As climate change accelerates, effective adaptation is an urgent and unavoidable priority. Bottom-up approaches such as community-based adaptation have been portrayed as the panacea. Recent studies are, however, highlighting the ongoing and inherent issues with normative ‘community’ conceptualisations that assume a geographically-bound, temporally-fixed and harmonious unit. Despite documentation on the negative impact these problematic assumptions can have on adaptation outcomes, adaptation at the community scale remains the preferred option for project delivery in highly exposed places such as the Pacific Islands region. More creative entry points that are less charged with problematic assumptions are needed at the local scale. This paper draws from three examples in Vanuatu to offer compelling alternative entry points for adaptation: 1) a rural technical college embedded within an Anglican mission village, 2) a whole-of-island approach, and 3) the ‘collective of vendors’ at marketplaces. We offer hope by identifying ways to expand on and complement existing, restricted notions of ‘community’ and, through this, improve adaptation outcomes.