Rising ocean temperatures have reduced rates of coral calcification and increased rates of coral mortality, thereby negatively impacting the health of coral reef ecosystems. Nevertheless, the response of corals to thermal stress seems to vary spatially across the reef environment. Here, we show that between 1982 and 2008 in the western Caribbean Sea, skeletal extension within forereef colonies of the reef-building coral Siderastrea siderea declined with increasing seawater temperature, whereas extension rates of backreef and nearshore colonies were not impacted.