Inlet-driven processes are capable of modifying the adjacent shoreline. However, few studies have attempted to understand how these changes affect coastal dunes. The present study aims to understand how shoreline changes induced by shoal attachment affect coastal dunes. A barrier island in the Netherlands is used as a case study. Both bathymetric and topographic annual data were analysed, together with the application of a cellular automata model for dune development. The objective of the model is to explore idealised scenarios of inlet-driven shoreline movements. With the model, ten different scenarios were examined regarding beach width increase and rate of alongshore spreading of the shoal. Field data showed that, for the case study, dune volume and shoal attachments could not be directly linked. Instead, rates of dune volume change differed significantly only due to long-term ebb-tidal delta evolution. Such morphological evolution oriented the beach towards the main wind direction, increasing overall aeolian transport potential. Modelling results showed that shoals significantly increased dune volumes only on three out of ten scenarios. This suggests that beach width increase, and rate of alongshore sediment spreading, determine whether the shoal will influence dune growth. Therefore, within the studied time-scale, local rates of dune growth are only increased if shoals are capable of increasing the beach width significantly and persistently.