© 2020, Springer Nature B.V. In recent years, increasing tourism and development in the coastal dune area of the South East of Ireland have resulted in greater pressure on the environment, resulting in issues including soil erosion, flooding and habitat loss. Topographic mapping across a dune field is important for the development of targeted land management actions that maintain biodiversity and ecological functions. Developments in surveying technology, including LiDAR, terrestrial laser scanners (TLS) and aerial surveying from Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), have enabled high-resolution and high-accuracy spatial data to be gathered quickly and relatively easily for 3D topographic modelling of a coastal dune complex. To-date, however, the relative efficacies of these three modelling methods, in the context of coastal dune modelling, has not been explored. This paper compares high-end methods based on LiDAR, TLS and RPAS technologies, for the topographic modelling of coastal dune complexes with particular reference to the Brittas-Buckroney dune complex in the South East of Ireland. The results identify the advantages and disadvantages of the respective technologies and highlight the efficacy of RPAS, in particular, for topographic modelling of coastal dune complexes. These results can provide reference information for others when selecting suitable methods for topographic modelling of similar environments.