© 2020 This study presents an assessment of a model inversion approach to derive shallow water bathymetry in optically complex waters, with the aim of both understanding localised capability and contributing to the global evaluation of Sentinel-2 for coastal monitoring. A dataset of 12 Sentinel-2 MSI images, in three different study areas along the Irish coast, has been analysed. Before the application of the bathymetric model two atmospheric correction procedures were tested: Deep Water Correction (DWC) and Case 2 Regional Coastal Color (C2RCC) processor. DWC outperformed C2RCC in the majority of the satellite images showing more consistent results. Using DWC for atmospheric correction before the application of the bathymetric model, the lowest average RMSE was found in Dublin Bay (RMSE = 1.60, bias = −0.51), followed by Mulroy Bay (RMSE = 1.66, bias = 1.30) while Brandon Bay showed the highest average error (RMSE = 2.43, bias = 1.86). However, when the optimal imagery selection was considered, depth estimations with a bias less than 0.1 m and a spread of ±1.40 m were achieved up to 10 m. These results were comparable to those achieved by empirical tuning methods, despite not relying on any in situ depth data. This conclusion is of particular relevance as model inversion approaches might allow future modifications in crucial parts of the processing chain leading to improved results. Atmospheric correction, the selection of optimal images (e.g. low turbidity), the definition of suitably limited ranges for the per-pixel occurrence of optical constituents (phytoplankton, CDOM, backscatter) and seabed reflectances, in combination with the understanding of the specifics characteristics at each particular site, were critical steps in the derivation of satellite bathymetry.