To address the lack of effective sustained interventions for climate-change adaptation in Pacific Island communities, a study to capture individual community risk and resilience profiles using peripherality was undertaken. Centered around 73 communities in the Pacific, three peripherality indices were tested and refined and demonstrated to adequately capture community exposure to climate change and autonomous community coping capacity. The implications of this study are many, not least in helping define national policy towards greater self-sufficiency but also in helping design more effective and sustainable external interventions for future climate change adaptation. This study sought to inform improved interventions for climate change adaptation in developing-world communities by (i) demonstrating the diversity of community exposure rather than assuming that “one-size-fits-all”; and (ii), showing the existence and diversity of culturally-grounded community coping in communities. In these ways, a better understanding of risk and resilience among these communities has been obtained. Peripherality measurements of rural Pacific island communities allow their risk and resilience profiles to be readily and accurately determined. This provides a ready tool for measuring community diversity in developing-country contexts. This is considered essential in order to optimally tailor future interventions for climate change adaptation so that these are effective and sustainable.