Magazine names Kiawah Island “Happiest Seaside Town” in America

The Town of Kiawah Island has made many changes as it moves toward a more transparent government. File/AP

Kiawah Island already holds the distinction of having the toughest golf course in America. Now, a magazine has put it atop another list.

Coastal Living’s special 15th anniversary edition named the secluded barrier island the “Happiest Seaside Town” in the U.S.

“If heaven had a ZIP code, it would have to be 29455,” the magazine said. “This exquisite barrier island is home to 10 miles of unspoiled fine-sand beach; wild-growing palmetto, oak and magnolia trees; a veritable Noah’s ark’s worth of mammals and rare birds; and 1,626 lucky residents. With small-town charms and proximity to the gracious urbanity of Charleston, Kiawah makes the ideal possible: a vacation-like lifestyle with easy access to commerce and culture.”

The magazine’s June issue, which hits newsstands Friday, named 15 coastal communities to its first list of “Happiest Seaside Towns” in America.

“These towns boast a blend of such criteria as sunny days, walkable neighborhoods, easy commute times, healthy beaches and more — plus that indescribable coastal vibe,” Coastal Living Editor-in-Chief Antonia van der Meer said.

The magazine, an entity of Time Inc. with an audience of 3.9 million, selected the towns from the “Dream Towns” featured in the magazine over the past 15 years. It also placed a call for entries on social media channels.

Additional factors included ranking on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, percentage of sunny and clear days, healthiness of beaches, average commute times, walkability, school and crime ratings, education andfinancial security of the locals, geographic diversity, and “coastal vibe.”

Other towns on the list, in descending order, include Naples, Fla.; Sausito, Calif.; Lake Bluff, Ill.; Tiburon, Calif.; Laguna Beach, Calif.; Half Moon Bay, Calif.; Chatham, Mass.; Jupiter, Fla.; Lahaina, Hawaii; Marblehead, Mass.; Stinson Beach, Calif.; Cohasset, Mass.; Duxbury, Mass.; and Solomons Island, Md.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.