the main drivers of change in mariculture. Human activities greatly contribute to the dynamics of mudflat mariculture; regulation regarding the clearing of waterways directly impacts the dynamics of mariculture. The present study demonstrates that the proposed framework facilitates the effective monitoring of the mariculture dynamics and identification of driving factors. These findings can be exploited for the local planning and management of mariculture in similar coastal bays.