America's 10 Happiest Seaside Towns

PHOTO: Pigeon point lighthouse is located in Pescadero California right on the coastline.
Chris Aschenbrener/Getty Images

The June issue of Coastal Living Magazine names America's Happiest Seaside Towns. Coastal Living chose its 2013 "America's Happiest Seaside Towns" finalists based on criteria that included ranking on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, percentage of sunny days, healthiness of beaches, commute times, walkability, standard of living and financial well-being of the locals, geographic diversity, and an editorial assessment of "coastal vibe." Coastal locations named as "America's Happiest Seaside Towns" in 2012 were not eligible to make the current list.

Click through the next pages to see the 10 Happiest Seaside Towns. To see the entire article, click here.

PHOTO: Lightning storm on outskirts of Beaufort, South Carolina.
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Beaufort, S.C.

Lowcountry friendliness and urban refinement strike just the right balance in this beautiful South Carolina town known for its historic antebellum architecture, exquisite local cuisine, and rich African-American heritage.

PHOTO: A beautiful sun sets over Harwich Port, Maine.
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Harwich Port, Mass.

Quiet, charming, and nostalgic: That's the tone struck in this upscale village of 1,644 locals along Cape Cod's southern shore. "The Port," as it's known, has been the home of seamen and fishermen since before the American Revolution, and sea captains' homes still dot the streets.

PHOTO: The beach near Sanibel Lighthouse on Sanibel Island, Florida.
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Sanibel Island, Fla.

Life in this South Florida island town just west of Fort Myers is a pastel dream, combining pale blue skies, white-sand beaches, and millions of seashells that have literally built the island on which it sits. When locals dig in their backyards on Sanibel, they turn up conch, scallop, and clam shells—intact.

PHOTO: Woman is seen sitting on dock overlooking marsh, Sag Harbor, NY.
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Sag Harbor, N.Y.

Situated between Long Island's celebrity-studded Bridgehampton and East Hampton, this whaling town turned artists' and writers' colony only two hours from New York City has maintained its cozy, small-town identity for decades. From the annual Memorial Day parade to the arrival of Santa on the fire truck as the Christmas tree is lit each December, life for the 2,169 people here remains blissfully fun.

PHOTO: Castle Hill Light is seen on Newport Rhode Island's coast.
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Newport, R.I.

The Vanderbilts had it right. But then again, so did a handful of 17th-century dissidents who founded a free-thinking colony that welcomed merchants of all creeds to its harbors. And then again, so have yachtsmen, artists, and lovers of the maritime fabric of Rhode Island's crown jewel. It draws tourists from around the world as well as being home to about 25,000 folks who may love it best in the quiet winter.

PHOTO: A boy plays on the beach in Rowayton Conn.
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Rowayton, Conn.

This picturesque, sophisticated New England coastal village at the mouth of Connecticut's Five Mile River is straight out of a Norman Rockwell illustration. No wonder Rowayton, with its clapboard and shingle homes perched along its rocky shorelines, has lured artists for centuries.

Kennebunkport, Maine

You have to hand it to the Bush family. They discovered what 1,200 lucky residents also know: that Kennebunkport is one of the true treasures of the Maine coast. A jumble of colorful restaurants and shops centers around Dock Square, and whether you're lining up for the legendary lobster at Mabel's Lobster Claw Restaurant or reveling in artisan ice cream at Rococo, you're in a New England culinary hot spot.

PHOTO: Honolua Point, a famous winter big surf point break, Maui, Hawaii.
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Pa'ia Town, Maui

It's easy to miss, this tiny outpost on Maui's North Shore, and most travelers on the road to Hana make that very mistake. Their loss. Pa'ia calls itself Maui's "coolest little town," and that title fits. Combining holdover hippie sensibilities, surf culture, and New Age openness, Pa'ia is a funky little crossroads that Big Tourism has managed to pass by.

PHOTO: La Jolla California pacific coast is one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world.
L. Toshio Kishiyama/Getty Images
La Jolla, Calif.

Whoever planned heaven may have tried it out first in La Jolla. The community of fewer than 50,000 people is surrounded on three sides by ocean bluffs and beaches, with famously pretty weather. One of the wealthiest enclaves in the country, La Jolla also is home to some of the largest intellects; it houses the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

PHOTO: Pigeon point lighthouse is located in Pescadero California right on the coastline.
Chris Aschenbrener/Getty Images
Pescadero, Calif.

Northern Californians know this tiny farming and ranching hamlet south of San Francisco as a weekend getaway, while the 643 people who live in Pescadero know it as a hometown blessed with clean air, beautiful and uncrowded beaches, and great off-road bicycling and hiking in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Plus there are redwoods and artichokes aplenty here.

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