The impacts of climate change will manifest differently in urban areas depending upon the individual characteristics and contexts of each settlement. The study of climate adaptation planning for towns and small cities is a relatively under-researched field, there has thus far not been a standard typology for characterising towns and cities located at the coast. A typology can inform stakeholders about the physical hazards a coastal town or small city may be exposed currently and in the future; identify the impact that may have to the local population and the economic, cultural, and environmental assets in the settlement; and identify any barriers or opportunities to plan, develop, and implement adaptation strategies. A typology is presented here that includes 34 parameters that cover physical, economic, environmental and social characteristics. This typology has been used within this Special Issue to obtain information about all 22 case studies of the Special Issue. Future work will concentrate on developing the typology further and analysing the data collected to provide a systematic understanding of some of the data gaps that still exist within the field of adaptation in coastal towns and small cities and allow future research to focus on the aspects that are most needed.