The horizontal distribution and temporal variation of bacterial indicators (total coliforms (TC), fecal coliforms (FC), enterococcus (EC) and Escherichia coli (E. coli)) were investigated to identify the proper bacterial indicators for a marine bathing beach in China. Two different sampling efforts were conducted during dry weather and two large rain events at Xinghai Bathing Beach in Dalian, China. Samples were collected from three different water depths and analyzed for the four indicator bacteria. The results indicated that all four bacterial indicators exceeded the single sample standards at different levels. Specifically, the water quality exceeded the standard for TC, FC, EC and E. coli in 7%, 28%, 38% and 10% of the samples, respectively. Comparison of the rate of the indicators before and after rainfall revealed a significant increasing post-rainfall. The concentrations of bacteria differed significantly with distance from the shoreline, with knee-depth near the shore exceeding the standard most frequently. This was primarily due to contamination by excessive sewage discharge and rainfall. Based upon the concentration of indicators and exceedance rates, as well as the correlation between indicators, both EC and FC should be evaluated at the same time as fecal pollution bacterial indicators in marine bathing beaches in China.