Many islands are being visibly impacted by climate change to which they are disproportionately exposed. This situation requires a shift away from reactive shortterm responses to longer-term transformational adaptation. For this to be effective, the singularity of island environments and societies should be acknowledged and optimal ways of management and engagement identified. There is considerable potential to learn from past intervention failures in island contexts. The importance of aligning adaptation needs with interventions underpins such transformational change, which on islands principally involves the relocation of vulnerable (coastal) communities and infrastructure to less-vulnerable (inland) places, as well as other transformations such as changing livelihoods and qualityof-life improvements. Successful transformational adaptation also requires that all actors involved change their current attitudes and re-evaluate how they can contribute to adaptation that is effective and sustainable in island contexts.